Spice Up Your Life (With a Cure!)

Greetings, Ninjas in Training!

2016 brought me a lot of ups and downs, but there was one up that was the uppiest up of all: a cure.

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You heard me right, ninjalings. An actual cure for my citric acid allergy/sensitivity/whatever. Wanna know what I’ve eaten over the past three months, with no resulting anaphylaxis and continually decreasing neurological symptoms?

  • A nibble of cucumber
  • About 1/8 of an apple
  • 6 raisins
  • Two whole flippin carrots
  • A whole freaking sweet potato

Each of these foods (aside from the carrot) contain 0.1% citric acid.

Wanna know what I was eating before I started my program 4 months ago?

  • Not a molecule of cucumber
  • Not 0/8 of an apple
  • Not anything remotely resembling a raisin
  • Not anything that had been touched by a carrot
  • Not even sweet potatoes in my sweetest dreams

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This is a real cure, guys.

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Now, notice I said “a” cure, not “the” cure. Everyone is different. Other ninjas have had success with things that have not worked for me, but those cures and treatments are equally valid. I hope someday to write in detail about those. For now, there is one treatment that numerous ninjas seem to have success with, and that is CoA-boosting supplements. Please check out Milind’s website for a detailed explanation of that!

But now, on to the magical cure that I’m super excited to share with you!

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Well, it’s not so much magic as it is neuroplasticity.

What is neuroplasticity, you ask?

This is essentially a concept that tells us the brain can grow and change – it is plastic, not static. You might have heard this term used to explain why children can learn languages better than adults – their brains are more plastic, so they can build new neural pathways better than adults can.

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But that doesn’t mean that adults can’t rewire their brains too! Think about stroke victims: part of their brain was damaged, but with incredible determination, patience, and a heck of a lot of repetition, they can build new pathways that enable them to walk and speak again.

As it turns out, this principle can be applied to other types of healing too.

There is a part of your brain called the limbic system that is in charge of a lot of things, including memory, emotions, immediate trauma response, fear associations, general health management, and then some. Look, isn’t it cute?

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I’m Blue, da ba dee da ba daa…

This part of the brain can be damaged through physical, emotional, and chemical trauma. And when it’s damaged, it can lead to all sorts of health problems: chemical sensitivity, depression, PTSD, anxiety, chronic fatigue, and, most importantly (in our case), food sensitivities.

Wait, what? Why though?

Remember how I mentioned the limbic system is involved in immediate trauma response? You know how if there’s a bus coming towards you, you will jump out of the way without even thinking about it?

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When it’s injured, sometimes the limbic system creates these automatic responses for the wrong things.

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A lot of times, but not always, these things were present at the time of trauma, and so your brain learned incorrectly that you need to have an automatic protection response to these things.

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(If you haven’t seen Spice World, what are you doing with your life?)

How many of you suddenly started having problems with citric acid after a virus, a round of antibiotics, or a vaccine? How many of you had a great deal of stress in your life preceding your induction into ninjahood? I have heard these stories again and again from countless ninjas who have written me to share their stories. I personally donned my shinobi shōzoku after a vaccine, and my other allergies pretty much went cray at that point as well.

(A shinobi shōzoku is a ninja outfit, in case you were wondering.)

So, it turns out the root cause of my ninjaness was actually a brain injury. How am I fixing it?

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Also, I am using a program called the Dynamic Neural Retraining System.

What is it? It is a series of scientifically-based exercises that help you prune off those well-intentioned-but-harmful neural pathways, and build new ones that dictate an appropriate response. The program also involves some language changes that create the proper chemical environment for neural genesis.

Some of you might be thinking, “It sounds like she’s saying it’s all in our heads.”

Well… technically, your brain is in your head, so.

But no ninjalings, we are talking about physical neurons here. Your brain is the command center for a lot of things; it can and does conduct the symphony that is outlandish responses to foods.

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I think I speak for a lot of us when I say that it took me ages to figure out what my trigger was, and even longer to discover exactly what was and was not safe to eat. Lots of this was found out by trial and error before I discovered The List, which then validated the personal list I’d been keeping of foods that made me stop breathing.

I am not crazy. You are not crazy. My silly brain (and maybe yours too!) just decided to pick the wrong target. But there is a way to fix it!

I cannot say enough about this program. It is a lot of work – I must do it for at least an hour a day, every day. But it is worth it.

It is worth it.

I am healing.

I am HEALING!!!!

