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Unless otherwise noted, all recipes on this blog are free of gluten, peanuts, soy, corn, tomatoes, potatoes, shellfish, cane sugar, oranges, and yeast. Most recipes are also free of egg, dairy, and tree nuts (if used, reliable substitutions will be provided for these when possible). Check out my recipe index for a full list of recipes by category. 

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Entries in Mindful Living (7)

Friday
Mar302012

Hello. I'm back. 

me in February

Greetings friends. It's been a while. A long while. I'm still here, really. I've been taking time for myself the last few months, doing much-needed self-maintenance and self-care that had little to do with blogging.

Sure, I've still been cooking and baking up a storm. But I've been doing it without recording everything so intensely and without stressing out over the minimal amount of natural light available during Minnesota winters. Instead of maniacally attacking my laptop as my cookies cooled to write up a post, I've been sitting down with crafts or a book or housemates or friends instead.  Instead of spending weekends holed up in my kitchen, I've been doing all kinds of other things. And I gotta tell ya, it's been great.

My time away has allowed me to form interesting perspective on my place as a food blogger. Since starting my blog in 2008, the landscape of the food blogosphere has changed. It's expanded and exploded and everyone is publishing cookbooks and presenting at conventions and writing for Martha Stewart and Real Simple and doing product reviews and partnerships and doing giveaways all the time and buying amazing cameras and setting up small photo bays at home in their kitchens or wherever the light is the best and sharing everything through every social media channel out there. Blogs are looking beautiful these days, and it is truly inspiring.  And to watch the way that some of my blogging friends have just soared into the stratosphere is really awesome. Hot damn,  they deserve it. 

While I applaud the bloggers that have the energy for that kind of thing, I'm realizing that I just, well, don't. I enjoy the inexactness of spontaneous cooking - something that doesn't bode well for recipe development and cookbook writing. I get overwhelmed by all the new types of social media. I don't want to "check-in" or "pin it", my Twitter accounts were dormant for months, and I'm currently on break from Facebook. Sometimes I only want to focus on what's in front of me, you know? All I wanted to do is make recipes, take a few photos, and share them on my blog, and really, that's all I still want to do, without feeling like I need to participate in all the other stuff. I don't need to have a huge reputation or an outstanding Google rank. I just want to do my own thing and create a space I'm proud of, without pressure. And if people keep noticing and reading, that's awesome! 

In addition to being a cook, a baker, a canner, a fermenter, and a blogger, I am a musician, a crafter and artist, a writer, a gardener, a community organizer, an activist, a whole foods educator, a proud chosen auntie, a committed friend, and a lady about town. This blog is just one of the many ways I express my creativity and define my identity, and I need room for all of these things in my life if I am to remain happy and fulfilled. It's not that I can't focus - I just like to focus on lots of things all at once. 

Honestly, I didn't miss blogging at all until a few weeks ago. It was a relief to allow myself time away from this self-created virtual space, remove myself from the expectations of "oh it's been awhile, I should really post something" or "it's Valentine's Day, I should do a recipe round-up" or "these are great muffins, I should post them". I realized it was okay if I turned the "should" into a "could" and said "no" and did something else instead.

But the desire to write about food and healing is back, and I'll return to my old ways soon, with fresh energy and a new spunk in my step. 

xo

Monday
Feb142011

A culture of love

love is everywhere

"Your task is not to seek for love, but merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it."

-Rumi

How does this quote resonate with you?

[think about it]

This quote has been one of my favorite quotes about love for years.  Instead of telling us to go looking high and low for love, Rumi empowers us to take responsibility for ourselves, and create an environment where love can flourish. Even more, I think this approach love infers that love omnipresent, and what's not to love about that?

When I say "love", I am not referencing the commercialized romantic love that is most often associated with Valentine's Day. That kind of love comes laced with expectation, and needs to be proven through culturally-specific predefined behaviors and the exchange of token material objects.  It is love reserved for individuals in a specific kind romantic relationship, and exists in contrast to the dreaded status of being "alone".  A life without this kind of love is seen as solitary, and that somehow, we deserve this solitary existence for not being "lovable" or "good enough". One might think, "I would find love if...", blaming their body proportions, their health, their bank account, their material possessions, etc. etc. etc., for the lack of "love" in their life.  This thought process is destructive, hateful, and breeds alienation. 

When we feel alienated from love, we are incapable of recognizing our own beauty, and the beauty of those around us. We lose sight of kindness and patience, and give in to anger, frustration, and sadness. These emotions lead to fear.  Fear is the ultimate death of real love.  Fear builds walls against hope, beauty, generosity, and all the myriad ways that real love manifests itself everyday.

