plant-based

eating meat again

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Disclaimer: I make no assumption about what is good and right for you or anyone else to consume regarding animal products. I make no claims regarding the consequences or benefit of consuming animal products. I only state what I am choosing and a brief cause for why. Please consult reputable research and data to form your own opinions.

It came to me as a matter of intuition. I began joking with friends, “You know how people go on cleanses where they cut out eating this and that for a week to see how they feel?” I’d been on over a dozen cleanses by then. I had a very “clean” diet by so many standards, but I didn’t feel all that great. I felt extremely limited and wholly unsatisfied and created shame around certain ways of eating and indulging.  And I started having extreme physical discomfort after eating beans, legumes, and most grains – which appear to be the power basis of a vegetarian diet. My protein sources limited, my energy and morale low, I suggested, “What if I added meat back in for a week, just to see what happens?!” Folks laughed at me: the nut always shaking up her diet. I wasn’t sure if I’d actually go through with it at first, but as soon as I gave myself permission and stopped making animal foods the enemy, the primal cravings quickly surfaced.

It’s been nearly two and a half months since I had that first bite of chicken in seven years. I survived on a low-protein diet for most of that time, so I wasn’t initially compelled to add meat to every meal. When I do have it, my portions are typically half-size and more like a condiment. For example, I’ll chop a bit to go in with pepitas and carrot shreds in a salad. Though it is true that I entertained adding meat back in for sufficient protein, I do not think a vegan or vegetarian diet lacks in protein.  My VATA imbalance no longer allows my body to support those kinds of plant-based proteins, and I was at a loss.  Subsisting off fruits and vegetables and nuts may sound like a primate’s dream, but I was getting a bit bored, and I often felt malnourished and ravenous.  Overall, adding meat and animal protein back into my diet has made me better able to stay satiated on a legume-free, low-grain diet.

More than simply changing my way of eating, I have changed my tune.  For a long time I was under the presumption that we had to find our one true way and stick to it.  I wanted to be labeled VEGAN so that no one had to guess and I had a set of rules to follow.   But my foodie nature suffered, as it mostly meant lame garden salads and faux-meat substances, and things were still highly processed and full of preservatives. I longed for a simpler way of eating without restriction.  Lately, I’ve offered my wandering heart more forgiveness.  Through studying Ayurveda, I have come to realize that we are constantly seeking a state of balance, and we may flow this way and that, day by day, year by year.  If I can understand my needs and how to work toward balance no matter where I’m at, then I can break free of any rigid systems and do what’s best for me in the moment.  I believe my scrubbed diet (among other things) tipped me into a VATA imbalance over the last seven years and I am in recovery.

Going vegetarian taught me how to cook. It taught me how to love vegetables and get creative when I wanted a “better” version of something. Recently, that fire started to dampen, and when I opened up the possibility of incorporating meat back into my meals, I began to see a future of delicious creativity ahead. I still think of myself as plant-based, because meat isn’t the main thing I eat, or even my favorite thing to eat. But it has been a good friend to me through this trying time.

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THINGS WORTH NOTING:

Ethics: I seek out the most ethically produced meat I know how. There are many ways to research this, many medias to guide your way. I urge you to make these choices for yourself. I want pastured chickens and wild fish. Local when possible. I’m not yet eating red meat or pork (never quite had a taste for them anyway), but if I did, I’d start with buffalo meat, lamb, goat, etc as they don’t tend to be factory farmed like cattle.

Prevalence: I try to only add one animal protein per meal. I may toss a boiled egg into my salad, spread cheese on a cracker, or stir-fry chicken and vegetables – all for separate meals / snacks.  I prefer goats’ milk cheese and sheeps’ yogurt to avoid factory-farmed dairy and lactase. I never desire to drink a glass of milk or anything like that. I prefer ghee or clarified butter with the milk solids (casein) removed, but do eat butter when that is what is available.  To keep within budget, I alternate when I buy certain products. I don’t keep them stocked all at once.

Mainstays: If I want milk for something like cereal or baking, I use a nutmilk or coconut milk. I find them cheaper and more delicious. I do watch out for fillers like gums and preservatives and “natural flavors” so I never buy shelf-stable boxed milk. I have found a canned coconut milk with only two ingredients: coconut and water. Nut milks you’ll likely need to blend yourself at home, but there are decent options in the refrigerator section with minimal ingredients in a pinch.  I avoid whey products (protein powders, bars, etc) as they do not support my personal health.   

