Thursday, November 4, 2010

Sleep Tight!

From the foggy mist of childhood memories, recent events on campus recall the childish bedtime rhyme: “Good night, sleep tight! Don’t let the bedbugs bite!” Bedbug epidemics are on the rise in the US, and particularly becoming a problem in dorm life. They are tiny wingless insects in the family Cimicidae that feed on blood, putting them in the top ten for annoying dorm visitors.

What. Just. Bit. Me.

Bedbugs are primarily active at night while you are asleep, giving rise to the name ‘bedbug’. Their bites are visible as small red bumps with a darker red center. The spots itch like mosquito bites and are typically located in areas of skin not covered by pajamas (face, neck, arms, legs, etc). A bedbug attack is indicated by the patterning of the bumps (a rough line or clustered in small areas) rather than the physical appearance of the bites. In addition, common external indicators include dark specks along mattress seams or blood smears on the sheets. Bedbugs also have exoskeletons and molt 5-6 times in their lifespan. The molting process requires a new blood feeding, making exoskeletons from the tiny bugs another common sign of a bedbug infestation.

Why me?!

Bedbug infestations are more common in highly populated buildings that have high occupancy turnover rates. For example, this includes apartment complexes, dormitories, homeless shelters, hotels, military barracks and hospitals. Any building with high levels of traffic is at risk. Bedbugs prefer environments that are warm and dark, so any household crevice is at risk for inhabitation. The most common locations for a bedbug nest are mattresses, box springs, bed frames, furniture (with cracks or crevices), carpeting, upholstered furniture, under switch plates and electrical outlets, curtains, unused drawers or shelves and even around water pipes. In summation, any dark area of a room or building can potentially house bedbugs.

Get it away from me.

If you find bedbugs in your home, the best thing to do is to 1) not panic, and 2) call a professional. In the event of a suspected bedbug infestation, professional pest control will often bring in bedbug dogs to sniff out the perpetrators. Bedbugs have a peculiar odor that humans can only smell in the event of a serious infestation. Bedbug dogs are trained to pick up faint traces of the smell to positively confirm the presence of bedbugs in a room. Treatments used to eliminate bedbugs are typically a steam treatment followed by insecticide use. The steam kills most bedbugs by heating the area up to 46oC for seven minutes. Insecticides are used immediately afterwards to kill any residual bugs who survived the steam. Insecticides are used with caution though, as there can be many potential health hazards associated with their use. Some countries (primarily in Europe) have begun to use cold treatments over steam/insecticide routes. This new treatment freezes the bugs with carbon dioxide snow (cryonite) and has no known toxic side effects. It tends to be more expensive and isn’t as commercially available, so steam treatments continue to save the day in America.

And the best method is:

Prevention. Travel is one of the principal effectors for spreading a bedbug infestation. The bedbugs can travel in suitcases, on pets, or on coats and other clothing items. Ideally, you should check all hotel rooms for bedbugs and immediately report to the manager if you see evidence of bedbugs. In addition, it’s safest to place all luggage on the luggage rack that sits in the closet. This will prevent bedbugs from crawling out of the carpet and into your bags for a ride back to your place. If you do visit an infested domicile, check all of your clothing, coats and bags for bedbugs before bringing them into your home. If bugs are visible on your clothing, you should immediately place the items into a dryer on high heat for at least 20 minutes to kill all bugs and eggs.

The good, the bad and the ugly.

  • Fact: Bedbug bites are relatively harmless. They cannot carry diseases, and in that sense are safer than mosquitoes! The bugs cannot harm you and are simply annoying to deal with. The only potential risk arises if you are allergic to bedbugs.
  • Myth: Bedbugs are more attracted to messy environments. Bedbugs are actually as easily found in pristinely clean homes as they are in messy ones. Reducing clutter can reduce the chance of catching bedbugs, but it doesn’t eliminate the possibility.
  • A Half-Truth: You can’t see bedbugs if you have them. This can be true or false depending on where the bugs are in their life cycle. Newly hatched bedbugs are transparent and the size of a poppy seed, making them difficult to see. Adult bedbugs are red/brown in color, roughly the size of an apple seed (about ¼ in. long) and easier to identify.
  • Really Cool: Human DNA from blood in bedbugs can be isolated up to 90 days following a feeding. This carries the potential to lead to a new forensics method for identifying criminals. Pretty cool, right?

For more information and links about bedbugs, visit the Center of Disease Control (CDC) website at

Monday, September 20, 2010

Better Late Than Never!

So I've been horribly remiss and essentially abandoned my blog.

Please, a thousand pardons.

I have a yummy new recipe, though! Yippie!

My lovely fiance bought an Indian cookbook for me - so while the spices are slightly unconventional, I recommend tracking them down and trying this out.

