No Good Read Goes Unpunished

Greetings Ninjas in Training,

Eleka nahmen nahmen ah tum ah tum eleka nahmen.

image

No idea, Elphaba. But a lot of the time, that’s how I feel when I’m trying to read labels.

Buckle down, ninjalings. We’re gonna learn a few tricks to make it a little easier! This is long, but stick out the tutorial, it will help you in life and stuff, AND there’s a chance for a prize at the end!

Step One

The first rule of label reading is to always read the label.

image

Ok, so I searched “label reading gif” and this is what came up. This is just my personal opinion, but I think it’s a bit too late for this person to be reading labels. Either they have serious gangrene, or it’s Elphaba, in which case I’m sorry.

tumblr_nspet3dzhz1rjl9ygo3_250

Anyways, I’m serious. Read it. Every time.

Ingredients for the same food item can vary from brand to brand, and ingredients in any product vary by region. That is, Oreos in California do not have the same ingredients as Oreos in Missouri; they are manufactured in different facilities, and the non-main ingredients they use are different. (Also, don’t eat Oreos, they are not safe for ninjas or anyone wishing to live past age 50.)

Furthermore, ingredients in any product can change without notice. For example, one of my favorite brands of “safe” chocolate added soy to their product, which means it is no longer “safe” and no longer my favorite because they took away my chocolate.

Step Two

Once you’ve got that label in hand, your next step is to look for the most conspicuous of perpetrators: citric acid or citrates.

In order to demonstrate, we will look at the stuff of my nightmares:

image

I’m not kidding, I’ve had actual nightmares about Death by Doritos. You will see why very quickly.

Let’s take a look: any citric acid or citrates?

image

 

Yep. So right there, you should put down the Deathritos and run. But since we have a few more steps to learn, we’re going to keep looking. Be brave, ninjalings.

Step Three

Look for foods that are above your tolerance level. Since I’m the one writing this tutorial, we are going to use my tolerance level, which is negative zero.

image

Let’s take a look at each of these perpetrators in detail:

Corn – Contains about 0.2% citric acid, so #nope
Vegetable oil – Corn oil is one of three possibilities here, making this a #no
Cheddar cheese – Made with milk (0.2%) and additional citric acid, bringing it to 0.4% of #nope
Buttermilk – Again with the milk, plus it probably has other strange additives #no
Romano cheese – We don’t have a specific number for this cheese, but it’s cheese #nope
Onion powder – Onions can have 0.1-0.3% citric acid #nothanks
Corn flour – #nope
Tomato powder – Tomatoes are in the 0.4-0.5% range, but here’s the thing: this is percent by weight, and water adds a lot of weight to tomatoes. The CA content of powdered tomato (and any powdered thing, including the onions above and others below) are likely much higher than for the whole food. #nopenopenope
Spices – Vague enough for you? As a general rule, I assume leaf spices to be safe and root or other spices to be unsafe, since root vegetables etc. all contain citric acid. However, I don’t have any numbers to verify this, and even if I did, that would do nothing for determining the safety of the mystery spices in here #vague #nope
Garlic powder – 1.0% plus the rule of powdered things make this a #no
Red and green bell pepper powder – 0.2 and 0.1% respectively, plus powder rule #nope

Are you having nightmares yet?

Step Four

If you have very low tolerance like me, it’s time to check for ingredients derived from citric acid-containing things. I keep a running list of sneaky additives here, but said list is nowhere near complete. Please let me know if you discover new things to add to the Nope-dom.

image

 

Sunflower or canola oil – These are safe when expeller expressed, but when this process is used, it almost always specifies this on the label. These oils are likely cold pressed, which is a chemical extraction process that often uses citric acid #nope
Maltodextrin – For once the label does the work for us! It says right there, “made from corn” #bye
Enzymes – What even? Why you gotta be so vague, Doritos? Enzymes can be derived from anything, oftentimes fruits or vegetables, so #nope
Whey – Extracted from milk #nope
Monosodium glutamate (MSG) – Often made by doing strange things to beets #no
Enzymes again – #why #no
Whey protein concentrate – More whey? #excessive #no
Natural flavors – Citric acid is considered a “natural” flavor because it is made with corn and mold. You can’t make this stuff up. #ew #nOpe
Dextrose – Derived from corn in the U.S., but may be made from wheat elsewhere #redwhiteandnope
Lactose – Derived from milk #no
Lactic acid – Derived from milk #noagain
Sugar – Can be derived from either cane (safe) or beets (unsafe). “Healthy,” organic, less processed foods are more likely to use cane, but in a junk food like this, beet is a likely source #nope

Something to keep in mind while reading labels: things are listed in order from “most stuff in here” to “least stuff in here.” Someone with a moderate tolerance might be able to tolerate something with corn as a last ingredient, but not as a first ingredient. Figuring out what you can tolerate in what positions takes a little trial and error, so if you’re going to experiment, be safe and make sure you won’t be anywhere near your celebrity crush/Elphaba/other people you want to impress in the near future.

