Some days you just don’t wanna… you know? No matter what way I phrase this, it never sounds good on paper, but the truth is that having circumstances you didn’t pick of your own volition controlling your entire life can be beyond frustrating. And wow, does that lead to a desire to throw in the biggest towel, in a clamorous and elaborate fashion. I have some pretty dramatic ways of doing this, and it has been a exploration of my own interior halls to really see what this is on about.
I used to think it was about independence, about doing anything that I want, about being FREE! And that’s entirely reasonable, right? Freedom is a good thing. It’s what all living beings deserve. Weren’t we given free will by the Divine Presence?
See, I have discovered that choosing to rock the boat that’s already lost a mast and might be leaking is a form of self abuse.
I don’t use this term lightly, I promise. One day, in an particularly open state of mind, I found myself wandering through this topic and discovered that I was so angry at my body that I was picking on it, like I might with an annoying brother or sister that I knew how to expertly poke. Except my way of picking on it was to eat things that I knew would cause it distress: it was to not drink enough water through the day and see how far I could push it, and blaming my choice on being too busy or forgetting. I would even just be mad at my body, pointing rage at it like it had betrayed me on purpose.
Then, like a child, I would stand back and watch my body melt down. I would get mad at it for responding like my rage was the huge betrayal that it was. To be clear, not every time I had a crisis was for this reason, lest we pull the same shame card that society does to all people who are physically ill or who struggle with mental illness. I am just talking about an experience of a circumstance that is deeply challenging. (I will write a second blog post about my struggle with patterns, tiredness and struggles to stay afloat next).
How do you continue to say yes to your body’s need while disenchanted with your body, your diet, your life and your choices that you have to make under duress? Needy body, greedy body!! Aaaack!!! SOS! Bring in the unconditional love!
I don’t have the answer to this. I really don’t.
Sometimes that makes me angry too, yet, here we are.
What I do have are some ways that I back myself off the ledge that seem to be helping. These have been the little life lines.
Creativity has become a powerful ally… it seems to be a powerful tool that inspires hope for me, or reminds me of meaning when it seems to be lacking. Its has an amazing capacity to redefine purpose as being not something that I am doing in the world, like a job, or a role I play with people, but as a qualitative approach to the life around me.
I look for wonder around me. This happens via a few ways that I have intentionally been seeking out when the familiar antsy pangs of “I hate this” come around. Some of those have become:
- Finding a new beverage to make, served in a fancy glass I like, drunk while sitting in the yard and bee watching.
- Waking up early and watching the sunrise, or if I am too tired in the morning, making sure I am outside for the sunset. Sometimes I invite my husband to join me. I bought a free standing hammock to swing in while we watch!
- Taking my puppy for a walk and seeing what is different in my neighborhood this week. If someone comes by, saying hi and connecting for a minute.
- Finding a new park I have never been to before and seeing what is neat about it for people who like to go there.
- Inviting a friend or someone I want to get to know better to try my new Puerh and Ginger tea I made and devour a new poetry book I found at Powells.
- Sitting outside at night with a blanket, a warm puppy and looking at the stars and wondering what they might be thinking. Do they have their own name that they call themselves?
- I started singing in a community choir. I gave myself permission to bow out without shame if it was too much.
These are my ways, but you have your own that will help you too when the sense of control is too much. How could you do it?
What causes the little tiny flutter in your heart when you think about it?
What inspires you to hope?
This evening’s dinner was something totally fun… mixing cuisines is a hobby of mine. When I first started figuring out that you could use ANY vegetable in any dish, the kid gloves were off. This super tasty recipe my husband said that there were rave reviews coming from his direction. You can easily lighten it up for summer by changing out the squashes for veggies, or make it more comfort foody by adding a cashew or cauliflower cream sauce.
- 2 CUPS Sliced Portobella Mushrooms
- 1 TSP olive oil: or more if you don't have non stick pans
- 1 CUP Sweet Onion, chopped (or fennel bulb is lovely here!)
