Nourishing Flourishing

Archive | March, 2011

Unfried Refried Beans: The Best

31 Mar

So, I know I’m talking about beans quite bit lately… Beans in soup, beans in curry, beans in pizza, beans in crackers, beans in desserts… Who knows where beans will end up next?! (Don’t answer that…) Anyway, these ubiquitous little balls of protein are showing up just one more place today, before I lay them to rest (for a week, at least)…. Now I know this seems boring. Unfried Refried Beans? But hear me out: 1) This is the easiest recipe for beans ever. 2) It’s one of the healthiest things you can eat. 3) It’s insanely delicious. Better than the lard-infused kind my dad grew up with and reminisces about. My husband begs — begs — me to make these every week. And they’re so easy, I usually do. And every time, he takes a bite, closes his eyes, and gives me his Giada face:

Then he sings my the beans’ praises — because you know they’re simply the best.

(I just wish he would sing it with a horse next to him. While wearing high heeled booties. And a leotard. You go Tina.)

So. Trust me that these really are worth having more beans in your life, and on the blog. Speaking of the blog (and not fleeing it due to the prevalent bean-centric recipes), I have so many posts lined up for the next month that I am seriously excited to share. A few of you have already made awesome general and recipe requests; feel free to leave a comment, tweet, or email me if you have any in mind, too!

Ok. Wow. ADD runs strong in this family. –> The beans.
I used a mix of dried adzuki and black beans to make this batch, because it’s what I had on hand, but truly you can use whatever bean you like. Also, this is an excellent way to save money — dried beans are pretty much always cheaper than canned! You can make this on the stove instead of in a crockpot; just soak your beans the night before, and cook until very soft. Then follow steps 4-6. Simple simple.

Ingredients:
2 C dry beans
6 C water
2 t salt
2 t coarse ground pepper
7 cloves garlic, chopped (not too small)
2 Tb oregano
1 1/2 T cumin
1 t paprika
cayenne and extra salt to taste

Recipe:
1) Add everything to the crockpot.
2) Set to High.
3) Walk away for a few hours.
4) Once everything is nice and soft (beans break easily — mine took about 5 hours), pour out most of the excess water, reserve 1 cup of beans if you like it chunky, and transfer everything else to a blender or food processor. (Be careful — it’s hot!)
5) Add lots of salt (if you’re like me, at least). Whir it up to the consistency you like.
6) Pour into a bowl, and add reserved beans (if you like it chunky). Mix them in, mashing a little along the way.

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That’s it! Sometimes I find I like to add a few more sprinkles of spice at the end, just to give it extra pop. I ate mine with — what else? — more beans: my herbed chickpea crack-ers. I know, I have a problem. Please do something normal, like putting it in a burrito with non-bean complements… Oy.

Ok. No beans in sight for a while — promise! < 3
How do you eat your beans? Post requests?

Part of the Pennywise Platter Carnival

Herbed Chickpea (Garbanzo) Flour CRACKers

30 Mar

We like to joke in our family that the women on my mom’s side have a problem — we love salt, we love vinegar, and we loooove CRUNCH. If crunch were an entity in itself, rather than a quality, I would have married myself off to Crunch decades ago. God forbid any Star Trek crazy alternate realities in which Crunch is an entity. And single.

This is getting awkward, isn’t it? Ok. Well, all that silence on your end and blabbing on about Crunch on my end aside, I should tell you… *deep breath*: I am a crack[er] addict. When I left gluten behind, and soon after grains altogether (yes, I know! I’ll share more about that in an upcoming post; it’s a long story), the most challenging part of my new eating style was that I could only crunch on so many roasted almonds before I felt like I was turning into one.

(“Violet, you’re turning violet, Violet!” <– Only replace “Violet” with “Almond,” and forget the whole spoiled-rich-brat thing…)

Needless to say, I am so, so, so grateful to be able to expand my Crunchy repertoire again!

You all know I’m on a chickpea flour kick lately; I make something with it literally every day. I decided that since I’m happily married, I should meddle, and try to match-make my favorite single friends. Isn’t that what married people do? (Joke.) Crunch, meet Chick Flour. Chick Flour, Crunch.

It was lust love at first bite.