Ok, so using my -0 tolerance level, it looks like we’re left with…

image

Cheese cultures (bacteria), salt, more cheese cultures, more salt, artificial color, and two weird chemical things.

Yum. #not

Step Five

You thought you were done?

Alas, ninjalings. I don’t know about other countries, but in America, we don’t tell people what’s in their food unless it’s 1% or more of the total weight.

If you are ridiculously sensitive, you might want to call the manufacturer to ask what else is in their food. They probably won’t tell you, but it’s worth a try for certain items, like unprocessed meat (which is often washed in citric acid for sanitation). I’ve been pretty consistently able to get responses from meat manufacturers, but not from manufacturers of processed foods.

Story time: once upon a time I found a cereal whose label indicated total safeness. I was thrilled, but called the manufacturer anyways to make sure there was no sneaky citric acid. They assured me there was not, so I ate it.

My body was not pleased. I called again, and asked them to please tell me all ingredients that were not on the label; they insisted they could not do so because it was “proprietary information” (my least favorite words). I tried it again. I got sick again. So I wrote to my doctor, who wrote to them with all the authority of his M.D.

Two months later, I got a letter stating that I would be sued for eternity and my doctor would lose his license if I shared the super secret information they were about to share with me. The cereal contained 0.12 ppb citric acid.

0.12. Parts. Per. Billion.

Moral of the story: trust no witch.

image

Except Elphaba. She knows what’s up.

Alternate moral of the story: if you’re ridiculously sensitive and will die from eating 0.12 ppb citric acid, do your best to stay away from processed foods. However, for the vast majority of ninjas, this should not be a problem, so don’t worry about it!

The Contest

Ok ninjalings, now it’s YOUR turn to read a label!

image

Using my tolerance level, please comment on this post with a list of ninja-unfriendly ingredients.

Whoever gets the closest by April 1st gets a special prize!

What is this prize, you ask? Well, I’ve gotten approximately 50 million emails as of late requesting more recipes.

So, recipes you shall have! Winner gets their favorite recipe modified into a ninja-friendly version. I will contact you by email and we’ll work together until it’s delicious. If more than one of you gets it right, I’ll be selecting a random winner.

Happy label reading!
Until next time, when life gives you lemons, RUN!!!
The Lemon Ninja

Advertisements

Chocolate of the Carribbean

Greetings, Ninjas in Training!

At last, the most anticipated post topic of the century.

Chocolate.

Can you eat it? Can you not?

The short answer is:

See what I did there? There is no short answer. Hold on to your nunchucks, ninjalings. Let’s dive in and take a look at the mystery that is chocolate.

What is Chocolate?

Excellent question. What exactly are we talking about here? Chocolate can mean a lot of things.

I could tell you all about how cacao beans are fermented, dried, and roasted, but that took me months of research to sort through and I’m not going to bore you with it.

(Wait, months??? “It’s right there on Wikipedia,” you say. The thing is, more than one ninja has sent me a particular scientific paper about cacao fermentation, which contains information on the citric acid content of the beans and how this is important for flavor. The thing is, we don’t eat the whole bean, so I basically got lost in the tunnels of the Internet trying to find information that did not include the word “fermentation.” It’s harder than it sounds, I swear.)

Anyways, the part we care about is what happens after the fermenting, drying, and roasting. They crack open the beans, get rid of the hull (a source of citric acid in many hulled foods), and smush up the inside part, the “nib.”

(I deserve a medal for finding information on those darn nibs.)

The nib gets annihilated into what is called chocolate liquor, which, despite the name’s suggestion, is not going to get you drunk.

Because, Jack Sparrow, we are talking about chocolate.

Apologies. Captain Jack Sparrow, we are talking about chocolate liquor, which is comprised of roughly 50% cocoa butter, 50% cocoa solids, and 0% rum.

