a home-rolled lettuce wrap over a kitchen sink

Good enough, Day 11: Too hot to be bothered

When I tell people about the Specific Carbohydrate Diet, their first reaction is usually a brief take of mock shock and/or sympathy over how terribly restrictive it is, followed immediately by a round of that game no one seems to tire of, “Can You Eat X?”

But really, the SCD, a diet for people with Crohn’s and ulcerative colitis (and, believe it or not, autism) isn’t any more restrictive than diets for people with diabetes or high cholesterol. And I’m way, way happier forgoing bread and pasta and fries than I would be suffering through them the way the folks with hypertension do—WITHOUT SALT. Sweet Jesus of Nazareth, talk about pointless.

No, after 11 years on and off of it, I can honestly say that the only place SCD really falls short is in the area of convenience. Since almost all processed foods are out—illegals like starch, sugar, and the murky “flavorings” are almost always lurking therein—you’re down to preparing most stuff yourself or finding quality places you really trust. Things have gotten far easier since the advent of the Paleo Diet, which mimics ours in many ways (and again, which I find far worse—WTF, no cheese??), but it’s still dodgy, eating out, not to mention expensive.

* * * * *

When you are literally chief cook and bottle-washer, you end up eating the same things over and over, especially when dietary needs get tricky. My prayer to the dating gods is for them to deliver me a loving chef with something to prove. Until then, I see myself sticking to the same six or seven menu items, swapping them out seasonally, or when I get bored.

For example, I went through a years-long omelet phase, varying only fillings, and only under duress. When I burned out on omelets a couple of years ago, I switched to a hard-boiled egg and a bowl of SCD-legal yogurt with seasonal fruit.

Lunch and dinner are easy in cool weather. I make big batches of soup, chili, stew, and so forth, freeze them in portions, and pull them out as needed. Even the early part of summer is fine: I make a big salad every day, and that’s that. For years, I did the Meat Blueprint Salad. This summer, I switched to greens, tuna, peppers, and avocado, dressed simply with oil and vinegar.

But when hell sets in here, usually sometime in late August, the idea of even this much prep is exhausting.

So I swing by the deli, pick up 1/2 lb. of turkey and 1/4 lb. of cheese, some romaine lettuce, and a gritty, sour mustard free of illegals, and eat these until the heat breaks. Over the sink. Quickly, so I can get the hell out and back into some library or coffee shop that’s air-conditioned.

If you’re new to the SCD, know that even deli meats usually are not safe. They are pumped full of disgusting things to make them look pretty and stay stable; they are absolutely processed foods are not part of the program of “fanatical adherence” that our beloved founder Elaine Gottschall wisely advised maintaining if you want to see results. What you can do, in this case, is track down a minimally-to-unprocessed turkey breast and roast it yourself. Roasting will heat up your kitchen like mad, but if you do it in the cool of the evening, it’s slightly less heinous. Portions freeze beautifully, and a breast will last a good long time.

There’s a lovely kind of comfort to be had, having the same things over and over. And there’s a correspondingly wonderful feeling of gratitude and delight when I get to switch things up again.

(Someone remind me of this when I have to move, okay?)


The skinny on, plus all previous 21-Day Salutes™.

a horrible photo of a delicious smoothie

Good enough, Day 2: The Freezer-Burn Smoothie

It has been more than a good-enough summer here in Los Angeles; it has been nothing short of spectacular. Warm (but not overly so!) days, sandwiched by mornings chilly enough for long walks and evenings cool enough—with the assistance of cross-ventilation and some strategically-placed fans—for the winter comforter. (L.A. “winter”, anyway.)

But, oh! There is a give-and-take to all spectacular things, is there not? In this particular case, what has given is smoothies, a mainstay of my summer-in-L.A. diet for a good 10 years, or whenever I bought my crappy old blender. I have a somewhat inefficient internal temperature regulation system, you see. I don’t shed heat well, except in winter—yes, even L.A. “winter”— when it bleeds from my extremities like Jesus on the cross. Smoothies were introduced as a corrective—a means of bringing down my core temperature a half-degree or so when the temperature here in the E-Z-Bake Oven climbed over 85ºF—and they work. (This could, of course, be purely psychological, but I resist looking up the science involved, because you try living in this joint without air-conditioning or hope in the middle of a monthlong heat wave.)

