Hitting My Head

I got hit in the head today. It was just one of those things that happen in life. The hatchback of our SUV came down on top of me with a pretty hefty clunk.

If I had health insurance, I would have gone to the doctor.

But I don’t.

So I went to my kitchen instead.

I’ve learned to stock my kitchen as a food pharmacy – for everyday use as well as emergency care. I also recently did a workup for a client who wanted nutritional support to help heal from a head concussion.

I pulled out the Personalized Eating Plan I’d made for that person and have immediately begun to apply it to myself. I feel good about the fact I do have a working knowledge of how to use food and nutritional support to help me heal. It was also incredibly convenient to have a ready-made care plan to put into action.

That being said, it’s always interesting to play the risk assessment game when it comes to my health and the health of my family. Not having insurance makes the decision to seek medical care complicated. I want to take care of myself and my family. I also want to be able to eat, pay household bills, and keep the heat on…

Situations like today are the ones that always make me stutter when it comes to health, healthcare, access to healthcare, and so on.

So many people are left choosing between one life essential and another.

I’m not quite sure why we do this to each other as a society.

But I do know it’s why I am so dedicated to using Food as Medicine. It’s the medical frontline for myself and my family when going to the doctor is simply not an option.

Follow my blog to see how I use food as medicine and take care of my health on a regular basis.

Festive Christmas Rice

This recipe is plant based, gluten free, vegan.

This dish is a festive, colorful addition to any holiday meal.

Ingredients:

2 cups spinach

2 cups grape tomatoes

1 small red onion

3 – 4 cloves garlic

2 – 3 cups pre-cooked short grain brown rice

Season to taste using: parsley, sage, rosemary, thyme, salt, pepper

Directions:

Heat 1 tablespoon coconut oil in a large skillet. Add 1 tablespoon rosemary to oil and lightly toast for a minute or two on medium to high heat.

Add chopped red onion. Toss in pan with rosemary until onions are lightly browned. Turn heat to medium low and add spinach, tomatoes, and garlic. Stir frequently until spinach begins to wilt. Add cooked rice along with remaining seasonings and continue to cook on medium to low heat until rice is hot. Add small amounts of water if needed to keep rice from sticking to the bottom of the pan.

Happy Holidays from our table to yours. May you be happy, healthy, and well.

Grain Free Chocolate Walnut Brownies

This recipe is: gluten free, grain free, oil free, vegan.

Walnuts are an excellent source of B vitamins and omega 6 and 9 fatty acids. They help reduce cholesterol, improve heart health and brain function, and they’re good for your skin.

Ingredients:

3 ripe bananas

1 T cinnamon

1 t salt

1 t baking powder

1/4 t vanilla extract

1 1/4 cup almond flour

1/2 cup cacao powder

1 – 2 cups chopped walnuts

Directions:

Peel bananas and mash into thick paste. Add cinnamon, salt, baking powder, and vanilla extract. Mix evenly. Fold in almond flour and cacao. Add chopped walnuts and mix evenly.

Lightly grease an 8 x 10 inch baking pan. Add brownie mixture. Bake at 375F for 30 minutes.

Refrigerate leftovers for best results.

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Describe Your Kitchen

Food is the heart of life – which makes the kitchen the heart of the home.

When I was studying macrobiotics, one of the key principles I learned was:

Government begins in the kitchen.

This is so true. How we nourish and feed ourselves determines how we participate in and govern the rest of our lives.

What happens in our kitchens is of vital importance.

With that in mind, describe your kitchen…

Is it warm or cold?

Messy or clean?

Abundant with fresh fruits and vegetables or arid with overly processed junk food?

Do all your appliances work?

Do have any fun gadgets that make cooking easier, faster, and more fun?

Is there a place to sit and have meaningful meals with meaningful conversation?

How much time do you spend making your kitchen the wellness factory of your life?

Setting ourselves up for success in life begins with how we nourish and care for our physical bodies.

All Mental, Emotional, Spiritual, and Creative work we do needs a healthy body to ground into. If we expect to have the physical capacity to participate in our existential activities, we need a kitchen and a food lifestyle that supports our best health.

So, go hang out in your kitchen. Warm it up, make it cozy, and turn it into the wellspring of vitality that nourishes every other part of your life.

You deserve that.