Aw 😦

Oh well, we have more important things to do anyways, like discuss what it means when you look at a chocolate bar and it says “Blah% Cacao.” What it’s referring to is the total content that comes from cacao – in other words, the chocolate liquor content. If you want to learn more nerdy things about cacao percentages, check out this page where I got all the info!

Now, I could start giving you science numbers, but first I’d like to give you some ninja numbers.

Ninja Survey Results

Roughly 100 years ago, I asked you whether you’d had a bad reaction to chocolate. The answers were broken up by tolerance level: High (1.2%+, can probably eat grapefruit), Moderate (0.4-1.2%, can probably eat tomatoes), Low (0.1-0.4%, can probably eat apples), or Saddest Tolerance Ever (<0.1%, should never eat anything) (I fall into this category) (see here if you want to figure out your tolerance level).

(Parentheses.)

The results:

image

We will come back to these momentarily.

Science Results

After trekking through the wasteland of fermentation and lies, I finally happened upon a paper that gave me the citric acid content of cacao nibs.

Drumroll please…

30 mmol/kg.

Uh, ok, so that tells us nothing. Let’s convert that into something we understand:

30 mmol/kg = 0.030 mol/1000 g
(0.030mol/1000g)(192g citric acid/mol)(1/10) = 0.56g/100g = 0.56%

Thank you to my chemistry nerd friend Maria for checking my math, because I was pretty sure I’d forgotten how to do math when I saw that result.

Please click here for an appropriate emotional response: D:

But wait. We don’t just sit there eating chocolate liquor (I hope). Milk chocolate contains roughly 10% cacao, and dark chocolate must contain at least 43% to be considered dark (in Europe at least… let’s be real, in America it’s probably 5% but we won’t get into the inferiority of American food right now) and can even be found up to 85%.

So really:
Milk chocolate = (0.56%)(.10) = 0.056% = safe for ninjas with a low tolerance
Dark chocolate = (0.56%)(.43) to (0.56%)(.85) = 0.24% to 0.47% = safe for most ninjas with a moderate tolerance

Please click here if you need to respond emotionally again: D:

Ok, But Why Aren’t We Dead?

Ah, yes, the survey results. Roughly 2/3 of our moderate tolerance ninjas had never had an adverse reaction to chocolate; the same goes for more than half our low tolerance ninjas, and nearly 2/3 of our sad tolerance ninjas.

What’s up with that? Let’s break it down by group. You may have had a bad reaction if…

Moderate Tolerance Ninjas:
*You were eating super dark chocolate with 85% or more cacao
*You were eating chocolate with extra rude ingredients like soy lecithin (which contains citric acid and is in everythingggggggg)
*You are independently allergic to chocolate

Low Tolerance Ninjas:
*You were eating dark chocolate
*That nasty soy junk again
*You are independently allergic to chocolate

Sad Tolerance Ninjas:
*You should not survive chocolate
*How did 2/3 of us survive this?
*Are 2/3 of us crazy?

Are We Crazy, or is Chocolate Magic?

Here’s the thing, ninjalings. I have an exceptionally low tolerance to citric acid. I cannot breathe if I am in the same room as someone who was next to someone eating an orange 3 hours ago.

And because there was no information on citric acid to be found back when I was inducted into ninjahood, I found out everything the hard way. I went on the assumption that everything but citrus fruits and tomatoes were ok, then paid the price after eating dumb things like sweet potatoes and carrots and yes, even lettuce.

I did not find the list until after I’d found out pretty much everything the hard way – all it did for me was confirm that I was not crazy.

Many, many times, I have eaten a favorite food (see: sweet potatoes) fully assuming it was safe, and then I started wheezing and needed my friends to half carry me back to my dorm.

If only I could sing like Kristin Chenoweth

If only I could sing like Kristin Chenoweth

In other words: expectation does not influence whether or not I have a reaction.

I’m assuming the same is true for most, if not all of you. It’s not like we are talking about dairy or gluten – who the heck expects to react to citric acid? How many months and years did you suffer, researching and swinging wildly with your nunchucks at an unknown target? You are not here because you’re crazy, you’re here because you understand your body well enough to figure out what’s bothering it.

So.

I asked my two favorite M.D.s, my allergist and my homeopath, what the actual heck was going on. Is chocolate made of magic?

Yes, Chocolate is Magic

Both of my doctors agreed that chocolate is, in fact, magic.