Potato Sticks (absurd, I know)

  • 4 medium potatoes (either red or white potatoes work just fine; just remember that red potatoes are better for reducing yeast build up!)
  • 1 small red onion
  • 2 tbp. vegetable oil (I used refined cold-pressed coconut oil)
  • 1/4 tsp. turmeric powder
  • 1/2 tsp. red chili powder
  • Table salt, to taste
  • ~ 1/4 c. room temperature water
  • Cut the potatoes and onions lengthwise, so that they look roughly 'fry' shaped and set them aside.
  • Heat 2 tbs. oil in a frying pan on medium temperature. Add the onions and saute until they're transparent - ~ 3-4 minutes.
  • Add the potatoes and saute for ~ 3-5 minutes.
  • Add the turmeric, red chilli powder and salt to the skilley - saute, stirring constantly, for 1 minute.
  • Add the water, cover the pan and cook until the potatoes are soft.
Super easy, and absolutely delicious. I highly recommend trying this new spin on potatoes!!

Bon Appetit

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Oh and PS...

I forgot!!

Last week, my mother found out what the sex of my newest sibling will be (due at the end of September):

It's a Girl!!!!
That's right. My parents have (finally) succeeded in creating a second baby girl; 2 out of 9 isn't awful, I suppose.

I just had to share - because I am SO excited!

Chicken and Spinach and Onion, Oh My!


I am somewhat ashamed of myself. For the duration of finals, various sicknesses and moving out for the summer - I have been terribly remiss in my blogging duties. Please accept my humble apologies, and know that I will endeavor to be better in the future.

As an apology offering, I have a new favorite recipe to present for your perusal and consideration. It is a 'Primavera' recipe...which made me highly hesitant to try it at all, but it tastes wonderful!

This is super easy to cook in a dorm; I can testify, pinky swear. I tried this one a month ago while school was still in session and it was a wonderful 'healthy' option for trying to get into shape. I stole this recipe from Whole Foods, I confess. But that's okay...I'll give Whole Foods this victory....the taste is completely worth it.

Quinoa Primavera

  • 1 c.of cooked quinoa (I cooked in my rice cooker)
  • Cooking Oil (I used Grapeseed oil - the actual recipe recommends Olive Oil)
  • 1/2 c. chopped onion (Don't forget that the type of onion changes the taste of the recipe; yellow onions are my favorite)
  • 1/2 lb. uncooked asparagus
  • 1 cloves of crushed garlic
  • 1 c. cooked shredded chicken (or ~ 2.5 cooked chicken breasts)***
  • 1 c. baby spinach leaves
  • Sea Salt and Black Pepper
  1. Heat oil in a frying pan on medium heat with the asparagus and onion. Cook for ~ 5-7 minutes; until the asparagus is bright green and tender.
  2. Add garlic and cook for 1 more minute.
  3. Add chicken, spinach and quinoa (in that order). Cook for 3-5 minutes; until the spinach is wilted.
  4. Remove from heat, add salt and pepper to taste.
***I have used both crock-pot cooked chicken as well as baking the chicken breasts. For the baked chicken breasts, I greased the chicken (and the pan too, of course) and covered it in seasoning. I then baked it at 400 degrees Fahrenheit for ~40 minutes (until the center wasn't pink anymore).

It's super yummy - I highly recommend at least trying it, and also trying a variation of vegetables! It is reminiscent of high school for me (when I could still eat food) and using random vegetables in a stir-fry to eat over rice. It's a great meal for an evening after a workout or for a hot summer night, because it isn't too heavy but is still filling enough that you aren't immediately hungry an hour later.

I hope you're having a wonderful summer! Enjoy the sunshine and academic hiatus :)

Friday, April 2, 2010

On this Holy of Holy days..

So rather than be a good Catholic and fast today from food (which I technically can't do to begin with...though this is irrelevant) I baked again. I am enjoying my Easter respite by taking full advantage of having a full kitchen available...glorious.

The beauty of gluten-free flours and a full-sized kitchen! Mr. Woo, if you manage to get an off-campus apartment with a full kitchen...I just might have to move in. Please be fore-warned though...this is not actually because of you...I'm just using you for your oven and dishwasher.

I discovered new recipes! I'm going to be honest...this is going to take work to bake in my dorm...but I think I very well might have to try.

Apple Sauce Cake

That's right. It's made out of applesauce.


  • 1/2 cup of butter (softened)
  • 2/3 cup of agave
  • 1 egg's worth of egg substitute
  • 1/2 cup chopped dates
  • 1 1/2 cups unsweetened, organic applesauce
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 2 cups flour (I used 1.5 cups Amaranth flour, .5 c. potato starch flour)
  • 2 tsp. baking soda
How to make it:
  • Cream the butter and agave together
  • Add egg sub. and vanilla
  • mix in other ingredients
  • Put in a buttered 9x13 in. pan
  • Bake at 315 degrees for one hour
It's delicious. It has a spongey texture, even though when you look at it the cake doesn't look completely baked all the way through. It tastes very very similar to a "real" white cake! The mix tastes almost exactly like it...I can't stop picking at it, even without the icing on top!

