Friday, August 30, 2013

Grin and Bear it

It's been a weird summer for me. So much going on, and at the same time, nothing happening. We've been trying to sell our house for 2 months... 3 months?... and so far, not much. We want to move to Portland. We want a bigger (more vegan friendly) pond, more opportunities, a closer reach to aging and young family. We've been in Taos for 12 years, minus a 15 month stint in a 30 foot 5th wheel trailer that left us longing for more of that smaller/bigger life.

Almost 3 years back here since then, it really feels like time to go. But then I have to wonder - if the house isn't selling and we're not going, is it really time? Do we have any control over this? Do our wishes matter at all? Some days I feel like a hostage in my own house. Local wisdom has it that The Mountain either rejects you or embraces you, but this is kind of ridiculous. I've been considering filing charges against Taos Mountain for kidnapping, because clearly we're being held here against our will.

And then I look at this summer, and what continues to unfold as it rolls into September, school busses are back on the roads, and we have to seriously consider buying some fire wood, just in case... Are we here for a reason? Still here, after all this time of trying to leave, for something we had not considered before? Part of the reason we want to go to Portland is that it's so darn vegan friendly, while Taos is most certainly not. At the same time it occurs to me that they have so many vegans in Portland already, maybe we can do more good here than there. I don't like that idea, but I have to consider it, because I'm here, like it or not. While the house continues to show but not sell, other things come up that keep me from going crazy or getting a job at Walmart or running off to Mexico with my exhausted credit cards and a couple hundred dollars in cash. 

We have friends suddenly in the midst of a medical crisis, who welcome the dinners I make for them several times a week. I've also been invited to cook for a fundraising dinner to rebuild a school in Gambia. Just when I think I have nothing more to offer to this town, there are people who need me, and who actually want to eat my vegan cooking. There's no fame or fortune in it, but I like doing these things, and I feel sort of, almost... happy.

A couple of nights ago, the dogs started barking in an unusually agitated way, along with all the other dogs  in the immediate area. We soon realized it was because there was a large black bear in the yard, who had wandered down from the mountains in search of the fruit that didn't form on any of the trees in town this year. It was a hard spring with inopportune freezes, and it looks like it might be a hard fall and winter for the animals. In 12 years here, we have never had a bear come this far down into the neighborhood. It was scary and wonderful, and I sort of hope it comes back.

I looked up "bear totem" online, and found that visiting bears bring a message of introspection, telling us to look within to know ourselves. Bears also symbolize the ultimate protective mother, bringing fearless power that connects us to both earth and sky (they can run fast, and climb trees), day and night (they function equally well in both), sun and moon (strong and gentle energies). I don't know if the bear was delivering a message, or if it was just hungry. It doesn't matter what was "true", because what was true for us is the whole point of introspection in the first place. 

I'm a little bit annoyed to feel the need to close the front door at night now, rather than letting the fresh cool night wander through the house. I'm sad to give up the possibility of sleeping on the patio on clear nights, even though we've only had the chance to do that twice in this oddly extended monsoon season. I wonder if we should take down the hummingbird feeders, but I don't want to deprive the birds. And I feel for the bear, and all the other bears who must be searching for the sustenance that will get them through the winter. Aren't we all beginning to think of doing the very same thing?

If we're here for another winter, will I be able to see it as a good thing? Will I find within myself, whatever it takes to rest and regroup and surrender to the dark months? I really have no idea. And I really hope it doesn't come to that. Still... there is the possibility that now is not the time to leave this place. And if that's the case, I'm going to have to figure out how to deal with it. A bear in my yard, on a random August night, might be the thing that gets me through. 

It does not seem strange in any way that an animal should come to us in a peaceful but extraordinary way, to tell us something we need to know. Everywhere I go, I connect with animals in a way I never did as a meat eater. They seem to understand that I have no intent to harm them, and in return, they're generally either really calm around me, or really happy to see me. I won't be at all surprised if one day little birds tie ribbons in my hair.