Ingredients:
3 Tb ground flax seed
1/2 C + 2 Tb water
1 C chickpea (garbanzo bean) flour
1/2 t salt
1/2 T extra virgin olive oil
1 Tb rosemary
1 t basil

Recipe:
1) Preheat oven at 350*. Make flax egg by mixing water and flax. Set aside to thicken for a few minutes.
2) Mix dry ingredients.
3) Add wet ingredients to dry and stir to combine. (If you need to add another TB or two water, go ahead.)
4) Wet hands with water, and remove dough from bowl.
5) Place dough on a parchment paper-laden baking sheet, and begin to flatten with hands (you may need to keep re-wetting them with water). The thinner, the crisper (but also potentially more delicate).
6) Once you’ve shaped the dough, you can sprinkle a little extra salt on the top (or way too much, like I did), or just pop ‘em in the oven as-is.
7) Watch closely; when edges and top are browned, remove them. It will vary depending on your oven (mine took about 15-20 minutes). The longer they are in there, and the longer they cool, the crisper they will be.

You can immediately break them apart by hand (I did) for a more rustic cut, or score them before they go into the oven. Either way, let them cool 1/2 an hour before chowing, so they can crisp up.

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Did I mention how these really do have the texture of a quality cracker? That they can stand up to the test of hearty dips (I think this would be insanely delicious with tapenade)? That they are healthy to boot — high in protein, iron, fiber, and the antioxidant manganese? Oh, and that they’re vegan? You’re welcome. <3

What healthy crunchables do you enjoy? Have you “married” any wonder foods together lately?

The Curse of Sleep

29 Mar

So, I have a long list of recipes that I am so excited to share (and I’m considering posting one later today — clearly, I have no self-control…so check back ;  ). However, right now I want to toss something else into the mix… Are you down with that? Hope so. (If not, feel free to click around here. < 3) I figure I might as well be honest. Health is balance, and right now, there is one area of my life that is totally out of whack.

As a former English major, I don't agree with this, but find it hilarious.

 

I have a confession (what’s new, right? You always get more than you ask for over here!)… I love waking up early. But there times when I hate going to bed (to sleep, that is *cough*). It’s not that I am freakishly well-rested, nor is it that I’m anything less than madly in love with my husband (wink). The truth is, it feels like I’m waving a white flag of surrender at the day; as if I could have somehow squeezed in even more work. My family has a curse. Yes, a curse. For some reason, on my dad’s side, we resist bedtime like it’s the electric chair. We loathe it. We fight it. Sometimes, we conquer it and maniacally laugh in its face. And then, we wake up and realize we were dreaming, and sleep won after all.

When I would visit my folks in college, everyone else went to their respective sleeping quarters (<– fancy way of saying bedrooms) whilst Dad and I found any and every reason to weakly persevere into the darkest hours of night. We had our honor to prove. (That didn’t make sense then, nor does it now…) We watched movies. We told stories. We laughed. We quoted old SNL skits. We… grew weary. We slumped deeper into the couch, and finally onto a floor sometimes…

BUT, that’s more of a historical thing. I’ve gotten a lot better. Truly. These past two years in particular, I’ve gone to bed at a reasonable hour most nights. For a while, I was even snuggled in early enough to read a few pages of my book before dozing off. But this past week or so, things keep coming up unexpectedly. And I respond (unwisely) by telling Sleep — who I need and secretly love — that it’s over. I remind Sleep that I was so much better off before it walked into my life, complicating my productivity. We both know I’m lying. We both know how badly I need Sleep to stay with me, so that I can continue to do what I love. So that I can flourish.

I find routine is what keeps me going strong in most areas of my life. Call me Type A, OCD, or anal retentive — either way, I need a list, clean countertops, and consistency at all times.

This past week my bedtime routine of:

1) Sleepytime tea approximately 1 hour prior to cuddling up in bed
2) Brushing teeth, etc.
3) Teasing/keeping husband awake with clever jokes and impressions
4) Acquiescence to lights out and eventual sleep

Has become the ugly chaos of:
1) Sleepytime tea approximately 7 hours before quietly slipping into bed (while trying not to wake soundly sleeping man-partner)
2) Work
3) Work
4) Hugely ineffective and slowed productivity due to exhaustion, work
5) Brushing teeth, etc.
6) Try not to look at the clock as I collapse into bed, inevitably stirring man-partner and disrupting his sleep

Yep. Need to work on that. Especially because I am hypersensitive to a lack of sleep. If I lose a couple hours, I feel sick the whole day. I get headaches and coughs. Bleh. Not to mention, it makes me even less efficient the next day, which snowballs, of course. So. I hereby state another reaching point for myself: I will be in a bed by our established bedtime each night this week! Ok. Now I’m accountable. ;  )

 

What tips do you have for a solid routine when things get busy? Can you feel the impact of not sleeping easily?

