Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Loving all of yourself

Recipe: Chocolate 'Ice Cubes'

Remember our exploration of how to approach change effectively? I began this here, writing about taking some time to allow the habits we want to change to just be present for a time, in our loving attention; and continued it here with a way of viewing these challenging habits, by inquiring into 'who' in our psyche carries the habit, which part of our personality enacts the behavior, that we've deemed needs to change.

Having done this investigative work, we now have a felt sense of 'who' needs to eat that second piece of sugar laden pie, 'who' is reaching for the third or fourth glass of wine on the fourth or fifth day in a row. Perhaps it feels like a frightened child, or an angry teenager.

Now, what do we do about it? Weren't we talking about making change?

These inner 'personalities' have reasons for doing what they do, and wanting what they want. I'm not talking about the story from your childhood; how your mother spoke to you (or didn't), or how your father hit you, or left you without warning. The story is important. But it's not the crux of the matter.

We need to acknowledge the story, certainly. We carry these wounds with us like an oyster carries an intrusion of sand. And, like the pearl the oyster develops to protect itself, we develop kernels of personality, ways of being and acting in the world that protect that memory of pain, of lack and need that wasn't fulfilled.

I'll make a leap here. The crux of the matter is often about survival.

That may sound overly dramatic. But remember, we're not talking about rational parts of our minds. We're talking about primal, vulnerable parts of our psyche. If they were rational, they wouldn't do things that hurt our health!

The personality that feels it has to drink to be in a social situation usually feels it will fail, perhaps not know what to say, or make a fool of itself, without a little 'social lubrication'. If there's a child at the root of that, or a teenager, succeeding socially is vitally important. Being ostracized or laughed at certainly feels like a kind of death to a vulnerable youth.

At the root of difficulty exercising may be not wanting to feel the body too intimately. Often during or after exercise, we experience our bodies more fully, we feel our life force, our own personal power. For many of us that was dangerous territory. How many of us have been accused of being 'too much' - too strong, too loud, even too loving when we were feeling our bodies fully? And if this message came as a child, with a feeling that a parent will withdraw love - again, our very survival can feel at risk. A child without a parent's love is a very frightened child. Or if we were sexually abused as children, experiencing the body at all can bring up very difficult feelings. Better to just let it lie mostly unused, a vehicle for our head to get where it wants to go. Often a sexual experience to a child carries a strong feeling of being annihilated. That's another word for death.

For those of us with even more extreme examples of outright abuse, that fear can be even easier to identify. And many of our self destructive behaviors developed to numb, or at least cushion, that fear that we were indeed, going to die. Or that we wished we would. If we numb that feeling - then we feel like we'll live.

We need to honor those tender parts of our psyche. We need to honor the strong reactive personalities that we developed to protect the tender frightened parts, too. They had a job to do, and in a very real way they helped us get through times we were afraid we wouldn't survive.

So, how do we change? We need to find ways to help these parts of ourselves know that they are no longer responsible for our survival. That there is an adult in charge now that really has our best interests at heart. That they did a hard job, and they did it well, the proof being that we survived! Now, they get to rest.

Next post I'll explore some ways we can take radical responsibility for our actions, and allow these wounded parts of our personalities to relax.

And, as we're contemplating these challenging aspects of change, a little chocolate that we can feel good about eating can soften the harder edges.

Chocolate 'Ice Cubes'

Gluten and dairy-free, and low carb. Appropriate for candida, diabetes and GAPS diet protocols.

3/4 cup nuts of choice - hazelnuts or pecans are my favorites, preferably soaked and dehydrated
3/4 cup coconut butter
1/4 cup raw cacoa powder if possible, or unsweetened cocoa powder
1/3 cup cocoa butter, gently melted
30 drops alcohol-free stevia extract, or to taste
1/2 tsp of alcohol-free vanilla extract
a pinch of good quality sea salt

Grind the nuts in a food processor until fairly fine, but not until they're nut butter.

Add all the other ingredients and pulse the food processor until well incorporated.

Spread the mixture into ice cube trays, and place into the freezer until solid. Pop out and enjoy!

These should stay solid at room temperature, unless the weather is warm. Keep refrigerated on hot summer days.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Food Sensitivities to Go!

Recipe: Lacto-Fermented Mayonnaise

I know it's late in the summer season, but it's always helpful to have some helpful hints on traveling with diets outside the cultural norm. A little planning can go a LONG way.

Here are some things that work for my family when we’re traveling.

Supplements - If they're part of your regimen, don’t forget them! A day or two off your regular doses of vitamins and other helpful nutritional powerhouses might be okay, but I find if we try to go too long without we get into trouble. If your bottles are too bulky, count out what you need into snack sized ziplocks and label them with permanent markers.

Air travel - If you’re flying, the snacks offered will not be health friendly. We don’t even look at the packages anymore, just say a polite ‘no thank you’, and ask for a glass of sparkling water or acceptable juice. It’s a good idea to ask to look at a can before it’s served, sometimes there are strange additives in canned juices. For longer flights, you can order special meals, but they will not cover cross sensitivities. Bring what you can to supplement what your obviously can’t eat on the tray.

Remember - no pastes or liquids are permitted on airplanes! Fresh veggies and fruit, boiled eggs, whole avocadoes, some acceptable crackers, cheese if you tolerate it, nut butter, hummus or healthy meat sandwiches are all things that work for us.

Road trips and car camping
- Bring your cooler and pack it with the things you usually eat. Make double meals for a week or two prior to your trip and freeze the second half. You can use the frozen meals to supplement the ice in your cooler for a couple of days, and once thawed, they’ll be good for a few days after that.