Meanwhile, I have all this human thought process, and a computer, and the ability to type, although before I finish my final edits, it usually looks like a bear did the typing for me. I want to sell this house and leave this place and move on to whatever is new and waiting for us out there.

We're having a big yard sale this weekend, with all the usual yard sale stuff, and then there is literally a yard for sale. Buy it and we'll throw in a darling adobe house for free! If you know someone who would like the newness of Taos after too long someplace else, please send them this link to my house listing. Have them call Peter, and tell him I sent them, because I get a better deal on the commission that way.

I'm doing what I can to leave, and also doing what I can to make being here all it can be. Some days I want to scream and yell at God for messing with my mere human wishes. Some days I can grin and bear it. Bear it... yeah. Those are the best days. Those are the days I can just keep doing my work, knowing it's all for something good I haven't even thought of yet. I'm no Dr. Dolittle, and I can't talk to the animals any more than most people can, but I sure hope they keep talking to me. Whatever happens, I'll be listening - and cooking for anyone who wants me to.


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Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Vegan Cuts August Beauty Box

It's here, it's here! The August Beauty Box from Vegan Cuts is in my hands, and I'm so excited to play with this batch of new products! I've made an "unboxing" video for you, so you can share the goodness with me. Come see it over at PVTV! And while you're there, please leave a nice review, give me some stars, and subscribe to the PVTVchannel, so you never miss any of the fun. Thanks!

Watch the VIDEO, so I can stop making this silly face...
And to get your own Beauty Box delivered right to your door each month, click the link in the right hand column, and I'll get a little cut too! (I buy the box, just like you do, so when I say I like something in it, I really mean it.)


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Sunday, August 25, 2013

Chickpea Tuna Salad

This is a nice little mock-tuna salad that's just perfect in a sandwich, or topping a bowl of green salad. Mom always used to put apples in her tuna salad, and it's stuck with me over the years. The sweet next to the salty is a good balance. See what you think.

Chickpea Tuna Salad
makes about 2 cups

1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1 small apple, chopped
1/2 cup chopped celery
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1/4 - 1/2 cup vegan mayo
1 T nutritional yeast
1 - 1 1/2 tsp Old Bay seasoning
1/4 tsp onion powder
salt and pepper to taste

Mash the chickpeas in a large, flat-bottomed bowl.
Mix in the apple, celery, and walnuts.
Stir in 1/4 cup of mayo, and add more by spoonfuls if needed.
Add the seasonings and stir well. Add the salt last if needed. There's salt in the Old Bay, and it's easy to get too salty, even for a "seafood" dish.

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Friday, August 23, 2013

Dr. Dolittle Actually Did a Lot

There are so many "vegan" movies out there now, and new ones coming out all the time. It's fabulous that so much animal rights, health, and environmental information is being made available to the general public. And they're watching! More and more people are getting that their own ethics (not just those of a bunch of crazy activists) require them to rethink their beliefs and actions where animals are concerned. More and more people are connecting the dots and understanding that not only their pets, but all animals deserve to be treated with kindness, and that eating some animals while pampering others is not really consistent with their own values. It's a beautiful thing to see that light go on, and the world is getting brighter with it every day.

Recently the old Rex Harrison version of Dr. Dolittle popped into my head. I think I was looking at the Tiny House Blog, and that triggered the memory of the interior of the Giant Pink Sea Snail, a glowingly beautiful little living space that has charmed me since childhood. I added the movie to our Netflix que, and convinced Rick that he would enjoy it. I wasn't really sure he would, but he's a good sport and humored me on this one. The movie came out in 1967. It's a musical. It's long. It has an overture and an intermission. I remembered seeing it in one of those enormous, domed Century Theaters. That's about all I remembered though, and there was no guarantee it would hold up over time. Boy, was I surprised. We both were.

