Sunday 17 March 2013


This morning I decided to have pancakes for breakfast, using my new electric griddle - Black & Decker Family Size Electric Griddle - and a recipe from one of my newer cookbooks - Give Them Something Better. First, my comments on the griddle. It's a nice size and has a removable warming tray and grease tray. The warming tray is a nice feature, and it kept my first batch of pancakes warm while I made the second batch, although the whole batch didn't fit in it. Not sure how useful the grease tray will be for a vegetarian... I set the temperature to 375', the suggested temperature for cooking pancakes, but, while the pancakes cooked, they didn't brown very well. They looked rather anemic. On my old griddle, 350' was plenty hot enough to make nice golden pancakes. Then I read the reviews on this griddle and saw that some of the reviews did mention a heating problem. The reviews are interesting. There was no middle ground. Either the reviewer loved it or hated it, and it came up with 2.7 stars. Another thing mentioned in the reviews was the non-stick surface. I must admit I was rather puzzled that the instructions suggested coating the griddle with oil or non-stick cooking spray. I thought that the purpose of a non-stick surface was to avoid the use of oils and sprays altogether. However, I dutifully sprayed it prior to preheating and had no trouble with sticking at all, something that can be an issue with low fat vegetarian foods. Since this is just my first time using it, I will reserve judgment until I have further opportunity to assess it. 
I would like to comment on my old one. It is a Lektro Maid like this one on eBay: Lektro Maid Electric Skillet (warning that this listing expires Mar. 22/13, so you might not be able to see it after that). The surface on mine is in much better shape than this one. I do not know why people don't take proper care of their non-stick surfaces. This skillet used to be my mother's and it must be over 40 years old. I was still using it up until the past 3 years or so after a boyfriend of my daughter mishandled it. The next time I used it the non-stick surface was no longer non-stick. I have tried it a couple of times since with rather disastrous results. The surface appears unharmed, so I'm not sure what actually happened to it. I even tried boiling water in it, hoping that might "cure" the problem. Last time I tried to use it, I seasoned it with oil prior to storing it and haven't tried it again since. One of these days when I'm prepared for disaster, I will get it out and try it once more. If it continues to stick, it will reluctantly be consigned to the dumpster. It was an awesome unit and I loved the large lip around it. Apparently you could even use it to bake in, with the lid on, but I never tried that. And if I can still use it by spraying it, like I'm having to do with my new one, then why not? I'll keep you posted. 
And now the cookbook. I bought it last summer at campmeeting, but I haven't really had a chance to use it. It's a fairly attractive cookbook with appetizing food photography. It's divided into the following sections: breakfast, salads and dressings, main meals, meals to share, sides and sauces, desserts, miscellaneous and meal planning. The recipes look straightforward and tasty and include a nutritional analysis. The Miscellaneous section includes recipes for mixes for added convenience, such as Light and Fluffy Pancake Mix. 
I was a little bit dumbfounded when I found a recipe for Tator Tot Casserole in the Meals to Share section. That something that presents itself as a healthy cookbook would have a recipe that includes this grease-laden convenience food as an ingredient is puzzlingly inappropriate. Yes, the recipe does say that you can substitute mashed potatoes, but I'm not sure why they would include Tator Tots at all. Another recipe that I'm not entirely comfortable with is the Amazing Fudge (p. 147). Only two ingredients: natural peanut butter and carob chips. It's the carob chips that concern me. Not only do they tend to be expensive, but they can contain hydrogenated oils, dairy products and sucrose. I'm not going to discuss my concerns with those individual items at this time, but suffice it to say that I recommend using carob chips sparingly. Even the best ones (vegan, barley-malt sweetened or unsweetened) still contain a fairly high percentage of refined fats. And since you've already got the natural fats present in the peanut butter, why do you also need it in the carob? This is what I would call "cheater fudge." Back in the old days when my mother made home-made fudge, she would have never dreamed of using chocolate chips. No, her fudge was made with cocoa powder and butter and other stuff that wasn't really good for you and I don't choose to eat any more, but that was real fudge. So if I'm going to make fudge, why shouldn't I put as much effort into it as my mother did, only with healthier ingredients and make it not only taste good, but be good for you as well? Somewhere in one of my many cookbook is a recipe for Carob Super Fudge.  This link will take you to one that I think is pretty much the same recipe. It uses carob powder instead of chips (cheaper and healthier), is sweetened with just dates and the only fat is what is naturally present in the peanut butter. And it's delicious. Sure, if you want a quickie fudge, you can use the Amazing Fudge recipe in this cookbook, but I recommend taking the effort to make the Carob Super Fudge instead. 
