Summer Squash Bake

It is zucchini season. Finding delicious ways to eat this vegetable is quite easy. It’s subtle sweetness and versatile texture lend it to be delicious eaten raw or cooked. This recipe for “Summer Squash Bake” is currently my favorite way to eat zucchini, but some other options include: sauteed with onions and spinach, in a green curry, made into flax crackers, or puree into soups (adds a nice viscosity without cream).

 

Advertisements

Plum and Berry Galette

Wild raspberries are just beginning to turn red this week. I wanted to get a jump on the industrious birds and pick at least a handful before they’re gone. These raspberries are not quite ripe and not hybridized, so they are pretty tart. Pairing them with sweeter fruit makes their tartness mellow enough to be full of flavor.

Chuck Eye Round Roast

Rather than spending half the day in the car battling traffic on the way to the shore, we decided to have a stay-cation in the relaxing comfort of home. A day that started by watching bike races on TV, followed by walking slowly around the property, swimming laps in our neighbor’s pool, and cooking from the heart. This day was soothing for the body and soul. The day concluded with a casual dinner that I cooked for my husband and in-laws. Even though this is not a traditional summer meal, it was satisfying and light served with a red leaf lettuce salad (bought locally from the Farmer’s Market) and roasted yellow beans.

 

Joys of Seeking Help

After about a year and a half, I finally wised up, rather than trying to figure this out myself, along with the encouragement of my husband, I decided to seek help.

I am studying nutrition and with my new knowledge, perseverance, and persistence, I have already used food to heal myself from a variety of symptoms. These include: suppressed immune system evident with recurring colds (one winter I got eight colds), bowel distress including constipation, bloating, heartburn, and stomach pain, also, acne and stress are immensely improved. My hair is thicker and fuller, nails stronger, and skin more luminous.

Even with the improvement of so many symptoms, still, once a month, when Aunt Flow came to visit, during the first couple of hours of my period, I experienced intense cramping and pain, diarrhea, vomiting, bloating, and fatigue. I would have to spend a few hours in the bathroom, of which half of this time was spent in a fetal position on the floor while I breathed through the pain that made time stand still. Even though, I was doing everything that I could think of to alleviate these episodes, for over a year, once a month, horrible symptoms persisted.

In October of 2016, I finally had enough and sought help. Since I had not had a pelvic exam in a couple of years, this was the first place to start. The mid-wife, compassionate and motivated to help me resolve this issue shed a little light on the issue. She said that clots were occurring when my uterine lining was shedding resulting in cramping and excessive blood flow. However, I did not think my blood flow was excessive, but clots, I could agree with. Through the pelvic exam and PAP smear, everything seemed normal and healthy. The mid-wife offered some advice consisting of taking an anti-clot medicine prior to the start of my cycle or oral contraceptives. These were the exact substances I had been working hard to detox from body. I could not succumb, there must be another way to resolve my issues. Working with my diet to resolve so many of my other issues had instilled in me that diet and lifestyle is the ultimate means to a healthy soul. I sought an alternative, holistic means to support my body while it balanced itself back to health.

Acupuncture. This Traditional Chinese Medicine practice called out to me. I sought a local practitioner, where through reviewing her website, which had an emphasis on food, led me to an initial consult. After a review of my symptoms, she said I had a damp spleen, which is common among westerners. Westerners heavy reliance on simple carbohydrates, fried foods, rancid oils, and processed foods combined with over-use of antibiotics, antacids, and NSAIDs, many Americans have weak constitutions which leads to bowel distress. This is evident in the increased incidences of IBS and IBD that are occurring in modern, industrialized nations.

Through diet and lifestyle, I had a massive decrease in problematic bowel related symptoms. However, once a month, when hormone levels decrease which stimulates an increase in inflammation that encourages my uterine lining to shed, it irritated my gastrointestinal tract too. The solution for damp spleen is consistent acupuncture treatments to stimulate Qi along with diet adjustments. Already free of gluten, dairy, eggs, most other grains, and a few other food allergies that I had discovered through elimination diets, my acupuncturist recommended “no raw food”, also limit fruit, sugar, alcohol, tomato, and chicken.  This was a 180 from how I was used to eating. My daily meals consisted of at least one raw salad and a raw smoothie with chicken eaten around five times per week. Immediately, I started sauteing my salads while I thought about how I could incorporate more cooked vegetables into my diet. Slowly, making these dietary changes, while persistently maintaining my acupuncture appointments, I have experienced a tremendous improvement in symptoms.