Here’s the thing, though: if the temperatures do rise and catch you unprepared, you are hosed, smoothie-wise. The (sorry) smooth preparation of smoothies requires, among other items, a ready supply of frozen bananas. And because of my fabulous-yet-persnickety diet, my smoothie-bananas have to be black when they go into the freezer, which requires even more foresight. So the surprisingly clement temperatures gifted us by the roller-coaster ride that is global warming, coupled with my apparent inability to remember to check weekly forecasts for the errant day from hell, did not just throw me off my smoothie game—they took me out entirely.

But oh, the gifts a challenge comes bearing under its own, sweaty wing. In my desperation, staring into the minuscule, apartment-sized freezer for the 75th time, hoping bananas would miraculously appear, I spied a stash of diced avocado (stuck in there during a stretch of exasperated thrift, no doubt). I had enjoyed avocado smoothies elsewhere over the past year, in Ojai (deadly hot) and Portland (you’d be surprised, and they are TOTALLY unprepared for that shit). Yes, these were professionally blended in budget-killers I will never save enough Amazon points for, but hey, I could give it a try. The worst that would happen was my own blender dying, which would suck eggs, but something-something zombie apocalypse anyway, right?

I am DELIGHTED to report that this desperation introduced the most delicious smoothie variation I have found since I learned to replace OJ with apple juice. My avocado/coconut milk/strawberry smoothie went down like (insert sexist, circa-1956 locker-room joke here), and did a bang-up job of cooling me down.

The Good-Enough Freezer-Burn Smoothie

4 ice cubes
1 good handful frozen, diced, ripe avocado
1 good handful frozen, sliced strawberries
1 cup coconut milk*
1/4 cup apple juice (if you like it sweet, like I do; otherwise, add more coconut milk)
1-2 tablespoons honey (again, for sweet-toothed folks)
1/2 cup yogurt (optional)

Pulverize ice cubes in blender. (It should scare the cat.) Add the rest of the ingredients and blend together until smooth. If you have an old-timey blender like mine, keep an ear out for the motor sticking, and stop/hand-stir, and/or add more liquid.

Makes two 1 1/4-cup servings, or one big-ass serving.

*I made this the lazy-man’s way. It’s a little gritty, made with an old-timey blender, but you don’t notice the grit in a smoothie.

Good enough!


Image by me, and definitely good enough—just!

SCD recipe: Smoked salmon and goat cheese bites

salmon bites

Note: if you’re a “Crohnie” or UC patient or parent of an autistic kid who came for the recipe, feel free to skip ahead to the recipe. (Although I’m guessing most kids won’t be too into lox.)

Likewise, if you’re a self-involved tool equally disinterested in understanding the suffering of others and broadening your body of knowledge, feel free to skip ahead. Although be warned: just because you don’t have IBD now doesn’t mean you or someone you love won’t someday, especially if you keep on eating your crapass, Corporo-Fascist-approved Standard American Die-Yet? Incidence of IBD on the rise in Westernized countries.

No, really, go ahead: blow off the back story. We’ll be here via the Google when your insides have turned into raw hamburger. Hopefully, it won’t be too late! Toodles!


For the rest of you…


Readers come here from all kinds of search strings, but one that comes up a lot is “Specific Carbohydrate Diet” + (“you name it”).

Most likely this is because the Specific Carbohydrate Diet is notoriously difficult to follow. The list of legals and illegals only makes sense up to a point: Why navy beans and not kidney beans? Why provolone and not mozzarella? Why honey and not maple syrup?

I noticed. And while we’re at it, what the hell’s up with you hippies and your homemade yogurt?

