Caramels and Computers and Cats (oh my!)

Greetings, Ninjas in Training!

Have you missed me?

(I’ve missed you too.)

I’m afraid I have no excuse for abandoning you, except that I’m a small bit healthier than I was when I last wrote, and now I’m doing super important things like sleeping more and finding new ways to keep you all from finding out that I’m not human.

Actually, I do have a better excuse: I have been busy making caramels and eating them.

As a peace offering, here is the recipe, along with a recipe for rice milk! I will add them to the recipe page soon…

Homemade Rice Milk

Ingredients:
1 cup cooked rice
4 cups water

  1. Throw it all in the blender.
  2. Turn on the blender.
  3. That’s it. Seriously.
  4. Actually you might want to stop the blender before you drink it.

Maple Caramels

Courtesy of Lemon Ninja and Ninja Mama

Ingredients:
1 cup rice milk
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup pure maple syrup (real stuff only – the fake stuff is ninja poison)
2 Tbs lard

  1. Go here.
  2. Read the entire thing before starting. Caramel happens fast, yo.
  3. If you don’t have a candy thermometer, familiarize yourself with the old-fashioned cold water testing. I cook phase 1 (just the sugar) to the soft crack stage, and phase 2 (everything) to the firm ball stage, but you can play with that a little if you want.
  4. Follow the article’s directions with my ingredients. The rice milk is in lieu of the heavy cream and the water, the lard is in lieu of the butter, and the maple syrup is in lieu of the corn syrup. Don’t worry about the vanilla (as you may recall, it “probably” has citric acid), and you can add salt if you want, but I think it’s excellent without!
  5. While the caramels are cooling, cut some individual wrappers out of parchment paper.
  6. Don’t cheat and try to eat the caramels before the 2 hour waiting period. It will crystalize and you will be sad.
  7. Eat the caramels all at once, because how can you not?

That’s all for now, ninjalings. Thank you for all of your wonderful messages, questions, and marriage proposals; I promise I will make that post about chocolate eventually. Until then, when life gives you lemons, RUN!

The Lemon Ninja

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We’re Not Dead Yet (and this is why!)

Greetings Ninjas in Training!

We all get those people, don’t we?

“You need citric acid for the citric acid cycle, you should be devoid of energy, and dead!”

“You can’t react to citric acid, you have citric acid in your body! Why aren’t you dead?!”

Well my ninjas, now you can smack down these fools with your nunchucks of science.

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You might notice that I have this information here on the site. Good job!  Please pretend that you didn’t notice, and that this post is filled with entirely new, riveting content. Thanks to the awesome Shidoshi John for pointing me towards some actual numbers on how much citric acid is in your body, and where, because this gives us more fun things to learn. (And while learning is fun, being right is even MORE fun, so prepare yourselves for the hypothetical smackdown of the century!)

“But it’s part of the Citric Acid Cycle!  You’ll die without it!”

This argument is incorrect.  Take a look at the schematic below: the white part is outside the cell, the tan part is inside the cell, and the purple part is the mitochondrion — where the Citric Acid Cycle occurs.

If you look at what’s going into the cell, you’ll see not citric acid, but glucose!  Glucose (sugar) is the one thing our cells need from an external source (food) in order to make energy; the citrate in the Citric Acid Cycle is made from this glucose in the mitochondria.  Even someone on a 100% citric acid-free diet can make energy, because dietary citric acid is not used as part of Citric Acid Cycle.

“But there’s Citric Acid in your body!  Even if you don’t need to eat it, it’s still there in the Citric Acid Cycle. You can’t be allergic to yourself, you’ll die!”

Wrong again, masked stranger.  Take a look again at the schematic: the Citric Acid Cycle occurs inside the mitochondria, which is inside the cell. Reactions to foods and chemicals take place in extracellular spaces; the reaction mediators are outside our cells and never “see” the citrate that is formed in our mitochondria, therefore they cannot react to it.  Location, location, location!

“But there’s NO WAY there is absolutely zero citric acid in your body.  WHY AREN’T YOU DEAD?!!”

Well, okay… despite your inexplicably vehement desire to see me dead, I will give you  credit for that one.  There is, in fact, citric acid in everyone’s blood and urine, not to mention saliva, sweat, tears, and yes- even breast milk and semen.  My immune system can “see” all of that inside my body (uhm… well, most of it), so why am I not dead? The first — and most obvious — reason is that I’m a ninja.  However, there’s a more boring reason, which has to do with things like severity and tolerance; I shall explain it using two more pedestrian immune conditions: peanut allergies and lupus.

