Courtesy of Kitchen Toke
Lifestyle 29 May 2019
After 20 years producing food magazines, cookbooks and reporting on the food industry, I learned that the father of my co-designer, Nellie Williams, had lung cancer.
I've worked with Nellie for nearly a decade and consider her to be something of a little sister. Her family lives in the small town of Washington, Missouri (just outside St. Louis), which at the time, did not have access to medical marijuana. Her dad, Fred, spent several years enduring one grueling treatment after another, with no real results. In 2016, I put a call out for edibles to my cannabis-using friends in Chicago—chocolate edibles, specifically. The lymph nodes in Fred's neck were severely swollen, making it painful to swallow. I knew chocolate would melt on his tongue.
Fred downed three chocolates in about 20 minutes. I warned him to slow down but was relieved and excited to see this very sick man finally experience some relief—relief that came from a plant rather than opioids. It was life-changing for everyone in the room; his wife and six daughters were so grateful to see their husband and father finally—after all these terrible months—eat a full meal and get some real sleep. That day was the last time I saw Fred. He died in June 2016.
My experience with Fred was the catalyst for Kitchen Toke, a quarterly magazine devoted to the culinary, health and wellness benefits of cannabis. Aside from watching my parents smoke pot when I was very young, (and trying it myself in high school), I knew nothing of marijuana. And as I looked for entry-level information on the subject, I realized there wasn't much available. It occurred to me that there was a white space to be filled for people who don't want to smoke marijuana, but might be willing to try it in food—for nutrition, health and wellness. Kitchen Toke was born.
Food as medicine
Why would a person introduce cannabis into their diet? For the same reasons people choose organic foods over non-organic foods. For the same reason people use healthy oils and other healthy fats: Cannabis takes health and wellness to the next level. Add to that the option to use cannabis without getting high, and the reasons grow.
When I say cannabis, by the way, I'm referring to the whole plant. I'm a huge proponent of eating foods in their "whole" entirety—just yesterday I had a conversation about eating the outer-skin of garlic. Garlic skin is loaded with heart-healthy, anti-aging properties, like phenylpropanoid antioxidants. As a matter of fact, most "skins" are good for you, whether it be from fruit, fish or vegetables. Cannabis is no different.
How to start
For people lucky enough to live in a state where you can grow or buy cannabis leaves, I suggest eating them raw. Cannabis leaves are packed with tetrahydrocannabinolic acid (THCA), the non-psychoactive acid form of THC known to ease symptoms of epilepsy, chronic pain, digestive disorders and more.
For those with medical cards, I recommend buying a cannabis flower with higher CBD content than THC, (approximately 4-to-1). Add it to a high-quality good coconut or olive oil and use it throughout the day. Hemp-derived CBD, which is federally legal and available nation-wide, contains 0.3% or less of THC and is great for hesitant first-timers. The product options are wide, with new CBD-infused honeys and olive oils and even salts showing up on the shelves every day.
Personally, I love starting my day with cannabis. By the time my stress kicks in, I feel like I've already beat it the punch. Stress, as we know, is a silent killer. But do we know why? From the hectic morning commute to the call from the kids' school to working on deadline, the compilation of individual daily stresses triggers a release of hormones and chemicals such as adrenaline, cortisol and norepinephrine. In more permanent states of stress, the amount of cortisol in the body can lead to weight gain, anxiety and insomnia. Weight gain has been linked to heart disease. Lack of sleep triggers a vicious cycle of further cortisol production—and thus more weight gain and less sleep!
Break the cycle
In 2011, while training for a triathlon, I discovered I had an insulin-resistance problem. I practiced "brick-training"—running, biking and swimming in a single day—several days a week, and to prepare for those days, I would fuel up on carbs the day before. I was trying to do some good for my body but ended up gaining more weight than ever. I knew something was wrong. I felt awful. My clothes didn't fit, and I was in a constant state of inflammation.
My doctor ordered a blood test. The results revealed that all those carbs weren't being properly broken down and as a result, insulin was flooding my body. I decided then and there to take control of my own health. I finished the triathlon and began an 8-week eating program of healthy fats, low-carbs and no dairy. My insulin returned to normal levels, and my weight dropped by 20 pounds. I succeeded at hitting the "reset button," and I looked and felt better than ever.
My discovery of cannabis took my eating and health and wellness program to a whole new level. I was already fit, but with the integration of cannabis into my diet, my overall inflammation dropped, my sleeping improved dramatically, and my post-workout muscle recovery is significantly quicker. I hope my story inspires you to do some research, look into what CBD can do for you. Starting with CBD is a great entry point and accessible for everyone.
Here's my favorite salad recipe with torn cannabis leaves
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Help! My Friend Is a No Show
Dear Armchair Psychologist,
I have a friend who doesn't reply to my messages about meeting for dinner, etc. Although, last week I ran into her at a local restaurant of mine, it has always been awkward to be friends with her. Should I continue our friendship or discontinue it? We've been friends for a total four years and nothing has changed. I don't feel as comfortable with her as my other close friends, and I don't think I'll ever be able to reach that comfort zone in pure friendship.
Dear Sadsies,I am sorry to hear you've been neglected by your friend. You may already have the answer to your question, since you're evaluating the non-existing bond between yourself and your friend. However, I'll gladly affirm to you that a friendship that isn't reciprocated is not a good friendship.
I have had a similar situation with a friend whom I'd grown up with but who was also consistently a very negative person, a true Debby Downer. One day, I just had enough of her criticism and vitriol. I stopped making excuses for her and dumped her. It was a great decision and I haven't looked back. With that in mind, it could be possible that something has changed in your friend's life, but it's insignificant if she isn't responding to you. It's time to dump her and spend your energy where it's appreciated. Don't dwell on this friend. History is not enough to create a lasting bond, it only means just that—you and your friend have history—so let her be history!
- The Armchair Psychologist