I also made a pineapple upside down 'cake', but the cake batter on top was not nearly as yummy as the other cake I made.

So what I will actually do in the future, is use the applesauce cake batter and pour it on top of thinly sliced fresh pineapple (with agave drizzled on top of the fruit :) ) and then bake it at 350 degrees for 40-45 minutes. That will be a delicious cake....

Happy Easter!!!

Saturday, March 27, 2010

If you're feeling hungry...

So instead of writing a research paper - I decided to bake. :)

Definitely a good decision.

Banana Bread
(gluten-free, nut-free)

  • 2 eggs equivalent flaxseed sub. (or just 2 eggs, if you can have them)
  • 1/2 c. melted refined coconut oil
  • 1/4 c. water
  • 1/4 c. agave syrup**
  • 5 mashed bananas
  • 3 teaspoons baking powder (I didn't have baking powder - I used a substitute: 3/4 tsp. baking soda mixed with some coconut milk and 3/4 c. agave syrup)
  • 1 c. potato starch flour
  • 1 1/2 c. amaranth flour (you could easily use rice flour, which is what the recipe actually called for)
** You can use honey or sugar.

Mix all of the ingredients together. Place in a greased pan and bake for about 50 min. at 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Enjoy!

Difficulties/Lessons learned:
  • This is a really hard recipe for dorm life. What I figured out is that it is possible to cook it in a rice cooker, but you have to leave the rice cooker on for hours and it makes it very dense and leaves the bread kind of goopy.
  • The trick is to bake in thin layers, either in a toaster oven or in an electric skillet that has measures heat in degrees as opposed to settings. The skillet would make the batter more like eating a muffin-like pancake, but I think that it would work okay.
Overall: a success! Namely because I found a flour combination that works for my diet, and the taste was just like banana bread even if the actual baking process was difficult. The taste was the important part in my opinion, because you can always experiment with ways to make the baking process work better.


Thursday, March 25, 2010

To Whom It May Concern:

I was able to have kefir this week! No, it is not some mystical hallucinogenic illegal substance that I recently discovered and experienced. Kefir is a probiotic beverage cultured from dairy. In laymen's terms: it's a more liquid version of plain yogurt that is full of good digestive bacteria. It is filling, delicious and easy to mix with other ingredients to create a variety of yummy dairy-creations. Why is this a big deal? It will be the first dairy product I will have successfully reintroduced (outside of butter) into my diet. I haven't been able to consistently consume dairy in several years, and it has been two years since I officially completely removed it from my diet.

I have also been craving sweet and baked goods lately, and wanted to pass on a recipe I found in an allergy-friendly cookbook last summer. The cookbook is titled "Recipes for the Specific Carbohydrate Diet" and contains recipes that are Grain-free, lactose-free, and sugar-free. The recipes are easily adapted to accommodate allergens (particularly soy) that may be included in the recipes. If you struggle with gluten-intolerance or multiple food-allergies: I highly recommend this cookbook. I also found a blog that has a lot of similar recipes on it: Specific Carbohydrate Diet

I love this particular recipe and ate it often in a past life, but be warned that it does make a mess. Just trust me. It is worth the clean-up if you are craving sweet foods.

I'm going to type in the recipe as it was written, and insert my modifications in parentheses next to each step.

Hazelnut-Vanilla Pancakes

You'll Need:
  • 1 cup of almond flour
  • 1/4 cup of hazelnuts (I left this ingredient out)
  • 4 eggs (substitute: 4 tablespoons of ground flaxseed boiled in 3/4 c. water until gelatinous)**
  • 2 tbsp of honey
  • 1/4 tsp of salt
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • Butter
**Boiled ground flaxseed acts as the binding agent needed for the recipe. This is usable in any recipe in place of eggs.

Blend all of these ingredients (except for the butter) together (recommended for a blender, but easily done by hand). The butter is used to fry the pancakes in; so butter up the pan! You then simply fry the batter. A tricky part that I found when frying the pancakes is that the pancakes tend to enjoy falling apart and giving you a minor heart attack as they do so - it's best to make them as thin and small as you feasibly can. The good news, is that even if they do fall apart while frying, it is easy to mold them into a small mound that you can continue to flip and fry until they are cooked. The almond flour makes them crumbly, but even though they may look...interesting, they are delicious.

  • 1/16 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • cinnamon
The syrup is simple: heat the ingredients together (add as much or little cinnamon as your heart desires) for one minute. It is recommended that you do it in a pan, but you can just as easily do it in the microwave.

Delicious. You should try it at least once, even if you despise me for the mess that you will make :)

  • Wear comfortable shoes to lab, and understand that you will often require a heating pad after being on your feet in said lab all day.
  • Study and write ahead of time. Procrastinating on a research paper will only end in trouble and madness.