Monday, June 17

Eating well, sleeping and trees.

If you have read back in this blog at all, you know that I like good, healthy food. And not so healthy from time-to-time, but almost never what I would consider 'junk' food. I've also preached the importance of eating well for health quite a lot in the past. That holds true to me even more today than it ever has. 
I started eating vegan and gluten free almost two months ago. I won't go into the details of why, that's a whole 'nother post, but I have had fun cooking since then so I will share a bit of food stuffs. Vegan has been easy PEASy (see what I did there? lol), but gluten free... phew, that was hard! I say 'was' because I've gotten over the hump and don't have any cravings anymore, except for the determined need for a tortilla once in awhile. But the way I feel without gluten wins over the few minutes of deliciousness I could have with it. I think the choice I made to go vegan, give up wheat, coffee, and most processed foods in all the same day is really what made it most difficult. Baby steps, folks, baby steps. 

Anyway, a few things I've learned:
  • Beans are amazing. I already knew this but now I use them even more.
  • Nuts are a miracle food. Seriously. 
  • Alternative sources of sugar are far better than the white bagged stuff. 
  • A little fore-thought can take you a loooooonnnnnggggg way.
  • The simpler we keep things, the easier they are, and the happier this mama-cook is. 
I now make A LOT from scratch. I did quite a bit back in Germany, but this is a new level. A lot of vegan foods are not gluten free, and a lot of gluten free foods are not vegan, including most of the bread. This makes it so that I can't just whip up a grilled cheese sandwich on a whim, I have to get my cheese/carb fix elsewhere, or make my own bread (which is much more complicated in the gf realm, and I've already mentioned how much I dislike gf breads). Add to that J hating nutritional yeast cheezy sauce and we've got a problem. But I'm slowly weaning him into it, and I'll feel better when I can get the boxed mac & cheese crap out of our house altogether. I'm not really into making more than one meal, so I have to come up with stuff that the whole family will eat, hopefully, *fingers crossed*.

So, no fancy ingredients, no complicated recipes... just good, wholesome food. Sometimes things seem a bit 'rustic' but I don't mind that at all. 

Like black bean burgers: 

Adapted from this recipe: Home-made black bean veggie burgers.

1 (16 ounce) can black beans, drained and rinsed, laid out to dry for a little while
1/2 green bell pepper, diced
1/2 an onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, smashed and chopped well
1 tbsp. flax meal
3 tbsp. water
1 tbsp. chili powder
1 tbsp. cumin
1/2 c. gluten free bread crumbs
pinch of sea salt

In a medium bowl, mash black beans with a flat objet (bottom of a glass, flat potato masher) until thick and pasty. Mix in bell pepper, onion, and garlic, flax, water, chili powder, and cumin. Mash and mix well with your hands.
Divide mixture into four patties.
If grilling, place patties on foil, and grill about 8 minutes on each side. If baking, place patties on baking sheet, and bake about 10 minutes on each side.

I served it with avocado and spinach... soooo good :) 

I've already used almonds and cashews for a while in cheese and milk and meal making. I make our almond milk for the most part because of cost and carageenan. I just almonds and water, no sweeteners or thickeners since I use it in all kinds of things, and sweet vanilla almond milk in gravy is not so tasty.

It only takes me a few minutes these days, although I was always intimidated thinking that it would be time consuming. 
I just soak a cup of almonds in a jar of water overnight, then drain them and toss them in the blender. I add another 3-3 1/2 cups of water and blend the crap out of it all (maybe about a minute or so). Then I take a strainer and line it with a regular thin dish towel (or an old flat-fold diaper that I used to use for J's burp cloth) and pour the milk/pulp  in. Next all there is to do is grab the corners of the towel, twist the whole thing up and squeeze out all the 'milk'! It lasts three days in the fridge and is great on cereal or for sauces.

The best part about making my own milk is the excess of almond meal I have left-over! It's great for baking and I even make a mock-parmesean cheese from it. To get the meal I just spread the wet granules onto a cookie sheet and cook it for a few hours at 200˚ F, stirring it up once or twice. The time it takes to dehydrate will depend on how much liquid you squeezed out in the first place, about 2-3 hours. Then I run it through the food processor until it's as fine as I'd like and keep it in a ziplock in the freezer. That stuff can get expensive, so it's a nice break to our grocery bill.  

Although I've been working with milks and meals and rudimentary cheeses (like a faker ricotta), I've never ventured into using nuts for whole dishes.... until yesterday! I made this cheesecake for a swim party we had, and it was so very, very good.

J likes his with honey.

I used this recipe for the crust: Gluten free almond tart or pie crust.

And this for the cheesecake part:  Raw, vegan cashew cheesecake.
I didn't have dates, walnuts, or coconut, and didn't care too much about it being raw or not, so I just had to be sure to pre-bake and cool the crust all the way, before adding the cheese.

This food adventure is getting more and more adventure-y while, at the same time, becoming more stream-lined. I definitely know to look for very simple recipes with minimal ingredients... unless I'm making Indian food, in which case the more the merrier!


I have to share this, too. Yesterday I got J to take a nap with me, which is super rare. He's so, so beautiful. 

He also sleeps a lot and still naps about two hours a day! Go Johnny, go! 


And since you missed so much in my blog silence over the past few months, I will be sharing moments here and there from our adventures (we had a few!). 

J and I inside a giant Sequoia tree in California on April 14:

We are actually in a burn scar inside the tree. The lighter brown on the outside will eventually grow around the tree and close it off. I learned that Sequoias only grow so tall, but will grow out for just about ever- a totally cool way of adapting to the fires that occur up there!

