Friday, March 29, 2013

Romantical Fridays: Close That Door; I'm Feeling a Draft

Read the last installment here




































When Blue Eyes and I began dating, I told him that I wasn't looking for anything serious. I had just come out of a long term relationship and needed to be on my own for a while.

We got serious fast.

By the time he left for Hawaii, I was starting to feel that tension in my stomach that told me something was wrong. I wasn't feeling the same confidence in our relationship that I had at first. As I pointed out last week, the honeymoon phase was over. In its place was this anxiety over committing my life to someone who was still working on finding himself. Someone who had some pretty radical beliefs that were way outside my box.

I was a good girl. I did what I was told. I finished my homework on time. I never questioned authority. I never snuck out of my house as a teenager because there was no need. I never did anything that would get me in trouble. 

Blue Eyes tells me he was the same as a teenager. But behind his compliance was a simmering discontent that eventually found a home in the Occupy Movement and cynicism towards the government.

I was intrigued by his beliefs when we met, and I appreciated meeting someone who truly challenged me. He forced me to think about things I had always taken for granted. Forced me to reconsider what I had thought of as unalterable truths.

But I was still a good girl.

Windows were beginning to appear in my box, but I wasn't so sure I wanted a whole door. And I certainly wasn't ready to experience life outside the box.

Blue Eyes no longer believed in boxes. Being with him would mean a constant tug and pull between my desire for a white picket fence and his desire for freedom.

Now, if I stop and think back, I have to be honest that we both had the same dream. We wanted a home that was part of a sustainable community, a place where he could garden and I could host my retreats. He wanted a goat and I wanted a horse. We wanted to live off the land, to have intimate knowledge of where our food came from, to raise children who could play outside and learn in an active environment rather than sitting in a chair every day. We wanted to enjoy the work we did and not spend the majority of our lives doing something we hated simply to pay the bills so we could enjoy the few hours we got to spend "living."

We just disagreed on how to get there.

Our problems, as is so often the case, were always about money. 

We are both in crazy amounts of educational debt, and neither of us had much belief that that would change any time soon, if ever. So in my mind, I had to work and work hard to make money to pay for this life I wanted to build. I was really good at working hard and I could -and did- often work until I was sick. In his mind, a problem was never solved with the same action that created that problem. Since his ultimate goal was to live a simple life doing what he loved, he decided that the only way to do that was to start living that way. That's why he began volunteering on farms, working for his room and board. That was where he wanted to be, so he just decided to do it in the only way that was available to him at the time.

There's a little problem there though. Or at least it was a problem for me. When you don't make money, you can't pay your loans. Blue Eyes was okay with that. He wasn't going to let debt stop him from living the way he dreamed.

I wasn't so okay with that. I have the same fear I hear from many other people, the fear of not having enough money, of not being able to afford health care, of not being able to pay off my debt. And I've accepted that that is simply the way life is.

Blue Eyes never accepted that.

So here I was, my boyfriend in Hawaii doing what he loved but making no money, his debt going absolutely nowhere. I was wracking up debt faster than I could take classes. And that first blush of passionate love was no longer burning bright enough to obscure my doubts.

Would Blue Eyes ever make a decent living? Would it be up to me to make the money in the family? Would being with him mean constantly wandering and never having a real home? Would I ever be able to afford health care?

Maybe I should just find someone who fit into society better, someone who would work his 9 to 5 and make me feel safe.

I will tell you that there were other factors at play in my decision: 1) My heart was still hurting over my last breakup and I had never fully dealt with the grief, and 2) I had spent months working on a cookbook at a pace that was way too fast and my health problems had reappeared due to the combination of stress and eating one too many cookies.

Ultimately though, here's what I knew:

I had begun experiencing the same feeling of misgiving in my last relationship early on. While the reasons were extremely different, I had felt that sinking in my gut, the slow wave of depression that told me I was not being true to myself. And I ignored it for years. It was during those years of self denial that I began getting sick, that I developed multiple food sensitivities and that I felt so depressed I understood for the first time why someone would choose to their take own life.

Ultimately, I knew that ignoring my gut had metaphorically and literally led me down a rabbit hole of pain.

I had no intention of doing that again.

For better or worse, I had made a commitment when I moved to Seattle never to ignore myself again. And so, when my instincts began whispering, I decided to take action before they began to make themselves heard in shouts of pain.

I broke up with Blue Eyes.

To be continued...

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Cinnamon Scones (Gluten/Grain/Dairy/Egg/Nut/Soy/Sugar-Free)







































Thank God for bloggers. Imagine trying to navigate a crazy restricted diet without having all these bloggers to turn to? Without blogs, I would never have found this recipe for Mini Boulder Cream Doughnuts from Kelly at The Spunky Coconut. Or this recipe for Coconut Flour Chocolate Chip Cookies at Purely Twins.

And what about Facebook? Facebook introduced me to Amy Munson who was the first person to tell me about making sunflower seed flour. Facebook gave me Laurel VanBlarcum who shares amazing recipe ideas with me.

Lately I've been bemoaning social media and wanting to condemn it all to hell. I came so close to deleting my Facebook and Twitter accounts last month that I'm actually surprised I didn't go through with it. But lo and behold, here I am, still chattering away on my Facebook page.

Why?

Because despite the fact that social media is an easy and addictive way to waste time - and I highly encourage myself and you to spend more time playing outside; less time on the internet - it is also a great way to share information and learn from each other.

This recipe for Cinnamon Raisin Scones was adapted from the Coconut Flour Chocolate Chip Cookies at Purely Twins. I have been wanting to develop a grain/egg/nut-free recipe for scones for a while, but until I came across this cookie recipe, I wasn't sure how to do it. Here's a little piece of advice for you. When looking at blog recipes, always read the comments. Readers leave lots of good information in there! I saw one of the readers commented that they tasted like scones, so I knew it would be a good recipe to start with.