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Red, White, and Green Vegetable Bean Soup

This recipe is: plant based, grain free, oil free

Red and white beans are anti inflammatory. They improve heart health and help to control blood sugar. They also have cancer fighting properties. Broccoli, which protects against heart disease, heart attack, and stroke, is an excellent compliment to this heart healthy, cancer fighting soup.

Ingredients:

1 red onion

1 white onion

1 celery heart

3 – 4 cups spinach

1 head broccoli

3 – 6 cloves garlic

4 cups kidney and white bean blend (one 15 oz can each)

1 cup chopped fresh cilantro

Seasonings: salt, pepper, sage, rosemary, thyme

Directions:

Chop onions, celery, and broccoli into bite sized pieces and add to slow cooker. Add spinach and beans. Mince garlic and finely chop cilantro. Add to soup along with seasonings. Cover vegetables with water and set slow cooker for desired cook time.

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A to Zinc Sweet Potato and Brussels Sprouts Casserole

This recipe is: gluten free, plant based, vegan

This recipe packs an anti viral punch with vitamins A and C, and Zinc. Brussels sprouts and long grain wild rice are also great sources of plant based protein. The sweet potatoes add extra B vitamins and beta carotene, making this meal a nourishing part of a healthy diet.

Ingredients:

2 medium sweet potatoes

8 – 10 small to medium Brussels sprouts

1 medium onion

1 cup spinach (or any other dark leafy green – kale, collard greens, Swiss chard, beet greens, etc)

3 cups long grain wild rice (or any rice)

1 can coconut milk.

1 cup chopped walnuts

Seasonings: salt, pepper, oregano, and basil

Directions:

Chop sweet potato, Brussels sprouts, and onions into bite sized pieces. Add to large mixing bowl with spinach and chopped walnuts. Skim coconut milk fat off water and add to mixing bowl along with spices. Mix thoroughly, until coconut milk is evenly mixed with vegetables. Add three cups rice and continue mixing until well blended.

Lightly grease an 11 x 14 inch casserole dish. Spread casserole evenly in casserole dish and bake at 350F for 40 – 45 minutes.

This casserole is delicious on its own as a main course. Leftovers can be used in burritos and quesadillas, or as stuffing for baked acorn or butternut squashes.

Exploring Sugar, Its Effects On The Body, And How That Relates To Autoimmune Dis-Ease In The Body

I cried when I realized I couldn’t eat donuts anymore…

When I say I cried, what I really mean is –  I had an all out kicking and screaming, laying on the floor, bottom lip out, temper tantrum. (No, I wasn’t a little kid – I was well into my 30’s.) I followed that heroic scene up with a whole lot of denial, anger, and depression. I ate three extra donuts that week. And Mac and Cheese. And a bagel. And some pizza. I’m sure there was more, but you get the idea.

It’s a little embarrassing to admit the extent of my dismay at being told I had a gluten allergy – but there it is.

I’d been suffering through pain on a daily basis for over two years at that point.

Migraines

Muscle Aches

Sensitivity to Light

Joint Pain

Extreme Exhaustion

Back Pain

Knee Pain

Dry, Itchy Skin

Gross, Brittle Hair

I felt like a mess, inside and out.

Every time I went to see my primary care physician about these symptoms, he reminded me my thyroid hormone levels were stable, so there was no medical reason for me to feel sick anymore.

He said, and I quote, “Your thyroid levels are fine. I can’t find any other medical reason for what you’re describing. I’ll prescribe you a migraine medication. Take that and good luck to you.” He was a bit put off by my insistence, as if I were a hypochondriac or a cry baby.

I walked out of his office thinking – Good Luck? Seriously? How many years of medical school and your best answer for what’s going on with me is a migraine pill and a Good Luck wish?

Are You Fucking Kidding Me?

To his credit, I’m sure he was just as frustrated as I was. I’d been to his office over and over, complaining of exhaustion, achy-ness, and a general feeling of ‘blah’. He’d run a battery of blood tests that all came out normal according to main stream medicine.

For autoimmune diseases, most doctors have no explanation, they don’t understand the root causes of these illnesses, and therefore, they honestly don’t know how to help their patients. It’s been only recently – as in – this past year – that I’ve noticed doctors in the mainstream start to talk about Epstein Barr Virus, Plant Based Diets, Meditation, Spiritual Practices, and other whole system approaches to healing and health.