Well, sometimes it is lupus.  To grossly oversimplify, when someone has systemic lupus erythematosus, their immune system forms antibodies against the person’s own tissues (e.g. heart, lung, and kidney), so the immune system attacks the body.  If severe enough it can be fatal, but 80-90% of patients with lupus will survive as long as a healthy person.  Lupus is a type III hypersensitivity and, along with hundreds of other autoimmune conditions, exists for the sole purpose of proving my point: depending on the severity of the attack, one can survive one’s own immune system attacking things native to their bodies.

In addition to people’s remarkable ability to survive declaring war on themselves, people’s immune systems also have different thresholds at which these wars–and wars on foreign offenders–begin.  For example, both my brother and my college roommate have the classic type 1 hypersensitivity known as peanut allergies.  My brother is able to eat peanut butter toast, as long as he only has it once a week on a full stomach.  If he goes beyond his tolerance and has it a couple of days in a row, he will begin to suffer unpleasant GI symptoms.  My roommate’s tolerance is much lower: when we went on an adventure to see RENT in California, we had to book on a peanut-free airline, lest being trapped thousands of feet in the air with peanut dust lead her to take the show’s “live each moment as your last” theme a bit too literally.

People who react to citric acid also have different tolerance levels.  One food pretty much guaranteed to make a ninja flee the scene is lemons, which contain anywhere from 40,000-80,000ppm (parts per million) citric acid.  Some ninjas can eat blackberries (4,000ppm), some can only tolerate as high as pears (2,000ppm), and a few can’t even consume peas (200ppm).  Compare that to the 15ppm in blood, 4-25ppm in saliva, or 1-2ppm in sweat, and we’re talking orders of magnitude of difference: even those who react to the un-citrusy-est of vegetables are safe from the tears they’ll cry when they must choose between life and that blackberry pie they’re craving.

That ice cream is probably lethal, but at least her tears won’t burn her face off.

But what about things like urine (100-700ppm), breast milk (500-1250ppm) and semen (2000-4000ppm)?  It is here that we return to one of our earlier arguments: location, location, location!  Not all areas of our bodies are equally responsive to evil things, thanks to differences in their reaction mediator inhabitants.  As long as low-tolerance ninjas don’t put these things (this is life-or-death ninja science here, no laughing!) in their mouths or other sensitive areas, they’re probably going to stay not dead.  It’s worth mentioning that most ninjas with extremely low tolerance were born with a much higher, or even normal tolerance, and they were inducted to ninjahood later in life thanks to medications or illness.  However, some babies do react to breast milk for any number of reasons; perhaps infant ninjahood is one of those reasons.  Also worth mentioning: there are people who have allergic-like conditions involving the bladder, and semen allergy is an actual thing that has been medically documented in women.  These ninjas can get by thanks to their reaction severity, as we discussed earlier.

In sum: if there exists a human whose tolerance for citric acid is lower than the small amount circulating in the responsive areas of their body, and who has life-threateningly violent reactions to citric acid, that person is probably not alive, and probably not me. (I say probably because, although it is unlikely I can type from the beyond, you never know. I am a ninja, after all.)

TTFN, my ninjalings. Until we meet again, when life gives you lemons, RUN!

The Lemon Ninja

“P” is for Cookie (no it’s not)

Greetings, Ninjas in Training!

I was struggling for a title, so I was going to just fill in every word in this post that started with a “p.” However, that started to look just plain preposterous, so I pragmatically picked three. Then I became inspired by the great muse Cookie Monster, so you’re just going to have to deal with a great title that has nothing to do with this post.

We begin today’s broadcast with a really fun question. Ninja Susan writes:

“My physician wants me to get a Colonoscopy. The predrink you drink the nite before has Citric Acid in it, do you know a substitute? The last time I did this, I got so ill I could barely make it to the test and then was ill for almost a week later.”

An excellent question, Ninja Susan. While I can’t make a specific recommendation for colonoscopy prep, I can provide an answer for the more general theme of your question:

“What does one do when your doctor says, “Take the thing,” and you’re like, “But the thing will destroy me and probably the universe”?

…Actually, I was going to say to call a compounding pharmacy.