I ended up making two versions, and while I had my particular favorite (#2), I knew many of you would appreciate version #1 because it is lower in starch. So here are two recipes for you. Take your pick!


Cinnamon Scones-Low Starch Version Print-Me 
These scones are mild and slightly cakey with a strong coconut flavor. Top them with coconut oil and enjoy with your morning tea.

Ingredients:
3 tablespoons ground flax seeds (read notes below on substitutions)
6 tablespoons apple juice
4 tablespoons grapeseed oil or melted coconut oil
4 tablespoons Spectrum Organic Palm Shortening
2/3 cup coconut flour
1/3 cup tapioca starch
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/3 cup golden raisins (optional)

Directions: 
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Set out a cookie sheet. 
  2. Stir together the flax and apple juice in a large bowl and allow to sit for about ten minutes.
  3. Whisk in shortening and oil (you can also do this in a food processor or using a hand mixer). 
  4. Whisk together the coconut flour, tapioca starch, baking soda, salt and cinnamon in a medium sized bowl. Stir into the wet ingredients until completely mixed. Add raisins if using. Knead by hand until you can make a ball. Flatten it onto an ungreased cookie sheet and shape into a circle, about 1/2 inch thick. Slice into 8 triangles. 
  5. Bake for 14 minutes. Allow to cool at least ten minutes before slicing again to completely separate each scone. 






































Cinnamon Scones-My Favorite Version Print-Me
I would honestly make these scones weekly. They remind me of a cinnamon raisin English muffin, but just a bit more dense. You might try shaping it into individual rounds and eating like English muffins or cutting them into these triangle scones. 

Directions:

1/3 cup coconut flour
2/3 cup tapioca starch
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 cup Spectrum Organic Palm Shortening (see substitution notes)
3 tablespoons ground flax
6 tablespoons apple juice
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/3 cup raisins (optional)

Directions: 
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Set out an ungreased cookie sheet.
  2. In a small bowl, stir together the flax, apple juice, and vanilla extract. Let sit for about ten minutes. 
  3. Whisk together the coconut flour, tapioca starch, baking soda, cinnamon and salt in a large bowl.
  4. Cut the shortening into the dry ingredients. 
  5. Stir the flax mixture into the bowl until completely mixed. Stir in raisins if using. Your dough will be very sticky. Scoop into one large ball on the cookie sheet. Liberally oil your fingers and press the ball into a circle, about 1/2 inch thick. Slice into 8 triangles. 
  6. Bake for 14 minutes. Let cool about ten minutes, then re-cut the slices and serve.
Substitution Notes: Below are some suggestions on substitutions that may work. I say may because I have not tested them all myself, so know that in making substitutions, the recipe may not come out as mine did.
Flax: You can try using 2 tablespoons of ground chia seeds or 1 1/2 tablespoons of whole psyllium husks. These amounts are guesses at best, so only make changes if you're in a good mood and can handle a kitchen flop.
Shortening: You can try using an equal amount of butter or coconut oil. Coconut oil melts at a much lower temperature than shortening though, so it's possible that will cause the scones to spread, which should not happen.
Apple Juice: You can replace the apple juice with orange juice for a sweeter flavor. Or to reduce the sugar, replace with dairy or non-dairy milk and 1 teaspoon of apple cider vinegar.
Coconut Flour: Sorry, no replacements!
Tapioca Starch: Arrowroot or potato starch should work in equal amounts.

This post is linked to the Virtual Whole Foods Potluck and Wellness Weekends.

Monday, March 25, 2013

5-Ingredient Mondays: Gingered Apples

Thank you to Debi Smith of Hunter's Lyonesse for providing me with this week's 5 ingredient recipe. Debi's blog has been one of my favorites for years because we love the same types of recipes and she has an infectious joy for life that comes through in all her posts. I encourage you to stop by Debi's blog after reading her recipe for Gingered Apples (below) and look through her many recipes. The savory recipes are my favorite!

Here are the rules for 5-Ingredient Mondays:

  1. The dish must contain 5 ingredients or less. But to make it easier, pantry staples are not counted as ingredients. Neither are optional ingredients.
    1. Examples: salt, pepper, olive oil, baking soda, baking powder...basically if you think you would find the ingredient in any kitchen, you don't have to count it as one of your 5 ingredients. On the other hand, if it's a staple in your kitchen but not the average American's (i.e. coconut oil), count it. If you're unsure, go ahead and add the link. I'm not a stickler for rules!
  2. The dish must be gluten-free. Your recipe can be paleo, vegan, or anything in between. Breakfast, lunch, dinner or dessert. Side dish or main dish. The purpose here is to create a place where you can come to find recipes that you know will be gluten-free and super simple. 
  3. You must leave a link to your own recipe that goes to that week's 5-Ingredient Monday post, not on this static page. 
Your recipes don't need to be from this week, so feel free to check your recipe list for your favorite recipes to share. I will sometimes share photos of the recipes with links back to your blog, so by sharing your recipe, you are giving me permission to use your photo and link back to your recipe. 

The linky will be live through noon on Thursday.



















I knew I wanted to give you something versatile when Iris asked me if I would do a guest post for 5-Ingredient Mondays. I could come up with something completely new or share something I was already making but had not shared yet.

I was introduced to fried apples when I moved to Kentucky nearly sixteen years ago. It was heaven for an apple pie fiend like me. I did not have to wait for dessert; it could be right there with my entrée and other sides. It is not something I ate often with dinner, but it made me think outside the box. If I wanted apple pie but did not want to make pie crust, I could do fried apples and be happy. 

