Thursday, October 28, 2010

It's Fall Time, and I am Blind

A few years ago I heard a story about a blind man sitting on a street corner begging for money. He had a cardboard sign propped up next to him that said, "I am blind." People rushed by him on their way to work, oblivious and blind themselves. Then a man approached. He took the blind man's sign and added some words to it, and pretty soon the blind man could only hear the clank of the coins being placed in his can. After a few minutes, the blind man asked the next person to drop money in, "What does my sign say?" The woman answered, "It's springtime, and I am blind."

Yesterday I met a blind lady at the train station. I didn't know she was blind until she stood up when the train whistle sounded and started walking straight toward the drop-off of the tracks. I yelled, "Wait! Stop!" Then we both laughed. We talked the entire hour-long trip: I'd look at her and then look out the window at the gorgeous snow-topped mountains and clear blue sky that I knew she couldn't see. I helped her buy her ticket when we had to transfer trains. How does a blind person know the difference between a $1 bill and a $5 bill unless there's someone there to tell them?

I kept asking her questions, and she kept answering. We both could feel the warm sun even though it was 50 degrees outside. She told me how she still does face painting—she showed me pictures on her camera and it's amazing what she can still do—and how she's looking for a new line of work now that she can't see the computer. She's a weather person—a meteorologist. She just started losing her sight two months ago, and she's a single mom of six kids, her youngest being 11 years old.

What an inspiring woman. My world meant more to me after I left her side. It's fall time, and I can see.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Namaste Cookie Mix

I've tried my share of gluten-free mixes (all have actually been gifts from loved ones!), and to be honest, the majority of them I wouldn't buy nor have bought again. Too heavy. Made in a factory with milk, soy, and tree nuts. Too lumpy and texturey. Too incompatible with my taste buds. But alas I found a cookie mix that I would actually buy again. My guess is that the rest of you gluten-free gurus are leaps and bounds ahead of me, so please share your secrets and favorite foods with me.

Namaste Foods Cookie Mix
-Made in a dedicated facility free of gluten, wheat, soy, corn, potato, peanuts, tree nuts, dairy, and casein. Whoo-hoo! I'm in.
-Made in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho. Who doesn't want to support good ole Coeur d'Alene?
-Includes evaporated cane juice as the sugary goodness. (To be honest, this cookie mix ignited my sugar cravings again, which I guess should be a con, but I'm going to call it a pro, because I've actually missed them.)
-Absolutely amazing topped with Purely Decadent Mint Chip frozen dessert, especially when you slightly underbake the cookie!

-The final product doesn't hold together very well, so I guess that's the way the gluten-free cookie crumbles. Anyone know of a cookie mix that holds together pretty well? I did buy some xanthum gum, which I may add to my spare cookie mix, which is silently waiting on my pantry shelf.
-It was difficult to slide the spatula under the baked cookie and remove it in one piece. The dough thins out so much while baking that the cookies become large and flat and breakable. (So maybe these two cons are one and the same?)

My long-standing recommendation to you is to make all your food from scratch, but it's nice to have an emergency backup just in case. I say give these a try if you're looking for something sweet and gluten-free when in a time crunch. If your local grocery store doesn't carry Namaste Foods, ask for them by name and you should see them on the store shelves in no time.

Namaste ("The spirit within me honors and respects the spirit within you.")

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Word to the Wise

Many religions of the world have various health codes they follow, ranging from fasting to abstaining from certain meats to not eating meat entirely. If you're interested, I suggest studying up on these practices to see if there are any you'd like to adopt.

I happen to follow one of these health codes. It's called the Word of Wisdom. Maybe some of you have heard of it. It came about because back in 1833, the prophet Joseph Smith of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (a.k.a., the LDS Church or the Mormons) was confronted by his wife about the mess the men were making in their meetings, covering the bare floor with their chewing tobacco. Joseph took it to heart and then took it to the Lord. The answer came as the will of God for the "temporal salvation of all saints in the last days." The term saints means "followers of Christ" or "people who are striving to be better."

In the Word of Wisdom, the Lord begins by explaining that in our day "conspiring men" would be more concerned about the buck than the health of society. I always connected this warning with the producers of tobacco and alcohol, but the more I study about the food manufacturers today, I am not afraid to include them as well.

Now, many of you may be familiar with the parts of this health code that focus on what we should stay away from, but when's the last time you reread it, looking for the council about what to eat? When I first started my diet change about 7 months ago, I read and reread this revelation. It was like I was reading it for the first time because it is so rich in . . . what? WISDOM! Considering I believe it came from God, the Creator of all things on the earth and in the heavens, wouldn't He have some light to shed on what He'd have us eat to be the healthiest we can be?

