Thursday, January 15, 2015

How I Cured My Gluten Allergy

I wasn't looking for a cure. I swear. I had fully resigned myself to eating gluten free, inventing gluten free recipes, and getting that special look from the server whenever I ask for a gluten free menu. And after all, being forced to eat healthier wasn't a bad thing, really.

Then one day, a friend of mine over at the Navy Mom blog recommended that I try seeing this allergy doctor. I'm not gonna lie, I kinda thought she was a little cuckoo, because when I looked up the doctor's website their methods sounded hokey. But she swore that they had cured her of a lifelong seafood allergy - and the initial consultation was free! 

I think it took 2.3 seconds of imagining her eating fried shrimp before I had convinced myself that it was worth a shot.

I was incredibly apprehensive when I went in for my free consultation. There hadn't been a whole lot of information online, and what I did find was quite odd. I made my husband accompany me because somehow I thought he might help. Instead, he barely kept a straight face throughout the whole consultation. To be fair, the consulting doctor was the least scientific sounding doctor I have ever known. And it didn't help that he kept assuring my husband that he was a very scientific man whilst simultaneously referring to the imbalance in my "life energy". 

My husband and I talked a long time afterwards. There is evidence to support the idea that this doctor's methods works, but no one has done enough research or experimenting to figure out exactly how or why. My husband was skeptical, but I pointed out that many scientific truths were belittled for being unscientific in the beginning. What attracted me most was the idea that the doctor very clearly stated that he would never merely suppress the symptoms, but rather he would actually treat the problem. (How different from my nightmare of a last doctor!) 

Call me crazy, but I tried it.

They use what's called Nambudripad's Allergy Elimination Technique (NAET) which is a combination of acupuncture, acupressure, allopathy, chiropractic, nutritional, kinesiological, and ... "energy balancing" methods. Amazingly, Nambudripad made the initial discovery more than 30 years ago - there should be more research on this already! (Seriously, we need a better term than "energy balancing".)

In my case, the doctor theorized that my stomach wasn't producing enough acid to digest my food well. Since gluten and lactose are both hard to digest, my indigestion problems were masking itself as allergies. So I went through a series of chiropractic and acupressure treatments to get my body back in line with itself and the food I eat. And I am currently under a nutritional treatment to get my stomach back to where it can maintain itself once again.

In the meantime, I'm a happier me, I enjoy an increased amount of energy, and I have the ability to eat whatever the heck I want. My first glutenous meal was the Lord's Supper. (I cried. A lot.)

I wouldn't call myself an all natural person. Sure, I have a few natural remedies here and there handed down to me from my mother. But I don't believe those oils are essential, and you will never find kale in my house. (If you like kale, I don't mean to insult you. It's just that I've always been a meat and potatoes kind of girl.) I probably never would've tried NAET on my own - especially since there are apparently a large number of NAET frauds out there. (Legitimate NAET doctors are listed here). 

But all I can say is, it worked. And I'm forever grateful. I CAN eat bread if I want. And I do. But after two years, I've learned my lesson: there is intrinsic value to eating a healthy and well balanced meal. And I can guarantee you that I always will.

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Reflections and Resolutions

The month of December was a silent one for my blog. In the midst of all the busy, I made myself stop. I didn't scour casting calls, I didn't blog, I didn't keep my social media sites active. Instead, I spent the holidays in much needed reflection.

In my mind, my biggest achievement this year was the decision to pursue acting. I'm an extremely practical and pessimistic person, and so actually following an unlikely dream was a big step for me. It's also proof that I have hands down the best husband on the planet. Emotional and financial support doesn't grow on trees, people.

However, when my acting career went nowhere I got discouraged pretty fast. I excused a ridiculous amount of complaining and bad attitudes as mere venting. Only lately, did I realize that I was letting my acting career change me into a person I don't want to be.

So as the New Year approaches, I've decided to make the person I want to be change my acting career instead. I've resolved to have a more positive attitude about my acting career and my life in general. (See? I didn't say "or lack thereof" after referring to my acting career!) Because I'm pretty sure that God doesn't need or want a wet blanket. Or anyone else for that matter.