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That’s all for now, ninjalings.
Pretty soon, when life gives me lemons, I won’t run… I’ll EAT THEM 😀
(But definitely still running for now.)
The Lemon Ninja

PS ~ I should add that I have been using homeopathy in combination with the DNRS. I believe both are indispensable to my particular complex needs, and I encourage others with complex needs to look into seeing a homeopath. However, I believe it is possible for many ninjas to benefit from and heal themselves with the DNRS alone. I’m not a doctor, blah blah blah, you know the drill.

PPS ~ Part of the DNRS is not focusing on the things that your body used to respond to poorly, so I will not be giving ninja tips for awhile. Please direct ninja questions to this awesome group on Facebook. I will continue to post recipes (I swear I’m still working on the one from the contest!) and, as I heal more, I may be back with more survival lessons. I sincerely hope some of you will look into this program and will have success with it. Feel free to ask questions about it on this post – I will try to answer those questions, because healing is awesome and important!

PPPS ~ The results of the renaming poll are in: #no1curr. Ok like, 4 people cared, split evenly between yes and no. But the nin-jority is content to continue Googling “Lemon Ninja” to find the site, so we’ll just leave it at that!

PPPPS ~ Please don’t ask me how this post went from Excited Sue to Spice World because I honestly have no idea.

Saucy White Sauce

Greetings Ninjas in Training!

I hope you all are having a fabulous summer. It is ten million degrees where I live, which may or may not explain/excuse this post title. The sauce recipe I’m going to share is not particularly saucy – in fact, it’s a nice basic recipe that can be adapted for millions of different dishes.

Everything’s in the millions today, I guess.

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(I wish.)

(For you Orphan Black fans out there, you have no idea how hard it was for me to not use a gif of Alison and Donnie rolling in their soap money. I had to think of the children.)

Anyways, without further ado, a recipe for sauce!

Actually, just kidding. Quick announcement: I am working on restructuring the recipes page, so it may look derpy for a little while. I will be publishing all the recipes as individual posts, which should be much easier to use than a giant page.

Ok, NOW the recipe.

White Sauce
Courtesy of Lemon Ninja’s Mommy

White sauce is used in a variety of dishes and is the base for many sauces.   Here is our dairy free/citric acid free version for a basic medium white sauce, with adjustments for other thicknesses.

Ingredients:
Organic rice milk (read label for citric acid)
Spelt flour
Organic expeller pressed Canola oil or lard
Time Required: 15 minutes

Directions:

  1. In a small, heavy saucepan, heat 2 tablespoons of canola or lard over medium low heat.
  2. Blend 2 tablespoons of spelt flour into the melted oil.
  3. Cook over low heat, stirring, until it just begins to bubble.  You don’t want to overwork the spelt flour, its fragile gluten breaks down easily.
  4. Slowly add 1 cup of rice milk, stirring constantly.  I like to use a flat whisk to stir this.
  5. Continue cooking slowly until smooth and thickened.

Notes: For thin white sauce, follow instructions using 1 tablespoon oil and 1 tablespoon flour. Thin white sauce is often used for cream soups.  For thick white sauce, follow instructions using 3 tablespoons oil and 3 tablespoons flour. Thick white sauce is for things like soufflés.  For heavy white sauce, follow instructions using 4 tablespoons oil and 4 tablespoons flour. Heavy white sauce is used to make croquettes or croquetas.

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

The Lemon Ninja

How to Succeed in College Without Really Dying

Greetings Ninjas in Training!

And most special greetings and congratulations to you recent graduate ninjas! I’m sure you all look adorable in your weird square hats.

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That’s me at my high school graduation – a fledgling ninja, still blindly navigating the waters of exercise-induced anaphylaxis. I wouldn’t face full-blown ninjahood until my sophomore year of college, but I still understand the alarming reality that is trying to eat in college without dying of food allergies… while also learning to semi-adult, making new friends, deciding which non-graded assignments are worth it (answer: if it’s chem, all of them), and not sleeping ever.

Thus, behold: as requested by the young Ninja Rose, a guide to starting college on the right food-allergic foot.

Option 1: Talk to Your School Nutritionist

Make an appointment with your school’s nutritionist as soon as possible. Send an email introducing yourself, and explain that you have some unusual, but serious, allergies. Give them a basic idea: what foods can you not have? Do you need to look at labels on pre-made sauces and seasonings?

If your diet is extremely limited and your home is far from college, ask if they are willing to converse via Skype – the earlier your meeting, the easier it will be to deal with roadblocks.

Sometimes, talking with the nutritionist is all you need to do! Some schools have excellent allergy systems, and with a little adapting, they will be able to help you too. You may have early access to menus of the day, access to labels, or even the ability to request customized safe meals.