- 2 TBSP Imagine No Chicken Broth
- 1 15 Oz can Black Beans, rinsed
- 1 1/2 tsp cumin
- 1 tsp chili powder
- 1 tsp parsley
- 2 CUPS Cubed Butternut Squash
- 3 Purple Japanese yams, Cubed
- 1 TBSP Frontier Adobo Seasoning
- 1-2 tsp Berbere Seasoning
- Kelapo Coconut Oil Spray
- 1 Package of shredded Daiya Cheese: (your choice of flavor)
- 1 package Enchilada Sauce
- 8-10 Corn Tortillas
- Cubed tomatoes and parsley for toppings!
- Preheat the oven to 450. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Toss the butternut squash, the yams in a big enough bowl and sprinkle with Adobo seasoning and Berbere blend seasoning. Then stir all together with a little bit of olive oil or spray with coconut oil. Spread across the baking sheet without the yams and squash touching each other and put on the top rack of the oven. Set timer for about 12 minutes.
- Meanwhile, slice your mushrooms, and with the olive oil or coconut oil, sprinkle with Adobo seasoning and dry saute them until most of the water is out of them. Put them aside in a large bowl. You'll add other ingredients in the bowl as you go.
- Using the same skillet, add a small amount of broth and the chopped onions and saute until golden brown. If onions starts sticking, add small amounts of broth in as needed. Add in black beans, cumin, chili powder and parsley and heat all the way through. Combine mushrooms, bean and onions together in the bowl.
- In a shallow round container (I like to use a pie baking dish) dump in the enchilada sauce.
- When timer goes off for the squash and yams, stir the orange and purple buddies and if they need it, spray with a little more coconut oil, and season again if it seems bland and put it back in the oven for another 8 minutes or so. You want these to caramelize to bring out the sweetness.
- While they sauna themselves in the oven, pull out a plate, wet a paper towel and wrap your corn tortillas in it, 5 at a time, and microwave them for 20-30 seconds. This will soften them and make them easy to roll. Put the daiya cheese into a bowl (just a cup at a time, this gets happily messy).
- When done roasting, throw the squash and yams into the mix with the mushrooms, onions and beans. Change temperature of oven to 350.
- Pull out a 13x9 baking pan. Spray with coconut oil.
- Corn tortillas, enchilada sauce, daiya, fillings and baking pan.
- Dredge the corn tortilla in the sauce, place in your hand, add a sprinkle of daiya, a scoop or two of the fillings, roll, and place the corn tortilla upside down so the weight of the roll holds the roll closed. I do this with my fingers, but if you have a partner, one of you can have dirty hands holding the tortilla and the other can handle scooping the ingredients.
- Nestle them close in the pan together until the pan is full or you run out of ingredients.
- Any leftover sauce sprinkle on top of the enchiladas.
- Bake for about 15 - 20 minutes!
- Top with tomatoes and fresh parsley if you choose!
- You could make a cauliflower bechamel sauce to mix with veggies if you want a cream based version of this recipe. Chef Del in his Forks Over Knives book has an easy recipe to do this.
- Saute other veggies for the mix: asparagus, zucchini, broccoli, cauliflower.
- You could also change up the beans for adzuki, fava, or kidney beans.
- 1 1/2 cups cooked cannellini or navy beans beans (or about 1 can), rinsed
- 1/4 cup packed fresh thai basil leaves
- 1 tsp Adobo Seasoning
- 2 tablespoons Imagine No Chicken Broth
- 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Combine the beans, basil, adobo seasoning, broth, and lemon juice in a food processor. Process until basil is finely chopped and the dip is almost smooth. Season with salt and pepper to taste. If you're using this as a dip, you can top it with toasted pine nuts or fresh basil leaves before serving.
- If you want a thicker dip use less broth.
- This is awesome as a base for wraps, tacos or a dip
- 1.5 cups green lentils, soaked
- 2 cups wild rice
- 2 cups Imagine No Chicken Broth
- 1 fennel bulb, sliced thinly
- 3 tsp ginger, minced
- 1 tsp Himalayan sea salt
- 1/4 tsp black pepper
- 1/2 tsp turmeric
- 1/4 tsp cinnamon
- 1/8 tsp nutmeg
- 1/4 tsp cardamom
- 1/8 tsp toasted cumin
- 1/2 tsp saffron: dissolved in 2 tablespoons warm water
- 3/4 cup raisins
- 3/4 cup dates, pitted and chopped
- Cook the wild rice in the broth. I use a rice cooker to do this. 1 scoop of the wild rice per line on the rice cooker. Cook on the regular setting. After cooking poor into a bowl.