I've never really been one for New Year's resolutions. I suppose because I, like most people, don't have a stellar track record. But this year, perhaps because of my late reflections I've decided on a few more resolutions to boot:

In 2014, I wrote more than I ever have before. Not only did I manage to blog almost weekly beginning in May, but I also wrote 2 feature length screenplays and the first 2 episodes to my very own sci fi show. This coming year I plan to get these copyrighted - and continue creating more stories!

Last year, I was able to be relatively consistent about staying fit. I plan to step it up and exercise at least 5 times a week every week this year - no matter what. I am also revamping my recipe book and eating habits for a more nutritionally balanced diet. Hopefully, these reformations together will transform into a healthier lifestyle over all.

Sadly, I only read about a dozen books in the last 12 months. I have, in the past, read as many as 75 books in a year. However, I'm going easy on myself and setting a goal of reading 52 books in 2015 - one for each week.

That's pretty much it - bring it, 2015!

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Ham Bone Soup Recipe

Allen had duty on Thanksgiving Day so we had our dinner on Wednesday. Since we couldn't be with our families, we invited some friends who couldn't be with their families either.

I served ham. 

I know, I know. That's a cryin' shame. Traditionally, my family has always had turkey for Thanksgiving and ham for Christmas. But I only like dark turkey meat, and Allen doesn't care for turkey at all.

Guess who does most of the eating around here?

Ham it is.

Another new aspect: the sheer amount of leftover ham. When you grow up in a medium sized family, it doesn't take long for the leftovers to be consumed. With the two of us, it takes quite a bit longer. And straight ham and ham sandwiches gets pretty old. Even if it is made with marmalade and amaretto.

The solution? Ham bone soup.

I've never made any type of ham soup before, but I made this recipe up on the spot (don't be too impressed, I did a little Googling first) and Allen loved it! He says it's a keeper, so here it is:

Ham Bone Soup:

ham bone
3 cups cubed ham
3 cups frozen mixed veggies
1 chopped onion
4 cups of chicken broth
2 cups of water
2 cloves minced garlic
1 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp thyme

Throw it all together in crock pot and cook on low for 8 hours OR on high for 2 hours and then low for 4 hours. 

The best part?

Since I broke tradition and made ham for Thanksgiving, you already have this recipe ready to use after Christmas!

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

The Least of These

His long dreads were tied back neatly, his dark clothes hung on his lean body, and his backpack was limp with hollowness. He trudged along the roadside bearing a sign that read "Anything helps".

I didn't get a very good look at him.

I stopped at his intersection on my way home from my pre-Thanksgiving grocery trip, and I suddenly became fascinated by the driver to my right. Normally, I keep granola bars in the glove box for such a time - I never carry cash - but I had devoured them a few months prior and never bothered to replace them. I hid my face in shame, and then I remembered: I had plenty of groceries in the trunk - more than I needed! But I feared the light would turn green, and so I moved on.

Burdened with guilt I asked my husband to look for the man on the way home from work. Allen took him to the store to buy groceries.

He was from Miami. His parents had been killed in gang wars, and he made the mistake of joining in the fray. He is an ex-con now. At first, he was just unemployed. Then he was homeless. Three years he traveled, but no one would hire him. So he begged. He selected filling foods high in nutrients like peanuts and Gatorade spending less than forty bucks of our money. He hoped to get a job at a local Christmas tree lot, so he had Allen drop him off there.

He broke every stereotype I've ever harbored about the homeless.

He wasn't at all scary. Nor was he on drugs. He was well groomed and motivated. He shrimped and chopped Christmas trees and when the season was over, he struggled to find other jobs that would hire felons. He was humble and smart. He went to food banks and churches to acquire food when he couldn't find work, and he didn't complain when he was offered mac'n'cheese and other items he could not use. He wanted to help himself, but society was set against him.

His name was Greg.

