magnesium

A SIMPLE FANTASY OF THE FOOD VARIETY by Nora Logan

SOMETIMES ALL I want to do is order a huge sushi boat, with as much raw salmon as I can possibly get my hands on; find the rawest juice in all of North America, preferably made by artisans in the most back-alley, suspect conditions; get 2-dozen oysters; a massive amount of illegal unpasteurized cheese straight off the boat from France and since we're ordering from France might as well throw a steak tartare in there, a very rare steak (preferably with some blood dripping) and some pate too; buy 20 cases of your most raw egg-filled cookie dough (replete with chocolate chips) and go in hard. Really get into it like the Romans with their Vomitoriums might (an idea I've always been strangely fascinated by--eating until they vomited and vomiting so they could then eat more). What a concept!

Source:  Sample6

Source: Sample6

It would be ill-advised, gluttonous even for the healthiest person alive, and needless to say, supremely disgusting. I don't even want to picture what all those different tastes would do to someone. But that's what I fantasize about, sometimes. On my really dark days, or even on my good days. I remember having C. Difficile and watching the entire season of Chef's Table on Netflix, all about haute-cuisine. Masochism at it's finest and most self-flagellating if I do say so. Starving, unable to eat anything at all and taking in some hifalutin docu-series about the best restaurants in the world. 

I have never ordered one of these in my entire life. In my fantasy it's the only thing I order, anywhere. Source:  Pinterest

I have never ordered one of these in my entire life. In my fantasy it's the only thing I order, anywhere. Source: Pinterest

I'm not even hungry at this particular moment, and I only had a fond propensity for most of these things at best before I wasn't allowed to have them. It's not as if I was a connoisseur of French pate and kept stockpiles of it in my basement, I barely even liked the stuff. I had basically gone off sushi in recent years after reading too much about it and losing the taste for it, and would only ever order avocado rolls. And I certainly wasn't in the habit of buying tubs of cookie dough and shovelling it into my mouth on a Friday night, surrounded by Tollhouse wrappers. Plus, I was a vegetarian for nearly 6 years in my early 20s and even when I started eating meat again, it was with some pause and the frequency at which I would eat it was maybe once a month--if that. I did love a $1 oyster though. And you'd have to be heartless to NOT like cookie dough, especially if you get happen to get the organic, locally sourced, farm raised artisan one sent to your work and someone gives it to you and then you sit at your desk eating it for about an hour whilst trying to do work but really just reading the pretty label over and over as spoon after spoon makes its way to your mouth (is it just me that that happened to? One of the perks/pitfalls of working in late night television). There is a simple solution to my cookie dough conundrum, though, and it's to make this delicious dark chocolate concoction I used to make for a snack to bring to work with me, or just as a snack and then eat the whole thing before I even got to work.

This is not cookie dough. This is  steak tartare . Otherwise known as fully and completely raw meat with a bit of mustard. Source:  French Guy Cooking

This is not cookie dough. This is steak tartare. Otherwise known as fully and completely raw meat with a bit of mustard. Source: French Guy Cooking

Remember: I am by no means a chef (I don't even play one on TV) and this is something I just came up with after playing around with all sorts of vegan chocolate recipes over the years. 

Not Actually Cookie Dough But It'll Do

2-3 tbs Coconut Oil (sometimes I add more depending on the consistency, play around with it to your liking)

Half a bag raw almonds (soaked or unsoaked) -- about 8oz or 225g. If you soak them, soak the almonds the night before. If you soak them, it's easier to blend. But you also need foresight, so I usually just do it straight from the bag and it's not that hard, just need to put a bit more muscle into the mixing.

3-4 heaping tbs Cacao powder (for transplant patients -- this is a good source of magnesium, in which we are often deficient)

a few pinches of Pink Himalayan Salt or Maldon Sea Salt

3 pitted Medjool dates (I boil water in the kettle and pour over them to soften so they'll come off the pit more easily and are softer for blending)

1 tbs Chia Seeds (totes optional)

Put coconut oil and almonds in first and mix until smooth, you may have to go in with a wooden spoon and keep manipulating the 'dough' so it all binds together. Then add the cacao powder, salt and dates (plus chia seeds if you feel like it). 