I decided I was going to make gluten-free crepes for my birthday breakfast last year. I had a dairy-free chocolate hazelnut spread in my fridge and I wanted apples as a second filling. I intended to make gingered apples while I was making the crepes. I figured out pretty fast that an apple filling wasn’t going to happen while keeping an eye on the crepes. 

Gingered apples can be a side, a dessert, a snack, or breakfast. Top it with some granola. Dice up the apples and use them in a crepe or on top of ice cream. Throw them in a bowl and eat them as is. I paired the gingered apples with honey mustard pork chops. The combination of ginger, honey, and mustard might sound funny to you, but it worked.

You can use either fresh ginger, which is my preference, or you can use ground ginger. I used coconut oil the first time I made it because I knew it would go well with the ginger and apples. I continue to use it because I’ve had to cut out sunflower seeds and Earth Balance spreads either have soy, sunflower seed, or both. You can use whatever you want as your fat in the pan – butter, Earth Balanace, bacon fat, etc.  

Gingered Apples
Recipe by Debi Smith of Hunter's Lyonesse 

Ingredients:
2 small organic Fuji apples or 1 large, sliced or diced
1 – 2 tablespoons minced ginger or 1 -2 teaspoons ground ginger
1 tablespoon coconut oil or fat of your choice
Pinch of salt

Directions: 
  1. Heat a pan over medium heat. Add coconut oil until melted. If your coconut oil is already in liquid form, let it warm up. 
  2. Add minced ginger and stir. Let the ginger sit for about a minute until it is fragrant. 
  3. Add the apples and pinch of salt (and ground ginger if using it instead of fresh ginger) and stir until well coated with the oil. Cover the pan and turn the heat down to medium low for 3-5 minutes. Stir and cover again for 3-5 minutes. They are done when the apples have softened, but are not falling apart. 
 

Friday, March 22, 2013

Romantical Fridays: Leaving on a Jet Plane

Read the last installment here

Last week, I told you about meeting my first boyfriend and how madly in love I fell.

In hindsight, I wonder what a therapist would make of this happening right after the death of my grandfather.



















I grew up surrounded by women. My mother was and is the strongest presence in my life. My older and younger sister are like extensions of my own heart. My best friend as a child was named Lily and we liked to think of ourselves as The Flowers. Every once in a while, someone would call me her name by mistake. The same happened in college, when Cecilia and I became inseparable. When I moved to New York, I immediately developed a strong friendship with my female roommates, and when I moved to Seattle, I met the women I think of as my soul sisters. I have always bonded easily with women. I even remember visiting my dad when I was nine and falling madly in love with his then girlfriend. I don't even recall her name but I know that it was easy for me to love women, to trust them. 

Men?

Not so much.

Something else I remember from that trip to visit my dad was that I would wake up before him in the morning and grab my book (probably Sweet Valley High) and read. When he woke up, he would admonish me to wake him up rather than just waiting. Didn't he understand that reading was my favorite thing in the world? I would rather lie in his apartment all day and read books than explore the streets of San Francisco. That's just who I was. But I didn't expect him to understand me.

I didn't understand him.

My dad was a wandering soul, a free spirit who wanted a home, yet was deathly afraid of one. A man with countless wounds from childhood, a boy with very little knowledge of family. I saw him every three years or so and never really knew who he was.

I get him a little better now.

Blue Eyes is like him in a lot of ways.

Sometimes I think that scares my mom.

They say you fall in love with men who remind you of your father. Of course I never believed that would be true for me. Yet the longer I know Blue Eyes, the more he reminds me of both my father and my stepfather.

Blue Eyes is a wandering soul, a free spirit who wants a home, yet is afraid of one. He is a man with countless wounds from childhood, a boy who grew up with a family very different from mine.

Blue Eyes is also a man of impeccable morality, a truth teller, someone that can be hard for people to understand. He has his own set of rules that he follows, rules that drive me crazy sometimes, but that on a deeper level I respect.

From the moment I met Blue Eyes, he encouraged me to be myself and not care what others thought of me. He encouraged me to let my inner crazy out, and I did. Occasionally. In small increments.

I think in order to really accept who you are and be yourself, you also have to completely accept others in all their naked glory. I wasn't there yet.

Our relationship had been strained since he returned from his stint at a permaculture farm in Washington. He had been having a blast and wasn't quite ready to be back on the grid. But my uncle was getting married and my family was all coming to Washington for the occasion. So Blue Eyes came back to meet the family. He was in "peace, love and permaculture, baby" mode and I was in, "Oh my God, you're meeting my parents for the first time, could you please act like a normal person for once" mode.     

We began to hit that point that always comes for me less than a year into a relationship.

It was the end of the honeymoon phase.  

I think what comes after the honeymoon phase is the acceptance phase. You're no longer so blindly in love with someone that you ignore all their flaws, and you have to decide if you love that person enough to actually deal with the entirety of who they are.

This went for both of us.

Could he accept that I was never going to be the type of woman to hitch hike around the world with him, working on farms, crashing on couches, and waxing philosophical into the wee hours of the morning?

Could I accept that he was never going to settle down and get a respectable job, a sentence that would surely lead him to gnashing his teeth like the monsters in Where The Wild Things Are. Could I accept that he had no interest in fitting into society or buying a house with a white picket fence?

In late summer of 2011, Blue Eyes hopped a plane to Hawaii with plans to live and work on a farm for a couple of months. In true Blue Eyes fashion, he didn't actually have a farm in mind when he left. Just a plane ticket and his backpack.

I had just begun writing my baking guides and was in full cookbook ambition mode. I was secretly relieved to have the time to myself so I didn't have to juggle a boyfriend and writing a cookbook at the same time. He was not-so-secretly relieved to leave my house, where he had been staying with me and my four female housemates. Our initial passion and fascination with each other had given way to the frustrations of two people who were both finding themselves while finding each other and living together way too soon.