I have made the 7 Layer Salad (page 30) from Give Them Something Better with Aioli (page 130) for dressing. It was a "fun" salad, simple and fairly quick. I took it to a church potluck (would never make this huge salad for just me :-)) and got favourable comments. Personally, I felt the Aioli was a little heavy on the lemon juice and I may adjust that for next time. I also tried the Easy Biscuits (p. 56). I think they appeared to turn out well, but they should probably be eaten while warm and fresh, or else reheated (isn't this true of most biscuits?). However, I only ever ate one biscuit and I will discuss the reason why in the following paragraph. This morning I used the recipe for Light and Fluffy Pancakes or Waffles (p. 4), which I will discuss later in this post.
This cookbook frequently calls for whole wheat pastry flour. When I was young, I never really knew the difference between pastry flour and the other stuff. I knew that they served different purposes, but didn't know what made the difference. Now I know that they are actually made from different wheats. Hard red wheat has a high gluten content and is most appropriate for breads and other purposes where the gluten content is desired or won't affect the final product. My first whole wheat pie crust was made with regular whole wheat flour and it turned out tough as shoe leather. That's what the gluten content does. For cakes and pastries, the lower-gluten-content soft white wheat is used. I have my own grain grinder, but don't currently have any white wheat (it's not actually white, just a light golden colour). Grains start to deteriorate in nutritional quality as soon as you grind them. The germ tends to go rancid quite quickly if you don't store the ground product in the fridge or freezer. That is why most cornmeals and "whole" wheat flours/breads do not have the germ in them. And that's the most nutritious part. (For more information on this, see Health Canada's website: Whole Grains - Get the Facts). That's why I have my own grain grinder - I'm getting the whole grain and I'm getting it fresh. I went in search of some whole wheat pastry flour in order to make the Easy Biscuits. I bought some from the local health food store, but when I opened the package, my nose screamed "Yuk." It was rancid. Foolishly, I decided to try using it for the biscuits anyway. Hmm, rancid biscuits are not delicious. Meanwhile, I have been into the city and bought some more whole wheat pastry flour there. Figuring it should be good since they would have a greater turnover in the city and there was an expiry date on the package well into the future, I bought two packages. I opened one this morning to make my pancakes. Once again my nose warned me that all was not well, though it wasn't quite as horrible as the package purchased at the local health food store. But I was not going to make the same mistake that I had made with the biscuits. I used my regular whole wheat flour to make the pancakes. Once I had mixed the wet and dry ingredients, it was more the consistency of biscuit dough than pancake batter and I knew that would not work for pancakes. So I added about another 1/2 cup of milk to get it to a better consistency. I can't imagine that had anything to do with the change in flours. I will admit that I wasn't particularly careful with exact measurements, but I wouldn't have thought that it would have made that big of a difference. Using regular whole wheat flour did not make the pancakes light and fluffy as the recipe name suggests. They were kind of heavy and dense. The cornmeal I used was a medium grind and I think a fine grind would have been better. I won't write this recipe off until I have a chance to try it with more appropriate ingredients, but I doubt it will ever become my favourite pancake recipe. North Americans eat a lot of wheat, and there are so many other grains to try. Because of it's gluten content, it's difficult to make bread without wheat, but when it comes to other products like biscuits or pancakes, where the gluten content is not essential, I prefer a recipe that uses other whole grains instead.
In my experiences with rancid whole wheat flour, I couldn't help but wonder if some people's dislike of whole grain products is connected with the freshness of the flour. If you're not familiar with how whole grain flour should actually smell, how would you know if it's fresh? So, figuring that's just how whole grain flour smells, you go ahead and use it and conclude that whole grain products taste disgusting. 
And on the subject of flavour, smell and rancidity, some day I need to blog about walnuts, but I think today's blog is already plenty long enough. 
And yes, rancid oils are not good for your health. They can be carcinogenic, among other health effects.