Once smooth, you can either make into little cookie dough balls or just put in a jar like I do when I'm feeling lazy and consume at your risk, it's pretty addictive. It's also very filling because of the almonds which does make it a good snack and dose of protein. Put into the fridge for a couple of hours to let set, but not before tasting, obvs. 

I know what you're thinking. 1) 'Where did she get such a professional photo of her cookie dough concoction?' Off my iPhone, of course! 2) 'That looks like shit!' Yes, it does, there's no denying it. But it tastes really amazing. Trust.

I know what you're thinking. 1) 'Where did she get such a professional photo of her cookie dough concoction?' Off my iPhone, of course! 2) 'That looks like shit!' Yes, it does, there's no denying it. But it tastes really amazing. Trust.

So that's my beautiful dark twisted fantasy (hey, Kanye). But it's my fantasy and I shall hold onto it until the end of time. Go get your own fantasy, mine is full of raw and undercooked food and is admittedly, pretty gross. And I hope to be able to make my fun cookie dough substitute one day soon when my upper arm strength gets back to normal and my indigestion subsides. 

Happy Sunday. 

A SELF CARE ROUTINE FOR VALENTINE'S DAY by Nora Logan

VALENTINE'S DAY HAS a tendency to make a lot of us crazy. For those of us who are single, we try to ignore the day as best we can whilst watching a stream of 'I love you' quotes, memes and photos of bouquets of flowers stream in via social media. For those in relationships, it can be tough too, so many expectations to live up to and nothing is ever really perfect. It can have you questioning the one you're with. We should probably just love each other everyday and leave it at that. But I try not to should too much on myself, or anyone else for that matter.

Courtesy of misfitsandoursecondchances.tumblr.com

Something I learned from going to the edge of death and coming back from the brink was that I didn't love myself. Like, at all. Conceptually I could understand why others loved me, and that I had a lot of friends. I could objectively see that I was pretty, and dare I say, on occasion, a smokeshow. But I would say awful, disgusting things to myself on a daily basis. I didn't love my body, I didn't think I was charming as I purported to be, I could always find a flaw if given a compliment and I never cut myself a break. I think a lot of us do this and it's extremely detrimental. Women, especially, are held up to this unrealistic standard of beauty. We are bombarded with what we're supposed to look like and who we are supposed to be from such a young age, it's ingrained in us. I hid all of this really well (I think?!): I am not by any means a Debbie Downer. Quite the contrary, I've been told I'm a good time gyaldem, and I'm here to tell you, I am. But my confidence was shot to shit and I was pretending to be confident and into myself and all the other things you're supposed to be. Because I didn't believe it, not because it wasn't true.

But it didn't matter what the world thought of me: this is more about what goes on in one's head and how unhealthy it can be and how deep those grooves can go. There (hopefully) are a lot of positive things to come out of my near death experience and life-saving liver transplant. A lot of them remain to be seen. The most immediate one was realising how MUCH people love me and how I was doing myself a disservice by not loving myself. It is such wasted breath and your energy can be directed in so many other productive ways. Negativity and negative thinking can be contagious, and we need to work on ourselves in order to exist happily out in the world. That is really the only person you're responsible for: you. Unless you have young children, in which case, good luck to you and I wish you all the best and rainbows and well-behaved angels.

Now I'm almost on the other side of it, I have massive stretch marks all over my body because I blew up to 200 pounds after transplant, whale style. I have a saggy ass that drops straight down: like a plank of wood. My back just goes straight into my legs (it's cute). I have a huge scar in the middle of my abdomen. I have countless scars from countless blood draws and drains and catheters. I've lost a lot of my hair because of the steroids I'm on, and from god only knows what else: anesthesia, painkillers, 15 different types of medication. I've also grown a lot of hair in unwanted places because of the same drugs. I lost a LOT of weight after I deflated, because I couldn't eat for 6 months, which in a sick way, I liked at first. But I know I have to gain a bit more to be healthy, and I'm trying.

