Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Lessons Learned in gluten-free, sugar-free, vegan baking: volume 1

1. My mini food processor is not powerful enough to turn tapioca pearls into flour.
2. When substituting liquid sweeteners for granulated ones reduce other liquid in recipe.
3. Tapioca pearls partly ground do not act like flour.
4. Adding flour that you just discovered you had after all after brownie-like substance has already been cooking for 20 minutes doesn't help.
5. Carob brownie sludge likes to stick to the pan.
6. I should buy ener-g egg replacer and stop wasting my delicious organic Central Market brand applesauce.
7. Why didn't my $30k patisserie education prepare me for alternative baking?
8. Number seven was not a lesson, but I like this numbering thing.
9. These mistakes are expensive.
10. I'm still craving carob brownies. No I'm still craving gooey, chocolatey brownies, but I can't have those so I'll crave carob ones instead.
11. Sigh.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Date Sugar

Why is date sugar so hard to find int his town? With four seemingly good all-natural grocery stores you'd think one of them would sell it, but no. They've had 'a ton' of requests, but for some stupid reason this doesn't mean anything to them. Ugh! I suppose I'll add that to my list of food stuffs ordered over the internet. Anybody have a favorite website to buy natural food items like date sugar and coconut oil?

Gluten free Sugar free and Vegan Oatmeal Cookies

Sounds disgusting right? They are actually quite chewy and yummy. It's not my original recipe, but I did adapt it to get rid of brown sugar. Here's a link to the original recipe by Karina, the gluten free goddess, and below is my version. Enjoy!

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Combine in a bowl and beat until smooth and creamy:

2/3 cup Spectrum Organic Shortening
1/4 cup maple syrup
1/2 + 1/6 cup brown rice syrup
1/2 cup unsweetened organic applesauce
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/4 cup agave

In a separate bowl whisk together the dry ingredients:

1/2 cup rice flour
1/2 cup oat flour
1/2 cup tapioca starch
1/4 cup vanilla rice protein powder
1 teaspoon xanthan/guar gum
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon allspice
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt

Slowly add the dry ingredients into the creamed mixture, beating to combine.

When the dough is smooth, add in the following, by hand, and mix well:

2 cups rolled oats
1/2 cup carob chips (raisins might be better. Ooh or even dried cranberries.)

Use a spoon or ice cream scoop to measure out the dough. They will spread so give them plenty of space.

Bake in the center of a preheated oven for about 9 to 13 minutes, until they are golden. They will be quite soft until they cool.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

New Love

I have a new love. Her name is Rebecca Wood. I found her sight when I was looking for almond butter recipes. The recipe list is small, but looks so yummy. I can't wait to make the honey fried pears.

Diet Day 2

I didn't cheat today. I thought about it, but I held off. I need help. I need recipes for baked goods that are gluten-free, vegan and sugar-free. It is a tall order, but I know good recipes are floating around out there. Please pass them along if you have any. I'm desperate.
I have noticed what difference protein makes. For lunch I had a salad and soup from last night. The only protein came from a 1/4 cup of kidney beans on my salad. After two hours I was starving and grumpy. All I could think about was chicken. I didn't realize how much my body relies on the protein from the dairy I normally eat with each meal.
I went shopping and bought some chicken thighs and organic turkey breast. I am also going to experiment with making almond butter. Buying it already pureed was twice as expensive as buying bulk almonds. I just put it in a blender and whir, right?
Oh, dear.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Diet Day 1

I've decided to just take the plunge. If I don't do it now when will I, right?
My day began with my smoothie. One scoop of this powder, a small banana, 1/4 cup of frozen pineapple, 6 oz. apple juice and a tsp. olive oil. The olive oil adds much needed fat I guess. It's pretty tasty. Really. To finish off breakfast I'll have one serving of Bare Naked granola with hemp milk.
I tried hemp milk yesterday for the first time. I was nervous, but it is delicious and now I'm convinced. I'm not a fan of soy milk. I don't like the taste and it makes me bloated, plus all that info about mimicking estrogen spooks me. Rice milk doesn't have enough nutritional value for me so (and this was before my acupuncture appointment) I decided to give hemp milk a chance. It's loaded with omega 3's, very helpful for mental health.

Snack: cinnamon Lara bar

Lunch: mixed greens salad with kidney beans, roasted red pepper, carrot & avocado

Dinner: Potato, carrot & pea soup with millet. Millet is quite easy and pretty good too, bland and fluffy.

For dessert I'm having almond sunset tea.
Not bad so far. Tomorrow I must go grocery shopping.