I never met Greg in person, but he haunts me. He represents an entire demographic that I believe is neglected by everyone. Including the Church. Throughout my father's military career we visited hundreds of churches. Not one of them had a program for ministering to the homeless. Food pantries, missions abroad, and even sometimes orphans' ministry. But I've never seen a church with a ministry for the homeless. Or ex-cons for that matter.

And I find that disturbing.

"And the King will answer them, 'Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these, my brothers, you did it to me.' " - Matthew 25:40

If the Church does not care for these human beings, who will? The government? If Christian business owners do not hire felons, who will? The nearest Walmart? Is it any wonder that local governments have recently forbidden feeding the homeless? If the body of Christ does not tell these outcasts that they are loved and they are valuable, who will?

I will.

I have not formulated a plan yet, but I have ideas. I foresee more trips to the store. I envision extra blankets and brown bags containing peanuts and Gatorade stored in my trunk. Guess who is coming for dinner? A warm shower, a fresh haircut, laundered clothes. Scratch that: NEW clothes. A job. The message that they are not forgotten, they are loved, and someone cares.

Who will? Will you?

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Easy Gluten Free Chocolate Chip Cookies

I am on a gluten free cooking roll, right now. Pun very much intended. (Though ironically, I have not come up with a good gluten free roll recipe yet.) Hence, I am posting a recipe for the second week in a row!

I have finally perfected a gluten free cookie recipe. The ingredients are fairly standard, they taste normal, and all the measurements are pretty much the same (hurrah for minimal dishes!) - making this the easiest and quickest gluten free chocolate chip cookie recipe I've ever made!

Gluten Free Chocolate Chip Cookies

1/2 cup  (1 stick) butter
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 large eggs
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup of my gluten free all purpose flour
1/2 cup oat flour
1 cup chocolate chips
1/2 cup nuts (optional)

Preheat oven to 375°F. Melt butter. Mix in sugars, eggs, baking powder, salt, and vanilla extract. Gradually mix in flours and chocolate chips. Bake 8-10 minutes. I like my cookies really big (like really), so it only made 2 dozen for me, but more moderate people might get as much as 4 dozen cookies.


Thursday, November 13, 2014

Gluten Free Pizza!

Time for another recipe!

In case you are wondering, no, I'm not avoiding an issue like I was last time when I posted my gluten free blueberry muffin recipe. I'm being good, I promise! In fact, I've been excessively happy for no particular reason for a few weeks now. (I'm trying really hard not to drive my husband crazy - especially before he's had his coffee. Ha.)

I just want to share my number one, most used gluten free recipe:

Gluten Free Pizza!

3 cups of all purpose gluten free flour
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking powder
3 TB sugar
1 TB yeast
3 tsp xanthum gum
1 1/4 water
3 eggs
1 TB olive oil

Preheat oven to 350°F. Mix dry goods in a bowl. Make a little well in the dry goods mixture. Add liquids to the well. Mix well and knead. Roll into a greased 12x17 pan. Bake 20 minutes. Take out and top with your favorite pizza toppings! Sometimes I baste with a stick of melted butter, spices, and parmesan cheese before adding the shredded cheese and pepperoni and sometimes we use tomato sauce instead and sprinkle the spices on afterwards. Up to you and your taste buds! Bake for another 20 minutes. Allow to cool before eating in order to protect the roof of your mouth!!

We pretty much eat this every Friday night. There's no craving like the pizza craving, and if you have to eat gluten free that is absolutely no problem. In fact, you just might like this pizza better than any store bought ones. True story.


Wednesday, November 5, 2014

5 Things I've Learned by Being an Actress

One of the aspects I love most about acting is the education I receive. I would attend college for the rest of my life if I could afford it. Learning makes me feel alive, and my acting career has more to offer than strictly academic content. Hence, I grow as a person as well as in knowledge.

(Which, yes, means that two of these points are negative. Bear with me - it gets better, I promise!)

#1: I am prone to entitlement

I learned this dissatisfying point rather begrudgingly, but now that I've resigned myself to the lesson it is absolutely necessary to acknowledge it aloud. I had always assumed I was a hard working woman who deserved to be successful. Never once did I pause to ponder the possibility that I might harbor a sense of entitlement.