“It certainly would make sense that some of your chemical reactivity causes neurological changes that might be reversed by any or all of the mechanisms you mentioned,” said the allergist.

“Cocoa powder is a magical substance indeed. It is so full of nutrition and antioxidants that in the old days tribes indigenous to where the trees grow used the number of them on their territory as a measure of their wealth!” said the homeopath, who then literally proceeded to prescribe me chocolate.

Sidebar: these are my physicians talking to me. Please don’t go prescribing yourself chocolate and then dedicating your Darwin Award to me and the doctors on my dope squad, ok?

Anyways, you may have gathered from my allergist’s response that I wasn’t just asking about my lack of reaction to chocolate – something in chocolate was not only preventing me from reacting to the citric acid it contained, but seemed to be taming my allergic responses in general: chocolate works better than Benadryl for me, especially when my reactions have neurological symptoms. But what’s the secret ingredient?

Turns out, there could be several. Here are just a few:

Nitric oxide – A vasodilator, which means it helps oxygenate your body and brain. It also acts as a neurotransmitter. These two actions might explain why it helps with my neurological symptoms.

FlavonoidsAnti inflammatory and antioxidant. Inflammation is a biggie, ninjalings. Pretty much every symptom ever is the result of an inflammatory reaction: everything from hives to an angry tummy to anaphylaxis. Antioxidants are also important because they keep those little jerks called free radicals from running around in your body and punching everything they touch, though this is more of a long-term helper and not an immediate one.

MagnesiumReduces histamine, which is the instigator of allergic reactions.

There’s probably other stuff, but if I keep researching I’ll never post this 😉

That Was Way Too Long, What Even Did You Just Say

In sum:

  • We’re not invited to Captain Jack Sparrow’s garden party
  • Milk chocolate contains roughly 0.056% citric acid
  • Dark chocolate contains anywhere from 0.24% to 0.47% citric acid
  • Lots of ninjas who shouldn’t be able to eat chocolate can eat it
  • Chocolate is magic

507e3-tumblr_lp48tb2le51qj5hy3o6_250

So What Should *I* Do, Lemon Ninja?

Well, Ninjas in Training, this is a highly individualized question.

Bottom line: listen to your body.

Every ninja is different and some of you will not be able to eat chocolate. Some of you will. Either way, please be safe if you decide to experiment! Listen to your intuition and don’t try something you’re unsure about. If you’re prone to dangerous reactions, talk to your doctor about it first – if you get the green light, try a VERY SMALL AMOUNT, and do so in the company of emergency meds and a friend who knows what’s up.

A general procedure to follow:

  1. If you’ve been eating chocolate without a problem, eat on
  2. If you’ve had a reaction to chocolate, check the ingredients. If it contains anything other than chocolate liquor, cocoa powder, cocoa butter, and cane sugar, you may be reacting to the extra ingredients (especially if there is soy involved)
  3. If there were no additives, either the cacao% was too high for you, or the magic of chocolate does not work for your body
  4. If there were additives or you think you can handle a lower cacao% (plus you feel brave and desperately need chocolate in your life), find a low cacao%, additive-free chocolate and give it a small try in a safe environment (I recommend Enjoy Life!)
  5. If the magic of chocolate still doesn’t work for you, that’s ok. The recipe I’m about to share tastes absolutely delicious even without chocolate!

 

Lemon Ninja’s Chocolate (or not) Custard

Courtesy of Lemon Ninja, her Abuelita, and her Mommy

Ingredients

Chocolate Sauce
1/2 cup organic sugar
1/4 cup water
6 Tablespoons organic powdered cocoa

Crema Pastelera
3/4 cup organic sugar
2/3 cup spelt flour
1 1/2 cup rice milk
6 egg yolks

Notes: This recipe is equally delicious with or without chocolate. It is also equally delicious as a pudding or a frozen custard. You can use anywhere from 4-8 egg yolks – more makes it richer and more flavorful, especially in the non-chocolate version. If you can, get organic chocolate. You’ll thank me later.

Part One: Chocolate Sauce

  1. Dissolve sugar in water in a small sauce pan while heating; it should get a little thick.
  2. Add cocoa and stir till dissolved.
  3. Set aside to cool.

Part Two: Crema Pastelera

  1. Mix flour and sugar in saucepan.
  2. Add in rice milk.
  3. Stir while warming over medium heat; when it begins to steam, turn the heat down and continue mixing until thickened.
  4. Remove from heat, add eggs and mix thoroughly.