- If cooking rice on the stove, bring 3 cups water or stock to a boil, stir in 1 cup uncooked Wild Rice reduce heat and simmer, covered 40-45 minutes or just until kernels puff open. Uncover and fluff with a fork and simmer an additional five minutes. Drain off any excess liquid.
- Sort through the lentils to make sure that there are no rocks and then rinse and put in water and boil for about 30 minutes, or until soft.
- Heat a small pan and dry saute your cumin until fragrant. This may take 2-4 minutes.
- Saute the fennel bulb and ginger together then add raisins, dates, and all spices except the saffron. Mix well and set aside.
- Layer into a bowl or on a plate and serve with joy!
- You could top this with Daiya Cheese, Nutritional Yeast or chopped almonds.
If you didn’t know this, like me, a tikka masala is a dish of roasted chunks. This means chunks of awesomeness to put a sauce on, and in Indian food this is normally tomato and dairy based. However, this recipe skips the dairy in lieu of cashew milk, and also skips the tomato all together without so much as a “by-your-leave.” I added some Indonesian satay seasoning from Whole Foods for a fun addition. I probably wouldn’t do that again since the first ingredient on the list (I noticed after the fact) is sugar. Why, Whole Foods? Why?
This recipe is great for squash that got too big, or too many. As you are roasting it in the pan it tastes good even before you add the sauce. So this recipe is easy to use with just roasting the vegetables and then adding some salt and pepper.
- Roasting Vegetables
- 1/2 cup Imagine No Chicken Broth
- 12 oz butternut squash, cubed
- 24 oz yellow squash
- 1/2 cup carrots, washed and chopped
- 1/2 cup celery, washed and chopped
- For the Sauce
- 1 TBSP Earth balance
- 1 CUP So Delicious Unsweetened Cashew Milk
- 1 TBSP Frontier Adobo
- 2 tsp ground coriander
- 1 tsp toasted cumin
- 1 tsp paprika
- 1 tsp garam masala
- 1 tsp Indonesian Satay Seasoning (optional)
- 1/2 tsp Himalayan Sea Salt or to taste
- Heat the pan to medium. When hot add broth, squashes, carrots and celery. Stir to keep from sticking, add more broth if you need. About 10-15 minutes.
- In another small skillet throw the sauce ingredients together and heat them through.
- Pour over the veggie mix, heat together.
- Serve over steamed broccoli, cooked quinoa, as a filling for a burrito, or over spiralized raw zucchini pasta.
- This is awesome for that squash that "got way to big".
- You can also use zucchini, delicata squash, etc for this.
- Add in 1 cup cooked chickpeas or 1/2 cup of red lentils.
Who doesn’t like Butternut Squash? Between you and me, as a kid, I was afraid of it, in fact I was flatly afraid of all squashes. Why? Who knows. My mother, maybe? Perhaps because they were hidden in foods like quiche (ew!). But oddly, it was those gooey foods like Lasagne that got me to LIKE veggies to begin with. They were the gateway into allowing those green critters into the pantry. This recipe is one of those critter hiders… if don’t like vegetables, this is the soup for you.
I created this recipe for an Iftar dinner. The lentils are traditional, and the taste is easy on the tummy after you have been fasting all day. It’s got protein and a robust heaviness to it that will make you feel full. I really like it over Quinoa cooked in No Chicken broth.
- 1/4 cup broth for stir frying
- 2 12 oz bags cubed butternut squash
- 3 large carrots, skins on, chopped
- 1 apple, peeled, cored and chopped
- 1 fennel bulb, chopped
- 1/2 cup red lentils
- 1/2 teaspoon minced fresh ginger
- 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
- 1/2 teaspoon paprika
- 4 cups No Chicken Vegetable broth
- Unsweetened coconut yogurt
- Heat a heavy bottomed pot over medium-high heat with broth. Place the butternut squash, carrots, apple, and onion in the pot. Stir and cook the apples and vegetables until the fennel are translucent, about 10 minutes.