I recently ranted about the irritating casting website membership fees to a fellow actress, and I was disgruntled when she did not immediately jump on the bandwagon. Not only did she not get with the program, but she told me to "suck it up". And that's when I began to suspect myself of being a sleazy leech. Then my friend pointed out that "they've got to pay employees" for the services we receive and equated the fees to paying a cell phone bill. And that's when I was sure I was a sleazy leech.

In retrospect, I realized that not only was I entitled about the money but also about the industry in general. I often subconsciously felt I deserved to be cast in a role simply because I auditioned for it. But the fact of the matter is, there's no reason to believe I'm any different than all the other penniless actors who didn't get cast.

#2: I do not have a very good self esteem

In class last month, we covered the topic of vulnerability. Originally, I thought this concerned the actor's ability to do awkward or bizarre things on stage or set without worrying about the audience's opinions of you personally for doing said things. In reality, my teachers' point was that everyone has a vulnerability and discovering your character's weaknesses enables you to portray that character better.

Not to miss a chance for personal application, I wondered about my own vulnerabilities. I came up empty and promptly concluded that I didn't have any.

Then my hearing aid broke. As I've already mentioned, getting my hearing aids fixed is a multi-week task and is likely to incur a panic attack and a very long mood swing. To top it off, my optometrist declared that my contacts were irritating my eyes and I should transition to wearing glasses on a daily basis. Later that week, I confessed to my husband that I was okay with being a nerd ... until I looked like one.

And that's when I realized that my vulnerability in life is my physical appearance. I am a carbon copy of Princess Diana herself, and I have a low self esteem about my beauty. *facepalm*

At least I can take comfort in my ability to struggle with arrogant entitlement and a poor self esteem simultaneously.

#3: The nitty gritty details of the business

To be honest, there is a plethora of things I never knew about the entertainment business until I became an actress. I could probably write an entire blog post about it (and I probably will). But for the time being allow me to put in a shameless plug for the people who have taught me the most.

Tandem Media is designed to give up and coming actors all the information and tools they need to be good actors and businessmen. We artsy people tend to forget that what we love to do is actually a business and that often poses a problem. Tandem Media offers tips, tools, and answers about the business at the beginning of each class - and then they help us become even better actors. What a deal!

They have made me a professional, and I am eternally grateful.

#4: How to be a better screenwriter

When I was younger and I felt that my hearing impairment would prevent me from being an actor in the filmmaking business, I decided I wanted to be a screenwriter instead. Mumsie would often assign English homework that involved writing plays and got me a book on how to write screenplays. Sadly, I never really got into it and I gave it up as a hopeless dream.

Since I decided to be an actress, I have attended the aforementioned classes and had several on set experiences including "Romans XIII" and "Talisman". Each of these films had their own distinctive learning opportunities, but both of them taught me a lot about how movies are filmed. And this proved invaluable when I got bored enough with being an unemployed actress that I took up writing again. Not only did I finally read that book on screenwriting, but I have since written two feature length screenplays and one and a half episodes for a sci fi TV show I created.

So if the acting thing doesn't work out, maybe I can make some money in the writing business.

#5: To appreciate the roles I have

As a human being, I have a very specific need to feel that I have accomplished something significant, a purpose, in life. Unfortunately, since I have yet to be cast in anything other than a few non-paying short films here and there my acting career isn't a great place to foster feelings of fulfillment.

So I began to look elsewhere, and eventually I realized something profound. I may not have a role in the latest Hollywood blockbuster or one of the most popular TV shows, but I do have roles in life.

I am a Navy wife and a homemaker. To my liberal and politically correct counterparts these may sound like silly and insignificant roles compared to being a career woman, but they're not. Where would America be if her military servicemen did not have the support of their families? How would we fend off the plague of bugs and disease we would suffer if no one did the dishes? Without these seemingly invisible roles our society would literally break down.

"There are no small roles," my high school director used to say, "just small actors." I venture to argue that the same is true of life, and I intend to excel in my roles just as feverishly as I would any Hollywood role.