More ethics: I’m still wrestling with how to eat animals. I have a tendency, with everything I do, to think through the chain of impact with a level of depth that makes it hard to get through the day without being on the verge of tears a dozen times. I make few decisions lightly. This one feels right for me for now.

Additional Reading:  You must do the work yourself.  You must be interested in order to form opinions.  You must research well in order to form grounded opinions.  You must believe for yourself in order to form strong opinions.  My journey has been long; nearly a decade.  These are some sources that have guided my way.
Avoiding Factory Farmed Foods: An Eater’s Guide by HuffPost
The Omnivore’s Dilemma by Michael Pollan or any of his other books
Eating Animals by Jonathan Safran Foer
Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver
Any memoir about farming, homesteading, eating ethics, food politics, etc.
SOME carefully chosen documentaries: Food, Inc and other factory-farm docus.  Important to distinguish between the investigative ones uncovering injustice versus those trying to shame you into veganism.

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RI: berry beet compote

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I haven’t been cooking much creatively lately as I sort of fell out of line with my one true passion for a while. For a number of reasons, I thought I needed a different hobby; needed to get involved in a new creative venture. I’m slowly getting back into the kitchen, starting with simple, whole foods recipes that don’t require much effort. And, with the move, I’m trying to use up the random things left in my pantry, so I guess things do tend to get a bit interesting!

This RI: Recipe Inspiration series is intended to be a round up of flavor combinations, recipe techniques and ingredient profiles to encourage you to be playful and experimental in the kitchen. I don’t follow recipes very often, and I think it’s a good thing! We can flex our creative muscles and find things to fill up our dinner plate from what we have already lying around. Here we go!

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MIXED BERRY + BEET COMPOTE

Week after week, my CSA box was full of beets. I love beets, but it was a bit much. I steamed and froze some of them for future use, and the future of cleaning-out-the-freezer-before-the-move was coming up quick. Along with a bag of frozen mixed berries, I stewed everything together. Berries are a low-sugar fruit, and beets are a high-sugar vegetable, so #balance, and earthy-meets-sour notes abound. Paired with one the of the many options listed below, the flavor combo is right on. It’s absolutely delicious.

What you will need:

  1. Mixed berries (fresh or frozen), such as blueberries, black berries, raspberries, strawberries
  2. Fresh or frozen steamed beets, chopped
  3. Coconut sugar or other natural sweetener (honey or maple syrup work well)

What to do:

  1. To a saucepan, add berries and beets. There will be juices after a while; continue to stir while it comes to a low boil and the juices begin to evaporate.
  2. Add in coconut sugar. I added one tablespoon per cup of fruit and it’s still pretty tart. If you want it sweeter, add more.
  3. Once the sauce is the consistency you like (I like it not too thick, but not runny), transfer some of the compote (especially the beets) to a blender and quickly blend to chop up the beets. Add back to saucepan and stir to combine.

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How to use:

  • Serve over pancakes, waffles, cereal, toast.
  • Swirl into yogurt, ice cream.
  • Fill crepes, jam bars, thumbprint cookies.
  • Spread on sweet and savory sandwiches.
  • Can be used as a sauce for baked chicken or fish.
  • Shown here stirred into full-fat coconut milk for a yogurt-style snack.

Tips:

  • If your compote is still pretty tart, serve it with fatty, sweet components to mute it down a bit.
  • I like to eat it with plain coconut milk because the heavy, creamy mixture supports VATA balance.
  • If you are feeling KAPHA or PITTA, you might enjoy it with a bit of ice cream.
  • You can make a compote out of any fruit. Fruits that are more ripe and sweet likely won’t need an added sweetener.
  • You can blend it smooth if desired.

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unicorn me, captain

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At the risk of this small space becoming a place where I eschew mainstream nutrition practices (oh wait, this is a kitchen for the bad kids after all…), let’s bring up another topic that I haven’t quite wrapped my head around.