Part Three: The Third Part

  1. Once both the chocolate sauce and crema are cooled to room temp, mix them together.
  2. Pour the custard into a freezer friendly storage thing, or into individual plastic cups for easier nomming later on.
  3. Let cool in the fridge for about an hour.
  4. Move the custard to the freezer and impatiently wait for it to get frozen.
  5. Eat it. All of it. At once. 😀

That’s all for now, my ninjalings.
Until next time, when life gives you lemons, RUN!
The Lemon Ninja

One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Doom Fish

Greetings, Ninjas in Training!

Awhile ago I received a question from someone we’ll call Fishing Ninja regarding–you guessed it–fish. I’m still kind of a ninja zombie, but since this question involves no research on my part (I swear I’m still working on that chocolate post, really), and apparently I mention fish nowhere on this site…

Gather around, my little ninjalings. It’s time for a story.

image

Here’s the thing about fish: in its completely untainted state, it is fine to eat. What I mean by untainted is that you catch it yourself, prepare it in a lemon-free zone, and definitely don’t cook it on one of those public park grills.

The trouble comes when you didn’t catch the fish yourself. Here’s a fun, gross fact: fish and other seafood are typically transported on ice that’s mixed with citric acid. This acts as a preservative, keeps the fish from rotting, and sends unsuspecting ninjas to the emergency room.

Then there’s the issue of contamination at the butcher shop or fish-buying-place (fish butcher? I don’t know). Take a look at that display case. What do you see?

Lemons.

Lemons everywhere.

The juice is very likely all over the knives, counters, and everything else at the fishería. Yes, that is now a word, deal with it. But don’t deal with those lemons if you don’t have a high tolerance.

Eat the one fish, eat the two fish, eat the red fish; as long as you caught them yourself.

Do not eat the doom fish.

That’s all for now… until next time, when life (or a fishería) gives you lemons, RUN!
The Lemon Ninja

Villainous Vanilla

Greetings ninjas in training-

We interrupt this hiatus to bring you a piece of information I have long sought after. After years of research, we can conclude that vanilla probably contains citric acid.

Probably?

Image

Translation: we did a fancy science test, but we were to lazy to figure out all eight of the major results.

Since I can’t post gifs from my phone, I’m reduced to rolling my eyes via a link

http://replygif.net/971

Soooooo, we’re pretty sure citric acid is in there somewhere?

That’s all for now, ninjalings. Thanks for all the love and support on my journey to becoming immortal! Lots of love back at you, and until next time, when life gives you lemons, RUN!!!

LN

Honey, I Shrunk The List (of safe foods)

Greetings Ninjas in training!

This week has been an exciting one.  Ninjas have spinny-twirl-kicked their way into my inbox with many questions: are B vitamins a good secret weapon? is this food safe for ninjas? will you marry me?

All of these questions shall be answered on this blog in the near future.  For today, we’ll turn our attention to an important change in the “safe foods” list, courtesy of an awesome person who shall henceforth be known as Honey Ninja.

winnie_the_poohThis is not a picture of Honey Ninja, who wrote to me a couple of days ago to let me know that one of the “safe” foods does have citric acid; it put them out of commission!  I thought this was odd, because I had researched honey about 5 years ago, after I had a bad reaction to a cereal containing it.  I searched far and wide, and found no evidence of honey containing citric acid naturally.  Figuring I must just have a separate honey allergy, I stopped eating it.  I wondered if this was the case with Honey Ninja, but nevertheless, I decided to scour the internet once more for any hint that honey might be unsafe, even in its purest form.

Welp, no need for scouring: this time, the first freaking thing on Google told me that honey has citric acid in it.

 photo rachelwut.gif

What??? Okay, so, information obtained from the internet in the days when Facebook was only for college kids and everyone still used AIM is not necessarily the best information.

So here is the good information: honey does contain a very small amount of citric acid.  This study says, on average, it contains 0.019g citric acid per 100g honey.  Depending on the type of honey, it can range from 0.004g to 0.08g, which is on the same order as lettuce, and falls under the “very low” citric acid category of “the list“.

In other words, the amount of citric acid in honey is pretty dang small, and would not cause a reaction in 99% of ninjas.  (I react to lettuce, so I would probably be one of those ninjas!)