The original Dr. Dolittle not only holds up as a well made, gorgeously set and costumed film, it's absolutely packed with animal rights themes. The good doctor, who has some 600 animal mouths to feed, many of them in his house, declares himself (in song) a "reluctant but sincere vegetarian." His devotion to animals, to all animals, makes it impossible for him to eat them. But he does admit that he's not satisfied with his diet of leaves, apple cores, and plain bread. The poor guy! Who would be? He was totally misinformed as to what a good vegan diet is, and he was hungry. I found myself wanting to go back in time, and into fantasy land, to share with him all the marvelous foods vegans enjoy these days. For a person like him, the vast array of fake meats would have surely made him a happy, satisfied, and still sincere vegetarian.

As the film goes on, there are inconsistencies in the general animal-friendly theme. In fact, when the doctor joins a circus with his Push-Me-Pull-You, the female lead (who also brings up some feminist issues later) calls him on his hypocrisy, scolding him for claiming to care about animals, while encouraging their exploitation as trained money-makers. Amazing for 1967, I thought. And interesting too that while the point was made, the entire movie is filled with "animal actors," trained to perform. And although they were theoretically treated well, the question of training and "using" animals at all persists...

Later in the story, the good doctor has a lovely, thoughtful, insightful moment which he shares in front of an accusing courtroom, and launches into the song, Like Animals. I wonder too, why do we treat animals like animals?

I'm adding Dr. Dolittle to my list of favorite vegan animal activism films, along with EarthlingsThe Witness, and Blackfish, as soon as I have a chance to see it. It's not perfect (from an animal rights standpoint), but it's totally engaging (if you like that sort of thing) and a good conversation starter on several points. I truly enjoyed this old favorite, and I think it's still worth watching, and sharing with children as a way of introducing them to animal rights issues and veganism.

Nobody - well almost nobody - wants to hurt animals. It's hard for some people to understand that they are doing just that, and a lot of people are resistant to even watching some of the "harder" films. Wouldn't it be funny if dear old Dr. Dolittle was the one to flip the switch for someone who can't bear to sit through Earthlings?

My family used to get together for big holidays, and would sometimes have a movie going in the background, for the kids, while we waited for dinner. It might be a good tradition to start up in vegan households. A little dose of Dr. Dolittle while you wait for the vegan feast to be served might go a lot further than we think in getting our message across. Dr. Dolittle is my new hero. And oh, I do wish I could cook for him.

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Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Sushi Spring Rolls Video

It's Video Wednesday at PVTV! Today I have a tasty little video that shows you how to make my latest version of spring rolls. These are kind of a hybrid between sushi and spring rolls, and easier to make than either of them could ever hope to be. Come see! Sushi Spring Rolls on PVTV. And please do leave a glowing comment and subscribe to my channel while you're there. I need the ratings! xoxo

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Make something Positively Vegan tonight!

Monday, August 19, 2013

Polenta Tamale Pie

I adored tamale pie when I was a kid. All that corn, and those big fat whole olives. Mmmm. So good. This version is easier, fresher, and brighter than any I've ever made. Topped with cashew sour cream and toasted pine nuts, it's everything I hoped it would be.

Polenta Tamale Pie
serves 4-6

1 cup coarse organic polenta
3 cups water
2 T nutritional yeast
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp dry basil
1 red onion, chopped
1 med. zucchini, chopped
1 med. yellow squash, chopped
1 can diced tomatoes
2 tsp chili powder
1 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp salt
2 T nutritional yeast
1 cup corn
1 can pitted black olives, whole
1 can pinto beans, drained and rinsed
Cashew Sour Cream
toasted pumpkin seeds

Whisk the crust ingredients together in a sauce pan. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to med-low and cook for 4-5 minutes, stirring constantly. Turn off the heat, cover the pan, and let it sit for 2 minutes. Spread the polenta into an oiled 8x11 (2.5 qt) casserole dish. Use a larger dish for a thinner crust.

Preheat the oven to 350º.
Saute the onion and squashes for 3-4 minutes in a little bit of water. Add the tomatoes and seasonings, then stir in the corn, olives, and beans. Cook for 2-3 minutes more.

Spread the topping over the crust and bake at 350º for 40-45 minutes. Let it sit for 5-10 minutes before cutting. Serve with Cashew Sour Cream and a sprinkle of toasted pumpkin seeds.

