vegetarian

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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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

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.  

around

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I’ve been taking to the sauna each day after work.  It’s been cold enough here (re: windy) for me to pull out my winter coat heralded from the blizzard days.  It only works because I always feel like I have a lower core body temperature than most.  (Is that physically possible?  Mildly concerning?)  We just discovered a coat closet at work stuffed up with brooms and a vacuum and one of those metal dollies, which tells you how little people don jackets here.  Okay, earlier this week it was in the 70s and I was in heaven, at the beach, glimpsing summer on the milky horizon.  Either way, I’m grateful for both kinds of days.  And I get to be now, since wretched weather isn’t the norm.  The best is pattering rainfall on my bedroom window, the one just above my plebeian floor mattress, as I fall asleep or fall awake.  Somehow the rain scatters at the thought of sunlight and gives us our time to turn our face upwards, reveling in the treasure of the nightly rainfall.  All without living in the sticky, salty tropics.  All without living in the bitter, biting midwest.  I am starting to miss the city so much; always something to do and some place new to explore.  But I know I need to be here now, to finally hear what my breath sounds like without the mask of everything I put on before.

I keep trying to carve out time in the evening for things I think should qualify as “personal time,” including book reading, loom knitting, journaling, yoga-ing.  But I always seem to end up in the kitchen.  Today I played around with charred eggplant, homemade hairspray, cookies, dog treats.  I cannot deny that that is my restoration, my meditation, my happy place.  So often we try to mold ourselves to be “better versions of ourselves” when in fact, we were at the core, living it all along.  I’m all about personal growth and challenging the self, but there’s a call for near-daily realignment with our soul; glimpsed most often in the rituals we conduct naturally.  I want to be an avid reader again, but now the pages of the most interesting story seem to fall open in the cast-iron skillet, in conversations with my brother, snuggles with the puppy, and strong cups of tea.

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Where this fails on the glamorous front, it should win breakfast awards.  I think by this point I’ve really honed in on my CHOPPED skills and started to embrace that I enjoy most what I throw together myself and end up more pleasantly surprised than I do following someone else’s recipe.  When people give their own dishes high accolades and they don’t always live up, I’m usually left thinking I could’ve done it better if I’d just followed my own creative jolts (raise your hand if you’re a narcissist!).  I do the exact same thing which is why I’ve tried to steer clear of offering up actual recipes and more just suggestions and glimpses into my meals and creative processes, since I can tell you I LOVED something but I can’t expect you’ll love it too.  As my mom always tells me, I have different tastebuds.  (And my tastebuds are the BEST!)

coconut milk | frozen strawberries | maple syrup | Dandy Blend | protein powder | pink salt –> blended to pudding consistency and refrigerated

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I’m PREEEETTTY SURE I can digest that cow’s milk butter better than those vegan legumes (I think they’re yellow split peas but not 100% sure (they were hand-me-downs)).  It’s so frustrating when you eat a whole foods diet – almost 100% plants – and you still have times when you don’t feel like your body is functioning properly.  There’s all kinds of tips and tricks to make things more digestible, but believe me, I’ve tried a ton of them and they don’t work for my lifestyle and my body.  I’m cutting out beans, legumes, and other high FODMAP foods for the month of February to see if I notice a change.  Will keep you posted.

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Look at that stack of fresh, raw veggies!  What a rainbow on a gloomy, rainy afternoon.  Sometimes I get to be such a pro at pantry-based meals that I just CRAVE fresh produce.  I’ve been eating a ton of cooked soups and stews, too, lately, so one night I up and took myself to the grocery store and put every raw vegetable in the cart that was calling my name.  Easter egg radishes, sweet peppers, zucchini squash, rainbow carrots featured next to that hummus recipe from Ottolenghi I’ve been talking about.  It’s also likely a huge source of my digestive issues this week but it was gooooooood.

