An elemental change (Day 321)…

stove element

Unngggghh. Today is not a good day, fellow Thistlers. Last night, I ended up cooking a rather late dinner of quinoa and steamed collard greens (local, organic … do I even need to point this out?) with olive oil and toasted pumpkin seeds, followed by some stress for dessert, after which I promptly hit the sack. Now, because I’m susceptible to tummy cramps — specifically, tummy cramps that feel as though some demented clown has made a balloon animal out of my intestines — I thought to myself, “Hmm, I just consumed a lot of roughage, got stressed and am now in a horizontal position; perhaps this is not the wisest decision.” So before falling asleep, I took some time to massage my tum, helping things move along.

Yeah, well, come 3:30 a.m., I get woken up by excruciating pain in my mid-section. It feels like a collard green alien is going to burst out of my stomach and start attacking my face. I have no idea if the massage made it worse or just made it come on sooner, but either way, I was up for the next four hours, pacing back and forth, alternating between a hot water bottle and moans of desperation, between sips of chamomile tea and dry heaving. It was lovely, to say the least.

I’m feeling more or less all right now — the bagel with cheddar cheese I just ate is making a much better impression on my bowels than the quinoa and greens (sorry, Meg, I know how you loathe gluten and dairy, but maybe my British genes are just wired this way).

What the eff does this have to do with today’s change, you ask? Well, nothing really, but here’s a bit of a tie-in: While I was cooking dinner last night on my stove, I had to use two elements. Automatically I put the frying pan and pot on the two front burners — the right one is small, the left one is bigger — but then I realized it would save more energy to use the second small burner at the back of the stove instead. Yes, it would require a bit more reaching, but the pan would surely get just as hot as it would on the larger element, and according to Green is Sexy, this could save up to 40% of the energy required.

I’m also going to make sure I keep the surface of the stove clean (it’s glass-top), so there won’t be any crusty collard remnants getting in between the heat source and the bottom of the pan.

Photo courtesy of this guy on Flickr

28 Responses to An elemental change (Day 321)…

  1. limesarah says:

    Where did you find local quinoa?? I haven’t been able to find it grown anywhere near this part of the world.

  2. Oh no no no no!. Bagels are never what crampy belly needs. Perhaps some dry toast and butter but oowey goowey bagels- that’s like putting… well…. I don’t know- A piece of gum inside a straw and then trying to drink from it.

    Next time- go for the ginger and/or cinnamon tea- helps to get the… um… winds blowing.

  3. Hellcat13 says:

    Blech. Sickies all around. Too bad you live in TO. We could have hooked up, as I too was up all night (albeit it wouldn’t have been pretty – you pacing, me blowing my nose repeatedly.)

    Anyway, easy change. I’m in.

  4. Judith says:

    Isn’t there something about quinoa that makes it hard to digest if you don’t rinse it really really well? I followed the directions the first time, doing that, and had no problem. Forgot to the next, and we all had huge cramps. So I never forget to do that now. Sometimes for a fast efficient rinse, instead of copious amounts of water, I will put it in water , start to heat it up, and then throw that water out, starting with fresh. I know, sounds wasteful in many ways, but a night of stomach cramps is not good either.

  5. Toby says:

    I fully understand the British genes and the need for gluten and cheese. While I would prefer to stop, I cannot imagine a diet without them. Hope your tummy is better.

  6. Ben says:

    Naw, quinoa is actually pretty easy to digest, but if I remember correctly, it holds both plant and animal proteins, so if you haven’t been eating any meat for quite a while, then your stomach may be having a very difficult time metabolizing it which would cause the stomach ache. But, then again if you have been eating quinoa regularly, your stomach would have the enzymes required to digest the proteins.

    One rinses quinoa to wash off a bitter residue called saponin. I don’t think it does anything bad for you, it just tastes yucky. And, you normally don’t have to rinse store bought quinoa.

  7. blah says:

    Vanessa I understand completely. Those of us with those genes have bodies that just respond to things like cheese and bangers and mash. It’s called DNA. D-N-A people!!! (kidding…but it’s really good).

  8. Meow. says:

    Dude. Collards, kale and swish chard do that to me too, IT SUCKS. Stupid greens!

  9. pat says:

    Mmm, I told you about those green things that you keep eating!!
    I mean, really! Collards and Quinoa! Apart from the alliteration , it sounds real bad!

  10. debbie says:

    If it was more intestinal than stomach, you might want to view this site’s definitions of soluble vs insoluble fiber. During stress, the intestines might prefer a balance of the two in a meal. During high stress, some folks should focus solely on soluble fiber. This has helped me.




  11. Vanessa says:

    Hey limesarah — actually, I’m not sure where my quinoa is from, but I had it before I made my local-eating pledge so it might not completely jive with that. However, when I went on this cycling trip in Oregon last summer, we stopped at an organic farm where the guy was growing his own quinoa (and amaranth, which looks identical, and very pretty), so you can definitely get it from within North America if you search hard enough I think.