As he gave me a hug before boarding that plane to Hawaii, I knew only that the time apart would test us both.

To be continued...

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Guided Meditation for a Peaceful Morning

As part of my work with my clients, I develop monthly meditations that they can listen to on their own in between our sessions. Today, I'm sharing one of those meditations with you. This is a short ten-minute meditation designed to be done first thing in the morning. It's especially great for those groggy mornings when you wake up really not wanting to be awake and need a little something to help you realign yourself for the day.

Tonight, treat yourself to a healthy dinner, go to bed early, and wake up ten minutes early tomorrow so you can start your day off with this meditation.



Monday, March 18, 2013

5-Ingredient Mondays: Sweet Potato Fries with Spicy Curried Coconut Milk Dip


Today's 5-Ingredient recipe is coming to you courtesy of one of my favorite bloggers, Jonathan Itchon of The Canary Files. Jonathan and a few other bloggers are helping me out in the next couple of weeks while I'm (finally!) driving from L.A. to Missouri. Jonathan has a talent for developing simple recipes with a twist. Today is a perfect example of that. There are a lot of recipes for sweet potato fries, but Jonathan takes it a step further by adding a spicy curried coconut milk dip. 

I wonder if I can get Jonathan to move to Missouri too? 

I'm going to share the rules for 5-Ingredient Mondays here and then let Jonathan take over. 

Here are the rules for 5-Ingredient Mondays: 
  1. The dish must contain 5 ingredients or less. But to make it easier, pantry staples are not counted as ingredients. Neither are optional ingredients.
    1. Examples: salt, pepper, olive oil, baking soda, baking powder...basically if you think you would find the ingredient in any kitchen, you don't have to count it as one of your 5 ingredients. On the other hand, if it's a staple in your kitchen but not the average American's (i.e. coconut oil), count it. If you're unsure, go ahead and add the link. I'm not a stickler for rules!
  2. The dish must be gluten-free. Your recipe can be paleo, vegan, or anything in between. Breakfast, lunch, dinner or dessert. Side dish or main dish. The purpose here is to create a place where you can come to find recipes that you know will be gluten-free and super simple. 
  3. You must leave a link to your own recipe that goes to that week's 5-Ingredient Monday post, not on this static page. 
Your recipes don't need to be from this week, so feel free to check your recipe list for your favorite recipes to share. I will sometimes share photos of the recipes with links back to your blog, so by sharing your recipe, you are giving me permission to use your photo and link back to your recipe. 

The linky will be live through noon on Thursday.




















Hello, Everyone! My name is Jonathan Itchon, and today I have the distinct privilege of offering a guest post while Iris takes a well-deserved break. I discovered The Daily Dietribe nearly two years ago when I began my own blog, The Canary Files, and I have been a fan, advocate, and friend ever since. In reading about Iris' journey in regards to food, health, and discovering love and wisdom in the sometimes most unlikely of places, I found a kindred spirit. I used to live a life governed by illness, pain, frustration, and a sense of helplessness. But once I adopted a gluten-free way of living in the Fall of 2007, I found not only relief from chronic fatigue and pain, but I found clarity, a renewed sense of purpose, and ultimately for me, a second chance to live the life I knew I was meant to live. And so through my everyday interactions, through my blog, and now here, today, with you, I hope to pay that forward. To be a "canary" who sings because of his circumstance - not in spite of them.

I love 5-Ingredient Mondays. In the past, I used to believe that the only recipes people would be interested in seeing would require me to reinvent the wheel. Use unexpected ingredients, make foods that one wouldn't think could be made gluten-free, dairy-free, and/or vegan, and make jaws drop, etc. Basically, I was always in Top Chef Quickfire mode. And while a lot of wonderful recipes were borne of that mindset, in real life my cooking is really quite simple. It's about ingredients, inspiration, and honoring the body, the mind, the Earth, and the soul. And while these kinds of recipes may not bring me more followers or more views, they are what sustains me in my every day. So with this weekly blogging event, I am not only allowed to share these recipes, but I am actually encouraged to do so. Simple is celebrated. And I love that.

Today's recipe is an homage to a favorite childhood memory. Adjectives that would accurately describe me as a youth would include "husky," "big-boned," and "healthy." And one of the big reasons for it was my declared love of fast food, particularly french fries. But my Mother, being clever and loving as she was, would make fries of her own from time to time to satisfy my cravings. And these fries were made with sweet potato, baked in an oven, and served with a curried honey mayo dip. When I told her that I liked them better, I wasn't just kissing up: I meant it. The tender sweetness enclosed in a crisp, savory exterior and then slathered in a sweet and aromatically spicy rich dip was seriously the bee's knees. So today, I tip my hat to that memory with this no-fuss recipe for both the oven fries and the dipping sauce that requires only 5 ingredients (so long as you accept that agave nectar or maple syrup is a pantry staple).

Simple, delicious, and truly satisfying.