Real love, in my opinion, is everywhere, and is accessible to anyone who is brave enough to see it. I see love in anything approached with honest intention. I see it in unexpected kindness from a stranger, in a warm embrace from a friend, in acting with compassion, in being fully and sincerely present with those around you, in sharing a batch of homemade cookies, or in being generous with your time and trust. It means having an open heart, learning to recognize and honor the emotions of oneself and of others.  It means seeing past imperfections and flaws, and embracing true nature and potential.  It means doing something because it feels right, not because you "should". It means setting aside your doubts and acknowledging how totally amazing you are. 

[It's true, you know. You are. You are amazing.]

I think that it is much easier to live in fear than it is to live in love. Forces of fear work on us everyday through the news media, intolerance, hate, political uprisings, mainstream cultural entertainment, and commercial notions of beauty. Materialism and selfishness abound, stemming from fear of not having "enough".  We are encouraged to compare ourselves to others, resulting in a fear that we aren't good enough.  Learning to cut through the fearful messages and break down the walls takes hard work! It requires hope, courage, and an unfaltering commitment to to beauty within

I want to live a life of love, embodying the spirit of Rumi's wisdom. I refuse to be blinded by the barriers of fear and doubt and loneliness anymore.  I want to have my eyes and heart open, share light with the world, and brighten dark corners of alienation. I want to act from my heart with sincerity and trust. I want to fully acknowledge that am an not alone or alienated, but have access to as much love as I am willing to allow for myself.  Love is as vast as the universe.

Will you join me? Let's create a culture of love, together, with every thought, breath, action, intention, prayer, bowl of soup, and gluten-free muffin.

So, with that, I wish you a Happy Valentine's Day. And remember, I love you! Truly, I do. That's why I keep coming back here, after all. 

xo

 

Monday
Feb072011

Beyond Milk: Dairy-Free Sources of Calcium

Updated on Monday, February 7, 2011 by Registered CommenterKim @ Affairs of Living

Do you know that 2 cups of cooked kale has more calcium than a 1/2 cup of milk?

The government recommendation for adults ages 19-50 is 1000 mg of calcium per day. One cup of milk has 296 mg, but there are plenty of reasons you might not to drink milk, from personal preference to medical reasons.  If you avoid dairy due to intolerance or allergy, you may think that you don't have very many options to get adequate calcium. How wrong you are! A diverse diet of whole foods provides endless ways to get easily absorbable calcium, without having to take supplements.  

Maximizing Calcium Absorption

These suggestions are adapted from World's Healthiest Foods:

  • Vitamin D accelerates the absorption of calcium from the gastrointestinal tract.  Fish oil, cod liver oil, salmon, tuna, sardines, liquid and pill vitamin D supplements, and various non-dairy milks fortified with D are good ways to get vitamin D in your diet.
  • High consumption of potassium reduces the urinary excretion of calcium.  To learn more about dietary sources of potassium, check out this post. 
  • High intakes of sodium, caffeine, or protein cause an increase in the urinary excretion of calcium.
  • Certain types of dietary fiber like the fiber found in wheat and oat bran, may interfere with calcium absorption by decreasing transit time (the amount of time it takes for digested foods to move through the intestines), limiting the amount of time during digestion for calcium to be absorbed. Dietary fiber also stimulates the proliferation of "friendly" bacteria in the gut, which bind calcium and make it less available for absorption.
  • Phytic acid, found in whole grains, seeds, nuts, and legumes, can bind to calcium to form and insoluble complex, thereby decreasing the absorption of calcium.  To reduce phytic acid content in these foods, soak your grains, nuts, seeds, and legumes before consuming. 
  • Oxalic acid, found in spinach, beets, celery, pecans, peanuts, tea and cocoa, can bind to calcium and form an insoluble complex that is excreted in the feces. While research studies confirm the ability of phytic acid and oxalic acid in foods to lower availability of calcium, the decrease in available calcium is relatively small. 

Chickpeas pack 105 mg of calcium per cooked cup

Click to read more ...

Monday
Dec132010

Tips for Cooking when You're Chronically Ill

Big pots of whole grains are an easy-to-make staple for any healing kitchen.

Any of us with food allergies and intolerances already have a lot of work to do in the kitchen. But when you are also battling with any type of chronic illness, the challenge becomes even more intense. Combining a limited diet with feeling sick all the time makes it hard to get the motivation and energy to cook. I mean really, when you don’t feel well the last thing you want to do is cook, right?  

I have been fortunate that my Lyme symptoms have never made me totally unable to cook for myself. I have always been able to grocery shop and prepare my own meals.  And while I've always been able to do it, a few years ago when I was very sick it was completely exhausting. I was so brain foggy and fatigued that preparing a meal took forever, and left me feeling trained. I lived alone and was working a full time job, and it was a serious struggle.