Back packing - This will take more planning. Most prepackaged dehydrated foods are packed with hidden additives that will ruin your day. Rice pasta packs well, and all other permitted grains, and you can buy plain dehydrated vegetables or make them yourself to make into soups. Bring some coconut butter or cream in a plastic bag for added richness and energy. Healthy meat jerky and nuts are good protein options.

Hotels - Look for places with at least a refrigerator. If you can afford a place with a kitchenette, go for it! The money and headache you’ll save yourself in having to negotiate restaurants for every meal, or trying to create meals without access to any equipment will be worth it.

Staying with family - Ironically, this can be the most challenging situation we deal with when traveling. One would think it should be the easiest - you’ll have a kitchen available to you, people you’re looking forward to seeing will be there to take care of you, usually a familiar environment you’ll be settling into.

But let’s face it, most of us didn’t grow up knowing about our food intolerances, or how to eat healthily. And most of our, or our spouses family members haven’t gone through this nutritional process of change with us. If you’re lucky your family wants to help and understands the importance of the changes you’ve gone through. But many of us have families that don’t understand, and think you’re making much ado about nothing. That ‘a little cookie won’t hurt, how can you deprive your child of treats. It’s vacation time!’ can undermine months of work you’ve done with your family.

Not to mention that we’re entering the zone of firmly entrenched family patterns here. It’s not just about food, it’s about your relationship with your or your spouses family members, and their spouses, their children.... These can be complex waters to negotiate. You’re introducing a change in the current, and the water will resist, will keep wanting to revert back to it’s original pathway.

This takes planning and sensitivity. Call ahead and explain clearly that things have changed, that you or your child(ren) are sick in various ways, or have been dignosed with allergies. That you’re feeling so much better since you’ve made the changes that your health care professionals have recommended. Keep it simple and matter of fact. Ask for support.

Offer to cook for yourselves. At the very least request an area in the refrigerator and pantry to keep safe products for your family to supplement meals that contain items that are off limits. Because I have cooking skills, a tack I have taken is to offer to shop for and cook dinners for the whole family. It has ruffled feathers a few times, but when I’ve explained how complex our family’s needs are, often people are happier handing the reigns over to me.

If these kinds of requests meet strong resistance, and you can afford it, you may want to consider staying in a hotel and keeping your visits with family more in your control. Keep time spent together around meal times to a minimum, and plan your time together during the days.

And pack your own lunches.

Lacto-Fermented Mayonnaise

I have yet to find a commercial mayonnaise with ingredients I consider healthy. The oils are usually poly-unsaturated and fragile, there's sugar, soy, or ingredients our bodies do not recognize as food. Learning to make your own mayonnaise is simple, and once you get into the rhythm of it, you won't feel the need to compromise your health with expensive packaged products.

1 egg and 1 egg yolk
2 Tbsp lemon juice
2 Tbsp live sauerkraut juice (optional)
1/2 tsp mineral salt
1/2 tsp dry mustard
2 - 3 drops stevia extract (optional)
1 1/2 - 2 cups mono-unsaturated oil of choice, sunflower, safflower, or almond recommended, olive will give a stronger flavor

Place all the ingredients except the oil in a food processor. Mix well in the processor, then add the oil slowly in a steady stream with the processor running the whole time, until the mayonnaise in the desired thickness.

If using the sauerkraut juice, leave the mayonnaise on the counter for 6 - 8 hours to culture before putting in the refrigerator. If not using sauerkraut juice, place in fridge immediately.

The mayonnaise will last 2 - 3 weeks if cultured. If not cultured, discard after one to one and a half weeks.

This post is a part of Real Food Wednesday, hosted by Kelly the Kitchen Kop!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Who Am I Now?

We began examining the process of change in my last blog post, and I'd like to continue to explore that. If you missed that post, you can read it here. I'm breaking this down to minutia, in the hopes that by really looking closely at some aspects of what goes into our choices, we'll enhance our chances of success.

In that last post I wrote about stopping and spending some time with what we're actually doing that we may want to change, becoming intimate with it, what the pattern is, before thinking about making a change.

Let's explore one way to hold this examination.

There are a number of different traditions that describe inner personalities that all of us encompass. Carl Jung worked with the 'Archetypes' to access universal inner identities, Hal and Sidra Stone continued that work by developing a modality they call 'Voice Dialogue', a related coaching technique is called 'Inner Family', and some deep method acting classes utilize 'Sub-personalities' to achieve dramatic changes in affect on the stage or in front of the camera.

These models posit that we are not simple beings. If we were, it would be easy to make a decision to change something for the better in our lives, and then we'd just DO IT! Right?

But it often doesn't work that way. What's better for one 'self' might be worse for another. Using these kinds of techniques to explore who is 'in charge' of our actions at any given time can be immensely valuable.

Some of the inner personalities we're talking about developed in childhood. Some are from some more mysterious level of being, simply intrinsic to being human. Perhaps they're closer to our basic instincts, perhaps they come from some mystical realm. We can think of them as habits of thinking and feeling, that have very distinct structures.

However it makes sense to you, using these kinds of techniques can be valuable when approaching change. When contemplating the behavior you're addressing, ask yourself -

Which 'self' commits the behavior?  Who's wanting too much sugar, or the fifth beer? Who's saying 'I don't feel like going to the gym!'

You can sense the feeling tone of that mind set. Does it feel like a child? A teenager? A wild animal? Let your associations roam freely as you explore this. You may want to write about it or talk from that place with a friend or counselor. Let it express itself fully.

It might be saying  'I'm scared!', or 'I'm mad!' Perhaps 'I don't want to work so hard, you're trying to make me do stuff I don't want to do!', 'I feel cornered!', 'I'm just so tired'. Perhaps even 'I hate you!'

And in response you can ask that 'self':  'what are you afraid of?', 'what are you angry about?', or 'how can I help you feel safe and heard?'.