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Sunday, August 18, 2013

Cashew Sour Cream

I use this all the time, on all sorts of dishes. Make it thick or thin for dolloping or drizzling, or add seasonings to magically turn it into dips and salad dressings. This stuff is delicious and versatile, and deserves it's own little place here on the blog.

Cashew Sour Cream
makes about 1 1/2 cups

1 cup raw cashews, soaked 20 minutes or more, then drained and rinsed
juice of 1 lemon
1/2 cup almond milk (or other plant milk)
1/2 tsp salt, or to taste

Blend everything in a food processor or blender until very smooth, adding more milk as needed to get the consistency you want. This keeps well in the fridge for several days, and thickens as it cools.

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Friday, August 16, 2013

Why I Stopped Running

I didn't see it coming, but it appears that I have officially stopped running. No hard feelings, but running for me has simply... run its course. I feel a little bit like Forrest Gump. I ran for a year, and then I stopped. That was that.

Backing up a little, I started running about a year and a half ago, when my daughter urged me to join her in a Disneyland 1/2 marathon. It was perfect for me to have a long range goal like that, because I had never been able to stick to exercise of any kind, and I really, really wanted to. (And to be honest, I always love an excuse to buy new shoes.) I was also excited about the idea of being a vegan runner, and sharing that experience with my readers. In the process of training for the race, I got healthier than I'd ever been in my life, lost a lot of weight, and found strength I never imagined was possible, both physical and mental. I ran the race, had a blast, and came home convinced I would always be a runner.

I signed up for another 1/2 marathon with See Jane Run, along with one of my sisters and a couple of friends, which we did in June. I was excited to have others join me, and I even applied to become an SJR Ambassador. Surprisingly, they took me, which further inspired me to inspire others to lace up their running shoes. That race was fun too, and having friends there made it even better. I was already planning to maintain my training at home so I would be race-ready at all times.

Race day was a warm, sunny morning in Alameda, which quickly became a hot morning. The course was flat though, and mostly along the bay, so it was pleasant and interesting, if not as exciting as Disneyland had been. It all went pretty much as I expected until the last mile or two of the course, which was on a steeply crowned city street. There was no flat part of the road there, so running on a slant was the only option. With about 9 minutes to go, I started feeling pain in my right hip, and by the time I got to the finish line (a whopping 16 seconds faster than my Disneyland time), I was in serious pain and limping.

I was barely able to walk for several days after the race, and when I tried to run again at home in Taos, the pain had me back to a walk within a few steps. I got on my foam roller and allowed my aching IT band to rest over the next couple of weeks, thankful that I was at least able to keep walking every day.

A funny thing happened while I recovered from my relatively small, but annoying race injury. I began to notice that I enjoyed walking a lot more than I enjoyed running. It was easier for one thing, although I knew I was still getting a good workout. I liked the slower, less frantic pace because I was more able to look around and take in the scenery without fear of falling in a pothole or tripping over a rock. I didn't have to carry water or wear special clothes, or head out before dawn to avoid overheating in the summer. And surprisingly, I was not gaining weight, which for me has almost always been an issue. In fact, I lost a few pounds. I'm not sure of the physiology, but I suppose it could have been because my body was no longer in fight-or-flight mode, and was not hanging onto fat to sustain me.

The more I walked, the more I didn't want to run anymore. Now that my hip has mostly healed, and even though I still enjoy a sprint down my favorite (smoothly paved) hill, sustained running still hurts. So I've given myself permission to just keep on walking, and to never run another 1/2 marathon again if I don't want to.

I'm grateful to that year of running for many things. I reclaimed my body in a way I didn't think was possible "at my age." I found inner resources I never even suspected were there. I made myself proud, achieved a difficult goal, and in the process, inspired a few other people to make changes in their own lives.

Now I'm a walker (a fast walker!) who waves at passing cars, talks to the dogs and horses along the way, looks up at the sky and the birds, and breaks into a joyful run from time to time. I can't imagine that I'll ever go back to being a non-exerciser because I feel so much better when I move. Running taught me that, and setting that goal of the first 1/2 marathon was what it took to keep me going long enough to understand that I wanted to keep going, race or no race.