Compounding pharmacies are different from regular pharmacies in that they make medication specifically for you. For example, if you need to take Benadryl, but are allergic to the inactive ingredient polysorbate 80, they can make you your very own special Benadryl that will not force you to include “Death by Benadryl” in your obituary.

The same is true for citric acid. The great thing about citric acid is that it’s completely useless — okay, well, it’s not an active ingredient. It’s a preservative, which means that most medications can be made very easily without it. Hooray!

So, how do you find one of these magical pharmacies, you ask? Probably Google. Just type in your hometown, followed by “compounding pharmacy,” and you should be able to find something.

Now that you’ve found one, you need to talk to them! Please follow this step by step procedure to ensure a productive conversation:

  1. Write down the name of the medication you need, the prescription amount (if applicable), and your name (just in case you forget).
  2. Call the compounding pharmacy.
  3. Ask to talk to a pharmacist about helping you compound a mixture of (insert medicine here) that will be safe for your allergies.
  4. Explain said allergies.
  5. Pause for dramatic effect*.
  6. Chat it up with the super knowledgable pharmacist. They will probably ask you a number of questions about different things they need to add to the medication, including fillers, liquid solutions, preservatives, and capsules.
  7. For fillers, steer clear of corn starch and potato starch if those are not within your tolerance. Cellulose is ok; I personally have my medications filled with spelt flour, which I send the pharmacy and they keep just for me!
  8. For capsules, gelatin is the way to go.
  9. For preservatives, they may ask to use alcohol or lactose. If you are unable to tolerate either of those**, try asking if they will compound something preservative-free for you. It may take a bit of convincing, along with a special prescription from your doctor that specifically requests no preservatives.
  10. Arrive at an agreement, tell the pharmacist you love them***.
  11. Have your prescription sent to the pharmacy.

*Don’t do that.
**Lactose is safe for ninjas, but some people are lactose intolerant. Alcohol (ethanol) is ok for some ninjas, but may cause a reaction in extremely sensitive ninjas.
***Optional.

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

Facebook Ninja

Greetings, ninjas in training!

It has come to my attention that I am now extremely famous. Really, it’s a good thing I’m homebound, otherwise paparazzi might become an issue.

image(Do you have any idea how hard it was to find one of those “I’m fabulous” meme photos sans profanity? I had to scroll down, like, 3 pages. I need a personal assistant to do these things for me now that I’m famous.)

In any case, I’ve decided to do what most famous people do: open up a Facebook page so it’s easier for you to follow me!

All the awesomeness will still be here; the Facebook page is just to make it easier for Facebook addicts to know when I’ve made a new post or updated the site, rather than having to check their email every five seconds. I know you’re all just sitting there hitting “refresh” and wasting your lives away, and I don’t want to be held responsible for that.

Click here and “like” for your freedom!

That’s all for now… until we meet again, when life gives you lemons, RUN!

LN

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.

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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

Survey of Science

Greetings Ninjas in Training!

Many of you have been sending me emails that pose a very important scientific question: can ninjas eat chocolate?

I have been dutifully scouring food science journals in search of an answer, knowing how desperately you need this potentially life-sustaining knowledge.

While I’m flattered that my little ninjalings need their sensei/geek monkey, turns out I need a little help from you too!  So now I pose a question: can you eat chocolate?

Think about the last time you ate chocolate. It is important that this chocolate did not contain any added citric acid, or soy lecithin if that is something you react to. With that experience in mind, please answer this poll:

You can refer to this page if you’re not sure what your tolerance is. The units in the poll – % citric acid – are the same as the units on the page – g citric acid per 100 g of food. A percent sign is just much more concise for fancy science polls. If you’re still figuring out your exact tolerance, no worries, just pick your best guess!

Thanks my darling ninjas! That is all for now.

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

Awkward Ninjas

Greetings, Ninjas in Training!

Thank you for all the tips and questions you’re sending in! I am slowly but surely chipping away at those emails and site updates. But today, I thought I’d address a more fun topic… or rather, the topic of lack of fun. Ninja Adam writes:
“Can you have a social life with this horrible allergy? I have the same, and likely as severe. I have found that most social situations involve food.”