- Stir in the lentils, ginger, ground black pepper, salt, cumin, chili powder, paprika, and vegetable broth into the pot with the apple and vegetable mixture. Bring the soup to a boil over high heat, then reduce the heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer until the lentils and vegetables are soft, about 30 minutes.
- if you want, you can just stop here and eat it. It’s yummy, OR you can pour the soup (in batches) into a blender, filling the pitcher no more than halfway full. Hold down the lid of the blender with a folded kitchen towel, and carefully start the blender, using a few quick pulses to get the soup moving before leaving it on to puree. Puree in batches until smooth and pour into a clean pot. Alternately, you can use a stick blender and puree the soup right in the cooking pot.
- Return the pureed soup to the cooking pot. Bring back to a simmer over medium-high heat, about 10 minutes. Add water as needed to thin the soup to your preferred consistency.
- Serve with yogurt for garnish.
- Tip: Serve over steamed broccoli, quinoa or buckwheat
- You can change the butternut squash for sweet potatoes.
The challenge for me for this week is working with my father dietarily. My father has had one hip replacement and a great deal of pain before and afterward. He also has some pretty gnarly arthritis. So, when he said that his level of pain was absorbing his life, we made an agreement that he could eat with me for 2 weeks and see how it went.
The challenge for me in this is my father is a 60+ year old, ex military, ex contractor man that is used to eating very basic foods that aren’t “weird”. He likes to use the word interesting for anything that doesn’t fit what he normally eats, and pretty much if it doesn’t taste like status quo, it’s bad.
So trying to avoid a “no” towards “interesting” recipes, I’m on a mission.
So, on our second day of eating together, my plan for dinner is black bean burritos with butternut squash. The butternut squash will be the “interesting” part of the meal and I am crossing my fingers that the orange color won’t unravel the experience.
- 12 oz Cubed butternut squash
- 2 TBSP EVOO
- Himalayan Sea Salt
- 1 TBSP Earth Balance Spread
- 1 TBSP Orange Juice
- 1 TBSP plus 1 tsp Pure Maple Syrup
- 1 tsp Fresh Lime Juice
- 1/2 tsp cinnamon
- 2 15 1/2 oz black beans
- 2 tsp Frontier Adobo Seasoning
- 2 TBSP Coconut Oil
- 1/2 cup Broth
- 6 Paleo Wraps
- 1/4 cup Pepitas toasted
- 1 avocado
- Heat oven to 450℉. Toss the butternut squash in the oil, spread out on a baking sheet covered in parchment paper and then salt. Roast turning them once or twice throughout the baking until tender and slightly browned. This will take about 20-25 minutes.
- While you are waiting for those little squashes to bake their little hearts out, grab a pan and start melting your coconut oil, then throw in your beans, broth and 1/2 tsp maple syrup. Cook uncovered for about 5 minutes. Take off heat and cover and leave to the side until you are ready for them.
- Then add the orange juice, 1 1/2 tsp of the maple syrup, lime juice and cinnamon and whisk together until totally combined. Drizzle on Butternut Squash when it comes out.
- Cut up avocado into slices or mash into a puree.
- When all parts are ready, layout 2 burrito shells at a time and begin to fill them with with the squash, beans and avocado.
- Wrap, cut in a sharp diagonal and eat!
- Add favorite hot sauce or guacamole if you like!
- I get most of my ingredients at Trader Joes.
- For beans I usually do dried and cook them with Kombu in an electric pressure cooker on high for 13 minutes.
- For the wrap you could substitute Nori, or Tapioca Wraps for this.
- If you like hot, add some adobo or chipotle chilis in the beans while they cook! The sweet and hot together can be amazing.
We have all known that consumption of red meat and dairy has long been linked to the development of certain types of cancer. But no one really knew why. A group of University of California, San Diego, La Jolla, scientists decided to find out, and they believe they’ve found the culprit behind red meat’s carcinogenic effects.
Researchers decided to focus on a single sugar molecule, called Neu5Gc, that has been found in high levels in cancerous tissues but isn’t produced by the human body – indicating that it comes from our diet. Neu5Gc is naturally produced in all carnivorous mammals except not humans!