Then again, your school nutritionist might be insane.

While some can be persuaded out of initial denial (see also: “You can’t be allergic to that, you’ll die!), nutritionists who also tell your nut-allergic roommate that her allergies aren’t real… probably aren’t going to be much help.

Nope, I’m not kidding.

That’s a thing that happened.

Have a little science speech prepared for the sane but misinformed nutritionist. If you find yourself stuck with one who denies you assistance even after being educated, on to option 2!

Option 2: Make Friends with Food Services

This is important regardless of whether or not your nutritionist is bonkers. It’s not even really an option, but calling it otherwise would have thrown off my header theme. These people are responsible for your life – they are far more likely to take your safety seriously if they have a friendly face to keep in mind while chopping up those lemons.

If you have the nutritionist on your side, chances are there is already a good allergy program in place, and the workers are educated on the basics. Since ninjas are probably a little different from anything they’ve encountered, it’s a good idea to talk to whoever is in charge of the kitchen and teach them a little about your food allergies.

Bonus points for bringing the staff allergy-free treats: it’s a great way to make friends and show you care about them as much as they care about you. (Make sure to find out about their allergies before bringing anything… my Head Chef was allergic to nuts, and he was so excited that I asked first. It’s the little things!)

If you don’t have the nutritionist on your side, things will be trickier. You’ll have to sort out things like early access to menus and labels all on your own.

Initially I worked out a procedure which allowed me to email the head of Food Services the night before with my choice from the menu, and I could ask anything I needed to about the sauces and mystery ingredients.

Unfortunately, this proved to be too complicated for my particular situation. They weren’t always able to find the labels, and were worried about companies changing ingredients in their mixes without notice. My school didn’t have a good allergy safety program, so the disorganization with regard to ingredients didn’t work in my favor. Making friends in Food Services did though – more on that later!

Option 3: Independent Eating

If you’re not able to work out a good protocol for the dining halls, it’s time to turn to self-sufficiency. Get in touch with your Student Health Services and explain that you’re going to need a car on campus and a room with a kitchen.

Trust me, you want a car – if you’re going to be making alllllll of your food, you don’t want to be hauling all of your groceries 10 blocks and then riding the bus for an hour every darn week.

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You definitely want to invest in a vacuum sealer. These little miracles let you make big batches of food, then vacuum seal individual portions to eat later. You can keep them for actual months in the freezer. Read: you won’t have to cook during finals.

A kitchen will be nice for the actual making of food, but most likely you’ll *have* to eat in a dining hall for lunch – there won’t be time to go home and cook. You can keep some safe sandwich and wrap materials for when you need a portable lunch.

You may also want to invest in some collapsible food containers for more hearty, but still portable, dinners. College is about two things: learning and food. Meals are your social time, and you don’t want to spend them holed up in your kitchen cave!

Option 4: Independent Eating Redux

Sometimes, getting a kitchen and a car is not an option.

Maybe you’ve already been assigned a kitchenless underclass dorm, or maybe Student Health Services is just as useless as your nutritionist.

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Whatever the case, you’re going to need the following:
1) Adoring parents
2) A vacuum sealer in the abode with aforementioned parents
3) A mini freezer and fridge (not a mini fridge with one of those hand-sized “freezer” flappy things, that’s not gonna cut it – you need a separate actual freezer)
4) A giant bowl and an electric tea kettle OR a microwave
5) Optional: a rice cooker

I just spent way too much time searching through my college pictures looking for my freezer-fridge in the background. How it remains elusive in the millions of photos I took is a mystery.

Anyways, when I was a sophomore, I was in a kitchenless suite. My allergies had escalated disastrously over the summer, and by the time I realized school food wasn’t an option, changing rooms wasn’t an option either. Not that I would have wanted to leave anyways – my suite was the party suite.

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See what I mean? Man, we were wild.

Pretty sure that picture was taken from atop my elusive freezer-fridge, by the way.

And so, my brilliant mom came up with a solution: she cooked me large batches of food at home, vacuum sealed and froze them, and sent them to me by way of my dad, who happens to be a pilot and can hop on any plane for free.

I’d keep the food in my freezer, and heat it up either by microwave, or by letting the frozen food warm up in a bowl of hot water (courtesy of the electric tea kettle). I made rice a couple of times a week and kept leftovers in my fridge. It worked out splendidly.

I am of course, very lucky that my parents were both willing and able to do this for me. If they hadn’t, I would not have been able to stay at school out of state. Four for you, parents. You go, parents.