Ancestral Diet

My acupuncturist talked about how it isn't easy to correct blood sugar when you are vegetarian. She talked about how our bodies need animal fat and protein to function properly. Lately I've been seeing articles about an ancestral diet. This is a diet mimicking what we as a species ate before industrialized agriculture. We mostly subsisted on what we could gather and hunt. It certainly correlates with eating locally and seasonally, but not with being a vegetarian.
I remember when I was in college the first time around. I was a vegetarian who was sick all the time. I know other factors were involved, but I remember quite well going home and eating meat that my Mother cooked. I always felt better. I felt stronger and healthier. I would return to school and go back to being a sickly vegetarian. As part of my elimination diet I will be eating meat, mostly chicken, but I'd like to try some locally raised lamb and even bison. If you've got good recipes for lamb or bison please pass them along.

Thanks Sis!

My big sister, author of Yarn Unravelled, gave me a Kreative Blogger award. Here I go to try to pick my favorite blogs.

The rules are

1. copy the Kreativ Blogger award to your blog

2. put a link to the person from whom you received the award

3. nominate 8 other blogs

4. and link to them

5. then leave a message on the blogs you nominated

It's going to be hard to pick just 8 but I'm going to try. And if I've left you out it doesn't mean I don't love your blog too!

1. On Fiction
2. Writing Companion
3. Cabinet of Wonders
4. Mind Freedom
5. The Trouble With Spikol
6. Wellness Writer
7. Beyond Meds
8. This Mama's Dharma

Texas wants to drug its children

I found this article today about a couple of disturbing bills in the Texas legislature. At the end of the article there are links of who to contact in case you want to help.

May not be feng shui

I love rearranging furniture. It still amazes me what a difference moving furniture around can make. I was starting to become very unhinged by the state of my space. It was cluttered and busy and full, but I need every piece that's in here. Two desks may seem a bit much for some people, but when one is entirely taken up by a computer it is hard to do any work on it. It would be nice to have more space, but that isn't going to happen anytime soon so last night around 9:00 pm I started moving. If only I had a few elves who could come round and clean for me.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009


I had my first real acupuncture appointment today. It was pretty amazing. We talked for over an hour and then she did some bodywork, which did include needles. I went with a few specific ideas:
1. That I sleep too much
2. That I know something is screwy with my blood sugar
3. That I desperately wish my moods would reach equilibrium.

She looked over my paperwork and said that absolutely everything off about me is related. She validated my own beliefs in the connections between food and mental health and went on to talk about the neurotransmitters in the gut. Here's an article explaining it in more detail.
She is putting me on an elimination diet so we can figure out what's causing my sluggishness and general malaise. I'm a bit freaked out by this diet. It will last three weeks and be devoid of dairy, wheat, corn, tomatoes, eggs, shellfish, soy & peanuts.
Now for a person with a normal job this might not be as hard, but I'M A BAKER! I get paid to mix huge batches of sugar and butter and flour and then slather the results with cream cheese icing. I eat this stuff everyday. I know this is a huge part of my problem, but trying to stay away from it completely for three weeks? I'm scared.
She gave me a smoothie mix based on rice protein and some bovine glandular pills that help balance blood sugar. She did mention that the bovine extract comes from Argentinian cows who are grass-fed and antibiotic & hormone free. Phew. The labels on the bottles look like they were designed for Star Trek.
I'm not sure when I'll start the diet. I'm not ready to jump in tomorrow as I need to write a meal plan and go shopping. I will keep you posted.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

This makes me so Happy!

It's about time the White House got a garden.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Easy Potato Tomato Soup

I've just thrown together a yummy and simple soup. I thought I would pass along the recipe.

Potato Tomato Soup:

1 small yellow onion, diced
2-3 cloves garlic, smashed
2 medium potatoes, peeled & diced
1 small can diced tomatoes
1/2 tsp sage
1/2 tsp thyme

- saute the onion in olive oil till very soft.
- add the garlic, saute 2-3 minutes.
- add potatoes & tomatoes.
- flavor with s & p and herbs.
- simmer until potatoes soft.
- puree about half.

I served it with some roasted garlic bread slathered in local hummus along with a salad of greens, avocado & Texas goat cheese. Mmmmmm!

Friday, March 13, 2009

Jade Leaves Teahouse

I have just found my new favorite restaurant. The Jade Leaves Teahouse on Guadalupe is warm and cozy with delicious food. We started by ordering tea. I picked the house chai and my Mom went with ginger. The chai was a wonderfully spicy blend of black leaves, ginger, cardamon, cinnamon, milk and sugar. If you've ever had yogi tea at Yoga Yoga it's very similar. The ginger tea took a bit longer coming out as it is prepared fresh by the chef. It was as you imagine, hot water with fresh ginger steeped in. It was light and spicy.
Next we had hot & sour soup and dumplings. Their hot & sour is a bit different from the usual. It had a delicate and fresh flavor. In fact those adjectives describe everything there. They really do walk the walk. The produce is fresh and organic as are the meats (local too!) The dumplings were not heavy at all. They were packed with finely chopped veggies and accompanied by a black vinegar sauce.
For our entrees we ordered pad thai and lettuce wraps. The pad thai was unlike any I've ever had. It was so different because it was full of vegetables: bell pepper, asparagus, carrot and purple onions. Again the flavors were subtle and spicy.
At the back of the cafe sits a tiny gallery/gift shop. The walls of the gallery are lined with antique cabinets which are full of stones, jewelry, taoist items, tea pots and other things. One of the waitresses followed us in to find a box. The key she pulled out to open the cabinet she needed was the strangest key I've ever seen. It looked more like an old metal whistle. I wanted to take it home with me.
I am so happy to have found healthy, vegetarian asian food in such a great environment. And now I have the perfect place to celebrate my 30th birthday.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

This is scary.