Eating Healthy 102: Buying Produce + Staying on Budget

28 Mar

This is the third part of the Eating Healthy 101 series, and part 2 of Shopping for Health. As I said last time, you do not have to spend a crazy amount of money to buy produce and/or support organic. I used to think that I had to shell out crazy amounts of cash to eat organic, and to be true to my values of helping our ecosystem, small farms, and my body. Not so. There are a few options that can make it more feasible to integrate organic produce into your kitchen:

1) Find a CSA or local farm or co-op. You can be as involved as you want to be. We were thrilled with our CSA last summer, and even received a discount for being affiliated with the university (as in half price…)! Most will offer you a hefty discount (often = FREE) in exchange for doing a working share (anywhere from 1 to 20 hours a week to help harvest, water, bundle, etc.)

Keep in Mind: With a CSA, you become a shareholder — you enter into the risks of farming with the producer. Thus, you pay, say, $300 or so in advance for a growing season (~ 4-5 months). If a hail storm hits or a crop floods, you won’t be getting any vegetables that week. It certainly makes you appreciate the vocation of a farmer so much more — hard work, with little control over factors that affect your livelihood (weather, etc.)! By joining a CSA, you know where and who your food comes from. You are investing in your community. You also have the unique element of receiving produce that you may not have experimented with before, so this option requires another (more fun) level of flexibility. It’s a nice way to get variety into your diet, indulge your creative side, and acquaint yourself with agriculture — one of the most vital, yet (unfortunately) distant and unknown sources of our life.

Do your research and take advantage. I make sure that I know my options: in the winter, when our CSA and Farmer’s Market are not operating, we mostly get our organic produce from the grocery store. But I know where various types of produce are cheapest, and I always prepare for deals and sales (e.g., when organic apples are on sale for $.50/lb, you better believe I buy 15 or more lbs). Whatever produce you don’t eat, you can freeze. Squash, apples, carrots, onions, and sweet potatoes actually last a crazy long time if stored properly (hard shell squash = MONTHS).

Shop what is in season: it’s easier to anticipate what will be on sale, and it will more likely be local. This is especially useful for organic produce. If something is seasonal, there will be an abundance, and thus an incentive for sellers to get the produce sold before it spoils. Check out this site for a calendar of what is seasonal in your region!

Make a limit for produce using the $$$/lb method. You may be surprised at how cheap it can be. In fact, a recent study showed the people saved on money (and obviously became healthier) by buying more produce and less processed foods. Processed foods only seem cheaper — they aren’t by nutrient and lb. Also, scour. I find that the organic apples at our market are almost always CHEAPER than the conventional. Seriously. You just have to look; most people miss out because of assumptions.

* We shoot for at, or under, $1/lb for all of our produce (and we buy mainly organic). About 80-90% of our produce falls into this criteria.

* Our upper-limit is $1.99/lb – mostly for special occasions, etc. There is some wiggle room for things like organic berries/cherries which tend to be pricier by the lb regardless, but they still need to be on sale. They are occasional treats (see below).

Look for items that are nutrient dense and inexpensive. Recently resources that analyze factors of nutrient density and price have been popping up. Essentially, they help you to understand how to get the most nutritional bang for your buck. These aren’t perfect systems, but can be helpful. Here are some foods that I strongly recommend for staying on a budget and nourishing your body:

* Bananas – (if organic and fair trade – are at the most .$69/lb. And that’s at Whole Paycheck Foods!) Conventional bananas are less than $.50/lb. Consider also how satiating fiber-rich foods like bananas are!
* Sweet potatoes are unbelievably cheap ($.30-$1.99/lb at most), and they are also amazingly healthy. Watch for more recipes involving this wonder food soon…
* Kale, cabbage, and broccoli tend to be lower priced than many other vegetables year-round, and are nutritional powerhouses.

Be Discerning About Organic: Use the Dirty Dozen to guide how you prioritize organics. We always buy organic apples, and never have to go above $1/lb. Sometimes, however, we can’t justify the expense of more negotiable items on the Dirty Dozen, so we don’t beat ourselves up about not supporting organic 100% of the time. We can only do our best. For instance, grapes should always be organic, but if that’s not feasible for our budget, we make them a treat once in a while. It might be an adjustment, but it will save you money, help keep you free of nasty pesticides and carcinogens, and I guarantee you will not take grapes for granted any more! Win win win.

Buy bulk!!! Dried fruit, beans, peas, lentils, grains, and nuts – even various whole grain flours – are all available here. If you do not currently shop in the bulk aisle, give me three bullet-points to convince you:

* We cut our food budget in HALF by switching to bulk bins, rather than buying prepackaged portions. No joke. Compare prices by the lb of canned and bagged goods to see the difference. Oatmeal is especially cheap!
* Soaking and cooking dried bulk items helps control portions and ingredients/additives, as well as the personal fulfillment of not relying on packaged foods.
* It eliminates plastic and packaging that is unnecessary, adds to the cost, and is wasteful for the environment. Bulk saves resources, money, and wasted food, as you can take only what you need.