Oven-Baked Sweet Potato Fries with a Spicy Curried Coconut Milk Dip
Gluten-Free & Vegan

Active Prep Time: 5 minutes
Inactive Prep Time: 5-10 minutes
Baking Time: 25-30 minutes
Yield: about 4 servings

1 lb. sweet potatoes (about 4 small ones)
scant 1/8 c oil
salt & pepper

1/4 c full-fat coconut milk
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon agave nectar or maple syrup
1/4 teaspoon curry powder
1/4-1/2 teaspoon sriracha
salt, to taste

What you need: large mixing bowl, baking pan, foil, cooling rack, tongs, whisk

1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
2. Peel and chop sweet potatoes into fries. I started by slicing them in half lengthwise and then slicing each half into long strips and then slicing those in half. Your aim is for them all to be approximately the same size and thickness so they cook evenly. For the photo, I used three different varieties: Japanese Kotobuki (white-fleshed), Garnet (orange), and Okinawan (purple).
3. In a large mixing bowl, toss the uncooked fries with oil until well coated and season with salt and pepper. Choose an oil with a high smoke point that can withstand high heat, like refined coconut, canola, or sunflower.
4. Line the baking pan with foil and place the cooling rack in the center. Arrange the fries on the rack, spacing them about 1" apart. If all fries will not fit on one baking pan, I would suggest baking each batch in succession rather than simultaneously. Your fries will be crispier for it.
5. Bake for 15 minutes and then remove from oven to flip each fry using tongs. Replace in oven and continue baking for another 10-15 minutes. You may notice some blackening of the tips and edges in addition to 'puffing' of the exterior of each fry as they bake, particularly in the final minutes - totally normal and totally tasty.
6. Fresh from the oven, they may not feel very crispy, but as they cool, the exterior of each fry will firm up. Allow to cool for about 10 minutes.
7. Meanwhile, in a bowl combine all dip ingredients except salt. Whisk until well combined, and then salt to taste. And if spicier is better for you, feel free to take the amount of sriracha as a suggestion - you may want to also up your sweetener to maintain the balance. And if on the flip side, spicy is not your thing, feel free to omit the sriracha altogether.


And there it is - so simple and delicious and a wonderful way for kids, and adults, to eat their veggies and not know it. And the recipe easily doubles, which is good to know because "serving size" when it comes to fries is definitely relative.

Thank you again to Iris, for graciously allowing me to share this guest post with you. It's truly been an honor and a privilege.

Thank you, Jonathan! Don't forget to follow Jonathan at The Canary Files.



Saturday, March 16, 2013

St. Patrick's Day Banana Bacon Pancakes (Gluten-Free, Egg-Free, Dairy-Free, Vegan Options)




































I think it might be cheating to title a recipe Banana Bacon Pancakes and then say it can be made vegan. I mean, if you're gonna do a recipe with bacon, you should just own it right?! Don't get all sissy and say, "Oh no wait, vegans, come back! This recipe is for you too!" Because that's just lame. Stand by your bacon.

I have trouble standing by my bacon. I love bacon. Absolutely love it. But I try my best not to purchase it because I grew up wanting a pet pig. I still want a pet pig. On the other hand, my little sister just had a baby and she had major bacon cravings during her pregnancy. So while I'm at her house cooking for her, I've been getting my fill of bacon.

From what people tell me on my Facebook page, Banana Bacon Pancakes are NOT a St. Patrick's day recipe. But I ate them with a green fork on a green place mat. And I plan on eating them again on Sunday.

And I will be wearing green.

And speaking with an Irish accent.  

You can't get any more Irish than that.





































Banana Bacon Pancakes
As always, I like to provide suggestions for alternatives in my recipes. See my notes below on a meat-free version and a lower starch version.


Ingredients:
1 cup quinoa flakes
¾ cup potato starch
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
1-2 slices bacon, cooked and diced (I like Applegate Farms)
1 mashed banana
2 tablespoons melted bacon fat
1-2 cups apple juice

Directions: 
  1. Mix the quinoa flakes, starch, baking soda and salt in a large bowl. 
  2. Stir together the bacon, banana, bacon fat and 1 cup of apple juice. Stir into the dry ingredients. 
  3. Heat a skillet on medium heat, add a little extra fat and scoop the batter by the half cup, cooking a few minutes per side. The quinoa flakes will cause the batter to thicken as it sits, so you may need to add a couple tablespoons of apple juice and re-stir in between pancakes. 
 Makes approximately 8 pancakes. 
 
Notes: 
  • For a meat-free version, either skip the bacon or use a vegan bacon substitute. Replace the bacon fat with coconut oil.   
  • For a lower starch version, reduce the potato starch to 1/2 cup and add 1/4 cup of sorghum, teff, garbanzo bean, quinoa, brown rice, or millet flour. The recipe above is "gummy but not too gummy" in my boyfriend's words. Personally, I like gummy (reminds me of mochi) but if you're not a fan, use the lower starch version suggested here. 

Friday, March 15, 2013

Romantical Fridays: You Can Lead a Horse to Water

Read the last installment here





































But you can't make it drink.

That's how the saying goes, isn't it?

Here's something else I've learned.

You can also plant a seed...

but ultimately you have no control over how it grows.

(Unless you're Monsanto...)

























Wait. Time out. 

I'm stuck. I am absolutely stuck. I have no idea how to tell this part of the story. It's all jumbled in my mind. 

I want to skip ahead, to the part where Blue Eyes comes back and the stories are fun again. I want to skip ahead to now because I am so much more fascinated by my life NOW than I am by what happened over a year ago.

But I decided to tell this story for a reason. I'm still not fully sure what that reason is. My friend Laura (thank you for listening!) says that maybe there's something in here that my readers need to hear. I hope she's right. Maybe there's something in here that I need to write. All I know is that every other part of this story has come very easily to me, but this feels locked inside of me and I wonder if I'll be able to share it the right way.

In order to do that, I think I have to let go of how I think a love story should be written. I think I have to just write, so forgive me if there's no chronological order here. And know that this part is not really about Blue Eyes and me.

This part is just about me. 





















My grandpa died my freshman year of college. Soon after, I met the boy who would become my best friend, then my first love, then my first heartbreak. I remember noticing him because he looked so sad. I don't think I would have reached out to him had I not also been grieving. It turns out he was mourning the loss of his first love, his high school girlfriend who had recently broken up with him. I saw him in the hallway of our dorm one night and invited him to a party. Within minutes, we both realized we weren't frat party people and left. We took our first night walk of many that year and I knew immediately that I had found someone who would be important in my life.