I do know of others with non-pilot parents who were able to make a similar procedure work sans free flights, so it’s still possible with other means of transport.

I’m also very lucky that I made friends with the Food Services people. Not only did they let me keep an overflow of my food in their industrial freezer (my tiny one could only hold so much), but they also let me heat up food in their kitchen when I wanted to eat dinner with my friends.

This was before I became sensitive to cross-contamination and airborne smells – once that came into play, I was restricted to heating and eating in my room. But for those who aren’t quite that sensitive, heating your own food up in the school’s kitchen is a great way to eat safe food with your friends, without having to figure out how to carry it or what to do with your empty containers if you’re going out after!

But what if my friends want to eat out, Lemon Ninja?

An excellent question – and a whole new topic. Check out some tips on how to survive college socializing (read: socializing that revolves around food) in this post.

So those are the basics – please feel welcome to ask questions in the comments section if you’d like to know more about how to succeed in college without really dying.

Hermione graduation

(Ok here’s the thing, I know nothing about How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying, except that Harry Potter was in it. I could not find any pictures of Harry Potter graduating, so here’s a picture of Hermione instead.)

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

Special thanks to my friend Judith for retouching me like a celebrity in a Vogue shoot. Don’t I look beautiful?

Easter Floof

Greetings Ninjas in Training,

Happy Easter!

Easter weekend in my house has always been filled with wonderful smells and tastes. Since I became a ninja, it’s become a little harder to have a friendly feast – literally all of our classics are now off the table (see what I did there?).

This year, I sit here writing this post as the smell of delicious turkey wafts my way. We got cooking a little later than planned thanks to the turkey’s stubborn refusal to reach room temperature, so we cheated and ate dessert first:

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“Lemon Ninja, why are you eating steak and potatoes for dessert??”

That would be a great question if I had a death wish, but potatoes are wayyyy above my tolerance level of zero.

Also, despite the fact that I actually know people who would eat them for dessert, I have me a sweet tooth: brownies and homemade marshmallows it is!

“Lemon Ninja, I guess I see the brownie now, but that does not look like a marshmallow…”

Yeah, well. It was our first time making them and we got a little excited. I promise they taste a million times better than they look.

So, happy Easter to those of you who celebrate. To those who don’t, I hope you have a happy day anyways, and I hope the recipe I’m about to share for homemade marshmallows helps make it even better 😀

Quick reminder: the label reading contest (the prize for which is a ninja-friendly adaptation of your favorite recipe!) ends on April 1st. Make me proud, ninjalings!

Maple Marshmallows

Courtesy of Lemon Ninja and her Mommy

Part 1

Ingredients
1/2 cup water, room temp
2 T orange label Great Lakes gelatin

Instructions
Mix together and let bloom. It will look sort of like applesauce at first. We did this in an 8 cup Pyrex pitcher, so we could add the hot sugar syrup later for mixing.

Part 2

Ingredients
1/4 cup water
3/4 cup organic cane sugar
1/2 cup organic maple syrup (grade A works best for the texture)

Instructions

  1. Line a brownie pan with parchment paper and set aside.
  2. Add water, sugar, and syrup to a deep saucepan. Do not mix it!!!
  3. Bring to boil on med high.
  4. Heat to 240 degrees or hardball candy stage (use a candy thermometer).
  5. Pour heated mixture into the pitcher with the gelatin mixture.
  6. Start whisking right away!
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  7. Mix it all together with large balloon whisk for 10-15 min, until it has the texture of marshmallow creme – it should form soft, stretchy sheets and bubbles. Note: you can also use an electric mixer, but Mama Ninja and I did fine trading off with the whisk!imageGetting there…image

Almost…

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Done!!!

8.  Immediately spread the floof in the brownie pan, and let set at least 4 hours before cutting. Store at room temp in airtight container.

9.  Try not to eat them all at once??

10.  Never ask me what’s up with the formatting in this post, because I don’t know and it’s driving me insane. But that’s ok because I can just eat marshmallows and nothing matters 😀

UPDATE: Here are some pictures from our third (much prettier) batch of marshmallows.

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“Lemon Ninja, Easter was only a week and a half ago!!! This is your third batch??”

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Shhhh. Look at the marshmallows.

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Look at them.

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

The Lemon Ninja

No Good Read Goes Unpunished

Greetings Ninjas in Training,

Eleka nahmen nahmen ah tum ah tum eleka nahmen.

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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.

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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.

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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:

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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?

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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.

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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.

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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…

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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.

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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!

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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

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

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

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

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.

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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