My goal these days is 3 miles a day, which is just twice around the block. No big deal, and just right for me. When I do that 5 days a week, I get in 15 miles, and that's not nothin'. It's my calm time, my thinking time, and often the time I come up with my best ideas and inspirations. And it's good for me. Some say even better than running, which I'm not really sure about, but would like to be true.

One thing hasn't changed from my beginnings as a runner. Walking, like running requires the right shoes, and in my book, any reason to buy new shoes is a good one. Long range goals used to get me going. Now it seems to be footwear. Whatever it takes, right? And if only for the shoes, I'm pretty sure I'll have to try tap dancing once we get to Portland. Yes, definitely tap dancing. And I'll walk to class.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

PVTV and a Recipe Box Sneak Preview

Have you seen my new video on PVTV? I'm pretty sure I'm gonna be a vegan star. You'll see.
Watch it HERE, and be sure to subscribe to my channel. Thanks!

And this is fun - the first Recipe Box Sneak Preview is available today! The recipe for my fabulous Pineapple Upside Down Cupcakes is posted just for the wonderful Recipe Box buyers!

If you don't already have the Recipe Box, you need it! It's filled with over 100 of my best and favorite recipes, and I add more each week. I'm also adding printable recipe cards to each and every recipe! I'm just about finished with the Desserts page, which means all I have left to do is Sauces and Extras. These are great! I like them so much I'm printing all of them out and putting them in a big fat binder. You could also print them small and put them in an actual recipe box. Retro fun!

The Recipe Box is on sale until Monday for just $9.97. Then it will go up to the regular price of $17. That's still a great deal, considering you only pay once, but the Box keeps growing, but you might as well grab it now before the price goes up! Go to the Recipe Box Payment Page to get yours now! The cupcakes alone are worth the price!

Monday, August 12, 2013

Better Than Rice Cakes

I wish I had a better name for these, because they're so superior to those awful styrofoam rice cakes found in the market. These are moist and dense and chewy. They're made from whole grains and not much else, not even flour. Depending on the grains you choose, they can be gluten free, and if you really want to get crazy, you can sprout your grains before cooking them. I usually do, but it's not necessary. Rick and I like to have these for breakfast, warmed in the toaster oven, and topped with avocado slices, tomato, and gomasio. Seasoned differently they'd be great with peanut butter and jam. Consider topping them with Hummus or Cashew Cheese, or generally using them in any way you might use bread.

Rice Cakes
makes 4

2 flax eggs (see below)
2 cups cooked grain - I usually use 1/2 brown rice and 1/2 quinoa
1 T nutritional yeast
1/2 tsp salt
1 T dried herbs

Make the flax eggs first. A flax egg is 1 T ground flax seed meal mixed with 3 T water and chilled in the fridge for 15 minutes. Easy! For this recipe, mix up 2 in the same small bowl. A mini whisk is perfect for this, but a fork works too. The chilling time is important, so don't skip it.
While the flax eggs chill, measure all the other ingredients into a mixing bowl and stir them together.
Preheat the oven to 350º.
Line a baking sheet with parchment.
Mix the flax eggs in with the other ingredients and stir well.
Using a 1/2 cup measuring cup, place 4 equal scoops of the batter on the baking sheet.

With your hands, gently pat them into rounds about the size of English muffins.
Bake for 30 minutes. Carefully flip the cakes over, and bake for 20 minutes more.
Serve them warm, or let them cool and store them tightly covered in the refrigerator.

There's a video to go with this recipe! See it on the new PVTVchannel, and be sure to subscribe while you're there!

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Friday, August 9, 2013


Have you checked out my YouTube channel yet? My new goal is to post one new video a week, and to keep them short - under 10 minutes for a whole recipe, with a dash of silliness. I'm doing the whole thing myself, and somethings things don't quite go as expected... I've come to see that as a good thing!