Friday 15 March 2013

Customer Service

I don't have much tolerance for poor customer service/stupidity/incompetence/lack of professionalism or whatever you want to call it.
I need to have my main shut-off valve for my plumbing replaced, plus I have a couple of minor jobs that I haven't been able to do because I can't shut off the water. I called one of the local plumbing outfits. No answer - instead I got one of those goofy voicemails: "press one to leave a message for John, etc." So I pressed the number for the guy that I know runs the business and left him a message requesting a ballpark figure for replacing the shut-off valve. After all, I want to know that I can afford it before having it done. After being out for some time, I came home and checked my voicemail. Nothing, but when I checked call display, I saw that he had called. Why didn't he leave a message? I only asked for a ballpark figure, not a written estimate. If he wanted more information, why didn't he say so? Did he want my business or not? I gave this outfit a second chance and stopped in the office. The woman in the office (not any of the men - they just ignored me) gave me some information and some figures to go on. Later I called the office, detailed what I wanted done and told the woman I spoke with that I was off the week of the 18th, so would like it done then. This was about 2 weeks ago and I was puzzled when she didn't book the time immediately. After all, that was why I was calling in advance, so that I could make sure they would do it while I was off work. I asked her if they were going to let me know when they were coming. She replied, "Oh yes, we'll give you a call to let you know when they're coming." That reply left me shaking my head. Did she think I was going to just sit around twiddling my thumbs all week, waiting for the plumber to show up? Just because I'm off all week, doesn't mean I plan on staying home all week. I'm giving the plumber the option to pick a day that he can be here and then I can plan what I want to do for the rest of the week.
As my week off approached, I figured I should call them to find out a definite day at least, if not an exact time, when they planned on being here. I forgot. Then yesterday, the 14th, when I got home from work, I had a voicemail from the woman in the office asking if I would be home so that they could come and do the work. Run that by me again. I distinctly remember telling her that I would be off the week of the 18th, so why is she calling me, expecting to send over a plumber on the 14th? So, I called her back and said that I told her I would be off the week of the 18th and wanted the work done then. She said that wasn't her I told. Okay, let me get this straight: the woman that I talked to the first time didn't bother to record anywhere that I wanted the work done the week of the 18th. And the woman I'm talking to now denies that it was her I told, but she does not bother apologizing for the oversight. A simple, "I'm sorry, it's not recorded on the work order," would have gone a long ways towards mollifying a disgruntled customer. Even if it wasn't your mistake, you are the representative of the business that somehow screwed up, so apologize. This time I insisted that I wanted an actual time booked. She said she would call me tomorrow. That was yesterday. Today, I got home from work and no voicemail, nothing on call display. And this is late Friday before my week off. 
It was about 5:00 when I called another plumber in town. He (yes, I talked to a man this time) said that he could probably do it next week, but he would have to get the town to shut off the water supply from the outside and it was too late in the day to contact anyone from the town. So, he asked me to call him first thing Monday morning. And I will. And hopefully, we can coordinate with the town so my work can get done during my week off, even though it was left rather late, thanks to my waiting around for a response from the first plumber. Never again. I have said before that sometimes I'm too nice for my own good. And I think this was one of those times. If I'd followed my instinct and not bothered to give the first plumber my business after he failed to even leave me a voicemail, I would have had all the arrangements already made with the second plumber. And not have had to endure the incompetence of his office help. Good customer service is as valuable as gold. And maybe I might just let the first plumber know that the lack of good customer service just cost him a customer. Not just one job, but a customer. I'm a single home owner and there are some jobs I can't do on my own. My plumbing and heating jobs will now go to another plumber. 

Wednesday 6 March 2013

Sunday 3 March 2013

My response regarding cancer treatment

First, once more here is the link to the article to which I am responding:
Cancer Update Email -- It's a Hoax!