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Up until last week I worked at the gym where we are currently members.  It was great at times, but mostly it wasn’t the (non-profit) political structure in which I wanted to be involved.  I’m so grateful for my time there because it really stretched me to interact with my new community, and now even when I pop in just to use the sauna it feels like an event because I have to stop and talk to EVERYONE.  Also, it’s given me some liberties that someone like me needs because otherwise I’m just too introverted and would rather stay home.  I mean, if shutting myself up in the sauna solo for thirty minutes isn’t introverted, I don’t know what is…

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On a whim, while whipping up homemade hairspray and purposefully burning eggplant, I tossed together these tahini cookies. If molasses was my flavor of Winter 2016, tahini is Spring 2017.  These are hinted with tangerine oil and a little bit of orange-y chocolate frosting.  All from scratch, of course.  Off camera, I also blended up molasses, peanut butter, and coconut oil and froze in little pucks for the wolf pup.  He hangs around our culinary adventures so often and I try to always give him a taste, but he rarely dines.  Those are a special treat just for him and he loves them!

dawn

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Finally I’m up before dawn.  Which shouldn’t be that challenging because the coast would have it that the sun wakes drowsily at seven.  I always check for puppy first.  He’s usually stretched along the side of my mattress, a green-tea infused memory foam plopped down on the floor and shoved up under the bedroom window.  I like it there; it’s grounding.  When he stirs only to raise a concerned brow about the disturbed silence, I sigh and slide the covers back, trying to torture myself awake with the chilly morning air.

I’ve always treasured mornings for their sneaky silence.  The expansive feeling of possibility before the day has inexplicably escaped me.  Every night I close up the house: flip the blinds, lock the door, hang the dishes out to dry, set the sofa pillows back in order (because they are never in order except at barren midnight).  In the morning, I get to pull back the blinds, set the water on to boil, begin as if on fresh canvas.  Someday my livelihood will not require me to arrive at a destination before my morning rituals are fulfilled.  Someday, I will design my day and it won’t be based on tradition.  I don’t live by way of tradition.  Until then, I can get up and work through tax season and try to minimize the amount of papercuts I render on a daily basis, appreciating the calm comings and goings of the office and the escape from the soul-slashing appointments of the past.

How long has it been since I’ve had to give myself a pre-work pep talk? 193 days.  And before that, 114.  307 days and counting since the wool came off and altered my life path.  I did that.  Weird: I don’t usually remember dates.

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Breakfast: Snuggles with the pup and a sweet potato spiced latte.  Like a PSL with sweet potato swapped in.  I make mine with full-fat coconut milk and Dandy Blend.  Been using gobs of both lately.  Use Meghan as a guide (for this and all things).

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Morning snack: Sweet potato baked pudding and 85% chocolate.  I’m also always drinking some concoction.  I bought an electric tea kettle for the office when I started.  My boss makes weak-ass, unfair trade coffee – and I don’t want to be drinking coffee everyday anyway.  A client once commented that I was triple-fisting my beverages.  Today I was still nursing my sweet potato latte alongside a steaming cup of straight Dandy Blend and of course my water glass.  The office has a reverse osmosis system so I take advantage while I’m there.

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Lunch: The impetus dal from last night, couched with skillet brown rice.  Also: Ottolenghi’s hummus drizzled with California olive oil and smoked paprika.  Warm na’an, spinach. (I was able to find a three-ingredient variety at my local grocer, but had to wade through the additive-laden bread products to get to it.)  (Eye roll.)

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Afternoon snack: more beverages.  Oh, did I forget to mention that I ate the last of the chocolate bar while prepping lunch?  I bought that for baking… Priorities.  During my lunch break I threw together my cold herbal coffee from earlier in the day with almond milk, ice, and spices typical of Moroccan coffee beverages (cardamom, clove, nutmeg, cinnamon, ginger, black pepper).  It’s a SPiced coffee.  Ha.

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Late afternoon snack: Later that same day…the barista called it a “tiny meal.”  I stopped into our local coffee shop to read before I went to the gym, and felt it only right that I partake in a single shot and bite-sized baklava.

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Dinner: I had leftover dal and rice from my lunch portion (it’s v filling), with the remaining hummus dolloped right on top.  Jared made garlic shrimp on a bed of spinach, topped with brown rice and slivered zucchini and a glaze of red wine reduced in butter.

Zumba, yoga, more puppy snuggles.

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non-recipe: pumpkin pancakes

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I find it amusing that one of the first and only recipes I bring to you on this non-recipe food blog is a pumpkin recipe.  At the risk of passing unnecessary judgment to utilize the term “basic”, I’ll just point out that this might be “standard” blog fare for the season.  It goes without saying that for every person in line at a conglomerate coffee emporium waiting for the seasonal PSL, there’s another person who cannot, for the life of them, bring themselves to click on Making a Murder on Netflix, which the entire media world seemed to be talking about at one point.  I love zealotry.  When people are enthusiastic and passionate, it reminds me what life is all about.  Some people get excited about things and then  r u n  w i t h  t h e m.  Some people get excited about changing it up every day.  I fall into the latter category.  I don’t think it’s all that bad for a lot of people to get excited about the same thing; I just cannot relate.