My acupuncturist is full of positive energy gently and consistently reminding me to keep my diet on track while offering other lifestyle modifications that can benefit my condition like meditation and hydrotherapy.

Now, my periods start slowly. There is no more vomiting or fetal position once a month. Bloating, cramping, and diarrhea have lessened. I am hopeful these symptoms can be diminished even more through personal effort, but more importantly, with help.

A Vision of the Future: How Humanity Can Support a Local Food System

Fresh picked produce from bio-diverse, nourished soil.  Pastured chickens and ducks that wander freely within safe confines on green grasses and clover, full of grubs and bugs.  Turkeys that work together in flocks living in wooded areas for protection while plucking the ground for food liberally.  Beef from happy cows that live out their days under the sun and on top of green rolling hills.  Hogs that forage and dig.  Goats and sheep that wander through pastures grazing as they stroll.  Deer, rabbit, fox, hawks, coyote, and squirrel all live nearby letting you know wilderness is close.  This type of farm, large and small scatter through the countryside, but also immediately surround cities providing quick respite from the hustle and bustle of city life.  Within city limits, small urban farms are built into city lots providing pastured goats milk and chicken eggs.  Farms and green space are scattered into parks that flow throughout the city connecting rivers, lakes, forests, buildings and streets.  Shops and business complexes support rooftop gardens and conservatories used to grow vegetables, fruit, and herbs.  Bike lanes connect the city.  Subway and bus lines run efficiently and smoothly.  Cars are limited, but hitchhiking is encouraged because everyone feels important and cared for, there is minimal crime and theft.  A sense of community is large and far reaching, this is a united, stable, and strong country.

This united country is prosperous and giving.  The satisfaction of giving to the greater good far exceeds any feelings of delusional power that encompassed its long-ago history.  There is welfare, unemployment benefits, social security, and houses for the poor.  No one tries to cheat the system, so these welfare benefits work.  Insurance companies are now non-profits, truly working for the people rather than cheating them from money.  Pharmaceutical corporations and supplement companies are merged into one.  They do research on ways to support the body naturally to determine where chemical imbalances lie and how to support that imbalance while working with the person as a whole.  There is a return to human wisdom letting the body be the guide to health.  As sad as it is, when death is near, there is not a profound longing to hold onto an unfit life.  Rather, there is an understanding that this life is not the end, but the beginning of greater things.

Society as a whole benefits.  This seems extremely altruistic, but in a fictitious vision, why not hope for the best?  People feel supported and important.  They are intelligent, kind, and understanding.  Greed, manipulation, and fear are characteristics forgotten by the human race.  As a result, government is large, but by comparison, probably smaller than today.  Government uses its resources to maintain infrastructure, support hospitals and universities, employ police officers, firemen, military, emergency disaster workers, teachers, and farmers.  There are private companies and non-profits that are committed to environmental protection, animal welfare, food safety, and public health, but also technology to improve our world.  Technology and business is always conducted in an ethical way because this is the human condition.  The arts are considered highly prestigious and have been integrated into the schools as basic education.  Exercise and movement are also held high priority with the most fashionable people seen sweating in public.   The arts and sports thus provide ample number of jobs.  With an emphasis on movement and personal expression, people understand the connection between themselves and the food they eat.  This trickles down to providing precedence to biodynamic, sustainable farming practices and interest to continue keeping it ingrained in the culture, cities, and land.

This biodynamic, sustainable farm system that is interwoven within our cities and countryside’s is the backbone of life, so it is cared for the way life-giving properties should be.  Farmers are paid handsomely for their life supporting products and dedication to the trade.  There are farmer coalitions that sit on boards alongside city planners, logistics supervisors, and food market vendors within government that decide which private companies will conduct safety checks and food quality audits.  This board of farmers, city planners, logistic supervisors, and food purveyors work together to form a streamline system that delivers food effectively and efficiently to the people.  Fresh produce, pastured meats, dairy, eggs, and wild caught fish along with pantry stables like dried beans, nuts, seeds, and grains can all be purchased in a variety of venues.  These foods can be purchased from street markets where each store specializes in one genre of food.  Small corner markets are scattered throughout cities and towns that offer a little bit of everything.  Since farms and conservatories are intertwined even within the city, it is easy to swing by a produce and egg stand to pick up groceries for dinner.  Restaurants and small eateries play an integral part by offering prepared, wholesome meals cooked using the same biodynamic, sustainable foods found at the farms.  Schools include a farming and food preparation class that teaches kitchen skills, gardening, and farming practices.  This class is where kids spend their lunch hour preparing and sharing elaborate meals with their classmates.