Now, to respond to Johns Hopkins: First of all, I find that a lot of what is said here is “doublespeak.” Take, for instance, how the issue of “Everyone has cancer cells” is addressed. They deny this, but make the statement, “inevitably everyone has some abnormal or atypical cells that possess some of the characteristics of cancer cells, most resolve themselves and never result in cancer.” Hmm, seems to me that this is saying pretty much the same thing as numbers one and two in the original list. Recently, I was reading a book by a registered dietitian, PhD, university professor. A statement he made was not strictly true according to the medical understanding of it, but the end result was the same. So, might I conclude that just because a lay person does not state something exactly as a doctor might state it, does not make it any less valid? This is how I feel about most of the original list: lots of valid information, just not necessarily phrased in the most strictly correct medical terms.
The Johns Hopkins website states that “cancer is a genetic disease.” I find this statement problematic. While it does go on to explain that the genetic mutations can be either inherited or more commonly acquired, this page is supposed to be for the lay person seeking clarification. When the average layperson reads “genetic,” they automatically think “inherited” and most cancers are not genetic in this sense. Genetics and Cancer
Regarding cancer and the immune system: while we may or may not have exact research stating that a strong immune system fights cancer, there are some interesting points. First, several cancers have already been linked to viruses (Viral Cancers) and we all know that a strong immune system fights viruses. Second, some of the acknowledged factors in cancer causation (environmental factors, smoking, poor diet, as stated by Johns Hopkins) are also factors that negatively impact the immune system.
Where supplements in the treatment of cancer are concerned, I will admit that there might not be much research to support their use. But this is not because of a lack of validity. It’s because the companies that usually sponsor research don’t stand to gain much by finding out supplements aid in curing cancer. See this article: Cancer Drugs Experiments to verify that yes, a lot of promising cancer therapies are not investigated due to lack of funding. I’m not a big fan of supplements if they substitute for the changes in diet and lifestyle that I believe are necessary for cancer treatment and prevention. But if I had the option of trying something that might cause me mild discomfort over something that would make me throw up continuously and my hair fall out, etc. I think I’ll take the supplements.
Wow, I’m really dumbfounded that Johns Hopkins would deny that chemotherapy and radiation harm normal cells. First, let me share some experiences. Years ago, I read an article about a woman who was wrongly diagnosed with cancer. After going through all the chemotherapy, etc., she found out that not only did she never have cancer, but that she was now more likely to get it because of the cancer treatment she underwent. When I worked in a hospital and we had to dispose of used IV tubing and solution bags, even if we used them to give medications (antibiotics, narcotics, antiemetics), we just put them in the regular garbage. I have never worked oncology, but I do remember one time when the docs decided to administer IV chemotherapy on the surgical unit where I worked. All of the IV paraphernalia had to be disposed of in biohazard containers. Why was that, if chemotherapy doesn’t harm normal cells? There is one chemotherapy drug (methotrexate) that is also given in smaller doses for arthritis. Our protocol for administering it by injection is to wear a gown and two pairs of gloves. We don’t allow anyone who is pregnant or might be pregnant to administer it. We used to have to draw it up from the vial, in which case we also had to wear a mask and preferably eye protection to avoid inhaling any droplets or getting them in our eyes. Now, we require prefilled syringes and the syringes are filled using a system that vents any vapours or droplets away from the person filling the syringes. Pretty excessive if this stuff does not harm normal cells. Funny, too, that in my 2006 Lippincott’s Nursing Drug Guide, under Adverse Effects is “cancer.” Hmm, a drug used to treat cancer can cause cancer. That’s not possible, is it? In this same book, under the adverse effects of Vincristine, another chemotherapy drug is “death with serious overdose.” Yes, in bold letters. Well, I