How right you are, Ninja Adam. This is especially true in college, where the average student can’t even be bothered to attend a meeting without the allure of free food, and if they’re going to do something as drastic as leave campus? There had better be food involved! If food is not your friend, it’s pretty easy to end up-

Luckily, we don’t have to be! The short answer to your question is yes- of course you can have a social life, but you have to get creative. The long answer is, well, long… also awkward, and differs depending on how sensitive you are.

In my 7 years of ninjahood, I have been at various levels of sensitivity, so I will be drawing from those different time periods for different answers. For the sake of simplicity, I’m going to eliminate my chemical sensitivities as a factor, and focus on food. Hats off to all of the awesome friends I mention in this post, who went out of their way to work around both issues!

With that, let’s examine a variety of awkward of situations, and some ninja moves you can whip out to make them fun:

The Awkward Restaurant

Suppose you have some friends who want to meet up for dinner tonight. If they haven’t already picked a restaurant, now’s your time to jump in and suggest a place that you know has some safe foods.

But what if they’ve already picked a place? You’ve got a couple of options: you can ask your friends if they’d be willing to go someplace else, or you can hop on the internet and start investigating. Check out the menu and look for potentially safe foods. Call the restaurant and ask to speak to the manager- explain that you have an unusual allergy, and are wondering if they might help you check the ingredients. (Side note: although we aren’t sure of the exact mechanism that causes lemons to attack us with nunchucks, what matters here is the end result- if your reactions are serious enough to be reading this website, call it an “allergy” so you will be taken seriously.)

If there is something questionable, like a pre-made sauce that might have one of many potentially evil ingredients, explain that there are so many billions of words that might mean “citric acid” that it’s much easier just to know all the ingredients, rather than giving them a list to go hunting for. You might ask if they can just have the label ready for you to read on arrival, or they might offer to read you the ingredients over the phone.

Either way, be cheerful and appreciative no matter how frustrating it is to explain the madness! Remember that ninjahood is freaking complicated, and you may have to explain more than one way. And while patience is a good thing, if you find yourself talking to someone who really doesn’t understand or won’t take you seriously, don’t be afraid to ask to speak to someone else. Safety first, ninjalings!

We started out with this scenario because it was the easiest; here are some more tips on eating out.

But what if you can’t eat out? What if you are sensitive enough that food from not-your-kitchen is not an option? Or what if you don’t have time to check out the menu… say, you all went out to a movie and everyone just decided to get some dinner or ice cream on the fly? That brings us to…

The Extra-Awkward Restaurant

Ninjas who can’t eat out, but can still be around food, have a few options.

The first option I like to call the stuff-your-face-before-you-leave method.

This method is relatively self-explanatory: stuff your face before you go anywhere, no matter what time it is. That way, if an outing lasts longer than planned, you’ll be okay to sit down someplace while your friends eat.

The second option is food smuggling. I used to carry a water bottle and a bag of pretzels with me everywhere in my purse. That way, if I got insanely hungry while out with my friends, I had something to munch on, thus eliminating the potential for hunger sucking the fun out of everything. Guys, if you want to have fun and your pockets aren’t big enough, you may just have to suck it up and carry a man-purse.

Either that or you can bring something like gum (watch out for soy in that stuff!) that will stave off your tummy rumbles until you get home.

The third option is starvation. Sometimes it’s worth it 😛

The Awkward Explanation

“But Lemon Ninja,” you say, “do you have any idea how awkward it is to be sitting there with people and be the only one not eating?” Yes. Yes I do. It is totally awkward the first couple of times, and then after awhile you get used to it. Having something of your own, even just water, definitely helps for those awkward pauses in conversation when you usually awkwardly take a bite of something to pretend that nothing is awkward, and you were totally about to take a bite of food anyways, and in no way are stalling while you think of something to say. Unless the water had lemons in it, in which case it just leads to an even more awkward Epi-Pen party. (Seriously, be careful with that restaurant water.)

But what about the others? People can get really uncomfortable, or even feel guilty eating in front of people who aren’t eating, especially if it’s just the two of you. This is why it’s important, especially in very small groups, to let people know beforehand that you will not be eating, but genuinely do not mind it, and just want to enjoy their company. It’s an awkward conversation to be sure, but it’s much better than the one that happens after your one friend orders their meal and you just hand back your menu sans order.

Most of the time, people will be curious about your food restrictions and ask questions about it. Take this as a compliment- they are interested in your ninja awesomeness and want to know more! While it can get a bit old answering the same questions all the time, just remember that this person has never asked you before, so the questions are new to them. Explain as such, and what started as an awkward conversation can take some pretty interesting turns!