My legs felt like two blimps. I didn't recognise them. My skin was stretched to capacity. Photo by Alex Budman

I am not going to sit here and pretend that I don't want those stretch marks to go away, or that I hope that my Mercedes Benz scar won't fade and become less red with time, taking up less real estate around my middle, even though it already looks pretty good. I'm not about to tell you I have SO MANY SCARS AND I LOVE THEM ALL BECAUSE THEY MAKE ME WHO I AM! They do make me who I am, and I honour that, and they remind me of how strong I am, but I don't want to look at them forever. Or that I won't RUN to the electrolysis place as soon as I'm allowed to get it done (another restriction because of steroids. Fuck you steroids, you're really cramping my style). I am only human, after all, and a woman, and a woman who likes to look good. What woman doesn't? Or man for that matter. But I am more gentle with myself, and I know I'm beautiful, smart and capable of anything I set my mind to (except for singing, coordinated dance routines or any team sport). And I know that the most important relationship I have is with myself, because if I can't love myself and if I can't say kind things to myself then who the fuck else will? And above all, I am patient. Because I know it will all come with time, and care. Or it won't and that's ok too. But self-love and care is all I can do in the meantime and slowly try to make myself feel like a woman again.

So herewith, is a small self-care routine I suggest that I've been doing ever since my skin stopped feeling like it was on total fire (which it was for the first few months, no idea why). DRYBRUSHING!

Number 1.  Get yourself one of these babies. I used to do it almost everyday before I got sick. I like the ones with the long handles for getting to the middle of your back. It improves blood circulation and apparently, helps assist in lymphatic drainage and gives a jolt to your nervous system (invigoration station). Natural beauty mavens claim it also gets rid of unwanted cellulite, but the jury is still out on this one. I used to obsess over wellness articles about this and think WOW there are SO many benefits! I want that! But I never really bothered to understand exactly how it worked or IF it worked. Some of the claims are true, some are exaggerated: here is a good explanation of the benefits from the trusted Cleveland Clinic. This is also an incredible way to exfoliate and slough dead skin off you. My skin has been so dry since transplant, and I am taking any help I can get. Your skin is also the largest organ on your body, so it's good to give it some attention. 

Number 2. Get naked! Or strip down to your underwear. It's Valentine's Day after all! Why NOT be naked. You should really try to get naked at least once a day if possible. 

Number 3.  In a circular motion, scrub up towards your heart. Start at your feet, moving in broad strokes up to your legs and arms to your chest. Do the back of your legs up to your ass and where you can get to on your back. Repeat. I do it for about 2-3 minutes. 

Number 4. I then put magnesium oil on for about 20 minutes before getting into the shower. WARNING: the magnesium oil is going to sting like a motherfucker for about 10-15 mins. It's fine, it just means it's doing its job. Don't let it scare you or deter you from doing it again. If you can only deal with it for a few minutes the first time, that's cool. Most of us are deficient in Magnesium (hence the stinging). Transplant recipients seem to be especially deficient, and they've had me taking a prescribed supplement since transplant. They were always checking my mag levels in hospital. In hospital you learn cool medical jargon like 'mag levels'. It's basically like getting a medical degree, except not at all. 

Number 5. After getting out the shower I take a good ten to fifteen minutes to moisturize with some home-made moisturizer or this awesome body oil from S.W. Basics and then put Bio-Oil on my scars and stretch marks, something my dear friend Giustina sent me (check out her incredible cooking tips and suggestions for healthy eating here). I got SO many amazing soaps and moisturizers as gifts after I got out of hospital but I have found this one to be really effective. You can get it off Amazon or other online retailers and they most likely sell it at Whole Foods or small health food stores. I still don't have any muscles in my legs so I try to really massage and give them some love, because they certainly need it. I was not ready for this jelly. Beyonce was right, like she usually is. 

Number 6. I make a cup of peppermint tea as well as drink a large glass of water (if I'm not feeling lazy, and I'd say there is generally a 50/50 chance that I will be feeling lazy, I squeeze lemon in the water) and try to listen to something calming, like this: 

Then I go back to recording Snapchat vids about nothing. It's all about balance, people. 

***IF YOU ARE A TRANSPLANT PATIENT REMEMBER TO ALWAYS ASK YOUR DOCTOR BEFORE DOING ANY OF THESE THINGS. I AM NOT A MEDICAL PROFESSIONAL, MUCH AS I MAY HAVE WISHED TO BE AS A CHILD (VETERINARIAN, LIKE EVERYONE ELSE, DUH)***