Bottom line is this: the SCD is predicated on the thesis that undigested matter lingering too long in the gut provides a 24-hour feeding station for irritating intestinal bacteria. The more bacteria, the more mucous (yum!), the less the gut is capable of doing its (you’ll pardon the pun) duty; also, the more irritation, the more abrasion, again, leading to a reduction in functional capacity. Not to mention the garden of attendant earthly delights like diarrhea (regular, explosive and bloody varieties), extreme fever and underweight, energy loss, body aches, pain and…wait for it…puppy-killing farts.

Or, in the words of the wise and eloquent Seth Barrows,

The SCD combats bacterial and yeast overgrowth by restricting the energy they require to live while keeping the host well fed.

But no one really knows why it works, just that, in many cases, it does work.

Unfortunately, in many cases it doesn’t, but no one knows why on that count, either, it could be user error, as the SCD is notoriously difficult to follow. Even when you start to get what you can and can’t eat; even when you’re well enough to eat the full range of allowable foods (in the beginning, when you’re really sick, many “legals” are verboten), there’s hella prep involved in eating legal.

So there’s no getting around it: following the SCD is a pain in the ass.

For those of us who’ve found relief, however, not following it is an even bigger pain in the ass. I fell off the wagon shortly after meeting The BF (not his fault! not his fault!), and have been on and off in the three years since. (I was in Fanatical Adherence mode for the two years prior.) I started to get another scare just before Thanksgiving, and had an epiphany much like I did when I felt the bronchitis coming on for a third time and quit smoking on the spot, in mid-pack: 20 years, and I’m still smoke-free.

Of course, it is MUCH harder to stay on a diet than to quit a substance entirely, because hey, you gotta eat. And not only is it difficult to steer clear of the temptation all dieters are faced with, there are literally hidden evils in everything. Every. Thing.

So we eat mainly non-processed food. Nothing canned, bottled, boxed or to-go. No convenience foods. Which makes life…inconvenient.

There’s another downside to this: food gets scary-boring. I mean DEADLY boring. Because it’s so much work finding and making food, one’s intake on the SCD gets numbingly repetitive. Honestly, if I could have any luxury, when I can have any luxury, the first one I want it a private chef to come in three times per week and cook me stuff. (And for my chef friends out there, now you know that the thing I love most is being asked over for a tasty, SCD-legal dinner!)

One trick I’ve learned to apply from the other part of my nerdy life is batch-processing. Make a tub of yogurt and then figure out the 17 different ways you can use it. Find a recipe that freezes well in portions and make a shitload of it. Four dozen cookies, six loaves of “bread” (which you then turn half of into toasts).

So the following recipe is what you do with some of the homemade goat’s milk yogurt it takes you 26 hours to make. It’s fecking hawesome, as Shane Nickerson speaking in a bad British accent might say, and it made my night.

Also, for you normies, you can have it on real bread toasts, if you like. But the cuke makes it lighter and less caloric, in case you care about stuff like that.


Serves 1 hungry-ass SCD-er as a meal, or several dainty types as hors d’oeuvres

  • 1 cucumber, sliced into 1/4″ rounds
  • 1 cup DRIPPED SCD-legal goat’s milk yogurt*
  • 1/2 cup chopped scallion
  • a few tablespoons capers
  • 4 oz SCD-legal smoked salmon**
  1. Spread rounds with dripped goat “cheese”.
  2. Press sprinkling of scallions on each round.
  3. Press a few capers (to taste) on each round.
  4. Layer with generous swath of salmon.
  5. Eat your damn face off!

*Can substitute SCD-legal cow’s milk yogurt, although not as tasty
**Check package, even if brand you used last time was legal; I think suppliers change for brands, and many add sugar

This is very tasty with a Virgin or Bloody Mary. Vodka, fortunately, is 100% legal on the SCD.

Um…in moderation, of course.


Image by chocolate monster mel via Flickr, used under a Creative Commons license. And no, that recipe is totally illegal. Looks good, though!

Other SCD-legal recipes on communicatrix-dot-com:

A loaf of bread, a crapload of artichoke dip and thou

tour guides

I had my gals over last night. They are an extraordinary bunch and deserve only the finest: delicious food, wine that costs more than $5/bottle and a clean, clutter-free environment in which to enjoy both.