If you find you don’t get along with honey, here are a few things to consider about why that may be the case.  Either:

(a) Your tolerance is obscenely small and you should keep a wary eye on all foods in the universe;
(b) The honey you ate had citric acid added to it.  This seems to be common practice, and if you live in the U.S. or somewhere equally lame, chances are this won’t be on the label;
or (c) There is something else in the honey that, combined with the citric acid, made your body decide it would be fun to try to kill you.

Option (c) is something my allergist refers to as an “allergy sprain.”  When you sprain your ankle, little things that typically go unnoticed, like catching your toe on a step, can really freaking hurt.  If there is something else in honey your body doesn’t like (which is quite likely, as honey is highly allergenic on its own), combining that with the very small amount of citric acid in there (which may not bother you otherwise) is akin to spraining your ankle (honey), and then immediately stubbing your toe (citric acid).  Instead of that tiny amount of citric acid stubbing your toe, bugging the crap out of you for awhile, and then going on its merry way, you end up tripping and falling, breaking your hip and several ribs, and hitting your head and getting a concussion.

Or you end up like that guy.

That’s all for now.  Until next time, when life gives you lemons, (and maybe honey), RUN!!!
The Lemon Ninja

Stop Licking Your Spinach

Greetings, ninjas-in-training!

I hope you’re all having a lovely end of summer/winter.  I’ve made some massively exciting, life-changing updates to the site (ok, slight exaggeration), so clearly I must shout all the new information from the rooftops.

Actually, that’s way too much work, so I’m just going to explain and link here on the blog instead.

Change #1 is a minor correction to “the list.”  I had “spinach” listed as 0.2g/100g, when in fact there are two kinds of spinach on the list.  English spinach, which is what Americans tend to refer to as just plain spinach, actually has a citric acid value <0.1g/100g.  Water spinach, which is part of a different botanical family, has 0.2g/100g.  So now you can stop licking your spinach to see what happens. Thanks to Shidoshi John for catching that!

Change #2 is simply a clarification of information already on “the list.”  All of the foods marked as containing “trace” amounts of citric acid are now listed as <0.1g/100g.  If you bop on over to the NUTTAB 2010 Online Searchable Database, you might notice that the foods listed as <0.1g are not on the NUTTAB citric acid list.  If you look up the foods individually, you’ll see they are listed as having 0.0g of citric acid.  “What the heck?” you ask?  I’ll tell you a little story about it…

Once upon a 2008, when Lemon Ninja was just a half-dead baby ninja who didn’t know what to eat, these foods were on the citric acid list, with a value of 0.0g/100g.  “What the heck?” she asked, “Are there random citric acid-free foods on this list, or is this just extremely confusing decimal rounding?” The lovely people of NUTTAB explained that these foods contained “trace amounts” of citric acid (i.e. <0.1g), but as they rounded values to one decimal, they were listed as 0.0g.

When the NUTTAB 2010 came out, they decided to remove these foods from their list for the sake of brevity.  Thankfully, baby ninja had saved the old list in a word document, so she was able to include those foods on her incredibly shiny version of the list.  *strikes impressive ninja pose*

IFWT_Rangers2That’s all for now, my ninjalings! Enjoy your new learning tools, and until next time… when life gives you lemons, RUN!
The Lemon Ninja

To eat, or not to eat?

Greetings, ninjas-in-training!

Sensei here.  At your request, I have updated “the list” to include a tutorial on what to do about foods that aren’t on “the list.” Please let me know if it is clear, or if I need to add anything! I shall also share the tutorial below, but first a bit more ninja business…

I have also smushed both lists onto one page, in hopes that it will be easier to navigate.  It’s entirely possible that I just made it more chaotic, so please let me know if the new format makes your brains explode.  I’m hoping that you find it shiny, because I think it’s shiny.

I’d also appreciate it if you let me know if you encounter any broken links on the site.  I may be a lemon ninja, but I am not a computer ninja, and I can’t figure out why this site seems to spontaneously eat links on occasion.

Maybe they just look tasty?  I guess WordPress does not suffer from any form of hyperlink sensitivity.

And now, the long awaited not-on-the-list tutorial!

Suppose one fine day you find yourself with a hankering for Chicken Maratha with a side of pomelo and pistachios.  These things would probably taste terrible together, but for the sake of variety in this tutorial, you just like to eat weird combinations of things.  You love the spicy goodness of turmeric, tart juiciness of pomelo, and the weird greenness of pistachios, but you haven’t had any since you started your ninja lifestyle.  Are they safe to eat?  You rush to your favorite website of all time but, to your partial joy and partial dismay, you don’t see them on “the list.”