For the most part, I’m quiet about my dissent.  I just slip quietly out the backdoor of the party while everyone is hovering around over something.  It’s generally not that big of a deal.  Where I do feel the need to step in is when it’s a big pile of hubaloo.  Avocado toast, however outdated as it may now be, is not necessarily the villain.  Pumpkin spice lattes and autumnal baking is another story.  I crave warming spices as much as the next person this time of year, and pumpkin flesh is delicious when paired with them.  Where the whole ordeal makes less and less sense is when we wait all year for these delicacies, and when the time finally rolls around we accept that pumpkins come from cans and PSLs from pump jars laced with chemicals that have no business infiltrating our precious bodies.  We grow up, most of us Westerners, knowing pumpkins come into our lives around Halloween, and we eat them at Thanksgiving and Christmas.  Even I didn’t associate what it takes to get pumpkin flesh until I started shopping on my own and mostly at farmers markets, where you get what you get and you don’t throw a fit.  Eating locally and ethically is important to me for reasons you can read about here.  I’m shocked (and, as a foodie, a little hurt) when cherished bloggers and food creators of the farm-to-table, slow food movement, settle for canned goods as the way to introduce vegetables to readers/homemakers.  I’m the human form of the “smh” tagline.

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Welcome to the Bad Kid Kitchen, where you get an unsolicited dose of reality with your amateur food photos!  Let’s get on to the dandiest part of the piece, since we all came here to eat.  Since I love what I love, and seasonal activities hold a special place in my heart, as they do with many privileged individuals the world over, we went pumpkin patching.  My menus of late have been laden with meal assignments for the Academy, so when the pumpkins stared patiently and concentrated at me from the kitchen table, I allowed myself to start dreaming up their destinies.  This morning: pancakes.

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Pumpkin Pancakes
recipe adapted from Martha Stewart

1 1/4 cup gluten-free flour*
1/2 rounded tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ginger
1/2 tsp allspice
1/2 tsp salt
1 flax egg* or real egg
1 cup water or milk
1/2 tsp apple cider vinegar
1 tsp vanilla
6 tbsp pumpkin puree*
2 tbsp ghee, melted (+ more for frying)

Toppings:
chopped walnuts
vanilla maple apple butter (recipe follows)
coconut cream (recipe follows)

  • Combine dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl.
  • Mix together wet ingredients and stir into dry.
  • Heat cast-iron skillet with a few tablespoons of ghee.
  • Scoop 1/4 cup batter (or less or more depending upon space in your pan/how big you want them) into skillet and cook until small bubbles have formed all the way around each cake.  You should also be able to see a bit of definition in the edges, the underside getting darker in color.  Flip each cake at this point and fry another minute until base is cooked.
  • Plate, add more oil to the pan and continue on with the rest of your batter.
  • Top with apple butter, coconut cream, and chopped walnuts

*Notes:

  • Gluten-free flour: choose a blend without additives or make your own.  I don’t bake enough to know the results of different types of flours, so when I’m modifying an existing recipe, I just go for an easy, store-bought blend.  I’ve found most of the store blends are brown rice based, just FYI.
  • Flax egg: 1 tbsp ground flaxseed mixed with 3 tbsp warm water and allowed to set for a few minutes.
  • Pumpkin puree: To make your own, it’s so simple!  Use a pie pumpkin for standard results.  Preheat oven to 375 F.  Cut pumpkin in half and scrape out the seeds (save and make this recipe).  Turn pumpkin halves upside down in a pan and roast for about 40 minutes, until the tops start to darken in color.  You can check the pumpkin by flipping if over and scraping with a fork.  If it’s all mushy, it’s done!  Let cool and peel off skin.  Transfer to a blender or food processor just to get it even smoother, but you can skip this step if you’d like.  Refrigerate and use in recipes all week!

 

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Vanilla Maple Apple Butter

5 pounds peeled and chopped apples
1/2 – 1 cup maple syrup
1/2 cup coconut sugar
1 vanilla bean pod (slice it lengthwise and run a knife along the insides to scrape out the seeds)

  • Add apples to a slow-cooker or heavy-bottomed pot on stovetop (over low heat).
  • Stir together maple syrup, coconut sugar, vanilla bean, cinnamon, and salt.  Pour over apples.
  • Cook low and slow until apples are all mushy and the whole pot is aromatic.  Stir and taste occasionally.  Apples will turn dark brown.  Taste and add extra sweetener if necessary.
  • Transfer to a blender to smooth it out a bit.