Really listen to the responses. Try not to jump ahead to how you're going to fix this, how you're going to convince this part of yourself it has to change. Just listen to it's story.

Sometimes just giving this part of your psyche all your loving attention will be enough for things to shift. It may have just been seeking attention. Let this 'self' rest gently in your awareness right when you're in the craving or pushing away moment.

This is an experiment, just to see what will happen. It may shift the behavior, or it may not. In my next post I'll explore some more possibilities of how we can work with these inner 'selves' in a skillful, loving manner.

Low Carb Almond Flour Muffins
2 cups almond flour (almond meal)
2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup grassfed ghee or coconut oil, gently melted
4 eggs
1/3 cup coconut yogurt or 4 Tbsp coconut milk mixed with 2 Tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp vanilla extract, alcohol free preferred
Alcohol free stevia to taste - about 1 - 2 droppers full
Optional: Add a handful of berries of choice.

Preheat oven to 375 F. Grease a muffin tin.

Mix dry ingredients together well.

Add wet ingredients and mix.

Put in muffin tins (about 1/2 to 2/3 full) and bake for about 15 minutes.

Let cool a few minutes in the tins, then gently remove and let cool on a cooling rack. Serve with plenty of grassfed ghee.

Makes 1 dozen muffins.

Proud to be posting in Kelly the Kitchen Kop's Real Food Wednesday!

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

What am I doing?

Recipe: Vegetable Ferments

We’re five months into the year 2010, and I’m sure a few of you reading this made New Year’s resolutions. How are you doing with them?

I’ve read different statistics, varying from 90% resolutions gone by the wayside by February, to 90% by the end of the year. Either way, the trend is to not follow through on these commitments.

Why do so many of us ‘fail’ at our resolutions? They are noble aspirations, and we know they’re good for us, right?

Do we really understand how change works in our lives?

I have a passion for change. Having spent many years practicing Buddhism, among other spiritual paths, it’s an ongoing contemplation for me.

One of the central teachings in Buddhism is that change is always happening. Whether slowly or quickly, we are changing, our environment is changing, our thoughts and feelings are changing. Always. This is a given. Nothing stays static.

So, what we are talking about here, is making the change that is already happening, conscious. There is usually some kind of momentum to the patterns of change in our life, an inertia. With a resolution we seek to change the direction of that already existing flow.

Holding this in mind when we approach a resolution can help bring into focus the underpinnings of the resolution - namely - what are we doing? What is the flow that is already occurring? It can be very tempting to skip this acknowledgment. We tend to lean forward to the next thing, give me the next thing, the better thing - get me away from this thing I don’t like. This ill health, this body or mind that doesn’t feel good. I know I’ll feel better if I quit smoking or drinking alcohol, go on a diet, go to the health club, get more sleep, ....

These habits we look to change didn’t appear out of nowhere. And most of them didn’t appear yesterday. They have served us in some way. Perhaps buffered us from some discomfort, helped us get through some difficulty. Bonded us with friends, family and tribe perhaps. Given us an identity.

Some examples might be - ‘There’s was rarely enough food to eat when I was growing up, and now it’s hard not to eat everything on my plate, even when I’m really not hungry anymore. Part of me is afraid there won’t be anything for the next meal.’

‘I have always felt shy and awkward. Having a couple of drinks helps me relax and I can have conversations more easily.’

‘My mom and I loved to make cookies together after school. It was the only time I really felt like I had all her attention. Now eating sweet things makes me feel loved and special.’

‘i just feel like I have to be doing something all the time. Having a cigarette is a good excuse to take a break. I don’t know if I’d take breaks if I didn’t smoke. Besides, having a cigarette with a friend is just a ritual I LOVE.’

‘Working 80 hours a week is killing me, but I’m so afraid I won’t have enough money to retire on!’

Your story may be different. But there’s a story associated with all these habits we’d like to break, whether it’s a story about our past, our present, or our future. And often the stories about our present and future have roots in the past.

In future posts I’ll explore more about making our changes conscious, but for this one I’d like to just rest here, with what is happening before we jump into the future.

What are you doing? Choose one habit you have thoughts about changing. Spend some time exploring that habit. What are you receiving from this activity? How does it serve you? If it doesn’t help you, how did it help you before? Where did it come from? How did it develop?

See if you can spend this time without judgment. You may be surprised to discover things you didn’t know about yourself. And, I hope you’ll find some forgiveness for your humanity. Perhaps some gratitude for how these things we’re ready to let go of have served us.

Vegetable Ferments
Gluten and Dairy-Free, low carb, candida appropriate (in fact, GREAT for candida sufferers! Lots of natural probiotics.)

I'm choosing the veggie ferment recipe for this post because I like the analogy. If we let ourselves sit still for a while, things will develop that may surprise us. If we eat it too soon, well, it just tastes like salty, raw vegetables.


  • 2 -3 pounds of shredded or thinly sliced or whole vegetable(s) of choice. Could be green cabbage for sauerkraut; a mix of napa cabbage, green onion, daikon radish, bok choi and red chili for kimchi; green beans and dill; carrots and garlic; or, of course, cucumber for a classic pickle.
  • 1 - 2 Tbsp of good quality mineral salt - Celtic or Himalayan sea salt, or Real Salt
  • 2 - 3 Tbsp brine from an earlier ferment, if available, (for non cabbage ferments only)

For a cabbage based ferment, (or shredded beets or turnips) measure out about 2 tsp salt per pound of vegetable. Scatter the salt on the chopped veggies and toss to distribute. Cover with a kitchen towel and leave it for and hour or two. When you come back the vegetable should have released it's liquid. Massage it a little with your hands to help it along. Stuff it into a quart mason jar, leaving about an inch space above the vegetable, and lay a grape leaf over the top of it if you have one. Liquid should rise above the level of the vegetable. Cap jar tightly.