    And Meg, I did have cinnamon and ginger tea; I even brewed it myself. I had a hot water bottle, too, and did some yoga and more massaging. And I completely agree that quinoa and green vegetables are technically better for the digestive system on the whole, but I’m telling ya, every single time I’ve had this (what I believe to be extreme gaseous tension or something), it’s been after I’ve eaten something green and either quinoa or brown rice. Conversely, every time I’ve eaten a bagel and cheese, I’ve been fine. I think I just have a different digestive system. As blah says, it’s totally the British-Canadian DNA!

  12. SP says:

    So now I want to know where you managed to get local organic collard greens in January? I saw some from CA last night and declined them for some red kale from PA instead, but that was a close as I could get my greens at Karma this week. Sorry to hear of your upset tum tum.

  13. SP says:

    Oh and most of the quinoa I have seen in Toronto is from Bolivia.

  14. Samantha says:

    Thistle I have an idea for your project. You could stop buying bread and only eat homemade. I know it sounds like a lot of work but it works with your current plans already and if you make sourdough you can even further reduce packaging etc. by not needing to buy yeast. Just buy flour and salt in bulk and the sourdough will do the rest.

  15. Elise says:

    This is going to sound odd, because it made you sick, but what recipe do you use for your quinoa? I can’t get mine to taste right.

  16. blah says:

    There is nothing better than your home smelling of homemade bread. It’s amazing! Samantha’s right – it’s really worth the effort. Although, the first time I made a loaf, I had to throw it out because the birds wouldn’t even eat it it was so bad.

  17. eskimoparty says:

    Quinoa is coated naturally with saponin, as mentioned above, but is in fact likely to make you quite ill if you do not soak the quinoa before cooking. Soak it in plenty of water, for at least an hour if you can, and then rinse before cooking in fresh water. This also cuts down on cooking time (although it only takes about 10 minutes anyway). If you buy it in a box, you usually don’t need to rinse, but I’ve bought it from bulk bins thinking it was ready-to-go and not only did I have horrible cramps, I was in fact violently ill for a day or so (and lost several pounds that way). Some people only have a mild reaction to the saponin, and others (apparently, like me) have a much stronger reaction. It may also vary from batch to batch. So, even store-bought should be rinsed and soaked for safety. Otherwise, quinoa is a pretty amazing food, as it is a complete protein and so tasty!

  18. Ruthie says:

    Hi there 🙂 I just read your post and I thought I’d comment. My husband and I are vegans (serious quinoa and collards there) but he, unfortunately, has irritable bowel disease. You can read about it on, but in general, he has to be careful with how much insoluble fiber he takes in at once. He says no to salad, when I make greens he either just eats a little bit or I puree them and add them to soup. More refined grains that I generally try to avoid, but he seriously cannot eat whole wheat bread. He CAN eat white bread though. It’s really weird but he’s had tum tum problems since he was a little tot and his parents kept giving him fiber, fiber, fiber! And of course, it got worse! Since we learned about IBS it’s been the first time that he’s been able to be, well, “normal”. Just thought of you with the soothing bagel and all. 🙂

    Peace out!

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  20. Rachel says:

    I got stomach pains after eating sometimes and it turned out to be gallstones. Go get looked at!

  21. Mark says:

    We recently had this unpleasant experience ourselves and couldn’t figure out why quinoa would do us that way after all we’d been through together. Guess we’d just been lucky in the past….

  22. Lis says:

    Yup, I have the quinoa stomach troubles right now…and I forgot to rinse 😦

  23. priscillabecker says:

    It’s the quinoa; the very same thing happens to me every time I eat it, which, of course, I don’t anymore once I figured out what was doing the stomach-excoriating to me. Tried it again last night after years off the stuff, thinking, stupidly, that maybe things had changed. They had not. That “grain” is vile. I can eat anything but quinoa. Is there any truth to the rinsing?


  24. Michele says:

    Interesting. I came to this site by googling “collard greens and stomach pain”. I made a traditional southern style Mew Years dinner of black eyed peas, ham hocks and collard greens. The food came out delicious, but about half an hour after eating I started to experience severe stomach pains. Here it is more than six hours later and while it has subsided quite a bit I don’t think I can sleep yet, so I am cruising the net looking for an explanation. I can’t blame quinoa, frankly I don’t even know what it is. The too much fiber thing has to be it, but it’s odd as I eat only whole grain breads, eat whole wheat pasta, love salads and broccoli and all that. But I have only had collard greens a couple of times before so I guess the unfamiliarity is the killer. Anyway, thanks for the discussion, and I will be headed to bed as soon as I have delivered myself of my own collard green alien.

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