During those times, I figured out some tips and tricks that helped me along the way - things that I still do today even though I'm feeling better. The trick is learning how to make the most of your time in the kitchen and get the most out of your meals.  Making big batches, eating whole foods, and getting help from friends are just a few ideas. Here are some of my favorite things I learned, and I hope they help you too.

Tips for Cooking when You're Chronically Ill 

Make big batches and freeze the leftovers. When you’re having a good day or when you have help from a friend, make big batches.  It is more work on the front end, but ultimately, it leaves you with less work.  You can eat off your big batch all week or freeze the leftovers for later.  Basics like cooked rice, quinoa, millet, or any kind of cooked beans can last for 5-7 days in the fridge if tightly sealed, and they can freeze very well for months.  Prepared foods like soups, lasagna (with brown rice lasagna noodles!), casseroles,  burgers and meatballs, and homemade breads and muffins freeze amazingly well. I use a FoodSaver to vacuum package all my foods for the freezer.  Then when I am super busy or having a bad day and can’t deal with being in the kitchen, I can just reach in the freezer and get something wholesome!

Get friendly with quick to prepare whole foods.

  • Split mung beans and lentils cook quick very quickly and don’t require pre-soaking.
  • Whole grains like quinoa, millet, and buckwheat cook in under 20 minutes. Make big pots of a couple different grains at the start of the week and eat off them all week in salads, soups, or just plain.
  • Winter squash are nutritious and so easy to bake, and you can eat off them for days. 
  • Sweet potatoes and regular potatoes can be baked whole in the oven or microwave, and stored in the fridge for 3-4 days.
  • Most vegetables can be eaten raw if you don’t want to deal with cooking them.  Make a meal of bean dip, raw vegetables, and miso soup.

Steam vegetables. Steamed vegetables take only minutes to prepare, are easy to digest, and can be eaten any time of day with any kind of other foods. You can steam vegetables on the stovetop with a steaming basket in a pot, or you can purchase electric vegetable steamer appliances if you don’t trust yourself (and your Lyme brain) with open flame.  My rice cooker even has a vegetable steaming tray that I sometimes use if I don’t feel like using the stovetop.

Make salads and get comfortable with eating raw.  The easiest food in the book.  Bag of pre-washed baby greens, some kind of protein (beans, meat, fish, nuts), and a handful of other vegetables, or a scoop of quinoa or millet.  Add some salad dressing or a little oil and vinegar, lemon juice, or  sprinkle of vitamin C crystals, and you’re done!  Under 5 minutes.  If your body tolerates raw vegetables well, learn to love eating raw veggies with your meals – less prep work, and good for you too!

Eat plenty of nutrient-dense foods. Don't skimp on the calories and fat. Make sure you eat enough during the day, eating eveyr few hours to keep your blood sugar stable and your metabolism going. Assuming that your body can digest fats well,  you should eat lots of healthy fats throughout the day.  Not only will it help the your brains nerve coatings, it will help your body tissues, and give you a sense of satisfaction.  Cook with coconut oil or ghee, and add olive oil, flax oil, pumpkin seed oil, and help oil to salads or over baked sweet potatoes.  Eat plenty of avocados, nuts and seeds, coconut milk, and high quality olives.  If you can, make bone broth, which is a good source of natural fat and nourishing gelatins. While you are healing, it is imperative that you keep your body well nourished, and eating quality fat can really help.

Click to read more ...

Sunday
Sep262010

Packing a Gluten-Free, Allergy-Friendly School Lunch

This month's "Go Ahead Honey, It's Gluten-Free!" event, hosted by Ali of Whole LIfe Nutrition, is focused on packing healthy school lunches. The event was started by Naomi Devlin of Straight into Bed Cakefree and Dried, a blogger I have admired for quite some time. I've always thought this event was great, so I'm excited to participate!

While I may not have children, I do fancy myself a bit of an expert in the lunch-packing arena. I've been brown-bagging it nearly everyday for work the last six years, and since changing my diet 2 1/2 years ago have hardly left the house with a meal or snack, especially on car trips, airplane rides, or long days of errands.   See that meal up there in the photo? It was delicious - red lentil garlic dip, raw veggies, brown rice tortillas, and some raw cashews.  I carried it around Manhattan with me on my last trip to New York, and it was an awesomely easy, affordable, and allergy-friendly way to enjoy an afternoon in Central Park. And although I'm a 28-year-old grown woman, it was a meal that would have been equally appropriate for a school lunch for your little one.

If your child has dietary restrictions, they might feel like "weird kid" when compared to their schoolmates eating processed foods, peanut butter sandwiches, or string cheese. Thankfully, there are lots of ways that you can pack fun and delicious lunches that will make make their tummies happy and probably make their friends wish that you were packing lunch for them too. 

Click to read more ...