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Coconut cream

One of my favorite oatmeal toppings ever is stirring maple syrup into coconut milk.  It’s just delectable.  If you want to go more robust, switch it for molasses, or do a half-and-half thing.

1/4 cup full-fat coconut milk (the thick, creamy part; not the water)
2 – 3 tbsp molasses or maple syrup

  • Stir it together and you’re done!

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eat responsibly for all mankind

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Prepping for breakfast/dessert

My philosophy around food and eating has probably changed as many times as I’ve been asked the question.  I really think that is okay.  We are constantly learning and educating ourselves, testing out our theories, finding out what is practical and sustainable, and what we are willing to make sacrifices for.  Below is what I submitted in an assignment for the Academy.  It’s an overarching theme rather than a strict yes-this no-that.  What also follows is my current interpretation of my own food philosophy.  I hope you will let me know your thoughts, what your food philosophy looks like, what you eat or don’t and why.  I am so curious!

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The components of a typical meal

Eat responsibly for all mankind.
Honor your privilege of choice. Choose foods with a positive impact on the planet and humanity; it is an ethical imperative. If you aren’t growing your food, someone in the world is. Make sure that someone is compensated fairly so they can afford their share of the crop.   Make sure your food practices do not compromise vulnerable communities around the world. Source, production, packaging, shipping, distribution, and price all have an affect on the overall health of the world and humanity. When in doubt, stay local and small and purposeful.

Eat foods found in their most natural form. 
Eat like a hunter/gatherer: from the earth, hand-processed, nutrient-dense, seasonal, wild and naturally grown, homemade, grateful and without waste. Know the source.

Eat intuitively. Look to the planet for healing.
Eat to fuel your body and brain. Eat what feels and tastes good, makes you groove and laugh and find your creative niche. Don’t be fooled by tricks and trends. Eat what you would make for yourself. Don’t eat the same thing every day. Eat sweet and savory and succulent and smart. Above all else, let the earth be your healer and guide. Nature already has what you need to survive.

Eat for best health.
Eat the right foods for your body so that you feel good in your skin. Eat because you get to, not because you have to. Keep an open mind and try various styles of eating to find what works best for you. When you fuel your body with the proper nutrients, you gain a certain zest for life, and in turn make yourself a better companion for your loved ones. You don’t have to be the grumpy one whose mind is always “elsewhere.” You can be present in your life and full of vibrancy.

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I was baking.  No refined sugar or flour in sight!

I wish we could talk about our diets in terms of what we DO eat, not just what we don’t.  But that doesn’t always give the whole picture, as you might tell from my philosophy.  Although I’d love to give the long list of wonderful, healing, and delicious foods I eat, it’s probably more clear if I note foods I avoid.  I’ll do a bit of both just for clarification.

Nay

  • Meat, fish
  • Dairy (all animal milk and byproducts, including sheep/goat cheese, etc)
  • White sugar and flours, gluten
  • Processed food: things with refined sugar, refined carbohydrates, vegetable/canola/corn oils and other modified oils.  To me, processed foods generally include anything that itself is not an ingredient  (granola bars, cereal, munchies, beverages, veggie burgers, yogurts, ice creams, etc) and also includes doctored-up almond milks, canned soups, chocolate, protein powders, etc.  All this because they almost always include preservatives, food colorings, MSG, other chemicals, GMO derived products (soy, corn), and cane sugar in all its various forms.  I am definitely one of those people that reads every. single. label. and almost never purchase packaged foods.

Maybe

If I’m dining out, it’s a bit of a different story.  I mean, at the end of the day, I’m a FOODIE, and I have needs. 😉  Because I don’t do it often (read: once every couple months), I stretch the limits and basically just avoid meat.

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We made frittata!

YAY!

  • I eat what I call “backyard eggs,” which means I get them from people I know who live in town, have small flocks of birds and let them run free in their yards, feed them vegetables, and hand pick the eggs themselves.
  • I am loving ghee, which is clarified butter with all the milk solids and lactase removed (it is not a dairy product and is a healing food; can be used like butter and other cooking fats).
  • I also love honey and it is my preferred sweetener of choice because the raw, unfiltered kind is packed with health benefits that many alternative, plant-based sweeteners are lacking.
  • I love fats (even saturated) and eat fairly low-carb.  I definitely could get more protein in my diet, and I’m working on that with things like sea vegetables and seeds and the like.
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Local honey sets us back a pretty penny, but it is SO incredibly worth it