This week's video is Chocolate Chia Seed Pudding. It's a simple recipe, and kind of a funny little video which includes a real life minor kitchen mishap. This is real life in my kitchen! A friend emailed to tell me that her husband spilled his vodka when he watched it, which is ever so flattering, but also a sad waste of vodka.

Come see what I've been up to. Little by little I'm learning to edit, add music and sound effects, and even text, photos, and scrolling credits. Time to embrace the technology! Please visit the PVTVchannel, and be sure to click the red Subscribe button while you're there. Thanks!

I really need to figure out how to change the video thumbnail to something not so goofy looking... 

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Why to be a Healthy Vegan

One thing I don't often encounter as a vegan in New Mexico is other vegans. Until Rick and I went to VidaVeganCon in Portland I was under the naive impression that all vegans were sort of the same. Oh silly me. Vegans by definition avoid eating, and usually wearing or using animal products of any kind. That's where similarities stop, and personal preferences and ethics kick in.

Most vegans seem to care very much about the welfare of the animals on this planet. Some are most interested in the environmental impact the meat and dairy industries create. And then there are those, like me, who are deeply interested in our own good health and that of other humans. I have to admit to being somewhat dismayed to see so many "ethical" vegans in such poor health, while they often criticise "health" vegans for being selfish and missing the point - the animals.

Wow... This is hard stuff for me to tackle, but as I go along, it gets easier to say what I think. And here it is - My biggest reason for being vegan is that I want to cause as little harm in this world as possible. That means I care deeply about the animals and the planet itself. Along with that is my wish to do as much good as possible while I'm here, and in order to do that, I have to take care of myself.

It's easy to be vegan and eat nothing but processed vegan junk foods. They're everywhere, and they play an important role in helping people make the shift from animal foods to plant foods. But the belief that just because a food is animal-free makes it healthy is a dangerous one. While it's been documented that vegans are 40-50% less likely to have things like type 2 diabetes, heart disease, cancer, stroke, and Alzheimer's, we certainly aren't exempt from diseases brought on by a high fat, highly processed, low quality diet.

It's totally possible to be a junk food vegan. While the animals are clear winners in this scenario, overweight (or underweight), unhealthy vegans not only cheat themselves out of the best quality of life possible, frankly they don't put a positive "face" on veganism. Sure, we're all in it for our own reasons, but if we want to get attention and help keep the vegan shift moving forward, the best thing we can do is to be glowing examples of what a good vegan diet can do for us.

So go vegan, yes! For any and all the honorable reasons that resonate with you. And remember to take good care of you, so you'll be best equipped to take care of the animals and the planet. It's like when you're on an airplane - you have to put your own oxygen mask on first, then you can help somebody else. The "vegan oxygen mask" is whole, plant based foods, simple as that. Think greens, veggies, fruits, grains, beans and legumes, nuts and seeds. You'll be amazed at the variety that's built in, and probably also amazed at how well you feel when you eat that way at least most of the time. (And yes, of course there's room for treats! You know how I love cupcakes!)

I get a lot of requests for quick, healthy vegan recipes. There are quite a few here on my blog, but I realize it isn't a quick process to sift through years of posts to find something to make for dinner. You might prefer to order the Recipe Box, where I've collected over 100 of my best recipes (and counting), in one easy online resource, along with darling printable recipe cards.

I'm also working on a more extensive program geared specifically for people who don't want to spend a lot of time in the kitchen, but do want to eat whole, healthy meals. I'm on it, I promise! But until I can get that all in place, check out this link to the Build A Meal page of the ChooseVeg website. It's so much fun, I wish I'd thought of it! I love what they've done with the entire site. Be sure to take a wander around!

Eating well and taking good care of your own sweet self are as easy as "grains, greens, and beans." Enjoy!

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Monday, August 5, 2013

Herb-Nut Paté

As I compile my new Recipe Box to replace the PDF version of PV Recipes, I'm finding it preferable to update a few of the older recipes. This one started out as Sage-Nut Paté, and while it was a good recipe, it was a terrible mess to read, which I very much apologize for! Over time I think I've gotten better at organizing and presenting a recipe. This one is now easier and tastier than ever!