For non-cabbage or non-shredded veggies, cut to desired size and shape and stuff as tightly as possible into a quart mason jar, leaving about an inch of space to the top of the jar. Make a brine. Measure about 2 tsp of salt into a cup and a half of filtered or spring water and stir. Taste. The brine should taste too salty to be pleasant, but not so salty that you gag. (Thanks, Alyss for this great description of making a brine!) Add salt or water as needed to achieve the desired saltiness. Add brine from earlier ferment to the jar of veggies, if using, and pour the fresh brine over the vegetables, leaving about an inch head space. Lay a grape leaf over the top, if using. Cap it tightly.

Leave jar on your counter or in a cupboard for 3 - 7 days. Burp the jars daily to make sure the pressure doesn't build up too intensely. If the ferment looks very active to you, open it slowly over a sink, or wrapped in a kitchen towel - they can spray pretty hard! Press the vegetables down with a fork or spoon. Taste.

When the pickle tastes tart and sour to your liking, put it in your fridge or cool basement. Enjoy!

This post is a part of Kelly the Kitchen Kop's Real Food Wednesday!

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

We're Cookin' Now!

Recipe: Nut 'Cheese'

Some people love to cook. Some people feel they just don't have time for it. Some, well, just have no interest.

Cooking analogies are particularly apt for many aspects of our lives. Cooking is a transformational act. An alchemical process.

Like, 'what's cookin'? Or, 'Let's simmer on that', 'that's half baked!', 'put it on the back burner', or 'we're cookin' now!'.

Let's take it a little deeper. 'I'm cooked'. 'I'm sitting in the fire.'

Getting warmer?

We begin with a raw substance, usually a living substance. A plant. An animal. Something that lives and breathes. A life. Life. Living and breathing. Can you touch the life happening in yourself right here, right now?

Our heads buzz along at such a fast pace, we often miss a deeper communication with our food, and with ourselves.

Imagine all the input of our lives as food from the fields. The process of getting it from the field to our plate is how we respond, react, ruminate and navigate through our days. Wouldn't you want to give it your full attention? Pick it with love, chop it carefully, notice which are the choicest, plumpest experiences, have the earthiest spice mixture, the hottest fire for searing, the gentlest heat for the long simmer, send the indigestible bits to the garden for composting to make the soil richer. Wouldn't you want to pay attention to the natural vibrancy, the life inherent in the process itself?

Oh, let's up the ante - what if you dove in full body, bathed in the luscious, scrumptiousness of flavor and texture, snuggling and giggling with complete abandon with the leaves and fronds, licking and slurping and rubbing all the amazing fats and brothiness into your welcoming pores....

In my twenties I cooked to pay the bills while I was studying to be - an actress, a writer, a filmmaker, ... I was a party girl rushing headlong into the future of imagined fame and fortune. I rushed through a marriage and a divorce, about 15 different apartments and houses, and enough drugs and alcohol to fully cover all my need for escape for the rest of my life. I was running as fast as I could to avoid catching up with myself, to really experience what was happening in my life.

Until, running full tilt, I hit the wall. The heating element on the electric stove of my life burned out, short circuited. There had to be a different way.

In my thirties I found myself cooking at a meditation retreat center with no other goal than the cooking and the meditating. My thoughts were incredibly loud for a long time, but they did eventually quiet down. A bit. And that revealed the incredible dance that I wrote about in my last blog post.

It also revealed many sweetnesses and subtleties in my emotional life. Some were painful. It was clear that running for as long as I did had contributed to habits of distraction that were very difficult to break.

Slowing down with the cooking allowed me to slow down with myself. Slowing down with myself allowed me to slow down with the cooking. Which is true? Each revealed the other.

I invite you to slow down in the midst of your life. We don't have to go to the retreat center to slow down (although it can be a helpful jump start) - we just have to value the precious moments of our lives. Value our bodies, our loved ones, our contributions to the world.

Just take a moment, right now. Look out the window. Take a breath. Feel your body in your chair.

Let this moment take care of itself. The next moment will come, all by itself. And if you're fully in this one, you'll be more ready for the next, standing right in the center of your life. Because where is that? Right here.

And don't forget to really enjoy your food. It's life itself.

Nut Cheese
Gluten and dairy-free, salicylate free, low carb

  • 1 cup nut or seeds of choice - hazelnuts, pumpkin seeds, pecans, etc. Cashews make a delicious 'cheese', but know that they are considered a 'mold' food
  • 1 - 2 cups cabbage tonic, or a couple of good quality probiotic capsules and water
  • 2 Tbsp lemon or lime juice
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • Celtic sea salt to taste
  • flavorings of choice - my favorite is pesto. Any mix of kalamata olive, sundried tomato, nutritional yeast, garlic, parsley; or with cashews, pecans or hazelnuts you can go more in the direction of dates and stevia for a sweeter 'cream cheese'.
Soak nuts or seeds in plenty of non-chlorinated water for at least 8 hours, preferably 12 - 24 hours. Drain and rinse. Set to sprout if desired.

Place nuts and enough cabbage tonic or water and probiotic capsule contents to barely cover in a food processor. Pulse until the nuts or seeds are broken down and mixture resembles cottage cheese.

Place mixture in a jar and cap with a sprouting screen or layer of cheese cloth held on with rubber band or canning ring. Set in a warm place for up to 12 hours.

Drain 'cheese' in a nut milk bag or other fine mesh strainer until fairly dry and crumbly. Mix with flavorings in a food processor until desired consistency - if your looking for a 'cream cheese' like product, you may need to add a little water and let it process for a few minutes until very smooth. Other herb flavors will lend themselves to slightly chunkier textures.