 

Buy healthy, plant-based proteins. Bulk bins, again, are your friend here — I am not talking about soy (which may be cheap but comes with a cost of other sorts). Even the cheapest meats average $3/lb, while beans and legumes are as low as $.70/lb! You may try being a weekday vegetarian, if only to save money.

*Beans, legumes, peas, and nuts are all great places to start, and usually are less expensive than their animal counterparts. I find these plant proteins not only make me feel better, they are satiating for longer than meat.
*Don’t forget that dark leafy greens and whole grains (like quinoa, brown rice, and millet) are high in protein! You don’t have to center each meal around an animal, so save some money and try being creative with your protein options.

What are your thoughts? Do these help you save? Any other tricks?

Cinnamon Rolls + The Best Vegan Frosting

27 Mar

Thank you so much for your wonderful input on yesterday’s post! My heart is just full from reading your thoughts and reaching points.

So. Cinnamon Rolls. Whenever a sheet of them was around our house as a child, I would devour only the gooey centers — you know what I’m talkin’ about — and leave the drier outer rings for less ingenious family members. The entire pan of cinnamon rolls was a casualty of this destruction — not one remained unmarred.

(click for source)

I actually still get in trouble for picking raisins, nuts, berries, etc. out of things (don’t be afraid to eat with me — it’s strictly a family dysfunction). I once ate all — ALL — the raisins out of a new bag of bagels. When my BFF Manfriend got home he said, “Why is this bag full of torn up bread?” I tried to explain that when a raisin hankerin’ hits, I can’t be held accountable, and surely he understood how much better plump raisins with dough residue on them are than the dry, unadorned kind from a box…? Plus, we were out of the latter.

We now buy raisins regularly.

This is a high protein, vegan, refined sugar-free, grain-free, fairly low-glycemic (at least compared to the “original”) delicacy. It is surprisingly healthy, simple, and close to the real deal. It isn’t dry like other gluten-free breads, and will satisfy all the other crazies gooey-center lovers out there. ;  ) As you see below, you can shape these however you like.

Ingredients:
1/2 C blanched almond flour (Bob’s Red Mill doesn’t work well, I hear. I use this brand, or you can d.i.y.)
1/8 t baking soda
pinch of salt
1 t cinnamon (+ more for inside)
1 Tb ground flax seed
4 Tb water
1 Tb agave (or honey, or other sweetener)
1/8 t almond extract (optional — just to enhance almond flavor)
2-3 dates (insert jokes here)

Makes 2 rolls.

Recipe:
1) Preheat oven at 350*. Vigorously mix warm water with ground flax to create a “flax egg”. Let sit to thicken.

2) Mix dry ingredients.

3) Mix wet ingredients.
4) Mix wet and dry ingredients with a fork.


5) (Once combined, it will be sticky, so wet your hands and keep ‘em that way.) Shape the dough into two equal sized rectangles on a baking sheet (I used parchment).
6) Squish or chop dates.
7) Cover each dough piece with dates, and generously sprinkle cinnamon on top of dates.
8 ) Wet hands again, and carefully start rolling from the short end of the dough.

 

9) Bake. Watch closely; they take about 20-25 minutes, depending on your oven. Remove when you see light browning on the top and/or edges. Frost if desired (see below).

 

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While the rolls bake, you can whip up The Best Vegan Frosting of All Time. It tastes just like frosting should. It has some cream cheese flavors going on, ever so slightly, and thus is perfect for a cinnamon roll! Also glorious on carrot cake. Or a spoon. Anything, really…

Ingredients:
2 Tb coconut butter*
1 Tb agave (or other sweetener)

Recipe(ish):
1) Mix together with a fork until smooth.

For 2 cinnamon rolls, cupcakes, etc.

I guess one step doesn’t qualify as a recipe, but whatever this is, it falls into the Awesome category. Adding vanilla would up the classy factor, too. *Note that coconut butter is not the same thing as coconut oil. To make coconut butter at home (and save some major $), just dump a bag of unsweetened coconut flakes into a food processor and whir it up until smooth. Bam. Done.

Well. I hope this wasn’t anticlimactic for you. I have been lusting for a cinnamon roll for roughly 4 years now, so this may have been more exciting for me than it was for you ;  ) In any case, it came together (labor time) in about 10 minutes. The only hard part was waiting 20 minutes while they baked. That and the sadness that ensued when they were gone, 1 minute later.

Better go make some more. Enjoy your Sunday!

What is a weird thing you did with food as a kid (or now)?