So that’s all good and fun, but what about those of us who can’t go to restaurants or food places at all? If I went on a trip to a restaurant, it would actually just be a detour on the way to the ER. Which brings us to…

The Awkward Isolation

If the smell of food literally makes you die, mealtimes can kind of suck, especially in college. Meals are when everyone socializes, and isolation from food means isolation from people. The only way to make them not suck is to make friends with extremely awesome people who are willing to visit you with safe food. I had a number of people, including my roommates, neighbors, and even a friend from my church group who made the effort to pick out a non-ninja-murdering food every once in awhile, bring it to my dorm or apartment, and share a meal with me.

You may think it’s hard to find people like this, but you’d be surprised how many people are willing to do this if you just ask- believe it or not, people like it when you indicate that you want to spend time with them! And of course, there are always going to be some extra special people who you don’t even need to ask- they just show up at your door with dinner.

Okay, maybe not that special…

But how do you find these people? If you’re a lucky college student, fate will stick you in a dorm room with them. Otherwise, you’re going to have to be proactive…

The Awkward Friend-Finding

One of the smartest things I’ve ever done was to seek out a friend with food allergies. I met my junior year roommate through a Facebook food allergy group- we decided to live together even though we pretty much had opposite allergies (she’s allergic to nuts, one of the only things I can eat is nuts) because we figured we were safer with someone who “gets it.”

This not only turned out to be incredibly true, but also applicable to our social lives. We were both already on the lookout for food-free fun, and being together made it just that much easier to find. We were able to do things together–like full day road trips and even traveling across the country–that would have been much harder to do with someone who didn’t have to carefully schedule every meal. When we couldn’t attend big events, like the senior banquet, we got dressed up and had our own banquet in our apartment. Basically, everything we did together was awesome.

We may or may not have climbed a statue...

We may or may not have climbed a statue…

Whether you’re in college or not, another great way to find awesome people is to get involved in some kind of activity. Find something you love and you’ll find people you love too- I can’t tell you how many gems I found through my campus church group, student-run orchestra, and community service groups. A lot of community service things do involve food, but there are just as many that don’t: look at things that aren’t full-day commitments and you’ll find plenty of food-free fun!

Unfortunately, even activities that generally don’t involve food will almost invariably have some kind of social event that involves food. What do you do then?

Awkward Advocacy

If you want to get in on the fun, but you’re ‘fraid of food, you’re going to have to take names. By which I mean, of course, the names of the people organizing said event.

Before every concert, my orchestra hosted a rehearsal, then a dinner backstage.  The original idea was, of course, pizza. Even if I had stayed away during dinner, I might have met an early end thanks to pizza air being blown at the back of my head through a trombone, so I talked to the officers who were organizing dinner. I gave the suggestions for foods that would allow me to safely play in the concert, and they went out of their way to make sure none of the sandwiches they ended up ordering had dangerous toppings or dressings.

Granted, these people were also my friends, but people are just awesome and inclusive in general; you really don’t have to know them to reach out for a little help in socializing. You might even make new friends- once when I was a wee sophomore, I really really wanted to go to ladies’ night for my church group, so I oh-so-bravely emailed the senior who was organizing the event. I didn’t know her and was very nervous about it; not only did she make sure we went to a place I could be safe and have fun, she ended up being one of those people who came all the way to my dorm to eat dinner with me some nights.

I could go on and on about the times people went out of their to make big events safe–like the time my neighbor approached me and my also-allergic roomie to ask what foods not to have at her party so we could attend–but the fact is that it’s not always possible. Still, don’t be afraid to talk to people about your restrictions and ask if you can be accommodated. The worst they can do is say no, which is very nearly always for logistical reasons and not because they hate you.  Accommodating a ninja is complicated!  It’s helpful if you’re respectful of people’s time, offer help and suggestions, and make contact way, way ahead of time so they don’t have to scrap any work they’ve already done.

(But what if they say no?)

Awkward No

Sometimes, you’re going to be stuck on the outside looking in. The key to being a happy ninja is to find someone who’s willing to be standing out there with you.

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This picture is from senior night at my campus church group. It was being held in (and alas could not be moved from) a room whose air ducts were basically directly connected to Subway, so I couldn’t be in there for more than a minute without struggling to breathe. My friend, who was also being honored that night as a senior, elected to stand outside with me, in the rain, the entire night. It was one of the best nights ever.