Serve with crackers or raw vegetables. Or I just eat it by the spoonful as a snack.

I know this is called 'cheese', but honestly I think of it more as a low carb replacement for hummus. Enjoy!

This post is a part of Real Food Wednesday, hosted by Kelly the Kitchen Kop.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Do You Dance?

Recipe: Cabbage Tonic, aka Non-Dairy Innoculant

I’m fond of saying that cooking is a dance. The food and our bodies ask for what they need to delight and be delighted in, to be nourished and nourishing, if we have the sensitivity to pay attention. It takes some experience and willingness to be open. Willingness to feel, sense deeper currents than just the following of a recipe. Willingness to touch the food - smell, hear, taste, see - really experience the substance that supports our bodies.

It takes a willingness to be quiet. Who leads in this dance may not be easy to feel. Our minds are full of the chatter of the stories of our lives. Where we have to go, who we have to see, what we have to do by when - and the ongoing pull and push between food and our bodies may be more subtle than those surface voices.

That dance is a vital one to pay attention to if we want to be healthy. Be connected with our true natures. If we want to be happy.

I’m not necessarily saying this dance will always be about eating what we might think of as perfectly healthy food. There are many influences on this dance, some cultural, some seasonal, some nutritional. Emotional. Our relationship with food is intertwined with our families, health, finances, creativity, communities, and history. It can be how we reward or punish ourselves. How we redeem ourselves.

It can include information we learn from books and health care practitioners, but, just as when we learn the steps to a new dance from an instructor, in the end things flow best when we make the dance our own. When we take what we’ve learned and see how it dances through us, how it finds it’s natural balance with the rest of the complexity that is our personal dance of life.

Our lack of relationship with food reflects on that list as well. If food is taken out of that equation, or if the relationship with food is too far distorted - you can sense the far reaching consequences.

All relationships take some energy and attention. A balance of energy and attention. If they don’t get enough, they will at the least go stagnant, at worst, die. If they get too much, they can be smothering, have a distorted and unbalanced effect.

What does your dance of body and food look like? What does it feel like from the inside? How much attention do you give it? Is there love in that attention? Compassion? Fun? Joy? Substance? Or is there fear? Denial? Tension? Resignation? Even hatred? Or simple unconsciousness? Boredom?

Let what you ‘know’ about health be applied through a lens of sweetness, even if you know you don’t do well with sugar on the physical level. Find safe ways to nourish yourself on ALL levels. Experiment. Be willing to fail.

In other words, be willing to learn. To change. But not because the slave driver in your head is lashing at you with a whip.

Do it because you love yourself.

And if you find you don’t love yourself - well then, that’s where you begin. We always begin where we are. Know that it is possible to love yourself, and to take care of yourself with love.

It’s just a part of the dance you haven’t learned yet. Or have forgotten. No big deal, we can all learn new skills. It starts with the desire.

Do you want to be happy?

Cabbage Tonic, aka Non-Dairy Innoculant
Gluten and dairy-free, salicylate free, candida friendly

  • 1/4 green cabbage, sliced thinly
  • 1/2 gallon brine made with Celtic or Himalayan sea salt, or Real Salt

Put the cabbage into a half gallon mason jar.

Make your brine. put enough salt in the water to make it too salty to be pleasant, but not so salty that you gag. (Thanks, Alyss!) Pour the brine over the cabbage. Cap tightly and shake well.

Leave on your kitchen counter or in a cupboard for 3 - 7 days, burping daily, until it has become quite active for at least a couple of days, or at least has taken on a sour flavor, not just salty.

Transfer to the refrigerator when it's done. Strain for a refreshing salty tonic, and use a couple of Tbsp when making veggie ferments that do not contain cabbage or cucumbers. You can use it for cabbage ferments, too, but it's not usually necessary. Great replacement for whey in recipes that use that for an innoculant.

Can also be used as an innoculant for nut cheese - which will come in a future recipe.

This post is a part of Real Food Wednesdays.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

It's Not Fair!

Recipe: Frozen Coconut Yogurt

Those of us with food sensitivities can sometimes wonder why we got left out of the bounty of life. There are so many delicious dishes we'd love to savor that are traditionally made with ingredients that do harm to our bodies.

What wrong with this picture? Why is this happening? It's just not fair! Everyone else gets to enjoy!

I could tell you how many wonderful things you CAN eat, the amazing fresh vegetables with delicate or hearty earth flavors, the alternatives to dairy or gluten, or (insert your sensitivity). Foods with their own subtleties that it's possible to enjoy.

But that's not really the point, is it? We sometimes just miss those
foods, the very one's we learned to love, and led to us feeling: in pain, tired, foggy, irritated, angry, etc.

Or we're overwhelmed because it's just not easy to keep ourselves supplied with the alternatives, or they don't travel well. It would be so much easier to just make a quick stop at a convenience store when we need a snack... if only they stocked something without - all the stuff we can't eat.

This is one of the reasons it's important to incorporate food and eating into our spiritual practice. Even view it as a spiritual practice. We don't have the luxury of being unconscious about our eating, when eating too far outside our limits makes us sick.

If you're thinking it's not fair, you're right. It's not fair.

But it's what is. And what a spiritual practice can do is help us shift our focus to what's useful and true. Less on what gets us nowhere.

Here are a few statistics from
• 75% of insomniacs who started a daily meditation program were able to fall asleep within 20 minutes of going to bed.
• Production of the stress hormone Cortisol is greatly decreased, thus making it possible for those people to deal with stress better when it occurs.
• Women with PMS showed symptom improvements after 5 months of steady daily rumination and reflection.
However a spiritual practice might look in your life, whether that might be meditation, prayer, singing, dancing, mindful cooking and eating, or all of the above, it's clear that there are very real health benefits to be had. Think of what a valuable adjunct to good nutrition this is!