These recipes are part of the fabulous Kelly at The Spunky Coconut’s Our Spunky Holiday post. Thanks Kelly! : ) She has awesome gluten-free, casein-free, and sugar-free recipes on her site, plus she lives near Boulder. What could be better?!

What Does Health Look Like To You?

26 Mar

Firstly, oh mannn, have I got an amazing recipe for you tomorrow!!! Vegan. Gluten-free. Deliciousness. In a few words. (Phew! Thanks for letting me get that out. Rarely do I justify 3 whole exclamations, but this is very deserving — according to my tastebuds…) But today’s post is awesome(sauce) too… I am already eager to read your answers to my question at the end ;  )

As I’ve said before, I used to have a completely mistaken attitude toward fitness and health: I thought a photoshopped fake model on the cover of a magazine was my standard. If I looked like that, I was “healthy.” Automatically.

…I know, I needed a moment to stop laughing too. Ah, one of the many erroneous thought patterns of my youth…

If you want to see just how ridiculous photoshopping has gotten…

Seriously?

 

Note: Here is an awesome resource that actually offers suggestions and opportunities for being proactive about this issue.

Anyway, I finally reached a point where I could rationally consider what it meant to be healthy for me, and as I age (not that I’m old, ha), I realize a little more each year that health is so much deeper, and so much more, than what we’re told it is (see above photoshop-esque nonsense projections)… My health is my body, but also my mind. It is how I interact with everything and everyone around me. It is how I approach life. It is the strength inside and outside complementing one another.

Now that I’ve gained perspective, I find it helpful to have standardsreaching-points” for (holistic, not just physical) health. They develop and change over time with me, and keep me growing, without obsessing. It helps me to reflect on what health is and means to me!

Here are some of my reaching points right now:

This is the most appropriate "reach" photo I had... :)

 

  • Smile and laugh readily and freely.
  • Be thoroughly honest with myself, and others, even when it is awkward or difficult. (If you know me, you know this is almost a fault now ;  )
  • Be able to hike a mountain whenever the mood and weather occur.
  • Be thankful.
  • Be generous in thoughts, words, and deeds ( = empathy)
  • Be able to walk comfortably to the market and carry back our ludicrous amount of produce.
  • Be able to lift someone up if they are injured/need assistance.
    • This actually really paid off over Christmas break when my Grandma fell, and could no longer hold herself up…
  • Feel awesome in my clothes. (= confidence)
  • Feel awesome naked.
    • Yes. Naked. I change with modesty — but not shame anymore — in locker rooms. Bam.
  • Be patient with myself.
  • Keep reading, learning, discussing.
  • Be encouraging.
  • Go up all the stairs I use frequently without losing my breath.
  • Be able to do crow.
I know, my head needs to be up. Sorry. Mid action shot?

 

  • Buy only unprocessed foods. (This is real, and doable.)
  • Buy local and organic as much as possible.
  • Oppress others as little as possible in my lifestyle choices.
  • Try hard not to buy anything new, unless it is an absolute necessity.
  • Take care of those around me as well as I am able.
  • Cook all our meals, 99% of the time.
  • Be able to protect myself if necessary.
  • Assume the best about everyone; be merciful without hesitation. (We all have our moments!)
  • Use non-toxic, natural products, preferably homemade.
  • Do interval cardio sessions that leave me sweating.
  • Be able to do chaturanga for a good length of time… This lets me know that I can support myself, which is important to me on a variety of levels, both physical and metaphorical.

  • Strength training using weights.
    • Since I started this three years ago, I am in awe of the transformation of my confidence, my stamina, my metabolism, and my….well, strength! I faced something I was deeply afraid of and totally kicked it in the facehole. This obviously helps me with so many practical things. Significantly, though, I am not afraid of the gym, or weights, or my own strength anymore. At. All.

These are just a few random selections, and they will surely transform into new reaching points. As you can tell, it’s important to me that my healthy lifestyle extends beyond myself. That is something I will be working on until the day I die, but I still celebrate when there is growth there! :  ) I know that I am proud of where I’ve come, and where I’m headed. It’s not about competition. It’s not about comparison. It’s about inspiration, and growing because I can. I will keep my reaching realistic, but also challenging. I liken it to the yoga rule of stretching – reaching just to the point of discomfort, but not pain, so that I get better without hurting my progress.

Now the real question: What about you? What are some of your reaching points?

I can’t wait to read them!

Simple, Natural, Sugar-Free Soda (AKA: The Mocktail)

25 Mar

Anyone else need a drink come Friday? Even when I was a kid, I used to look forward to Friday nights partly because it meant I could drink Diet Pepsi to my heart’s caffeine-induced tachycardic content. Oh, that and a little thing called T.G.I.F. Ever heard of it?