Herb-Nut Paté
1/2 cup walnuts
1 cup raw cashews, soaked 20 minutes or more
1 can pitted black olives
2 tsp ground sage
1 tsp ground rosemary
1/4-1/2 tsp salt
1/4-1/2 tsp fresh black pepper
3 T olive oil (optional)
2 T water

Place the walnuts in a food processor and pulse to coarsely chop. Transfer the walnuts to a mixing bowl and set aside. Drain the olives and coarsely chop them in the food processor. Add the olives to the walnuts. Drain and rinse the soaked cashews, and place in the food processor, along with the sage, rosemary, salt, pepper, oil, and water. Process until you have a smooth, thick paste. Stir this into the mixing bowl by hand, with the walnuts and olives. Adjust salt and pepper to taste. Use the paté as a stuffing for mushrooms, a spread for apples, bread, or crackers, and a filling for sandwiches and wraps.

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Thursday, August 1, 2013

Flour vs. Grain

I've been doing a bit of research on grains lately, as there seem to be two very divided camps on the topic. While some folks go with the theory that we are born grain eaters, with the teeth and digestive tract to prove it, others shun grains of all kinds. Personally, I've always loved grains, and have found that my body functions best when it gets plenty of good whole grain foods. I'm further convinced by Dr John McDougall's latest book, The Starch Solution, which I highly recommend to anyone of either side of the grain fence.

I've been sampling a gluten free diet lately, not because I have a medical need to do so, but because I just wanted to see if it would make me feel better. Wheat is getting such bad press because it's been modified beyond recognition over the years, and I've decided to cut it out. Poof! Gone! Doing that, along with other gluten-containing foods made me feel almost instantly lighter and cleaner. Then, taking it a step further, I started to wonder about foods made with flour, even gluten free flours.

I was on kind of a cupcake binge in July. It was my birth month after all, and cupcakes every day seemed appropriate. I made them all gluten free, and was also experimenting with fruit sweetened versions, although I have to admit, my favorites are still the ones with a good dose of sugary "butter cream" frosting blopped on top. I was also making lovely gluten free breads for breakfast. I love my morning toast with avocado and tomato, and I think it's a good idea to find ways of keeping the things we love most in our diets. But I began to notice that anything made with flour was making me feel "rumbly" shortly after eating it, even if it was gluten free. Bummer! Back to Google to see what was up with that.

What I discovered is that when you take a grain, even a whole grain, and grind it up, it digests too quickly, and behaves like sugar in your body, rather than a healthy whole carb. It spikes insulin levels, and can lead to weight gain and even type 2 diabetes. Oh sheesh! All these years we've been gobbling down whole wheat bread thinking it was a super food, when in fact it's not much better for us than those sugary cupcakes.

I found an article on using sprouted grain flours that seems helpful. It explains that once you sprout a grain, even if you then grind it into flour, it behaves like a vegetable in your body, making the nutrients much more available, and less likely to be stored as fat. Here's the article: Flour Power! 10 Reasons You Should Bake with Sprouted Whole Grain Flour. Now finding sprouted whole grain flours might be something of a challenge. I know it is where I live. It's possible to make them, but how likely is it that most of us will actually do that on a regular basis? I'll try it, but no commitments.

All this has led me to consider the possibilities of baking, and coming up with other dishes, using cooked whole grains, sprouted when I have time to wait 2-3 days for that process. Amazingly, I've had some success with this whacky idea! I came up with a nice little "bread" that reheats well in the toaster oven, and tastes terrific as a base for my avocado toast. I actually like it better than any bread I've had in years. I also made a yummy little "cookie" out of cooked grains and bananas. These are so good I'm serving them at a dinner party for friends tonight. And the best part of all this whole grain, gluten free, flour free cooking is... no more rumbling! Grains are still my friends after all! What a relief!

I want to work a little more on some recipes before I share them. I might even put them in a special little book all their own. I think I'm onto something good here, and I think there are a lot of people who would benefit from this type of food. Stay tuned! Recipes soon!