Sometimes you have to get a little unconventional to have fun. Sometimes people will come to you, and sometimes you’ll have to take initiative to organize a get-together yourself.

To give you some ideas, here’s a list of things I’ve actually done with some awesome people:

  • Held a weekly Glee-watching party (don’t judge, it used to be a good show!)
  • Gone to a safe coffee shop and brought my own hot chocolate
  • Attended nerdy lectures at the medical school
  • Taken a walk to nowhere
  • Gone storm chasing and made a documentary out of it
  • Watched a midnight movie premiere
  • Driven across the state and back in one day to see Wicked
  • Gone to theatre shows within a reasonable distance
  • Organized and choreographed a flash mob
  • Gone sledding and ice skating
  • Attended a wedding via Skype
  • Attended shows at our school’s theatre
  • Invited people over just to hang out and talk
  • Fed the ducks at the park
  • Cut out felt mustaches to wear while playing Pirates (without warning our conductor beforehand)
  • Attended a massive water balloon/mud fight for Holi
  • Gone to concerts
  • Walked around outside taking pictures of everything
  • Watched stupid YouTube videos
  • Created stupid YouTube videos

It can be anything! You CAN be social when you’re a ninja. You just need a few tricks up your sleeve.

And if all else fails? There’s always the internet.

No, seriously. I’ve made some really awesome friends on the internet. If you really can’t leave your house, like I can’t, you’d be amazed what kinds of connections you can make through volunteering, blogging, and/or mutual obsessions interests on the internet. I’ve met people who I can talk to for hours at a time, people who have overcome the odds and who inspire me to keep striving for the same, and people who send me love when I’m having a bad day.  (I’ve even met people who take the time to create silly YouTubes of people crying in cars, just for a blog post- thanks Judith!)

The internet is awesome- just use common sense and don’t talk to creepers, y’all.

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

A post about Mulan, apparently.

Greetings, Ninjas in Training!

Many apologies for my extended absence, both from here and from my email lair.  If I haven’t responded to your inquiry, I promise it’s not because I hate you (probably).  Either your message was so awesome I was unable to muster the brain power to answer it, or your  message was so awesome that I’m working on a post about it. (See: the several messages I have gotten about chocolate. Post forthcoming, my ninjalings!)

My health is still pretty shaky, so updates and email contact may come and go in bursts. I have started a new treatment, and of course I shall let you all know whether or not it makes any difference in my ninja tolerance levels. Also, I am allergic to my computer and am using an iPad right now, so fancy updates to the site may have to wait. I can’t even go back in my writing to make edits (that extra space between “your” and “message” is driving me INSANE), so updating the non-blog pages may cause me to spontaneously combust.

And now for something fun… the recipe for my latest snack obsession! This is my mom’s recipe for homemade jello. You can substitute any kind of tea that is within your tolerance, or even fruit juice if you can handle that (nix the sugar, though).

Homemade  Jell-o

Ingredients:

*1 tablespoon plain gelatin (I use the orange labeled Great Lakes brand)
*1 cup water (hot) + 1.5 cup water (room temp)
*3 bags chamomile tea (WARNING: some brands of tea use citric acid or citrates in their tea bags. This will not be on the label, so always call the manufacturer before trying something new!)
*3 tablespoons organic brown sugar (WARNING: make sure it is pure cane sugar. Some companies use beet molasses in their brown sugar… again, this kind of stuff is not on the label, so call and check!)

1. Heat 1 cup water until very hot, but not boiling. Steep 3 bags of chamomile tea for 5 minutes.
2. Prepare the gelatin as per the directions on the box (this is called “blooming.”) It works best to do this in the big bowl you will do all the mixing in- I use a 4 cup Pyrex pitcher.
3. Now, pour the tea–

(sorry, I had to!)–into the gelatin slurry and stir for about a minute until the gelatin is dissolved.
4. Add 3 tablespoons of organic brown sugar, and stir till dissolved.
5. Add another 1.5 cups of water and stir. Squeeze the tea bags into the mix to get all that flavor in there!
6. Separate into four serving cups and refrigerate for 25 minutes. Nom to your heart’s content!

 

That’s all for now, ninjas-in-training! Until next time…
When life gives you lemons, RUN!
LN

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