On trendy food, let me be clear: I came to the dark side of avocado toast lovers frighteningly quick. I use gobs of coconut oil and make my own staple foods, and one year I ate so many bananas I literally developed a food sensitivity. I own a Vitamix, and convinced my mom she needed one, too. I’ve tried countless superfoods and techniques to make one food look like another and made things from scratch I didn’t know I was capable of (like ghee and salt). There’s a lot I’ve done to jump on the bandwagon, and sometimes the wagon is headed to a field of wildflowers. But there’s plenty I haven’t tried. If I lived in New York or even sunny LA, I might have encountered this new movement in person. Alas, I’ve only seen it floating around the insta-sphere.

Unicorn food.

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When it comes to health foods, buzz words like “whole foods”, “plant-based”, “gluten-free”, “seasonal”, “organic”, “non-GMO”, “superfoods” are oft used to describe a diet wrapped in a wholesome rainbow of wellness. I drool over well-arranged plates of colorful and bountiful harvest: plump and round tomatoes, rustic string beans, gleaming watermelon, whole-roasted carrots, fluffy red lettuce. As a home cook I often stress myself out over not being creative enough with my weeknight meals, but the truth is that I prefer easy preparation where the foods are mostly in their original form.

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That idealistic dinner table is what is known in my town as “too healthy.” But there’s another picture: elite superfoods that still come pre-packaged, which means they are sold at a higher cost and at a disconnect from the grower / producer. Think about the theory behind teaching kids to garden, which is that if they can understand what makes a carrot, they’re more likely to eat it. That’s lost with packaged superfoods. We don’t readily understand maca or moringa or chaga or even collagen. I argue that unless you’re already stretching your SAB (standard american budget) because you prioritize, or – let’s face it – are prone to grocery shopping sprees, you are not likely to purchase a $15 eight ounce bag of this unidentifiable food you’ve never heard of just to try it. We health foodie nutritionists do that because it is our passion, and because likely we’ve read research studies about and can apply the health benefits of these foods. But someone shopping the market who isn’t constantly researching how the body works (and not in a gimicky, Dr. Oz, new fangled fad sort of way) isn’t likely to enter that world unaccompanied. Thus, making it elite. Which is not to say it’s bad. I participate in this world. I love my elixirs and I do my food research and I keep up with the trends enough that things aren’t as new to me as they are to others.

If you haven’t seen the unicorn food movement, this is my take on the very basics:

  • Somewhat exotic superfoods which provide dazzlingly unfoodlike pastel coloration to a dish
  • Complex structuring of a dish with layered coloring, such as a parfait or rainbow toast
  • A moment sprinkled in magical energy

Unicorn health food vs. just plain unicorn food

  • Many a take on unicorn food showcases the vibrant (or decidedly not-so-vibrant pastel) colors found in nature. Things like beet or raspberry powder, spirulina or chlorella, and any combination thereof, bring to life a regular, black-and-white chia pudding parfait and provide a canvas for other cheerful foods like blueberries and kiwi. You won’t find additives or even dairy or gluten in any of Hippie Lane’s recipes.
  • Other interpretations have included the processed colorations of sprinkles and food coloring and more sprinkles wrapped up in chemical-laden dairy products and unidentifiable forms of sugar. And no one has capitalized on this more than Starbucks.

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I understand that not everyone is in support of a plant-based lifestyle. Some have a steady intake of dairy and even cane sugar, and just as I have looked at them sideways for not buying into the research that questions those elements as a standard in our diet, so too have I been given the side eye for losing my tastebuds to the bird food movement.

It is also true that not everyone believes in the same type of magic. For some, it’s an electrical current through our very woke, very alive nervous system. For others, maybe it’s a quieter moment of just being in control. It’s not an even playing field. There’s no rule book for the good life – no bible or scroll or stoner movie script can honestly encompass the best life for all of humankind, as perhaps our best humanity is found in our inherent individuality. It is – though, truthfully, it should not have to be so – a consequential luxury to boil in our own self-awareness and self-care until we are refined to the core of who we are, so as to add a burst of flavor to the melting pot of life. Those who live to survive; those who live at the mercy of others; those who do not know of the thrill of knowing one’s true self and serving one’s true self – they may not have an opportunity to access the earth-bound afterlife.

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That’s what I think of as “thriving”; that you can go beyond the beyond, because you have achieved earthly satisfaction. When your physical and social worlds are well-massaged and oiled up, your mental and emotional worlds can soar. And I see health as a key part of that. But it’s not the only part. The perfect foods won’t solve all our problems, but they will solve many of them, like depression and anxiety and autoimmune issues and ADHD and autism and obesity. They make healthier bodies and subsequently healthier brains and then individuals and families and communities and maybe, if we didn’t have a Big Mac-loving toupee for president, the world wouldn’t need so many bombs or seats around the news desk. But that’s another story.