We always need to be kind to ourselves, and realize it's hard to have to take such care with our food. We may need to grieve the loss of certain flavors and textures we associate with comfort and happiness. This is part of the process of coming to terms with the reality of our lives. It is not always as we would wish it.

And we need to tap in a bit deeper, to the real love and kind regard we hold ourselves in. It's there. It's the longing for a deeper happiness.

It's easier to find when our health is stabilized. And tapping into it intentionally helps us get our health stabilized, by helping us make clearer decisions. Truly life affirming decisions.

From this place, you may find yourself noticing how incredibly delicious fresh vegetables are, simple soups, herbs, coconut yogurt,... you may find the 'replacement' foods have an identity in their own right on your tongue and in your belly. And they are magical in their utter reality and rightness.

May it be so. And may all beings be well nourished and happy.

Frozen Coconut Yogurt

  • o 14 oz coconut yogurt (1 can of coconut milk made into yogurt)
  • o 2 eggs of choice, chicken or duck (optional)
  • o 1 _ tsp vanilla, preferably glycerin based, or powdered vanilla
  • o 15 drops stevia extract, preferably glycerin or water based
  • o Optional add ins: 1 - 2 Tbsp raw cacao powder, a handful or two of berries, a handful of shredded coconut, nuts, or a swirl of nut butter of choice

Mix the first four ingredients together in a bowl, and whisk until smooth. If using the cacao powder, mix it in now.

If you have an ice cream maker, follow the manufacturer's instructions.

If using a Champion juicer or food processor, pour the mixture into ice cube trays. You'll probably need two. Freeze well.

Pass through the juicer with the blank plate on it. Mix in any optional add ins. Serve immediately.

Or, mix in a food processor, adding a little more coconut yogurt if needed to get the frozen yogurt smooth. Mix in add ins. This might need to be returned to the freezer for a little while to firm up.

o Use coconut milk instead of coconut yogurt.
o Make the liquid mixture into a custard before freezing by heating it slowly in a double boiler until thickened.
o Use fresh vanilla bean - split a vanilla bean from end to end and scrape the seeds and pith out of it. Steep it in warm coconut milk or yogurt for a few minutes. Whisk the seeds into the mixture to blend as well as possible.

I usually love the chocolate version of anything, but I have to say the vanilla is outrageously delicious.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Healing as a Journey

The word 'healing' may bring up the idea that there is an end to the journey. It will inevitably end with 'healed'.

This idea may not serve us well. It emphasizes a goal, an end product. If our focus is too much on the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, we are likely to miss the sweetness and lessons learned along the path.

This may be hard to read - what is there to value in the journey of illness? It's painful! Isn't it natural to want to get OUT of illness as quickly as possible?

Perhaps - but this way of thinking can lead to treating our bodies like cars - when it's broken, bring it to the mechanic. When it's 'fixed', drive it like you drove it before.

Our bodies are a vehicle through which the world communicates to us. It sends us clear messages. If something we are so intimate with, that is a large part of who we are, is trying to talk to us, isn't it a good idea to listen?

I'm in no way suggesting that you not visit a health care professional if you or your child is ill. What I am suggesting is that you also ask, what is happening here? What is the bigger picture? What is asking for attention?

You can view it as a dream interpretation - what is the symbolism? Is the part of my life that I use this part of my body with out of balance?

I deal with fatigue. I can 'fix' that with caffeine. It often seems like the easiest route, have a cup of tea, or coffee, and there is instant energy! Hallelujah!

Coffee statistics show that among coffee drinkers the average consumption in the United States is 3.1 cups of coffee per day. And over 50% of Americans are coffee drinkers. It seems I am not alone in seeking a quick solution to fatigue.

Years down the line however, it seemed evident that the quick fix was taking it's toll on my body in various ways. Adrenals, thyroid depleted. Hmmm, rethinking caffeine....

On deeper examination I wonder more about how I push to get things done in my life. And I wonder if I didn't push, would I feel the need for caffeine? What if I went to sleep at a reasonable hour regularly? What if I questioned the thought that I have to get things done exactly so, or by a certain time?

And, as we've seen, I am not the only one who has depended on caffeine to get through my days. What does that say about our culture in general? About how we go about our lives?

Before Thomas Edison's invention of the light bulb, people slept an average of 10 hours a night; today Americans get an average 6.9 hours of sleep on weeknights and 7.5 hours per night on weekends (NSF's 2002 Sleep in America poll).

So, this examination of how I approach doing becomes an examination of other forces that come to bear on my life. My expectations. The dominant culture's expectations. It can become much less personal, can give one a larger perspective.

The key here is curiosity. And acceptance.

What if we can't 'fix' the ailment? What then? What if 'healing' were the whole journey? What if the entire culture suffers? Many health challenges are widespread. How far outside the culture can we go without creating another imbalance of the soul?

I'm not suggesting succumbing to defeatism. And healing the culture is one of my passions. But change happens most gracefully when we accept the place where we begin. And, like it or not, we are at the very least affected by our culture, if not a product of it.

Eyes open, let's make changes with full acknowledgement of our place in the world. Our humanness, our fragility, and our strength. We know where the journey ends for us all, but we have no idea where it will lead us on the way. Can we walk that road with curiosity and willingness? The more open we are, the more relaxed. The more relaxed we are, the better we are able to see the path ahead of us. See what messages our discomfort is giving us. And the better able to act on the information we receive.

The Buddha said ‘Within this fathom long body is the world, the origin of the world, the cessation of the world and the path leading to the cessation of the world.’ He didn’t say ‘only in healthy bodies’ or ‘only in perfect bodies’. He was pointing to waking up here and now, in this body. As it is.