It's only going to get worse.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Go First Lady, Go!

Here's one more reason to love the Obamas.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

The Lightening Thief

I'm currently reading the second book in the very popular Lightening Thief series. It's fun and fast paced, but I'm becoming disappointed. The idea is clever, resurrect old Greek myths and modernize them, but then the writer has it pretty easy. He doesn't have to create a new world from scratch like other fantasy writers. All he really has to create are his characters and so far they're pretty one dimensional.
I will say that the books have two things going for them: the heroes are dyslexic and ADHD and they're great for learning about Greek mythology. But as a writer I'm not terribly impressed.
They do bring me back to a couple of thoughts that have been circulating in my head for a while. The first is related to another book called the Goose Girl. This book pissed me off because it reinforced the old idea that those in power should stay in power. In a way the Lightening books are doing the same thing. Yes it's for everyone's good, but I'm sick of all these books telling kids that they can rebel, but only within safe parameters so that ultimately nothing really changes. The Goose Girl sparked a character and story in me about a young baker helping to overthrow the government a la the French revolution.
The second thing it does for me is make me think about how mental illness is portrayed in books. I have a character in my head that I sort of pilfered from someone else's terrible story involving fairies and lots of superfluous words. There is a girl in my vision who cannot control her emotions to the point that she is disrupting the world around her. I see her walking and quietly seething anger through a crowded market with a path leading behind her that involves waves of her emotion rippling away from her and destroying or rearranging everything it touches. She is oblivious to this at first, but then learns to harness her powers and becomes a heroine. She is, of course, bipolar and this is a story about acceptance and healing.
If you know any kids struggling with dyslexia or ADHD give them the Lightening Thief. It might help ease some of the negativity they feel about themselves.


It's amazing how much can change in a week. You can decide to go back to school, find a new spiritual path (or name the one you were already on) and accept that you can't change your circumstances. As you can see I've changed what my blog is about. I will still talk about food, but my life is consumed by so much more. I read so constantly that the words I read and write are starting to dominate my thoughts. Food is in there, but it isn't so much in the front right now.
I've attempted to make my living with food and due to my own desires and the job options out there it isn't working out so well. I'm going back to my other first love: books, specifically books for youth (I hesitate to say kids because teens don't think of themselves that way and I hesitate to say teens because I also read and write the stuff 9 year olds like).
So a new face on my blog, but now it feels more organic, more like a reflection of the inner workings of my mind. Now you will find book reviews and story ideas as well as the random reference to mental illness in the world and the delicious dish I cooked last night.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Bye Bye Greenling

I have a very sad post. I joined this great website called Mint. It's a financial site that helps show you your shopping trends. I have come face to face with how much I spend on food and Greenling. Until I gain better employment I will be stopping my Greenling deliveries. This saddens me tremendously, but it's best right now. I will, however, continue to eat as seasonally as I can and shop at Wheatsville where they sell local produce & the triangle farmer's market. So, bye bye Greenling for now.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Structured Chaos

Structured chaos. It sounds like an oxymoron, but for me it's actually a very important tool in daily sanity. As an incredibly creative person I cannot live with complete structure. However I have learned that in order to thrive both creatively and as a normal member of society I need some organization. I really don't think very many people do well under completely chaotic circumstances. I like routine. I like how grounding and soothing it is, but within routine I need some craziness otherwise I get bored very quickly. Right now I'm struggling with scheduling crazy creative time. It sounds ridiculous doesn't it? But many writers and artists say that coming to the page at the same time everyday gives your brain an invisible on/off button. It knows that from 5-6 or whenever it is it's time to play and it begins to work accordingly. But, how, in a life lived with so little control do you actually settle on a time and stick with it? It's so much easier with work, that you have to go to on time each day or you're out on the street and out of health insurance. But survival doesn't depend on that creative schedule, does it? I'm beginning to suspect that in fact it does, but it is so much easier to act as if it doesn't and just suffer. So structured chaos is what I'm after. Any suggestions for how to actually achieve this?

Anything can work

You know, nobody else can tell you what will work for your body. For me it's cutting down on alcohol, meat, sugar and super fattening cheeses. For Mark Bittman it's about being vegan till dinner. it's all about you and what you need to be healthy. Here's short article about his part-time vegan life and a link to the radio show where he discusses it.