Since we’ve finally been gifted with The End of the Horriblest Summer on Record, I thought I’d bust out the Chief Atheist’s family gravy recipe, a.k.a. pork-and-tomato-flavored crack, with meatballs, and kick off the season properly.

I am pleased to report that I have worked out the last kinks in making the recipe 100% SCD-compliant. I have not, however, received official permission to release the recipe to the general, salivating public, so you’re all going to have to feed your own red lead jones via the Soprano family recipe I linked to in a previous gravy-related post.*

But since I am not a completely heartless bitch, I will provide you with another amazing recipe I adapted from the back of a Trader Joe’s product:

Tasty Artichoke Dip


2 cloves of garlic, peeled
1 can artichoke hearts packed in water, drained
1 fistful fresh Italian (flat-leaf) parsley, washed & dried, stems removed
buncha (1/4 c? 1/2c?) extra-virgin olive oil
salt & pepper to taste

Pulverize garlic in food processor. Add artichoke hearts and parsley. Process, drizzling olive oil as you go until you see a nice, pulverized mix (1/4 – 1/2 cup or more, depending on how decadent you want to be). Add salt & pepper to taste.

Eat with carrots if you are an SCD-er, or delicious bread if you are blessed with a normal digestive tract.

Bonus benefit: not only is it SCD-compliant, it is also IC-safe as well! And it actually tastes good, I swear!

Well, okay, not as good as the gravy, but come on: what doesn’t taste better with pork?


*UPDATE: Gravy boy pulled his link. Until I can post the real deal, this is the most authentic recipe I can find.

Most excellent photo courtesy of Patrick Q via Flickr, used under a Creative Commons license

Cheering the Hell Up, Day 11: Iced tea, hold the sugar

iced tea

Iced tea has always my summer drink of choice.

And since I’ve been on the Specific Carbohydrate Diet, plain, brewed iced tea sans sugar is the order of the season.

And it gets a little…well, old after awhile. You can mix it up with plain, brewed peppermint tea (the other allowable tea on SCD), but sometimes, you want a little caffeine with your flava.

So how stoked was I when I went to my friend Richard’s house and he poured me a long, tall glass of delicious with NO sugar and TONS of flavor:

Iced Green & Grey Tea Chez Waterhouse

Bring a kettle (or 1 quart) of water to a boil.

Pour over 3 bags green tea and 2 bags Earl Grey* tea in a Pyrex or other heat-proof pitcher.

Let steep until cool. Discard bags (squeeze ’em first). Pour tea in 2 quart pitcher and fill with cool water.



*Earl Grey tea is not strictly SCD-legal. I make sure to use a brand that contains actual oil of bergamot, not “flavor”, which is the catchall through which illegals often slip through. SCD followers should not drink this unless they substitute black or peppermint teas for the Earl Grey.

Cheering the Hell Up, Day 06: Coffee and Tuna Nicoise!


Sometimes you eat the bear; sometimes you meet him at Starbucks and you both get to eat (or at least have a beverage).

Yes, the communicatrix finally met internet giant Citizen of the Month, the one, the only Neilochka! For me, it harkened back ye old days of online dating, only we are both involved with other people and this wasn’t a date. But the strange, I-sort-of-know-you-but-I-sort-of-don’t feeling was the same.

Given that we’re both enormous dorks, you’d think we’d talk about…oh, I don’t know, dorky stuff, and maybe gossip about our readers (okay, his, since there are only five of you here and that’s hardly enough for a conversation). But mainly, we ended up talking about food, my wacko diet, the delicious rolls at a particular bakery in the Farmer’s Market that Neilochka had arrived early to consume so as not to torture me, why factory farming is evil.

We also talked about cooking and learning how to eat properly which, unless you’re a ga-jillionaire, involves cooking. Being a straight man, Neilochka never learned to cook; being a man-like straight woman whose mother hated cooking, neither did the communicatrix, at least, not until she was 31, jobless and married to a different straight man who also didn’t know how to cook.