thought this was true of any drug. People can and do die by overdosing with Tylenol, Ativan, Valium, but this adverse effect is not listed under any of these drugs. Even one of the most toxic drugs I know – digoxin, which has a narrow therapeutic margin (in other words, the amount required to treat you and the amount required to poison you are not too far apart), does not have “death with serious overdose” listed in the adverse effects. No, chemotherapy’s not harmful to healthy cells, is it? Radiation? Let’s be realistic – why do you think that they make you wear a lead apron when you go for an x-ray of an extremity? To cover vital body parts so that they don’t get irradiated unnecessarily. I was dating a man who was diagnosed with throat cancer. He had both radiation and chemotherapy. In preparation for radiation, he had to be fitted for a mask/shield to protect vital tissue from the radiation. No, radiation doesn’t harm normal tissue, not at all.
Dare I say it? Claiming that chemotherapy and radiation do not harm normal cells is an outright lie. Do I really want to trust my health to someone who would lie to convince me of the safety of a treatment?
I find it kind of ironic that the Johns Hopkins website denies that certain foods feed cancer, but then goes on to recommend what to eat and drink to prevent cancer. Does that even make sense? For your enlightenment, go to google scholar and research it for yourself. Here’s some of what I found:
Johns Hopkins also denies that cancer is a disease of the body, mind and spirit. This is just typical of allopathic medicine which separates body, mind and spirit and treats primarily physical symptoms instead of looking at health wholistically. Here are some links on attitude, personality and cancer:
In my observations as a healthcare professional, there is too intimate a link between mind and body to be ignored.
In 2000, one of my sisters had a mastectomy for breast cancer. Because of the type of cancer she had, the oncologist recommended that she receive both chemotherapy and radiation following the surgery. My sister refused both, opting instead to use a combination of supplements and diet. Although she has not been as strict about her diet as I would prefer, she remains cancer free to this day, 13 years later (not the dubious 5-year survival rate that the cancer establishment deems as a cure).
In 1997, my mother was diagnosed with cancer. In early 1998, we learned that it had metastasized to the spine and she was deemed terminal. However, the doctors said that there was a possibility that she might end up paralysed as a result of the spinal metastases and recommended radiation. Not sure if anyone ever bothered to ask if they really thought she was going to live long enough to get paralysed. However, they then came up with another excuse for giving her radiation – to control the pain. When the radiation actually increased the pain, it was voted that Laura should attend the next radiation session with Mom and Dad to find out what was what. I was prepared to go for the jugular when the doctor tried to “pacify” me by saying that if it was his mother, he would have this radiation done, never actually giving me an answer as to what they hoped to accomplish by it. My mother, however, who never liked anyone to create a “scene” or unpleasantness, prevented me from going down that doctor’s throat and ripping out his tonsils and rationalized that since there was only one more treatment, she didn’t want a fuss made and would endure the treatment. I still don’t know why they were treating my mother with radiation. But do you want to know what I think? I think that because she was older (though 73 is not old in my books), of the generation that rarely questioned the doctor’s authority or judgment and dying anyway, they used her for a guinea pig: “Ah, let’s try this and see what happens. After all, she’s dying anyway, so what harm can we do? And we might get some interesting results that we can publish in a medical journal.” My mother’s whole cancer experience left me with a very bad taste in my mouth. And very little (if any) faith in the members of the “cancer establishment.” Would I trust this kind of person to make decisions or recommendations for cancer treatment that are actually in my best interests? Not on your life! Especially since the response on the Johns Hopkins website is nebulous doublespeak not necessarily based on current research.
I recommend the DVD Healing Cancer from the Inside Out, as well as the book The China Study for further information. Before making a decision, do your research.