My hypnotherapy and past life regression teacher tells me that we have multiple soul mates. If that's so, then I feel certain he is one of mine.

I don't know what it feels like for other people to be in love. I know that the first time I fell in love, it felt like all of my dreams had come true. I mean I literally felt like I was living in a dream. It was strange to me because my dreams have always had this intense, haunting feel to them. I love dreaming. I feel emotions in my dreams that don't really exist when I'm awake. And yet suddenly I found myself feeling that way all the time. The odd part was that my dreams no longer felt special. I missed that haunting feeling when I slept but it was okay because I had it when I was awake.

Perhaps first love is always like this. I didn't just want to be with him. I wanted to be one person. I wanted to disappear into him so that we would never be apart.

Oh God, it sounds so awful to me now, like the beginning of a horrible Lifetime movie that ends with the girl becoming a crazy stalker. 

It was true though. That's how I felt. I don't imagine you'll be surprised when I tell you he broke up with me only months later. I can look back now and see how suffocating that obsessive kind of love was. But at the time, all I knew was that I had lost the person who was my best friend. I remember thinking that I had lost myself so completely that I needed to rebuild who I was, cell by cell. I knew even then that the process of coming back to myself would only make me stronger.

And it did. But it took a really long time.

It took five years before I felt that I was truly over him. Five years before I could let go and move on. And that only because I got an e-mail from him out of the blue one day that finally gave me closure. I remember sitting in my apartment in Brooklyn sobbing, surprised at the depth of feelings I still carried inside me.

I actually thought I had gotten over it. But maybe some hurts never truly go away.

Or maybe we just don't always know what we need in order to release them.

For me, I realized, I needed to know that I had mattered to him, that what had meant everything to me had at least meant something to him.

Five years later, his e-mail gave me what I needed. And just like that, it was over. We became friends again, as we had been before we dated, and we're still friends to this day. I remember why I loved him, but even more importantly, I remember why I was his friend. And I am so much happier being that. 

Read the next installment here.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Gluten-Free Chocolate Chip Coffee Cake (Vegan, Refined Sugar-Free)




































A few months back, I received an e-mail from a reader named Ellynne who was looking for a gluten, dairy, and egg-free version of her mother's sour cream coffee cake. I immediately got to work, baking cake after cake until I had a recipe I was happy with.

My family had no problem with this...

My cousin, Phoebe, was digging the chocolate chips in the coffee cake. 







































Her friend, Georgia, wasn't keen on the chocolate, but she ate half of her cake with gusto anyway - her mom got to eat the rest.







































You'll notice in the directions that I give a lot of options for the type of flour to use. This is because I used a different flour blend every time I made the recipe, and it worked every time. Which means it is my favorite type of recipe. The type you can't mess up!

The photo above was made with white rice flour, while the photo below was made using a blend of coconut flour, sorghum flour, and tapioca starch. Knowing that this particular version was only one flour away from being grain-free, I really wanted to develop a grain-free version. However, being aware of my own limits and that I shouldn't make a cake I couldn't eat, I outsourced the development of that recipe.








































So if you love the look of this recipe, but need a grain-free version, Deanna of The Mommy Bowl is your go-to lady. I sent her the recipe and she is posting her grain-free version on her blog today. Personally, I can't wait to see what she came up with!

Chocolate Chip Coffee Cake Print-Me
You can't go wrong with chocolate chips and coffee cake! Based on a sour cream coffee cake recipe, this gluten, dairy, and egg-free version will make you swoon. Need a grain-free recipe? Click here for Deanna's grain-free adaptation. 


Ingredients:
Topping:

6 tablespoons coconut oil or Earth Balance
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 cup dairy-free chocolate chips
1 cup coconut palm sugar
1/2 cup chopped walnuts (optional)

Cake:

3 tablespoons whole psyllium husks
1 cup non-dairy milk
1 cup unsweetened applesauce or coconut yogurt
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
2 cups gluten-free flour (see notes below directions on options)
3/4 cup coconut palm sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 cup coconut oil

Directions:
  1. Prepare filling in a small bowl and set aside. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and grease/flour a tube pan. 
  2. Mix psyllium, milk, applesauce, apple cider vinegar, and vanilla extract in a food processor.
  3. Stir together flour, sugar, baking soda and baking powder in a medium sized bowl. Pour into wet mixture and process until well mixed. 
  4. Add in coconut oil and process until completely mixed. 
  5. Pour half of batter into tube pan, followed by half of topping. Repeat. Bake for 50 minutes. Allow to cool completely before taking out of pan. 
Notes on flours to use - I have personally tried each of these versions:
Version #1: 2 cups white rice flour (This version was slightly gummy/spongey the first day but the texture was amazing to me the second day. It was my personal favorite, although not anyone else's favorite.
Version #2: 2/3 cup sorghum flour, 2/3 cup brown rice flour, 2/3 cup potato starch. My mom loved this version. It was more cake-like than the first version.
Version #3: 2/3 cup sorghum flour, 2/3 cup coconut flour, 2/3 cup potato starch. This version was more dense due to the coconut flour, but equally tasty. The coconut flavor was noticeable but wasn't too strong for me.
Thoughts: I feel fairly certain that you can use an all-purpose mix for this recipe and it will work. I also think it would be delicious with 1 1/3 cups of teff flour and 2/3 cup of tapioca or potato starch. 


Monday, March 11, 2013

5-Ingredient Mondays: Sugar-Free Caramelized Apples




































Do you often find yourself in a food rut? Making the same dishes week after week, and losing the excitement that comes with trying something new?