Trendy superfoods are not the enemy, though.  Unicorn food: not the enemy.  Starbucks is the enemy.   Freshly-grown food – however that may be encapsulated in your diet – is the cornerstone of good health.  First, we must put these OG foods on our plates, ideally through a home-cooked meal using package-free ingredients.  Then we can worry about our superfood intake.  Superfoods are not the measure of health; they are the beyond.  We can strive toward them, but we must first ensure our access to local, seasonal foods.  Like every movement, it must start at home; in the body; in the self; and then – only then – move beyond.

creative liberties

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There are few places I’d rather be than in the kitchen.  I realize that sets me apart from a lot of my contemporaries, and the generations before us.  I didn’t grow up in the kitchen.  And, though I have to remind my mother that she does more than she thinks she does when it comes to home-cooking, I didn’t grow up with my mother in the kitchen, either.  I became interested in cooking during college, after removing meat from my diet and finding myself at a loss for what to eat after that.  As the years went on, I found myself pouring over food blogs and cookbooks and, more importantly, pouring over pots and blenders in the kitchen, mostly making it up as I went along.  By senior year, I was the margarita cupcake queen, hosted club board meetings potluck-style in my apartment, and raced home between classes and duties to roast vegetables and make gigantic green smoothies.  When I think of my relationship to food, I can fondly look back at my life in stages: when I couldn’t stand the thought of animal cruelty staring back at me on my plate, when I eschewed wine in favor of bread and cheese in Europe, when I discovered flaxseed and made a connection between food and healing, when I played private chef at Casa de Mom and Dad, when every meal went down Chopped-style in our Denver volunteer house, on and on.

Sometimes I picked up trends (hello, bananas; goodbye, bananas) but most times I was just following my heart – er, tongue.  Now that I’m “in the health food scene” as I say – which means nothing more than that I have my finger on the pulse of what is happening on the nutrition front and the social media explosion of food-sharing – I’m even more privy to trends in food and wellness.  Some I embrace whole-heartedly (chocolate + tahini is EVERYTHING), and some I can’t justify launching into (delicately constructing a patterned parfait only to demolish it in a fraction of the time??).  In culinary nutrition, we encourage batch cooking and meal prepping.  However, that’s never quite worked for me.  Sometimes, yes, it pays to wash and prep all your greens, make a slow-cooker soup, or blend up a quick dressing to use all week.  But I don’t make it a regular thing, and here’s why:

  1. I’d rather not spend half a day cooking all my meals for the week.  I prefer to spend my free days bopping around doing whatever thrills me in the moment.  Sometimes, that’s cooking an elaborate meal which takes half a day, but at my own will and freedom.
  2. I’d rather spread out my cooking over the week so that I still have it as my daily meditative and creative time.
  3. I don’t want cooking to be just another chore I have to do on the weekend, like vacuuming, or bathing.
  4. I try not to eat the same thing all week, which is often the result of meal prepping because it is easier to batch cook one dish rather than individual cook seven.
  5. I have no idea what I’ll be craving any day, so I’d rather deal with that when it comes.
  6. I have the time and freedom to cook at my leisure.
  7. I enjoy the creativity that comes from trying to make meals out of what I have on hand.  This is why I don’t meal plan and shop for a list of ingredients, either.  I’m more comfortable problem solving and making it up as I go rather than following a recipe.
  8. If I were to prep a snack or a dessert to have on hand all week when the craving hits, I’ll eat most of it before the end of that day.  Never fails.  Face palm.

The following recipes were whipped up based solely on what I had on hand.  It lets the creativity flow freely.

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POTATO + EGG SALAD

5 red potatoes, boiled and chopped
6 hard-boiled eggs, peeled and chopped
Bunch chives, finely chopped
1 Tbsp ghee
1/4 cup dijon mustard
1-2 Tbsp apple cider vinegar or lemon juice
A few healthy pinches of pink salt
Dash red pepper flakes

Add ingredients to a bowl and smash with a fork until well-mixed and desired consistency.  Spoon over fresh and crispy lettuce leaves, or use as a filling in a collard wrap.