Johns Hopkins and Cancer

On February 23, I posted the following to facebook, with the disclaimer that I didn’t know if it was actually from Johns Hopkins, but that I felt the information was valid. I have since found out that it is not from Johns Hopkins and I apologize for misleading anyone as a result. Here is the link to Snopes regarding this list: And here is Johns Hopkins response:
HOWEVER, I do still believe that much of this information is valid and that some of the statements made by Johns Hopkins require an answer, by someone who does not have a vested interest in maintaining the status quo in the cancer industry. I will say that I recognize that not all of the statements in the original list are purely scientific. I also wish that the original author had included links to references in support of her/his statements so that readers could investigate and verify. I also wish that the individual who tagged on the bit about Johns Hopkins wouldn’t have done so. When you find out someone lied about one thing, it makes you question everything they say, and calls into question what otherwise may be worthwhile information. 
In my next blog post, I will address my concerns regarding the Johns Hopkins response, but here is the original post as appearing on facebook: 

1. Every person has cancer cells in the body. These cancer cells do not show up in the standard tests until they have multiplied to a few billion. When doctors tell cancer patients that there are no more cancer cells in their bodies after treatment, it just means the tests are unable to detect the cancer cells because they have not reached the detectable size.  
2. Cancer cells occur between 6 to more than 10 times in a person's lifetime.  
3. When the person's immune system is strong the cancer cells will be destroyed and prevented from multiplying and forming tumors.  
4. When a person has cancer it indicates the person has multiple nutritional deficiencies. These could be due to genetic, environmental, food and lifestyle factors.  
5. To overcome the multiple nutritional deficiencies, changing diet and including supplements will strengthen the immune system.  
6. Chemotherapy involves poisoning the rapidly-growing cancer cells and also destroys rapidly-growing healthy cells in the bone marrow, gastro-intestinal tract etc, and can cause organ damage, like liver, kidneys, heart, lungs etc.  
7. Radiation while destroying cancer cells also burns, scars and damages healthy cells, tissues and organs.  
8. Initial treatment with chemotherapy and radiation will often reduce tumor size. However prolonged use of chemotherapy and radiation do not result in more tumor destruction.
 9. When the body has too much toxic burden from chemotherapy and radiation the immune system is either compromised or destroyed, hence the person can succumb to various kinds of infections and complications.  
10. Chemotherapy and radiation can cause cancer cells to mutate and become resistant and difficult to destroy. Surgery can also cause cancer cells to spread to other sites.  
11. An effective way to battle cancer is to STARVE the cancer cells by not feeding it with foods it needs to multiple.
What cancer cells feed on:  
a. Sugar is a cancer-feeder. By cutting off sugar it cuts off one important food supply to the cancer cells. Note: Sugar substitutes like NutraSweet, Equal, Spoonful, etc are made with Aspartame and it is harmful. A better natural substitute would be Manuka honey or molasses but only in very small amounts. Table salt has a chemical added to make it white in colour. Better alternative is Bragg's aminos or sea salt.  
b. Milk causes the body to produce mucus, especially in the gastro-intestinal tract. Cancer feeds on mucus. By cutting off milk and substituting with unsweetened soy milk, cancer cells will starved.
c. Cancer cells thrive in an acid environment. A meat-based diet is acidic and it is best to eat fish, and a little chicken rather than beef or pork. Meat also contains livestock antibiotics, growth hormones and parasites, which are all harmful, especially to people with cancer.
 d. A diet made of 80% fresh vegetables and juice, whole grains, seeds, nuts and a little fruits help put the body into an alkaline environment. About 20% can be from cooked food including beans. Fresh vegetable juices provide live enzymes that are easily absorbed and reach down to cellular levels within 15 minutes t o nourish and enhance growth of healthy cells. To obtain live enzymes for building healthy cells try and drink fresh vegetable juice (most vegetables including bean sprouts) and eat some raw vegetables 2 or 3 times a day. Enzymes are destroyed at temperatures of 104 degrees F (40 degrees C).  
e. Avoid coffee, tea, and chocolate, which have high caffeine. Green tea is a better alternative and has cancer-fighting properties. Water--best to drink purified water, or filtered, to avoid known toxins and heavy metals in tap water. Distilled water is acidic, avoid it.  
12. Meat protein is difficult to digest and requires a lot of digestive enzymes. Undigested meat remaining in the intestines will become putrified and leads to more toxic buildup.  
13. Cancer cell walls have a tough protein covering. By refraining from or eating less meat it frees more enzymes to attack the protein walls of cancer cells and allows the body's killer cells to destroy the cancer cells.  
14. Some supplements build up the immune system (IP6, Flor-ssence, Essiac, anti-oxidants, vitamins, minerals, EFAs etc.) to enable the body's own killer cells to destroy cancer cells. Other supplements like vitamin E are known to cause apoptosis, or programmed cell death, the body's normal method of disposing of damaged, unwanted, or unneeded cells.  
15. Cancer is a disease of the mind, body, and spirit. A proactive and positive spirit will help the cancer warrior be a survivor. Anger, unforgiving and bitterness put the body into a stressful and acidic environment. Learn to have a loving and forgiving spirit. Learn to relax and enjoy life.  
16. Cancer cells cannot thrive in an oxygenated environment. Exercising daily, and deep breathing help to get more oxygen down to the cellular level. Oxygen therapy is another means employed to destroy cancer cells.

As I said, not all of it is necessarily scientifically valid. You need to do your own research, but you also need to do your own research about the traditional cancer treatments.