This means one of two things: (1) the foods are safe, (2) the foods are not safe, but have not been evaluated by the food people of Australia, or (3) I’m really sorry, there isn’t a third thing, but I cannot make lists composed of only two things.  So, which is it?

Have no fear, ninja-in-training!  With a few minutes on the web, you can make a reasonably educated guess as to the safety of almost any food.  Let’s go through the steps, and decide whether or not turmeric, pomelo, and pistachios are ninja-safe:

    1. Use your intuition.  If it sounds dangerous, it probably is. 
      • If you’re out and about, don’t eat it! 
      • If you’re at home and have time to hit the web, proceed to step 2.
      • Why do half of the things I need to list only have two things? *sigh*
    2. Think about similar foods.
      • Pomelo is a fruit.  All fruits have citric acid in them, so pomelo must have citric acid.
        • If some fruits are within your tolerance level, you’re going to need to get more specific.
        • Think about smell, taste, and texture: what fruits does pomelo remind you of?  Oranges and limes come to mind here, which is probably a bad thing for any ninja.
        • No pomelo for you!
      • What about turmeric?  It’s not fruit, and it’s not really a vegetable either, it’s a… well it looks like a… thing.  It’s a thing.  Okay.  Not very helpful.  Looks like we’ll have to take this to step 3!
      • Pistachios are some kind of nut-ish thing.  Nuts and seeds are weird foods when it comes to categories, and a lot of things we think of as nuts and seeds actually aren’t, like peanuts.  You may have noticed that there are no actual nut or seed things on “the list” anyways, so, on to step 3!
    3. Get science-y. 
      • Look up turmeric on the web.  More specifically, look up its family classification.  This is typically easy to find on Wikipedia, in a little box that looks like this: Turmeric, om nom nom
        • As you can see, turmeric is in the family Zingiberaceae.  How informative, right?  Well, maybe if we try clicking on it…
        • We can look on this page for familiar foods.  Right away, we can see that ginger is closely related to turmeric.
        • Is ginger safe?  Check the list!
        • NOPE.  Ginger is not safe for ninjas with a tolerance of 0.1g or less!
      • And pistachios?  Try this one for yourself!  The answers will be at the end of this tutorial.
    4. Using this information, give yourself some room for error. 
      • Ginger and turmeric are related, so it’s likely that they have similar citric acid content.
      • BUT!  This does not mean they are exactly the same.  Turmeric could have 0.2g or 0.05g… we can’t be sure.
      • Turmeric may even have some outrageous amount of citric acid, like 1.0g.  Again, we can’t be sure.
    5. Make a decision!
      • ALWAYS err on the side of caution.
      • Use the information you’ve found as an aide to your intuition, NOT as an absolute determinant.
      • Use your knowledge of your body and how it reacts to things.
      • Take other things into consideration, like how much citric acid exposure you’ve had lately, how much stress you’re under, and whether you’ve been invited to a gala with British Royalty within the next week or so.
      • If a sounds like a bad idea, it is.  Don’t eat it.  Listen to your body, sometimes it’s smart!
    6. Eat, or don’t eat.
      • If you don’t eat it, pat yourself on the back for your awesome research skillz.  Reward yourself with a delicious, safe treat of choice.
      • If you do eat it, do so S L O W L Y.
        • Take a little taste, and wait.
        • If you generally have fast reactions, wait however long your reactions usually take to show up.  If nothing happens, try a wee bit more.  Don’t go overboard!
        • If you generally have delayed reactions, eat the smallest amount that you feel could cause a reaction.  If nothing happens, try a little more the next time.  Again, don’t go overboard!
      • Congratulations, you have either eaten, or not eaten, a different food!  Great job, ninja!

      (Did you figure out the ninja-safety level of pistachios? They are a member of the family Anacardiaceae, also known as the cashew family.  If you don’t know anything about cashews, that’s cool, but you should have seen the word “mango” on their family tree and whipped out your nunchucks.  Now, the scariest part of mangos is the fleshy fruit part, and we don’t eat that part of pistachios… just the seeds… but we also don’t know what’s in those mango seeds.  So, what to do?  The choice is yours: choose responsibly!)

That’s all for now.  Until next time, when life gives you lemons, RUN!!!
The Lemon Ninja