Please don’t judge me… We didn’t have cable. I watched TV pretty much only on Friday nights, and solely for this glorious marathon of terrible awesome coming-of-age crises. I can tell you about when Steve Urkel became Stefan, and how Cory and Topanga were meant to be. Wow. I’m already embarrassed…(NOTE: I do not have a TV any longer, so…that makes up for this right? …right?)

Anyway. This relates to the title, promise. (Not that much, actually. I’m kind of lying to you.)

When I want a special something to take the edge off my day, but am too cheap to break out the alcohol (or it’s only 11am), this is my go-to drink. It’s simple, refreshing, and I can sip as much as I please without worrying about whether my heart will explode from racing so fast. Or that my insides will crystalize from the aspartame (curse you, Diet Pepsi). Or that I’ll be plastered before noon. It’s the perfect mocktail — citrus kick, fizzy carbonation, sweet tooth satisfaction. This is an amazingly healthy alternative to regular pop/soda/what-have-you. Give it a go!

Ingredients:
1 lemon
1 lime
Carbonated water, soda water, Perrier, etc.
Stevia

Recipe(ish):
1) Cut lemon and lime into wedges
2) Squeeze 1/2 of each into 2 glasses
3) Add ice (if desired), and pour carbonated water into each glass until full
4) Drop liquid stevia (or pour dry stevia) in small amounts until desired sweetness. Stir.

That’s it. We often make these when having friends over, and always get them hooked! It’s very adaptable, hardly a recipe. Just add the juice and stevia to your liking! I prefer a limeade-esque “adult” drink (that’s what my dearest Manfriend BFF calls it) — which simply means I put less stevia in mine. J, on the other hand, prefers his to be a “kid” drink. I think you can envision him holding the stevia dropper for outrageous lengths of times. Drop drop drop drop…*pause, taste*….drop drop drop drop drop…etc. He makes me smile, laugh, and… cringe (when I take a sip of his).

TGIF! Hope you’re celebrating ;  )

What was your favorite thing to do on a Friday night as a kid? Now?

Socca Pizza Crust

24 Mar

I know that I am not even close to the first person to figure this out (I know at least The Twins, Ashley, and HEAB have made socca pizzas of a sort, or you can do a google search for a plethora of examples). But, it was such a hit in our home that I wanted to share “my” method too, just in case you haven’t heard about the glory of the best gluten-free pizza crust of all time. :  ) And it really is. It’s grain-free. It’s vegan. It’s protein-packed. It’s satiating. It’s simple. The kicker? It’s as few as 3 ingredients. 3. Chickpea/garbanzo bean flour (besan), water, and salt. I added spices because I wanted that delicious pizzeria flava. And our kitchen smelled amazing, as a result.

Does this bring back memories for anyone else? Anyone?

 

I have a permanent association with TMNT and pizza, due to some really clever and intense advertising in my childhood. Thanks, 80s and 90s marketing. I remain at your mercy, apparently…

Ingredients
1/2 C chickpea flour
1/4 C water (feel free to add more if you want a thinner crust, opposite for thicker. Mine was the consistency of pancake batter.)
Generous salt (salt is the main flavoring, so don’t skimp!)
Oregano (optional — I used ~ 1 1/2 t)
Basil (optional — I used ~ 1 t)
Rosemary (optional — I used ~ 1/2 t)
1-3 Tb extra virgin olive oil for pan

Recipe(ish)
1) Mix water, chickpea flour, and spices together.
2) Heat 1-3 Tb extra virgin olive oil on medium in a large, flat skillet/pan. (I used my beloved small cast iron.)
3) Pour batter into pan, spreading evenly with a fork if needed to achieve consistent height throughout.
4) Let the bottom crisp, and when it is sturdy flip.
5) Let the other side crisp as well, and when the texture is right for you, it’s done!

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The fun part comes next. Toppings! I’ll post my homemade pizza sauce soon, but use whatever you like. My favorite (if I’m in a pinch and can’t use my own) is Muir Glen Organic Pizza Sauce. It is literally the best tasting (purchased) pizza sauce that has ever graced my tongue. And I eat tomato sauce for breakfast (that’s actually kind of true…). I highly recommend it!

Just smooth on the amount you like, sprinkle (organic or vegan) cheese on top, and throw on any veggies. Here I added red onions (a necessity for any good pizza slice), black olives, tomato, and zucchini slices. Stick it under the broiler just long enough to melt the cheese, and prepare for a tasty mouth explosion of joy. My BFF Man-Partner (I like to make you, and him, feel as awkward as possible) tried a piece and begged me to make him one. He couldn’t stop raving about it all day and night. Try it and see if it has the same effect on you : )

What are your toppings?