This city planning food system described above would require years of evolution to complete.  It would require a massive change in world perspective.  There would have to be a major overhaul of government, private companies, corporations, and humanity.  Is this food system realistic, probably not now, but perhaps for the future?  Hope keeps people moving in an upward direction, a food model like this gives me hope.

Gluten Free Buckwheat and Amaranth Bread

gf-breadThis bread is hearty with a nice bite, something that is hard to achieve when baking gluten free bread varieties.  Great as a compliment to dinner, as a grilled sandwich, or toasted with grass fed butter and homemade jam, this is a recipe that I encourage you to try if you are gluten free.  Buckwheat flour makes up the majority in this bread recipe followed by amaranth flour, both of which are full of nutrition.  Buckwheat is not wheat, it is a groat or seed that is usually toasted before being ground into a flour.  Different varieties have been around since 5300 BC, but have probably been eaten by humans even longer.  It is a good source of magnesium, phosphorus, and fiber.  Amaranth, as well, is nutrient dense containing a good amount of protein, fiber, calcium, and some vitamin C.  This recipe yields two short loaves, but you could put all of the dough in one loaf pan for a larger loaf and cook longer, 60-70 minutes.  The bread is thoroughly cooked when you can flick the top of the bread, it feels solid and thuds with a hollow sound remitting back.  Here is the recipe:

Dry Ingredients
1  1/2 c. buckwheat flour plus more for dusting
1 c. amaranth flour
1/2 c. brown rice flour
1/2 c. arrowroot flour
1/4 c. almond flour
1/4 c. ground psyllium husk
1  1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp sea salt

Wet Ingredients
 2  1/2 - 3 c. water
 3 T grass fed or organic butter
 1 T chia seeds
 1 T gelatin
 1 T molasses

Warm 2 1/2 c. water over medium-low heat.  Add butter, chia, molasses, turn heat to low and stir well.  Sprinkle gelatin lightly and evenly over warmed mixture and let stand to dissolve.  If all of the gelatin does not dissolve, then gelly balls will end up in the final product, so try to remove any gelatinous bits that do not dissolve well.

In a large separate bowl, combine all dry ingredients and whisk together to incorporate well.  Whisk wet ingredients until they are coherent and butter is melted.  Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients and stir.  The dough should pull away from the sides of the bowl and stick to itself making a dough ball, but will remain slightly tacky.  Divide dough into two halves.  Use some more buckwheat flour for dusting over the top, sides, and your hands to help navigate the dough into a pan.  Press into two loaves pans that have been greased with coconut oil or butter.  Cut a shallow groove lengthwise down the center to encourage even baking.  Bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 45 – 50 minutes.  The bread is cooked, when you can flick the top of the bread, it feels solid and thuds with a hollow sound remitting back.  Cool slightly before removing loaves from pan to a cooling rack.  Let the bread cool completely before slicing, or else it will be gummy.  It will keep longer stored in the fridge.  Enjoy.

Grain Free Apple Cinnamon Granola

3 medium organic apples, diced into 1/2 inch pieces
1 c. coconut flakes
1/2 c. cashew pieces
1/4 c. chia seeds
2 T. flax seeds
1/4 c. coconut oil
1 T. honey
1 T. cinnamon
1 stevia packet
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp sea salt

This granola gets crunchy as the apples dehydrate and then cool.  It is sweet, salty and delicious served over plain, organic, grass fed yogurt or with almond milk.

In a medium sauce pan, over low heat, melt the coconut oil and honey until just combined.  Add vanilla, cinnamon, stevia, sea salt and stir to combine.  Add in all other ingredients and stir to coat.  Place in an even layer on two dehydrator trays or on a sheet pan.  Use a dehydrator set to 160 degrees Fahrenheit, for 12 hours, rotating trays halfway through cook time.  Also, could be done in an oven set to 160 degrees Fahrenheit or lowest temperature.  If your oven does not go this low, lessen cook time and stir more often.