Sadly, I can’t really teach anyone how to cook; all I can do is make lame-ish suggestions based on my own experience. And in my experience, it’s helpful to start out with a few VERY simple recipes (i.e., not stuff from The Silver Palate) and branch out from there as you gain confidence with handling food and understanding which flavors go well together.

Today’s non-lession was inspired by the tube of anchovy paste I picked up at the French grocery store in the Farmer’s Market. Generally, anchovies, sliced, dressed fishies, are a component of a delicious French salad, Nicoise (which just means “in the style of Nice”, which is where there are a lot of goddam fish). For most of us, anchovies are just a punchline involving pizza and truly, truly disgusting, but they do have a nice, salty, robust flavor that adds a certain I-don’t-know-what (translation: je ne sais quoi) to a dish. And anchovy paste, which removes all recognizable traces of the fish it came from except for the picture on the box, is a great way to add zip without triggering the gag reflex.

Nicoise also usually involves boiled and cooled, skinned (or not) red potatoes. These are not SCD-legal so I skip them now, but if you like, go ahead and boil yourself a batch of the baby ones (they scream as you drop them in the water) and halve or quarter them to add once cooled.

SALAD NICOISE (adapted for the Specific Carbohydrate Diet)

1 can water-packed, solid albacore tuna
2 hard-boiled eggs
2 cups haricot verts*
2 tablespoons capers
10-15 Kalamata olives (optional)
10-15 cherry tomatoes (optional)
2 cups lettuce, washed and torn up (I like spicy mixed baby greens)


3 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/4″ squirt anchovy paste (totally optional)

Steam the haricots verts in a little water on the stove until just tender-crisp (not wiggly!) and let cool.

While the beans are cooling, chop the eggs into 1/2″ sized pieces. (Don’t worry, they don’t need to be perfect.) Drain the tuna well. If you’re using them, pit and cut the olives into quarters and halve the cherry tomatoes.

Arrange the lettuce in a wide, shallow bowl or on individual plates (this recipe makes about two servings for piggy me). Layer the cooled beans on top of the lettuce, then flake the tuna from the can with a fork on top of the beans. Strew the chopped egg and capers and olive pieces on top of the tuna, in that order (looks best!). Arrange the cherry tomatoes on the side of the dish.

Whisk the dressing ingredients together in a little bowl with a fork. Pour the dressing on the salad and eat!

See, Neilochka? Even you could make this delicious, healthy salad as easy as un, deux, trois!


*long, skinny, French green beans. Trader Joe’s sells them bagged and frozen; you can find them fresh at some markets. You could substitute regular green beans in a pinch, but the haricots verts are soooooo much better you shouldn’t judge the recipe till you’ve tried them.

Photo by bzibble via Flickr, used under a Creative Commons license

Cheering the Hell Up, Day 01: Strawberry-Chicken-Walnut Salad!

chicken-strawberry salad

I play the sympathy card when it comes to me and the SCD, but make no mistake: the Specific Carbohydrate Diet* is ten billion-gazillion times (a) easier to follow; (b) lenient; and (c) tasty than 99.99% of the cockamamie diets out there. And it’s healthy! And it doesn’t make your breath smell like the three-day-old vomit of a furry mammal that crawled in your mouth and died somewheres around your midsection!

As the late, great Elaine Gottschall, standard-bearer and patron saint of the SCD, used to say when someone on the listserv would grouse about all the things we couldn’t eat, “Stop complaining and think of all the wonderful foods we can enjoy!” And Elaine didn’t even have to be on the SCD; she put herself on it in solidarity with her ulcerative colitis-afflicted daughter (who fully recovered from UC after two years on strict SCD).

One of the great things I can and do still enjoy on SCD that normal people like, too, is salad. True, the days of throwing a little brown rice (starch is a no-no) or feta (ditto, fresh cheeses) or tofu/beans (see “brown rice”) are over, but there are puh-lenty of coolio things to throw in a bowl and call “lunch”, especially in Southern California, especially in spring and summer.