My go-to trifecta is green peppers, red onions, black olives. But I would take any other veggies I was offered ;  )

I Don’t Wash My Hair.

23 Mar

NOTE: There is a follow-up/FAQ post! Click here if you are looking for more detailed information : )

Yessir (ma’am?), you read that correctly. I don’t wash my hair. Fact. (I hope I roped you in… I feel like we’re taught early on in middle school to have a catchy title that’s misleading and sensational enough for a teacher to give it a proud nod, and pass your name on to the National Enquirer. Apparently that’s an important part of learning to write an essay. Who knew?)

Anyway… I suppose I should come clean (*snort*) and let you know that I may or may not wash my hair, depending on your definition. (Most of you are thinking, “If that has to have a definition, it’s not washing…” Please don’t exit yet. I’m not as gross as I seem.)

Here is an accidental shot of my hair my husband took whilst hiking this Sunday (after a few days of not ‘washing’)…pretty normal, right?

Our good friend Joshua (the one I bribe to eat salad by making honey mustard dressing) was here last night, and somehow it came up that I don’t use shampoo or conditioner, nor do I really use much soap (an upcoming post). He was shocked. But after talking we seemed to be on the same page, and it actually made sense that my hair looks as healthy as it does.

This is what I do, instead of shampoo: After getting my hair wet, I use a small amount of (1-2 Tb) baking soda and (1/2 – 1 cup) water, mix, pour or rub into my roots only, let the shower spray a little more on roots (only) again to spread it out, massage my scalp, let it sit for a minute or so, rinse, and condition with a tiny bit (>1 Tb) of apple cider vinegar mixed with (1/4-1/2 cup) water only on the ends of my hair, and rinse. If I want, I rub a miniscule amount of almond extract on my hair (totally unnecessary, I just like the scent). No, I don’t smell homeless. No, I don’t smell like vinegar. No, my hair doesn’t look like someone who never showers. If anything, I get kind compliments on how healthy my hair looks! No one believes me when they learn I don’t shampoo.

Let me start by giving you the main reasons I believe that shampoo is not a necessity, and is actually more destructive than helpful:

1) Cost

After I realized shampoo was not a necessity, I also realized how much money I wasted on it in the past. Some women are willing to shell out $50 (yes, I have seen this) on shampoo and conditioner. On a normal basis. Most people might spend $6 a month or so on average for hair care like this. Baking soda is so much cheaper, especially if you get it in bulk! I spend maybe $1 a month, and I don’t even get mine in bulk. Why be dependent on something you don’t need?

2) Health

This was my internal conversation as I considered going “[sham]poo-less”: Self, did you know that your skin is the largest organ in/on your body? And that those little pores actually absorb things into your bloodstream? Guess where your bloodstream goes? Oh yeah, all through your entire body system. Do you really want to fill it up with things like Sodium C14-16 Olefin Sulfonate? You wouldn’t eat it, right? Sick. That junk is used in car washes and engine degreasers. Why are you putting this in your body?!

This was my logic, at least. It’s one of the easiest ways to avoid nasties like carcinogens and other toxic chemicals. It just seems like even if not using shampoo didn’t work out, it would be better to sacrifice a little vanity for the sake of…you know…life, health, vitality.

Emily did a great post earlier on how preparing for pregnancy helped her make some good choices about products like these — things that she would never want to expose her (yet unborn) baby to. This led her to question exposing herself to them, too.

3) Environmental stewardship

I considered how many plastic bottles are produced for the purpose of beauty products. And how few of them are recycled. And how much energy and other resources are used by factories to continue to manufacture shampoo alone. It makes me sad. I reuse the container I keep my baking soda in. That makes me less sad. Oh, and I don’t have to wash my hair as much! Saves water. Saves time. Win win win.

What about all the junk going not only into my body, but also into my drain and water system? How might that affect other people and animals who drink the water, bathe in it, etc? I found that once I actually looked into this, I wasn’t very satisfied with the results… That’s not a scare-tactic, it’s an honest reflection: things need to change.

4) Simplification/Less consumerism

You spend less, you buy less, you need less. I love feeling like I’m free and not “owned” in some sense by “stuff.” It’s nice to not be reliant on a product.

5) It makes my hair look and feel awesome. There, I said it.

