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melissa’s bimonthly potluck picks

bi•month•ly (adjective) – occurring or produced twice a month or every two months: a bimonthly blog post.

pot•luck (noun) – used in reference to a situation in which one must take a chance that whatever is available will prove to be acceptable: melissa’s bimonthly potluck picks.

Rather than a single-subject blog post, how about a few short, random samplings arbitrarily chosen depending on my mood? Instead of foto-Friday or meatless-Monday, I’ll do bimonthly potluck picks. That way I’m not committed to anything specific. Or often, for that matter. There’s no way I could commit to a weekly feature.

Every other week? Maybe. Every other month? Probably.

I love the ambiguous dictionary description of bimonthly. The indefinite and broad interpretation is perfect for someone like me who has no idea when my next blog post will occur or what it will be about.

Here we go — my first bimonthly potluck picks blog post. Hang on, I might wander into weird and icky territory.

Pick #1
advanced placement label reading

Castoreum extract is a food additive found in some processed foods. It’s been used as a flavor ingredient for the past 80 years and both FEMA (Flavor and Extract Manufacturer’s Association) and the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) regard castoreum as “generally regarded as safe” (GRAS). I avoid processed foods, but I imagine I’ve probably eaten castoreum at some point in my life. Here’s the truth behind the label. According to Webster’s Dictionary, castoreum is (cue retching sounds) a peculiar bitter orange-brown substance, with strong, penetrating odor, found in two sacs between the anus and external genitals of the beaver.

Enough said. Avoid processed foods.

Pick #2
Celiac Awareness Month

Last year the House of Representatives, with the Senate concurring, named May as National Celiac Awareness Month. Hmmm? And all these years I’ve been throwing my celiac soirées in October (former National Celiac Awareness Month). Increased awareness and Congressional support for advocacy and education regarding celiac disease is good, the month really doesn’t matter.

On second thought, I have celiac disease and May is my birthday month (emphasis on the whole month). Perfect reason for a May Congressional declaration and a gluten-free party. Or gala. I prefer birthday galas. Big, glittery galas with lots of presents.

Pick #3
Misnamed solar plexus

Following up on Celiac Awareness Month, I’d like to share something I learned many years ago in my cadaver lab. You’ve heard the term solar plexus, right? Well, it’s not called the solar plexus, it’s the CELIAC plexus. A plexus is a intricate network of nerves or vessels in the body. The following was taken directly from my Principles of Anatomy and Physiology textbook: The celiac plexus is found at the last thoracic and first lumbar vertebrae. It is the largest autonomic plexus and surrounds the celiac and superior mesenteric arteries. It contains two large celiac ganglia and a dense network of autonomic axons. Secondary plexuses that arise from the celiac plexus are distributed to the liver, gallbladder, stomach, pancreas, spleen, kidneys, medulla (inner region) of the adrenal gland, testes, and ovaries.

Doesn’t that sound like this celiac plexus thingy-ma-bob has an important role? Like maybe keeping us alive?

Then how come so many people in the healthcare profession (including doctors) have never even heard of the word celiac? Just wondering.

Pick #4
Best plant-based sources of calcium

Those of us who don’t eat dairy products (or in limited amounts) can get our calcium from plant-based sources. Here are some of my favorite high-calcium, non-dairy foods.
pinto beans (1 cup cooked), 82 mg calcium
chickpeas (1 cup cooked), 77 mg
sesame seeds (2 tablespoons), 176 mg
bok choy (1/2 cup cooked), 79 mg
collard greens (1/2 cup cooked), 178 mg
kale (1/2 cup cooked), 90 mg
dried figs (5 figs), 137 mg
blackstrap molasses (1 tablespoon), 172 mg

How was that? Is this worth repeating on a bimonthly (whatever that might mean) basis?

Peace, love and potluck picks!
P.S. As for pick #1, I’ll be sure to include something equally disgusting next time.

Disclaimer: All material on this website is provided for informational and educational use only and should not be used for diagnostic purposes. Consult with your physician regarding any health or medical concerns you may have.
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