This week, I challenge you to treat yourself to a new recipe. Maybe it's Sugar-Free Caramelized Apples. Maybe it's Divine Onion Crisps, the amazing snack Ricki of Diet, Dessert and Dogs shared with us last week. Perhaps it's Sweet Potato Basil Soup from Deanna at The Mommy Bowl.

Whatever it is, do yourself a favor. Make it simple, healthy, and delicious. If you follow my 5-Ingredient Mondays board on Pinterest, you can find a ton of recipes that are all of those. If you're not on Pinterest, click on this link to see all the posts for 5-Ingredient Mondays. 

Or perhaps you'd like to share one of your recipes with us so that we can make it this week?

Here are the rules for 5-Ingredient Mondays:

  1. The dish must contain 5 ingredients or less. But to make it easier, pantry staples are not counted as ingredients. Neither are optional ingredients.
    1. Examples: salt, pepper, olive oil, baking soda, baking powder...basically if you think you would find the ingredient in any kitchen, you don't have to count it as one of your 5 ingredients. On the other hand, if it's a staple in your kitchen but not the average American's (i.e. coconut oil), count it. If you're unsure, go ahead and add the link. I'm not a stickler for rules!
  2. The dish must be gluten-free. Your recipe can be paleo, vegan, or anything in between. Breakfast, lunch, dinner or dessert. Side dish or main dish. The purpose here is to create a place where you can come to find recipes that you know will be gluten-free and super simple. 
  3. You must leave a link to your own recipe that goes to that week's 5-Ingredient Monday post, not on this static page. 
Your recipes don't need to be from this week, so feel free to check your recipe list for your favorite recipes to share. I will sometimes share photos of the recipes with links back to your blog, so by sharing your recipe, you are giving me permission to use your photo and link back to your recipe. 

The linky will be live through noon on Thursday.




































Sugar-Free Caramelized Apples Print-Me

A hint of sweet and the delicate bite of lemon meld in this delicious and healthy treat. Enjoy these dairy-free caramelized apples on their own or serve with a side of dairy-free ice cream for dessert.

Ingredients:
1 medium apple (Fuji is my favorite), thinly sliced
Juice of half a lemon
1 heaping teaspoon Chinese Five Spice (sub: Pumpkin Pie Spice)
Sprinkling of sea salt 
2 tablespoons grapeseed oil
(Optional) sweetener of choice, to taste

Directions:
  1. Slice the apple and place into a large bowl. Add in lemon juice, spice, sea salt, and 1 tablespoon of oil. The apples will be slightly tart from the lemon juice, so feel free to add a drizzle of liquid sweetener, a quick shake of granulated sugar, or about 5 drops of liquid stevia. Sometimes I make these without any sweetener. Other times I add stevia. If I'm making them for someone else, I'll add either coconut palm sugar, honey, or maple syrup.
  2. Let rest while you heat a large skillet on medium. Allow the pan to heat up really well before adding 1 tablespoon of oil. Use a slotted spoon to add the apples, reserving the liquid at the bottom of the bowl. Cook for 10 minutes without stirring. 
  3. Rotate apples, drizzle the liquid over them and let them cook another 10 minutes. Check after 5 minutes to make sure they don't burn. I like mine a little blackened (I also like burnt marshmallows), but cook yours a little more or less as you like. Serve hot. 
 Serves 1. 





Friday, March 8, 2013

We Interrupt Romantical Fridays for: Self-Care

Happy Friday!

I'm going to keep this short and apologize for not having a post ready for you today. Life has gotten pretty hectic. Blue Eyes and I are scheduled to begin our drive from L.A. to Missouri on March 21st, but our car just broke down and we're now in the process of trying to buy a new (to us) one. What a way to start our trip, huh?

That being said, we had just gotten to the point in our story where things started to get rocky and I was all ready to sit and type. But about two days ago, I started having crazy amounts of back, neck and shoulder pain, as well as a resurgence of the headaches which have blissfully been gone for a while. Sitting at the computer is causing the pain to get worse, so I'm going to listen to my body for a few days and try to stay away from the computer as much as possible.

I'll continue the story next week. In the meantime, I could definitely use some good energy sent this way, both for my body and finding a car!

Thank you for reading, for being here, and for being my invisible support system. I am always grateful to have this space to share my life with you.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Gluten-Free, Vegan Banana Muffins (Refined Sugar-Free)




































You may have noticed I haven't been writing a lot to go with my recipes lately. Well, aside from my Romantical Fridays posts, I haven't been writing much on the blog at all. I actually have a ton I want to say, but every time I sit down to type, my mind goes blank.  It's like I'm just waiting for the right time to say everything. Or maybe it's not meant to be said. I'm not sure yet.

My head is feeling pretty cluttered these days with Facebook, Twitter, and the crazy amount of technology everywhere. So maybe I just need to figure out a way to de-clutter before I can start writing coherently again.

We'll see.

In the meantime, I think you're going to love this recipe. It's gluten-free, it's vegan and it's very easy to make. Plus it rises beautifully (which is rare for gluten-free, vegan recipes) and has a delicious texture that's moist inside with a nice crumb.

I'll let the pictures do the talking now.





































See? Moist. Chewy. Tender. (I'm on a cleanse right now so this is driving me crazy.)


Gluten-Free, Vegan Banana Muffins Print-Me

These muffins rise beautifully despite containing no eggs or gluten. They're moist and chewy with just the hint of caramel flavor from the palm sugar. Although I haven't tested it out, my guess is you could replace the banana with applesauce and the results would be just as delicious. 