In my case, the medical doctor I was working with was old-school, and a gluten allergy probably never once crossed his mind – – let alone the idea of adopting wellness lifestyle practices that include plant based eating, exercise, mindfulness, and spirituality.

The conversation I had that day – moreover – the doctor’s moment of outward irritation at not being able to help me –  sparked the beginning of my Spiritual journey into food. I went home and immediately began to research homeopathic doctors in my area.

A few weeks later, with the help of a new, homeopathic doctor, I received the news about my gluten allergy. Once I got over the initial drama of being told I had to change the way I ate, I embarked on over a decade long odyssey into the metaphysics of food that I’m still researching and putting into practice every single day.

First and foremost, I wanted to understand why I was reacting to food so adversely in my body. The simple answer to that is: Most of the food I was eating wasn’t actually food. It was drugs (sugar, ultra processed grains, chemicals, and food dyes) made to look like food.

It became a huge source of empowerment to realize I wasn’t simply allergic to donuts, I was combating drug addiction within my body because of the sugars and ultra-refined carbohydrates I was eating.

They were wreaking havoc on my system, making me feel sick and stealing away my quality of life.

You know the meth and ecstasy drugs that are designed to look like skittles and gummy bears? This is exactly what’s done to food.

Let’s take sugar for example. Studies show that sugar stimulates the same brain centers and produces many of the same chemical reactions in the body as cocaine. If you wouldn’t do a line of coke off your kitchen table, why are you eating sugar?

Crazy, right?

Let’s think about that. Why do we eat sugar and other processed foods?

First and foremost, we eat them because they are convenient. We also eat them because they are loaded with addictive chemicals and drugs. Sugar is in most processed foods in one form or another. In fact, there are over 40 different words used on food labels for sugar.

As sugar addicts, our brains become hardwired to seek out the very chemical (sugar) that creates the dopamine reaction in our systems that make us feel – at least temporarily – good.

We all know about the sugar high, right?  It’s called a high for a reason.

Like any drug – the initial ‘high’ feels good. In our stressed out, over stimulated, pain-induced lives, that ‘feel good high’ is hard to give up.

That’s why changing the way you eat isn’t just about changing the way you eat. It’s about withdrawing from the drug addiction you’ve developed from the food you’re used to eating.

Replace the following words on any food label from:

  • ‘sugar’  to  ‘drug’
  • ‘aspartame’  to  ‘drug’
  • ‘maltodextrin’  to  ‘drug’
  • ‘high fructose corn syrup’  to  ‘drug’
  • ‘red (or yellow, or blue) food dye’  to  ‘drug’
  • ‘any long word you can’t pronounce and know is not food’  to  ‘drug’

Go ahead. Grab a packaged food or two from your kitchen and experiment. How many times do you say the word ‘drug’ when you’re reading off the ingredients on your boxes of cereal and jars of spaghetti sauce?

My guess is, way more than you thought you would.

That’s why it’s so hard to go on a diet and modify the way we eat. We simply have no idea what’s in our food or how it’s affecting us.

Failing a diet or giving in to a craving isn’t just a moment of weakness brought on by your inability to maintain self control. If it were really that simple, the diet industry wouldn’t be a multi-billion dollar a year business.

There is so much more to it than just ‘putting the donut down’ –  Especially in the beginning of your food awareness journey.

Not only are you eliminating your traditional comfort foods and desserts, you’re also detoxing from the drugs and chemicals in those foods.

This process takes time, patience, love, compassion, and grace. It really is a “12 step program” that requires a Spiritual relationship with food.

When we talk about the Spiritual Awakening of our time, what we are referring to is being aware of the connections between who we are and what we do. We are connected Spiritually to every act we commit whether we are conscious of it or not.

Eating, something we do multiple times a day, is the ultimate example of that. We are Spiritually connected to the food we eat.  Everything we consume as humans for the benefit or detriment of our health has a Spirit- or energy. Drugs, be they synthetic or plant based, also have an energetic force – or – Spirit. From a quantum perspective, the Spirit, or energy of the food or drug we take into our bodies, creates a resonating pattern of energy in every bone, muscle, joint, tendon, and cell. In fact, it reduces down energetically to affect even the amino acids in our DNA.

We do, literally, become what we eat – physically, mentally, and Spiritually. Our brains help us out. They create dopamine receptors that consciously seek out the foods we have become accustomed to consuming.