Thursday, June 13


I found this and feel that it relates to my last post well:

Tuesday, June 11

Hellllloooo out there!

Hey there ol' blog (and all you guys who read it!). I think I'm back, I'm going to try to write more anyway, I'm missing it an awful lot. 

I spend a lot of time dreaming of the things I want to do. Lots of planning, lots of thinking, lots of aspirations that most people don't even know about because I never get to them. I feel kind of crappy about that most days, and I don't fully enjoy something when I feel like I can't keep up with the people who do these things really well... like blogging. And tattooing. And being a housewife. Thankfully not being a mother, I love that and don't care how others do it. ;) 

I procrastinate... a lot. And I feel bad about it, even though no one ever seems to have much of a problem with it but me. I have so many things I want to learn, a whole back-log of classes I'd like to take or books I'd like to read, but there is always so much in front of those priorities that I rarely get to them. 
I have very good intentions. Not such great follow-through. All these things pile up and I get pretty overwhelmed, and then wind up doing not much of anything at all. 

The issue here is that when I do get it together, maybe for a week out of each month, I feel like I'm faking it. I do well, I make appointments, do some freelance work, keep a budget and a food plan. We make it to the library more often and I get to yoga class during the evenings. I get plans made for the future and feel really good about my follow-through. But the whole time I'm doing this, although I feel good, I just don't ever feel like 'me'. 

Last week, before my first group sewing class, I spent the entire evening before preparing information folders and testing out my class on a friend. I was rushed, and a little disorganized, and very, very nervous... But also very happy and optimistic, and, as usual, I got it all done... and it all went better than I could have imagined. And I was elated, not because I didn't think I could get it all done, but because it had all gone as I had planned. I realized that that is me. I stew and think and put things off, and then I rush around (feeling *extremely* productive and alive) and pull things off just fine, usually better than fine. I apparently work really well under pressure, and I think that's okay. It's just who I am. I'm not type A, that's for sure. Not even type B, I have a hard time truly relaxing... 

So anyway, as I was feeling bad for putting everything off again (even though it all got done) I thought, "Wait a minute. This works for me. Why am I feeling bad?" And so I won't feel bad anymore. I won't let it drag me down and suffocate me. I'll just do what I want as it needs to be done, not as I think it *should* be done. 
I feel about a thousand times lighter already. Why has this taken me 31 years to figure out? This isn't any different from how I already operate, except that now I will feel less guilty and probably will get more done in the long run. That's my theory, anyway. ;)

Let's just call it spontaneity. 


Speaking of spontaneity, we managed to go on our first family camping trip this weekend! We went down to Patagonia Lake state park near the Mexico border. Totally beautiful and totally needed. Chris and I barely bickered (which we tend to do a lot while traveling) and J did amazing. I let him come out to look at the starry sky around 10 p.m. and he was literally aghast. He slept all night in the tent in his own little bed and had a lot of fun exploring and swimming. We are definitely going back down there soon, and I am not even a little afraid to camp with J by myself now! 

 Our tent, next to the lake.

Patagonia lake, with some buzzards I startled. 


One other thing I wanted to write down was just about this blog in general. My life is very different than it was in Germany. Of course nature was a huge part of it there, here it's a bit more difficult to get out and enjoy with the summer heat (and my deathly fear of poisonous snakes/scorpions/spiders). That hasn't stopped us per se, but it has drastically changed the way we spend our time outdoors and the way I've been able to document it. I'm much less inclined to just stop and take photos while letting J wander through the brush. Also, my camera lenses have been broken since we moved here, so I've been stuck with my phone camera, which is less than stellar since it's a Blackberry. 
So things have been a little weird for me when it comes to writing here, my focus has been blurry I guess. Not sure where to channel my energies...
For now I'm going to just use my phone photos and edit them in ridiculously 'creative' ways, (who cares if they don't look 'professional'!) and write about what's important to me now. Johnny, of course, and my musings on parenting and Buddhism. Food, as always (if not more! I'm gluten free and vegan now!) and nature every chance I get. Also some work thrown in... sewing and art. :) I also will make an effort to start labeling posts, for easier searching. 


Well, you've read this far, so I'll share a treat with you! This is my absolutely favourite thing to eat/drink at the moment. Usually it's a chocolate peanut butter smoothy, but today I added a huge scoop of raspberry jam and made it magical! I've been gluten free for almost 6 weeks and have been seriously craving a pb&j sandwich, but I hate all the gf bread out there. I often substitute this for a whole meal, so I add coconut oil since I'm not worried about fat content, but you can leave that out, obviously. I do think oils such as coconut are essential to a healthy diet though! I make this thin and ice cold and J gulps it down.

  • one banana
  • 3-4 cubes of frozen, pureed spinach (I do these in ice cube trays and keep them in a ziplock in the freezer.)
  • 2-3 tbsp. organic peanut butter
  • 2-3 tbsp. jam of your choice
  • 2-3 tbsp. cocoa powder 
  • 1-2 tsp. chia seeds
  • 1 tbsp. coconut oil
  • alt milk (almond, coconut, soy, ect.) to just cover all ingredients in the blender
  • a small handful of ice cubes
  • dates, maple syrup or agave to sweeten to taste (the jam does a pretty good job of this)

Just toss all of this into a good blender and blend until smooth. I usually add the ice cubes after everything is blended and then blend again, that keeps it nice and cold. This makes easily 2 servings. I've kept it in the fridge overnight and it was just as good the next day.

So there ya go, a little of everything! Glad you're still here. ;)