And, for those of us whose bodies are clearly saying NO to dairy....

Nut Milk
Gluten free, dairy free, salicylate free (if using hazelnuts), low carb (if using stevia)

1 cup nut of choice - I like almond or hazelnut. Cashews make a delicious one, but there’s a lot of buzz about cashews having mold, so know that.
1 tsp salt
2 cups non-chlorinated, non-flouridated water, plus water for soaking
Stevia, or dates, to taste

Soak the nuts for 6 - 8 hours in a jar with the salt and enough water to cover. Drain and rinse.

Place the soaked nuts in a blender with the measured water. Blend for at least 2 minutes, longer if you can stand the noise. You want the nuts to be as smooth as possible.

Strain the milk through a nut milk bag, a jelly making bag, or a gold filter. Squeeze or press the pulp to remove as much of the liquid as possible.

Sweeten the milk with a few drops of stevia. Some people throw a couple pitted dates in the blender while it’s whirring to sweeten.


Note: the nut pulp can be used in baked items, or to make nut cheese. I’ll post that recipe another time.

This post is a part of Real Food Wednesdays with Kelly the Kitchen Kop!

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Into the Kitchen!

Recipe: Coconut yogurt

I love to eat out. The idea of being seated at a clean table, having water poured for me, asked what I would like, asked if everything is okay with the meal... it’s the closest I’ll ever be to queendom. (I can dream, can’t I?)

I used to eat out 3 or 4 times a week. I cooked for a living, and the last thing I felt like doing when I got home was to go into the kitchen. I was single, I was carefree, I was homeless by choice for quite a while, no responsibilities except my personal growth and my job. Which, believe me, were as much as I could handle for an embarrassingly long time. I sometimes long for those days. Not very much, anymore.

Times are different now. We have food sensitivities to deal with that make eating out a bit of an ordeal. And we’ve learned what really good, real food tastes and feels like in our bodies.

Not to mention the cost! We won’t go into that. Too depressing.

Okay, we have to go into that. Not just the cost of eating out, but the cost of eating well. You can eat out inexpensively, as we all know, but the cost to our health is exorbitant. Go here

And eating really well when eating out isn’t always easy, when you start to understand what real food is. And isn’t. Good food preparation that really maximizes it’s value to your health has been forgotten for the most part. And when you have eaten well for some time, it becomes evident. I’ll never forget my husband coming home after a lunch date with a colleague and reporting that I’d ‘ruined him for restaurant food. I looked at my plate and it was all DEAD!’ And the call I received the last time he was gone for a week at a retreat center. ‘I miss your bone broth,’ he moaned.

I still love to go out, don’t get me wrong. And I find we do better at ethnic restaurants that serve traditional foods - often easier to avoid wheat and dairy, and they sometimes use traditional cooking methods. Fermented grains. Long cooked broths. Fermented veggies. Even raw meats.

Truly upscale restaurants can work, too - I can’t wait to try one of the few I’ve heard about that specialize in offal! And the escargot buried in butter and duck confit I had at Carafe Bistro... mmmmmm.

But that’s not what I want to write about. Because we can’t eat out like we used to, although I obviously still dream about it.

We also can’t afford to buy good food, REAL food, at the grocery store that much. Especially prepared foods. Pastured ghee for $10 a pint. Live sauerkraut for $7 per 8 ounce jar. We’re talking cabbage and salt, folks. Kim chi - $10 for 8 ounces. Raw nut butters for $15 a pint. Gluten free bread anywhere from $5 - $8 a loaf. And it’s not even that tasty.

I’m on a mission. It’s utterly obnoxious to some, but apparently inspiring to others. Thank God!

It was inspiring to ME after my last class to hear from the participants - Diana had 3 gallons of fermented veggies set on the counter to bubble. Had a chicken in the crock pot for the better part of a day, and froze the stock. (I had some of the Ethiopian chicken she made out of the meat, oh my god, I didn’t have to die to get to heaven right there....) Is now experimenting with adding an ancient wheat grain to her sourdough to see if she can tolerate it after it’s fermented.

After some tinkering Lois made the best textured gluten free bread she says she’s ever had. She wants to tinker with the flavor a bit, but she’s excited and encouraged. Her family is new to gluten free life, and she had thrown her hands up and laughed at her first attempt to make bread - she described it as a ‘dense cracker loaf that must have weighed 10 pounds’!

Allison and her mom Jody passed the sourdough back and forth between their houses to get yeasts from both their homes in their new pet ‘Stinky’.

I hear these stories and I honestly find myself weeping. I was sharing with a group of women last night, who share my passion for nutrition and health, that I find myself breaking down in grief occasionally when I get a positive response from people about my offerings. I have felt like I was CRAZY for years now, being so out of sync in a culture that doesn’t value nourishment to it’s full depth and breadth. Swimming upstream is really hard to do alone.

I’m only one voice. But I’m not alone. I’ve learned from some amazing people online, on lists, on blogs, in books. And to be able to turn around and pass it along is such a gift.

Oh, I forgot my original point - If you make it yourself, you can really save a bundle. Cut out the middle man - fermented veggies are just veggies, salt and time. Sourdough starter is just flour and water... and time. Coconut yogurt is just coconut milk, and starter... and time. Bone broth - bones, water, heat and.... you guessed it.... time.

Coconut Yogurt
Gluten free, dairy free, salicylate free, low carb friendly

The probiotic cultures can be ordered online, just google the names. Personally I did not like the flavor of the yogurt made from the store bought coconut yogurt, but others have found it tasty. What to say.

I recommend the Native Forest brand coconut milk, as it is the only one I know of that has no BPA in the lining of the cans.