It’s as if we grow energetic antennae that tune in to the things we’re putting into our bodies. If we hardwired our systems to seek out sugar, that’s what our bodies will crave. If we’re hardwired to seek out lettuce – salad will make our mouths water.

It is that simple and that complicated.

The only way to make lasting, long term changes to your diet is to bring Spiritual Awareness (or mindfulness, if you prefer that term) to your food choices.

One of the easiest ways to do that is to ask yourself the following question every time you choose to eat something:

“This is the healthiest choice I can make right now for my body.” 

Then, trust yourself.

Your Soul (Spirit, Higher Self, Connection to the Universe) will automatically become aware of what you’re doing. On day one, a donut may feel like the best choice you are capable of making. But it won’t always be like that.

Down the road, your choices will become better for you. The more you practice this exercise, the more your body begins to pay attention to and resonate with your desire to be healthy. Your body and brain withdraw from food chemicals, dyes, and additives. You develop new ‘energetic antennae’ that are more attuned to the life force of healthier foods. Your body begins to repair and rebuild itself. Life gets better and healthier, one bite at a time.

Mine did.

Check out these articles for more information about the effects of sugar on the brain:

http://mic.com/articles/88015/what-happens-to-your-brain-on-sugar-explained-by-science#.gfugUtpVN

http://www.macrobiotics.co.uk/sugar.htm

Orange Hazelnut Cookies

This recipe is gluten free, oil free, vegan

Ingredients:

2 large, ripe bananas

1 cup chopped hazelnuts

1/4 cup maple syrup

1 cup Gluten free all purpose baking flour

1 cup almond flour

1 T cinnamon

1/4 t orange extract

1 t salt

1 t baking powder

Directions:

Peel bananas and mash them until smooth in a large mixing bowl. Coarsely chop hazelnuts and add to bananas along with maple syrup, salt, baking powder, cinnamon, and orange extract. Mix thoroughly.

Add all purpose and almond flour. Mix until well blended. Spoon out cookies onto cookie sheet lined with parchment paper.

Bake at 350F for 18 – 20 minutes. Yield: 12 – 15 cookies.

These cookies are a great edition to your Holiday Baking for all of your gluten free and vegan friends and family. Happy Holidays Everyone!

Slow Cooker Garden Medley Soup

This recipe is plant based, vegan, gluten free, oil free

Ingredients:

1 celery heart

2 medium carrots

2 sweet potatoes

1 red onion

1 yellow onion

2 tomatoes

1 small head broccoli

2- 4 cups baby spinach leaves

3 cloves minced garlic (or more, depending on taste)

1 small can tomato paste

1 large can coconut milk

1 cup per serving cooked gluten free pasta

Salt, pepper, oregano, sage, dill (to taste)

Directions:

Peel and chop vegetables into bite sized pieces and add to slow cooker. Add minced garlic and seasonings.

Add 1 can tomato paste to a small mixing bowl. Add 1 cup boiling water and mix thoroughly. Add to soup. Cover the rest of the vegetables with water, stir, cover, and cook at desired slow cooker speed.

Pre-mixing tomato paste in water helps it mix easily and consistently into soups and sauces, especially when using a slow cooker.

Add one large can coconut milk approximately 20 minutes before serving. Fold into broth until fully dissolved and simmer until ready to serve.

*Pasta – cook as directed on package. Add one cup cooked noodles per serving to hot soup after soup has been plated.

**For best results: do not add gluten free pasta noodles to the soup stock. They become mushy and do not hold up well. Store pasta separately and add to hot soup soup right before serving**

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Pumpkin Nut Bars

This recipe is: vegan, gluten free, oil free

Ingredients:

15oz can organic, non-sweetened pumpkin

1 c almond flour

2 c all purpose gluten free baking flour

1/4 c maple syrup

1 T cinnamon

1 t baking soda

1 t vanilla extract

1 t orange extract

1/2 c sunflower seeds

1/2 c pumpkin seeds

1/2 c chopped walnuts

Directions:

Add pumpkin, maple syrup, cinnamon, baking powder, orange extract, and vanilla extract to a large mixing bowl. Stir until well blended. Add almond flour and all purpose flour, mix until smooth. Fold in nuts and seeds.

Lightly grease an 8×10 in baking pan. Add batter and spread evenly. Bake at 375F for 35 minutes.

Extra add in ideas: cranberries, chocolate chips, shredded coconut

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