Ingredients:*
2 cups full-fat canned coconut milk, room temperature
4 teaspoons ground chia seeds
1/2 cup grapeseed oil
1/4 cup mashed banana
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
3/4 cup coconut palm sugar

2 2/3 cups brown rice flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon sea salt

Directions:
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly oil 12 muffin cups.
  2. Stir together the coconut milk, chia, oil, banana, vanilla and sugar. Allow to sit about 5 minutes.
  3. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and sea salt.
  4. Make a well in the middle of the flour and pour in the wet mixture, stirring until completely mixed. Fill each muffin cup evenly (about 3/4 full) and bake for 25 minutes. Allow to cool at least 10 minutes before removing from muffin cups. 
Notes: Depending on the brand of coconut milk you buy, you may have to stir it up really well before to blend the water and cream. I find that Thai Kitchen coconut milk is thicker. Normally I like that, but in this recipe, I chose a brand that wasn't quite so thick.

*Want to turn these into Chocolate Chip Muffins? Just stir 3/4 cup (vegan) chocolate chips into the batter before baking. Banana chocolate chip is one of my favorite flavor combos!

Monday, March 4, 2013

5-Ingredient Mondays: Dairy-Free Mint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream (Gluten/Grain/Egg/Soy/Nut/Sugar-Free)




































Ice cream was never really my thing. I would take ooey gooey Chocolate Chunk Cookies or melt-in-your-mouth Irish Coffee Brownies over ice cream any day. But lately? That's been changing. Now I'll take chocolate chunk cookies, brownies AND ice cream.

Sorry, you thought I was going to pick ice cream over the other two? Never gonna happen.

But rich and creamy ice cream that you can make in five minutes? I'll gladly add that into my dessert repertoire any day.

And since it's Monday, you know it will only contain five ingredients or less.

Last week, our 5-ingredient recipes included such tasty desserts as: Grain-Free 5 Minute Chocolate Chip Cookies, Nutella Energy Bites, and Oreo Ice Cream Dessert.   

What recipes can you share at our virtual feast today? 

Here are the rules for 5-Ingredient Mondays:

  1. The dish must contain 5 ingredients or less. But to make it easier, pantry staples are not counted as ingredients. Neither are optional ingredients.
    1. Examples: salt, pepper, olive oil, baking soda, baking powder...basically if you think you would find the ingredient in any kitchen, you don't have to count it as one of your 5 ingredients. On the other hand, if it's a staple in your kitchen but not the average American's (i.e. coconut oil), count it. If you're unsure, go ahead and add the link. I'm not a stickler for rules!
  2. The dish must be gluten-free. Your recipe can be paleo, vegan, or anything in between. Breakfast, lunch, dinner or dessert. Side dish or main dish. The purpose here is to create a place where you can come to find recipes that you know will be gluten-free and super simple. 
  3. You must leave a link to your own recipe that goes to that week's 5-Ingredient Monday post, not on this static page. 
Your recipes don't need to be from this week, so feel free to check your recipe list for your favorite recipes to share. I will sometimes share photos of the recipes with links back to your blog, so by sharing your recipe, you are giving me permission to use your photo and link back to your recipe. 

The linky will be live through noon on Thursday.




































Dairy-Free Mint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream Print-Me

Rich and creamy and delightfully simple. You'll want to make a habit of keeping a banana in the freezer so you can make this whenever the urge for ice cream strikes.  

Ingredients:
1 banana, chopped and frozen
1/2 ripe avocado
1/8 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1-3 fresh mint leaves
2 spoonfuls dairy-free chocolate chips
(Optional) Liquid sweetener to taste

Directions:
  1. Puree banana, avocado, vanilla and mint in a food processor until it reaches a creamy consistency. 
  2. Taste and add sweetener if desired (I don't use any). Maple syrup, stevia, honey, and coconut nectar would all work here, as would any other liquid sweetener. 
  3. Spoon into bowl and stir in chocolate chips. 
Serves 1



Saturday, March 2, 2013

Silent Saturdays: Contemplating Boundaries




































Contemplating boundaries today. 
What boundaries are placed by society? 
Which boundaries are my own? 
Are they the same? 

What happens if I defy those boundaries?
I am so very attached to them. 

Where does courage come from?


Friday, March 1, 2013

Romantical Fridays: Planting The Seed

Read the last installment here




















"I'm really excited to see what happens when you finally start living your life."

Have you ever said something to someone only to find out later that your words changed his life?
























Those words, uttered one morning over breakfast, became the catalyst for everything that was to happen next.

The truth was, I was hoping to motivate him. I knew he was meant to do more than clean bathroom stalls at a grocery store. I saw what was in him and I wanted him to see it too.

Of course I had no idea until many months later that it was my words that morning that had pushed him into action.

Blue Eyes has always believed we were meant for more. Not just he and I, but all of us. You. Me. Everyone. From day one, he had expressed a discontent with the American way of life, a feeling of being trapped by his surroundings.

I don't think he ever knew where to channel that energy though. He knew he wanted to make a change, but he didn't know his part in it.

"I'm really excited to see what happens when you finally start living your life." 

I think that's when he knew it was time. Maybe he didn't know yet what he needed to do or where his journey would lead him, but he knew he was ready. He quit his job and moved out of his apartment - and temporarily into my house. Not surprisingly, it has been a long and very winding road ever since. A blurry road, really. 





















I hope I'm not giving myself too much credit here. I suppose he'll tell me if I am. But I think I inadvertently gave him a window into a different world. When I was at Bastyr studying holistic nutrition, my housemates were studying herbal medicine and permaculture design. One housemate built a greenhouse in the backyard. She and another housemate designed a compost system. A third housemate eventually began to raise chickens. And a fourth left our home and went on a journey that began by working and living on a farm nearby.

She took Blue Eyes with her.

(With my blessing, of course.)

That was the first time Blue Eyes left me to go study permaculture and what he now felt was his mission. When he came back, I could tell that things had changed. I could tell he had changed. I had encouraged him to start living his life and he had.

Suddenly I wasn't so sure how I felt about where he was going.

Read the next installment here.

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