1 can coconut milk of choice - Native Forest brand recommended
yogurt culture of choice - Custom Probiotics, HMF superpowder, or another coconut yogurt with live cultures.

Pour a little coconut milk into a pint sized mason jar. Mix in culture of choice - a smidgeon of the Custom Probiotic, a quarter tsp of the HMF powder, or a couple of Tbsp of the commercial coconut yogurt. Add the rest of the coconut milk. Cap tightly. Shake well.

Keep warm in a yogurt warmer, in an oven with the light or pilot on, in a dehydrator set at about 95 - 100 degrees, or wrapped in a warm heating pad. Shake occasionally. Yogurt will be mild after one day, a little more tart after two.

Alternate method - mix in culture of choice as described above and shake well. Leave at room temperature for 4 days, shaking occasionally. This will get VERY thick - too thick for my liking!

This post is part of Real Food Wednesday, by Cheeseslave, and Fight Back Friday by Food Renegade!

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

A Little Bare Foot

Recipe: Ghee

The New Year. It starts with a bang and rush to DO! Kids are back in school, slower routines are suddenly back in the fast lane, and it’s back to ‘business as usual’.

I’ve had to deal with a sense of urgency to ‘get things rolling’. The pusher in my head has a lot of great ideas about the class I’ll be teaching, the sourdough sticky buns I’ve been wanting to experiment with, the kimchi I need to get fermenting so it’s ready for class in a couple of weekends, the newsletter, the website, the sample coaching sessions I want to set up, the meetings I want to have with colleagues, ... the list is endless. Phone calls, emails, projects.

The really important things in life can get squeezed out in the urgency to produce. To do.

There’s a spiritual teacher I’ve spent time with who works on addressing our culture’s obsession with doing by recommending short moments of meditation practice as often as possible. Short moments. Walking down the hall to the bathroom, check in with your bodily sensations, the feet touching the floor, the feeling of your clothes touching your body. Standing in line at the grocery store. Waiting at a red light. What do you see, hear, smell, taste, touch? What do things really look like, sound like, smell like, taste like, feel like? Let the story in your head fall away, and just be present to the senses.

Time is tight for most of us, so much on our plate to accomplish. I find myself grumpy when my youngest crawls in bed with us in the middle of the night. My sleep is interrupted, he pulls the blankets off me, I got to sleep late anyway, I’ll be tired in the morning, I have a coaching session in the morning and lunch with a colleague I admire, I’ll be tired, I won’t function well, why can’t he sleep in his own bed! And suddenly there's a story I’m living, rife with frustration, judgement, chronic exhaustion, fear of failure, and overwhelm.

And then I stop. Short moments. A little bare foot on my back, warm and soft. Sounds of soft breathing. A train whistle in the distance. Short moments.

I take the moment to, fairly quickly, run through a visualization I used to do regularly sometime back. A Tibetan purification. I’m convinced it kept me free of infection years ago when I was in the hospital with ruptured membranes with my first born. Three weeks free of infection, giving him three weeks more time to bake. 10 weeks premature is a lot more hopeful than 13 weeks. I got tired of keeping it up, though, and when I dropped off on the practice, I developed an infection, and born he was.

Tiredness is a state than can be worked with. It’s a kind of a toxin, often purified by rest and sleep. And short moments of practice are a form of rest.

Feeling that little warm foot on my back and running through the visualization, I soon found I was ready to get up. I was calm and clear headed. Perhaps not totally rested, but certainly feeling ready for my day.

Sometimes I find my thought patterns are like a sumo wrestler trying to pin my life to the ground and MAKE it work the way I think it should. It’s a pattern full of effort and force. And it’s been a thread through many years.

I was musing over that and it’s similarity to how I’ve learned to make sauerkraut. The traditional instructions for sauerkraut call for slicing the cabbage, adding the salt, and then pounding the hell out of it until it gives up it’s water. It’s a lot of hard work.

Then I discovered that if you add the salt and leave it alone for a while, when you come back and toss it gently, there’s a pool of water sitting in the bottom of the bowl. Stuff it into a jar and push down firmly, and the water rises up above the level of the vegetable, just the way it’s supposed to.

Or take ghee. Clarified butter. Like the light of attention in a moment, all we have to do is apply gentle heat, and the butter clarifies of itself. When the popping sounds stop, it’s done. Crystal clear. Yes, you can skim the foam off the top, stir it, hover over it - but it’s not necessary. If you just listen for the sounds to change, and remember when to turn it off, everything is fine. Strain it. Done.

Have a great day. Don’t forget to hug your kids. And your partner. And your dog or cat. We’re herd animals, let your body have the contact. It’s as deeply nourishing as good food.

gluten, dairy (for the most part), salicylate free, low carb, grain free

Ghee is often tolerated by those with dairy intolerance. Not all! Please pay attention to symptoms. It’s a fairly high heat fat, and I use it for a lot of my cooking. If made with butter from grassfed cows, it’s a good source of Omega 3 and vitamin K2, and will help with the absorption of vitamins A and D. Kerrygold is a good choice if you don’t have access to local grassfed butter. And Trader Joe’s usually has the best price on Kerrygold.


1 pound unsalted butter from grassfed cows.


Place the butter in a clean, stainless steel pot. Heat gently over a low flame. When the butter is liquified and gets hot you’ll begin to hear the popping sound of the liquid evaporating out of the fat. Stir it occasionally if you like, but it’s not really necessary. Skim the foam off the top if you like, but it’s not really necessary. When you can see through the ghee and the popping sounds quiet down, it’s done. Take it off the heat, cool it for a half an hour or so, and strain it through a metal tea filter or a ‘Gold filter’, the reusable coffee filters that come from Switzerland, and make terrible coffee. I’m so glad I finally found a good use for mine.