The scientists picked human-like Neu5Gc-deficient mice (like us) and fed bioavailable Neu5Gc and then challenged with anti-Neu5Gc antibodies, the mice developed systemic inflammation.
This sugar molecule Neu5Gc found in the flesh of beef, lamb and pork the human body treats as a toxin or a poison and creates an immune response. Long-term exposure to this sugar in mice was found to cause a five-fold increase in their chances of developing cancer.
When researchers measured the amount of Neu5Gc in various foods, they found that red meat had especially high levels. Beef, bison, pork and lamb had the greatest amount of the sugar. Fruits and vegetables had none.
You can find the published findings from the University study here:
Yesterday it started raining again. Here in Oregon, that’s not so uncommon. But what is uncommon is the streak of utter sunshine we had that lasted most of a month. So when the storm showed up, not to be daunted, my mind went directly to my favorite soup combination: creamy yams and coconut with whatever veggies we have.
Technically yams are actually these yummy ginormous African monstrosities. The African word “yam” means “to eat.”
Sweet potatoes (Ipomoea batatas), on the other hand, come in two main varieties here in the States. One has a golden skin with creamy white flesh and a crumbly texture. The other has a copper skin with an orange flesh that is sweet and soft. All sweet potato varieties generally have the same shape and size — they are tapered at the ends and much smaller than the aforementioned yams.
Finally yams are being rescued from terrible sweet dishes at Christmas into savory, satiating food experiences. We created this soup on the fly as a cold weather comfort food, intending to make enough to eat for a few days and ended up finishing most of it in one evening and the rest the next day.
The boys give it two thumbs up!
- 4 CUPS Organic No-Chicken broth
- 1 TBSP Frontier Organic Adobo Seasoning
- 1 14 oz can full fat Coconut Milk
- 1/4 CUP lime juice
- 3 Yams peeled and cubed
- 2 CUPS Broccoli florets
- 1 can Bamboo shoots, drained
- 1 1/2 CUPS Kale chopped
- Pepper to taste
- 1 TBSP Turmeric
- 1/4 tsp Cayenne
- 2 TBSP Fresh ginger, minced
- 2 CUPS Quinoa (any variety)
- In a rice cooker, put in 2 cups of Quinoa, rinse with cool water and then fill cooker bowl with water to the 2 line (regular rice). Add an extra 1/4 cup of water. Close the lid and hit start.
- Heat a pan on the stove on medium with broth, ginger, turmeric and lime. Wash, skin and cube the yams. When the pan is warm, add the yams sprinkle with Adobo Seasoning and cover, simmering for about 10-15 minutes until soft. Stir periodically to keep from sticking and to check doneness.
- When cubes are soft, scoop about half of the yams and all the liquid into a blender and blend until smooth. Pour back into the pan and add in coconut milk, broccoli, bamboo shoots and heat through. Add Kale about 3 minutes before serving to avoid too much shrinkage!
- You can saute mushrooms, fennel bulb and/or throw in a few handfuls of pepitas!
“Inflammation has gained recognition as an underlying contributor to virtually every chronic disease—a list that, besides obvious culprits such as rheumatoid arthritis and Crohn’s disease, includes diabetes and depression, along with major killers such as heart disease and stroke.” – Gary Stix, Scientific American, Is Chronic Inflammation the Key to Unlocking the Mysteries of Cancer?
Inflammation is a natural response from the body to contain the possibility of getting sick. We all remember the image when we were young of “bad viruses” being surrounded by our “good immune system” and ferreting it away to our lymphatic system. This is a good thing!
We get inflammation from a number of sources:
- Stress raises cortisol levels in the body and makes us tired, fat, grouchy and ill. It makes us much more likely to get sick and then stay sick. The idea that we can continue to run high stress, high paced lives and live with any quality of life past 60 is like trying to run a car through a desert race and never letting the engine have a break, or offer it any maintenance.
- Underlying medical issues that may be known or unknown to us.
- High inflammatory foods or foods that are toxic to the body. These include:
Nightshades (tomatoes, potatoes and eggplant)
Soy isolates (and for some people soy in general)
- Lack of regular exercise that moves the circulatory system (to flush out the lymphatic system)
- Behaviors that tax the body