Yield: 6 servings

Note: There is no mayonnaise in this recipe (GASP!).  The only reason for that is I did not have any on hand.  I think smashing the potatoes and eggs together creates a nice consistency, and the ghee was added for healthy fats and moisture in its stead.  I salted the salad quite a bit, because I think potatoes beg for salt and it’s okay if your salt has plenty of minerals!

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RAW MANGO COCONUT PUDDING

2 very ripe mangos, pulped
1/3 cup full-fat coconut milk
1 Tbsp coconut palm sugar
1 Tbsp arrowroot powder
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp ground turmeric
1/4 tsp vanilla extract
Pinch salt

Blend all ingredients until smooth.  Refrigerate to set until thickened to desired consistency.

Yield: 1.5 cups

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RAW CHOCOLATE TAHINI FUDGE

1/4 cup tahini
1 heaping Tbsp cacao powder
1 Tbsp coconut sugar
1 Tbsp coconut oil
1/4 tsp vanilla extract
Small pinch pink salt

Blend ingredients until smooth.  Pour into a fudge mold (I used a parchment-lined pyrex dish).  Freeze until set, about one hour.  Slice to serve.  Store in airtight container in freezer.

Yield: 6-8 servings

plant life

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I am trying to energize our space.  There’s an incredible limbo in a life without strings.  I’m attached to so little.  That kind of freedom is like feet dangling over a ledge; if you scoot any farther forward you’ll fall off.  Who knows what’s at the bottom?  And let me be clear: it’s not necessarily a negative thing.  It’s just that there are so many unknowns.  And I’m nothing if not transparent.  I do not do well with unknowables.

Are we still authentic if we have to constantly remind ourselves of our life motto?  I like simple, slow living.  I like adventure and exploration.  I like home-cooking and good books.  I like nutrition and long walks in the sunshine.  Sometimes my breath shifts slightly and it feels like I’m losing ground and can’t remember if I’ve been living every day of my life to satisfaction.  Often times, it’s after a moment of drama – or what my dear mother would call “life, happening” – but in my head I think I’ve been pushed off the ledge and I try to find anything to grip onto to crawl back up.  And I mow the grass and trim the hedges and set out plants to stretch toward the sun.  I talk to people like I’ve known them forever, and life, inevitably, goes on.

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  1. Part of the drama lately was finally getting this print on the wall.  Ever since I saw it on The Gourmet Print Shop, I knew it was right for me: the visual expression of my internal religion.  The tough part was finding people to support my vision; people who would listen to what I wanted and work with me to bring it to life.  After the first failed print job and multiple attempts to find an in-tact white wooden frame, I was feeling disheartened.  Then the universe brought in some serious kindness and now this print brings serious magic to our home.
  2. After more person-to-person drama, I decided I needed to seek out some plant friends.  They breathe life into our space when we forget it’s possible.  
  3. And so the kitchen, with it’s blazing afternoon rays, is the new home of these sprightly and inspiring plants.
  4. And then I was inspired to bring food life into the home after a trip to (quite sparse) local farmers market.  It’s more like a highly-curated row of sellers, and on this particular day there was only one veg lady, so I bought her lot.  I’m not particularly fond of food prep because I like flowing with my daily inspiration and never want food to be a chore.  But sometimes you just need to wash and prep your greens!  And while they dry, you might as well roast a spaghetti squash and steam some beet roots and cook down some organic butter into ghee.  
  5. More living things: my new sourdough starter is getting its time in the sun with this super stack of spelt pancakes. 
  6. Not only is plant life coming in to bring energy into our space, I’m also trying to liven up our walls.  We are both homebodies so anything that can inspire us in this place is important.  Everything speaks to us; everything moves us one way or another; and the things that make up our home should make the best of us.

noodle dance

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Did you hear?! Because I almost didn’t; we’ve been California residents for over six months.

We missed our six-month anniversary,
which means time has been FLYing,
which means we’ve been enjoying living together,
which means we’ve been finding things to entertain ourselves,
which means we’ve been settling in.

Which means we are beyond that daunting stage of merely surviving and passing over the delicate landscape that leads to the paradisiacal land of thriving. Which, for us, is a sunny, palm-tree studded skyline and a sandy beach.