The above pictured salad is my own variation on one I sampled at a terrific eatery in Ojai (whose name, alas, escapes me) a couple of years ago. It’s primary components are chicken, strawberries and leafy greens, but it also serves as a great template for how to put together an “interesting” (i.e., non-iceberg, non-mixed-greens-with-a-cherry-tomato) salad in general.

The Communicatrix’s SCD-Legal, Idiot-Proof Strawberry-Chicken-Walnut Salad

3 skinless chicken breasts
1 cup walnut pieces
1 pint strawberries
4-5 green onions
3 stalks celery
1 outrageously overpriced package fresh tarragon (or good handful from the garden)
1 package mixed baby greens (or lettuce of your choosing, or no damned lettuce)


5 tablespoons walnut oil
3 tablespoons champagne or white wine vinegar

MAKE THE SALAD: Poach chicken breasts (simmer in water to cover with an optional bay leaf) until cooked, 5-10 minutes. Let cool. Chop into bite-sized, salad-y pieces.

Meanwhile, toast the walnuts in a 350ºF oven until golden-toasty brown, about 8 minutes, but keep an eye on them. They burn quickly! Let cool.

While this other stuff is going on, wash all your produce and dry it if you haven’t. Then…

Slice off strawberry tops and discard; slice remaining strawberry into 1/4″ (or nice, salad-y sized) pieces.

Slice off ratty part of scallion and celery tops and the roots; slice remaining bits into 1/4″ (or…you get the idea) pieces.

Chop up that tarragon, sistah!

Arrange lettuce in large, shallow bowl. Strew chicken pieces, walnut pieces, strawberry slices, scallions, celery and tarragon on top.

Purists can whisk the walnut oil and vinegar together first; I just sprinkle the oil and then the vinegar right on top of the salad because I am LAZY and have a TINY KITCHEN with no room for DIRTY DISHES.


More importantly, this recipe serves as a kind of template for an easy, protein-based salad. The general idea is to have:

1. a protein for substance (cooked, cut-up chicken or beef or pork; grilled, meaty fish like tuna or swordfish; shellfish like cooked shrimp or scallops or crab)

2. a fruit, fresh or dried, that goes with it, for sweetness (think lighter with chicken, strawberries, grapes, pears; heartier fruits like apples, oranges and grapefruit work with beef)

3. a toasted nut for variety and omega-3 (walnuts, pecans, almonds, pignolias, etc)

4. greens to fill things out and keep things moving down the chute

5. an onion, for snap (scallions, thinly-sliced sweet onion or red onion or maybe shallots, lightly sauteed or not)

6. veggie “filler” to get your 5-7/day (cukes, celery, radishes; tomatoes; carrots, although you’d probably want curls, like you’d make with a vegetable peeler, so they don’t overwhelm; roasted, sliced beets, if you dig ’em, although they can be overpowering and/or central to a salad, so you might want to adjust other ingredients; etc.) NOTE: sometimes the fruit and the veggie filler together can be like wearing all your jewelry at once, not so tasteful. Try to imagine the flavors of your favorite salads before you throw in everything willy-nilly.

7. a dressing (hearty for beef/pork, wine vinegar & olive oil & dijo, or an SCD-legal yogurt-based blue-cheese dressing; lighter for the others, some light vinegar like cider or white wine and olive oil always works)

8. complementary, preferably fresh, herb (tarragon, basil, rosemary, cilantro, etc; pronounce the “h” if you are a Brit, don’t if you’re a Yank)


9. a tasty cheese for fatty goodness! (any SCD-legal, cuisine-appropriate thang, thinly-sliced cheddar, swiss, parmesan, asiago, manchego, etc.; non-SCDers can also opt for feta with a Greek-type salad or bufalo mozzarella with an Italian chix/tomato/basil salad)

I like to mix up all the stuff except the greens in quantity, then add greens and nibble off of it for a day or two. The flavors get more concentrated the second day, but the dressing will wilt the greens.

Enjoy it with your favorite beverage and just TRY being crabby. I dare you…


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