My hair is soft, manageable, and shiny. Shampoos are harsh bleach-mimickers, and they strip your hair of necessary oils. This makes your oil-glands freak out and start producing extra oil, because they’re confused (soap does this too, by the way). Then, the vicious cycle continues…–> oil –> strip –> extra oil, etc. With a [sham]poo-less approach, your hair gets the oils it needs, and is no longer high maintenance! No damage = no need to drop big $$$ on fixing your hair constantly. My hair has never been healthier. Ever.

Does this all sound crazy? Yes. Most good ideas do. That is not a reason to blow something off, in my opinion.

Is there a transition period? There is indeed a transition period, of about a month, where your hair might annoy you a little. If you are really afraid of this, you can ease into being ‘poo-less by using either organic shampoos that are safer than normal junk or some Dr. Bronner’s. But try to wean yourself off of it — down to once a week or so. Then let it go. Give yourself a full month or two before you say “I can’t do this!” It’s going to take time. Change is hard, especially when your body has grown accustomed to responding in a specific way. Don’t worry about it. It takes time for your oil glands to adjust. Just be patient with yourself. You’re still pretty. You’re still lovely. You will be healthier. It’s all good. Love yourself enough to trust that it will be ok, and this is what taking care of yourself looks like! <3 (Oh, and maybe invest in a cute headband to cover it up if you’re that self-consious ;  )

I wish I could cover everything extensively, but as it is, others have done a better job than I. I think if most people really looked into this, they wouldn’t easily dismiss the costs (figurative and literal) of using shampoo. Here are more helps to check out as you mull this over:

Ok. Enough lecture. What about you? Thoughts? Objections? Questions? Speak your mind!

Eating Healthy 102: Shopping for Health (Part 1)

22 Mar

Happy Tuesday! You can find the recap of Eating Healthy 101 here. It offers 5 simple guidelines to kickstart a healthy eating lifestyle. This is the next step towards realization: acquiring the skills, habits, and items for nourishing your flourishing. Maybe you already have this down — then please leave us a comment and share your techniques! :  ) I love learning more about how to get the most health out of my dolla’.

Here are some steps for shopping for health:

Main thing: BE PREPARED + DO YOUR RESEARCH

1) Avoid creepers. Know your stores.

  • Know the fundamentals. We have three main grocery stores that we frequent, all within walking distance. I have memorized which items are cheapest where, and when the best time to purchase them is. For instance, I know that organic produce is cheaper at Store 1, but bulk bin dried beans and canned tomatoes are cheaper at Store 2. Just pay attention for a month and compare prices to get a feel if you’re not sure where what is cheapest. I take the extra 15-30 minutes necessary to go to another store  because it really is worth it!

    2) Know your deals.

    • I know when Double Ad day is (the former and present week’s deals overlap) at Store 1, which saves us serious cash. Thus, I prep my list the night before by checking out the main stores’ advertisements online, and plan where to get what. It takes me 15 minutes, and it saves me so much time, money, and hassle having a strategy.
    • Always keep track of the Unit Price – that handy little white box on the price tag that tells you how much per oz., per lb., etc. Keep in mind, though, that sometimes you get what you pay for – make sure the ingredients are the same from item to item when comparing Unit Price (e.g., if one has added water/sugar/etc., it will probably be less per oz., but with less of the actual food inside). I am willing to pay a tiny bit more to avoid preservatives and fillers! Gross.

      3) Have a strategy. Make a plan for what items are needed and where to get them. Even list from section/aisle. Keep all items in the perimeter of the store – skip the middle aisles/“dry foods” – aka junk foods – aisles. Bulk bins, produce, refrigerated, check out. Done. (If you have kids, this is the best way to avoid tantrums, as a bonus!)


      4) Have a budget. Even if you are a multi-millionare, you still need a budget. A budget keeps us from impulse buys and unnecessary junk filling up counters and landfills. Keep it simple. We budget for 2 weeks instead of a month, because for some reason that feels less overwhelming. What can I say? I get kind of competitive with myself when I try to save money… I know. I’m insane. It’s cool.

      Budgeting is also helpful to evaluate our lives at times, as usually our money reflects our values (not just in groceries, but in general). Most of our grocery money goes toward organic products that support (nourish) flourishing ecosystems and (often) small farms. We prioritize this in our overall budget so that we are in position to do this (e.g., we choose not to dine out except for family events, which gives us room to buy [at times marginally more expensive] fair-trade and organic groceries). Of course, not everyone is able to do this, and each person has to make his or her own call. Work within your limitations to do the best you can – stay frugal, simple, and strive to put your money where your own values are – whatever that looks like.

      However, as my next Eating Healthy post will show, you do not have to spend a lot of money to buy healthy foods, or organic! ;  )

      What are your shopping tips and tricks? Do you spend a lot on groceries? Do you do farmers’ markets, CSAs, supermarkets?