Despite leaving behind most of the books we’ve owned, our movie collection, our friends and family, we’re not so disparate. We still listen to our favorite music. We still cook our favorite foods. We still speak for the dog.

So, in honor of our new life, here’s a recipe to roughy follow if you want to be like us and make shit up as you go. Cheers.

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BKK elevated butter noodles for two

1 head broccoli, chopped or sliced into small, bite-sized pieces
1 yellow bell pepper, sliced into small strips
1 bundle fresh-made linguini
1 cup red wine
1/4 cup butter from cows that are allowed to graze on sunny, green pastures

  1. Bring a stock pot of heavily salted water to boil. Add pasta and cook 4-5 minutes or as instructed.
  2. Heat butter in a cast-iron skillet. Add broccoli and bell pepper and saute until they begin to blacken on some sides.
  3. Add wine and butter in a small saucepan and boil to reduce to about half it’s volume.
  4. Add cooked pasta to the cast-iron skillet along with the veggies, and pour over the wine sauce. Cook a minute or two to combine. Salt and pepper liberally. Add more butter if desired. Wilt in greens or sprinkle micro-greens over top after plated.

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I made the trip down to San Diego (in the biggest rain storm southern California has seen in maybe a decade …) to meet up with a dear friend from Denver.  We trotted all over the rather expansive city and tried to experience as many neighborhoods as we could!  This is the infamous La Jolla beach (above and below) with all the bored sea lions.  Sometimes – SOMETIMES – we do touristy things and aren’t mad about it.

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i said i would

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It’s like I’m on the verge of my future.  I sit at the edge of my seat, broad face into the sun, the breeze.

There’s a whole world out there, wide and silent.  The moment you’re celebrating a birthday in a dark, moody bar someone else is running for their life down a dusty dirt road.  The flames go up for a stranger halfway around the world while you’re cozy inside listening to the rain beat down the window.  There is a constant balancing of energy, weight pulled this way and that, echoing times past and present and just near enough upon which to exhale.  Meanings and signs and symbols and explanations and possibilities can all be found but do they ultimately exist?  Can I face the world and the continuation of time if there’s no reason for it all?  Can I turn my back if there is?

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It’s the rainy season here.  In my past lives it was an inconvenience but here, it’s everyone’s sigh of relief.  How perspective can change everything.  I wonder how I so easily absorb into the soil upon which I step.  When I was so decidedly an urbanite on the gritty Chicago streets.  When I lazed away in Rome, smoked up in Denver, suburban mommed for my parents and brothers in Iowa.  And now, here, what?  In this small town that gets smaller as the days go on.  I’ve said it over and over again how much I’m enjoying it here, but my heart still yearns for the city life; I’m always craving something.

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1. BREAKFAST: Chocolate chia strawberry protein mousse with a base of coconut milk.  It was last night’s dinner and quite filling, but fermented overnight in the fridge due to the probiotic-rich protein powder.  It wasn’t the worst thing, but my coworker did comment on its funky smell and all the “weird” things I eat!   coconut milk | coconut water | protein powder | frozen strawberries | maple syrup | chia seeds | pink salt | cacao powder | vanilla | cinnamon

2. MIDMORNING SNACK: Last week was unfairly doughnut-heavy at the office, so I brought a monochromatic fruit salad to offset the junk.  Mangoes are my absolutely favorite fruit lately and pineapple is always a winner.  Featuring a serving bowl I stole (inherited) from my grandma after her funeral in December.

3.  LUNCH: Roasted butternut squash, blackened sweet peppers, steamed baby greens, and a fried egg.  Seasoned with ginger, pink salt, pepper, and ground mustard.  

4.  SWEET BITE: Here’s an easy snack trick for when you don’t plan ahead and make a hundred energy balls for the freezer (because you’d eat them all on the first day anyway).  Combine nut butter, rolled oats, vanilla, salt, cinnamon in a bowl and mix.  Add chocolate if you have it.  A deconstructed energy ball.  

5.  DINNER: Savory grits made with lotsa buttah, and a hash of sauteed vegetables, including rainbow carrots, zucchini, butternut squash, shiitake mushrooms, and baby greens.  Seasoned with coconut aminos, hot sauce, paprika, pink salt, black pepper, and chili powder.  The grits come together very simply by cooking non-GMO cornmeal with water, butter and salt in a small saucepan, like you would oatmeal.