Two weeks into my gall bladder being on the fritz, I decided to go all Paula Deen on it. If I simply refrained from eating fat or consuming alcohol, I prevented the attacks, which were more painful than a lifetime sentenced to eating Kwanzaa Cake. But I was hosting book club that night. And we were reading Shark’s Fin and Sichuan Pepper, one of my favorite books. An array of home-cooked Chinese dishes peppered the table, wowing me with the skill of my friends: beef tongue, celery, and pig ear from Tiffany, egg tarts from Snacking in the Kitchen, and dan-dan noodles from me, among others delicacies. I couldn’t resist the temptations of my favorite cuisine made by my favorite people. My doctor had given me Vicodin for any pain when I got attacks, but since the pain was prevented by eliminating fat and alcohol, I had yet to actually use them.
Until that night, when I tried to emulate the woman who should be nobody’s hero, Paula Deen. Instead of using my diet to prevent the symptoms, I let them happen and tried to treat the pain with the drugs. Worst. Idea. Ever. Vicodin was no match for the multiple playing dice-sized gallstones (I later learned) that had taken up residence in my organ. There was nothing to do about the pain but suffer. From three to six AM I cried out in pain, I danced, I did yoga, I lay perfectly still. I tried to think of happy things (Chinese food! Wine! No, wrong tactic) to get the pain off my mind, but nothing alleviates the pain of a gall bladder attack but time (and the good drugs I eventually got in the ER, but that’s another story). I stopped eating fat after that, until a week later when I finally had surgery and got the damn thing removed.
I’m all better now; it seems that the gall bladder is an entirely unnecessary organ. Like the Robert Irvine of body parts: it could fall off the face of the earth and nobody would even take notice. Now that the gall bladder and the stones it harbored have been taken out, I get to go back to a totally normal diet. For the few weeks that I couldn’t eat fat, though, I did notice that much of the protein I ate came from things with fat in them. I love tofu as much as the next person, but usually pan-fried. I’ll take you up on that steak, or maybe a little bit of ground lamb. Cheese? an excellent source of protein–and also fat. Don’t even get me started on the horrors of fat-free cheese. Worse than a Rachael Ray marathon coming on when you’ve got a broken remote control.
So I looked into beefalo, which I’ll keep eating, because it turns out to be low-fat and full-flavor, a rare combination, the unicorn of the food world. I found bean dip–which I at one point (and never again) had to eat with a fat-free Pringle. I survived and I wouldn’t wish it on anyone, but life goes on, life gets better, and being gall-bladder free is no hardship. In the meantime, I got really good at making nice light recipes, like the one below.
Healthful Spicy Edamame Dip
A healthful, low-fat, and colorful dip that goes well with tortilla chips, sandwiches or bread.
Prep Time: 5 months, 5 minutes
Cook Time: 1 months, 1 minutes
Yield: 1 large bowl worth--enough for a casual party
Serving Size: 1 Tablespoon
- 1.5 Cups Steamed, shelled Edamame
- 1 TBSP Shiro Miso
- 1 Jalapeño (de-seed if you don\'t like spice)
- 0.5 Bunch Cilantro
- 1 TBSP Sesame Oil (More--up to 3 if you\'re not watching your fat)
- 0.5 Fruit Worth of Lemon Juice
- 1 tsp Kosher Salt
- 1 tsp Fish Sauce (Optional, to keep it vegetarian/vegan)
- Chop cilantro and pepper
- Blast everything in the food processor until smooth, about 1 minute. Stop to scrape down sides, if necessary