My sister-in-law texted me tonight (which is why this is on my mind), saying, "Just read D&C 89 and was thinking about how diligently you have lived the Word of Wisdom, and as a result you are truly receiving ALL the promised blessings. It's very inspiring, and I love you, my dear!"

To be honest, it leaves me in awe as I look back on how far I've come with my health—I've been witnessing miracles as my rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is slowly fading away. For the past 3 weeks my finger joints have not hurt at all. Not at all! This morning my left hand was stiff and stayed a little stiff all day, but I think it had to do with the 20-degree-drop in temperature. Do you realize the extent of what this means? For the last six months I haven't been able to use my fingers to push buttons on the microwave, turn on my car blinker, itch my skin if I had a layer of clothing on, massage tight muscles in my neck (or someone else's), cut my food, pick something (like a piece of paper or a hair) up off a flat surface, open round doorknobs, rub my nose, snap, clap, or flip on a light switch. I literally am experiencing natural healing in a way doctors and people with RA would never believe.

So what does the Word of Wisdom say we should eat?

-Wholesome herbs.
-Every herb and every fruit in their season—What? Really? I thought that was just the current trend to eat food in season.
-Meat sparingly (in winter, cold, or famine).
-All grains.
-All fruits above and under the ground—So I'm interpreting "fruits" to mean both fruits and vegetables here since it's referring to food that grows both above and beneath ground.

And what are the promised blessings?
-We will have health in our navel and marrow in our bones.
-We will find wisdom and great treasures of knowledge—I can attest to this one!!
-We shall run and not be weary and walk and not faint.
-The destroying angel shall pass us by.

Give it a try. It never hurts to eat more of the good of the earth. You've seen me experimenting with eating more greens and whole foods for the past 7 months now, so you have my guarantee that it can only make you healthier.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Kitchen Art

A palette of fresh beet juice.

Coconut Curry Sauce

This is one of my favorite recipes, and I make it at least once a month, dividing it into three different containers for at least 9 separate meals. I can't get enough of it and have to refrain from eating the whole recipe straight through. There's a teensy kick from the spices, but nothing to take note of, so if you'd like to add more curry, be my guest. Please cater this recipe to your preferences and make it your favorite too.

3 tablespoons coconut oil
1 small onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
1/2 teaspoon cumin
3 tablespoons curry
3 tablespoons kuzu
3 cups vegetable broth
1/2 cup chopped cilantro
1 can coconut milk (approximately 13.5 ounces)
Sea salt to taste

Cauliflower, sliced
Broccoli, sliced
Zucchini, chopped
Carrots, sliced
Sweet potato, chopped
Any other yummy veggie or green you're in the mood for

Heat oil in medium sauce pan or large frying pan. Add onion and garlic, and cook for 5 minutes, or until soft. Add spices and cook for 1 minute. Add kuzu (natural thickener) and stir, breaking up the kuzu chunks with wooden spoon. Pour vegetable broth into mixture and then add cilantro and coconut milk. Stir and then let simmer about 20 minutes. Freeze however much you'd like.

Add vegetables to curry and simmer until vegetables are soft. Serve over brown or wild rice.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Veggie Burgers

I first made these veggie burgers on 4th of July. While everyone else was chowing down on their flame-broiled hamburgers, I was devouring my own form of culinary delight topped with lettuce, tomato, and avocado. I literally crave these now, and typical eaters, meaning normal people, love them too. (I'm okay admitting I'm abnormal.) I like to freeze half of this recipe for easy, ready-to-go dinners after a long day when I'm too tired to cook.

2 cups raw sunflower seeds
2 cups cooked brown rice, cooled
2 carrots, peeled and cut into chunks
1 clove garlic
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped
3 tablespoons coconut oil
1 egg, optional*

Put sunflower seeds in turbo blender. Blend into oblivion. Remove sunflower seed powder and put in a large bowl. Put brown rice in blender and blend. It'll get sticky and globby, so be prepared to put the mixture down and keep blending until the rice is blended. Remove rice and add to the large bowl. Put carrots in blender and blend away. Once carrots are completely shredded, add to the large bowl.

Add all other ingredients to large bowl. Knead the mixture together as if you're kneading bread. Really get in there to get an even mix of ingredients. Place however much you want to freeze into an air-tight container and put in freezer.

Place a large frying pan on the stove and add coconut oil. Heat at low temperature. Start forming patties with the mixture and place them in frying pan. Add more coconut oil if you see it's not enough for the amount of patties you're cooking in the frying pan. Flip patties as you see them start to golden on the bottom.

*Add a raw egg if the mixture isn't holding together very well, usually if the rice is drier. If you do choose to add an egg to the mixture, knead it well and cook thoroughly on the stove.