The internet is a safe haven for people to act nasty, but it is also representative of cultural opinion at large. Based on this knowledge, I am extraordinarily dismayed that with all the PSA’s for Lyme Disease and new info circulating around it, it still doesn’t “count” as a serious illness to many people.
Of course all the details about my late stage neurological Lyme, like how I had fibromyalgia so bad I couldn’t move my limbs for a spell, were cut from Chopped, and the CO poisoning was played up because it made me look insane that a stove tried to kill me. The reactions from people, though, were still shocking: I didn’t have cancer, how could I call myself a survivor? My illnesses didn’t compare to cancer. The other two contestants had cancer, and I need to GET OVER MYSELF. Never mind that my CO poisoning– which I have very real blood work and medical records from, just like my Lyme– involved a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s by a Cedars Sinai neurologist, and the gas killed my ex’s cat, it was considered “trite” compared to cancer.
Lyme disease has a tendency to keep people laid up for years, and many simply never get well. There is no “cure,” only methods of treatment that very thankfully work for some, like me. My family and I did intensive research to find holistic treatments for both my illnesses when they each occurred, and thankfully, I successfully moved past both. My mom had cancer, and was mortified when I told her yesterday about people’s statements of my illnesses being “nothing” compared. Pain and suffering are pain and suffering, and one thing that can kill you is no less bad than another thing that can kill you.
There is simply no need, ever, to compare illnesses and minimize the suffering of others. People used the hashtag “#killerstoves” to mock my experience as minimal compared to cancer. Some even said there is no way it happened, because I’d be dead, which is clearly untrue: the ventilation problem was real, and was fixed by real HVAC people. The exposure was slow and low and not detectable on an alarm designed to only detect life threatening levels. It left me with a huge array of brain damage related troubles, all of which I have recovered from fully via holistic methods. (And most definitely NOT only with avocados, that was some fun editing.)
Our culture is rife with judgment, and social media fuels our ability to depersonalize others. We are all critics from our couches. I write this not to say I feel I was perceived unfairly (that’s a whole different blog!), but to ask people to realize that being laid up for years is a nightmare, whether or not one is sick with cancer. Period.
I’m not generally much of an in-between kind of girl. My hair is black, or it’s white. (Or, currently, it’s black and magenta, which is, again, kind of serious looking, in a really fun and unserious way.) Either I’m working 20 days in a row, or I’m twiddling my thumbs for equally as long. I’m in love with and deeply attracted to extremes, in all facets of life. In line with my character, I vacillate between making the most ridiculously complex food ever, and the simplest. Lucky for you, dear reader, today I came up with a granola bar that is stupid easy and also AMAZINGLY tasty. Better yet, it’s gluten free, grain free, paleo, high protein, and vegan. These would be good with any nut or seed butter, but the chocolate Nuttzo adds a killer dessert-y flavor, plus a bunch of nutrients and omegas via flax seeds.
To make these awesome little guys, throw all of the below in a bowl, stir until combined, pour in a pan, and put in the fridge or freezer. Get back to it in an hour, cut into bars, and knock yourself the hell out never buying granola bars again.
1 cup nuts (I used raw almonds), whole or broken, doesn’t matter
1 cup coconut flakes (exchange for dried fruit if you don’t like coconut)
1 cup sprouted dried buckwheat (buckwheat is a seed, not a grain, fyi, and it’s now delightfully inexpensive sprouted and dried in the bulk section of health food stores)
3/4 cup chocolate Nuttzo
3/4 cup date puree (puree dates, or buy dates pureed)
1/2 cup cacao nibs
1/2 cup coconut nectar, honey, or maple syrup
3 scoops protein powder of choice
1 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla
Like I said: mix together until it’s all gloppy and uniform, spread in a pan, and refrigerate. That’s it. If you have no patience, like me, put them in the freezer and they’ll be ready in a half hour. If you have patience, put them in the fridge and it’ll be more like an hour or two. Keep them in the fridge so they stay hard until eaten, or keep frozen if you plan on having one as a grab-n-go snack later in the day.
The buckwheat gives these a Rice Krispie treat texture, so I wouldn’t omit that, but beyond that you can basically change out any ingredients here you want to keep flavors current. Add dried fruit, add more nuts, change the nuts, change the protein powder, add cocoa powder, do whatever you want because you’re not baking these so you’ve got nothing to worry about. What you see is what you’ll get when you make the batter, only it will firm up a bit once cold. If by some change you add too much stuff and the mixture isn’t spreadable, just add more nut butter until it is, and taste to make sure they’re still sweet and salty enough.
It can be nearly impossible to find sushi at a restaurant made with local, wild fish and organic produce from the farmers market. What to do when you’ve got the craving? Make it (or hire me to make it) yourself. =)
Besides, you know, affecting people’s lives positively and stuff, my recent speech for the Lyme Angeles Lyme disease group has gotten me to finally remember how to spell the word e-x-c-e-r-p-t. It’s one of my only spelling nemeses, and I’ve had to use it repeatedly when posting clips (aka excerpts) from my speech. Now I’m confident that I can spell it in my sleep. I’m equally confident that you will learn something from at least one of these three video clips from my speech! =)
Somehow I’ve made it over five years in L.A. as a farmers market floozy without visiting the Santa Monica market more than a handful of times. My argument against it is that over half the vendors are the same as Hollywood, which I frequent regularly, and that parking is a pain. Recently I moved from WeHo to Beverly Hills, and suddenly it’s like I’m a million miles closer to Santa Monica, so why not brave the parking (which really is no worse than anywhere else, and at least there are free lots) and revisit Produce in YogaLand?
I went this past Wednesday (just fyi, the market, followed by a stroll down Ocean Ave. then True Food Kitchen for lunch makes a really nice day date) and it was SO worth it. In addition to all the normal and wonderful autumn-in-SoCal stuff, they had organic mangoes, which I have never seen at ANY market in the Los Angeles area. I’ve never even seen pesticided ones grown locally! Years ago I read an article that they were farmed in Santa Barbara and occasionally randomly made it to O.C., but Orange County might as well be where Santa Monica used to be, aka too far away. I was so taken aback by their very existence at a close farmers market that I didn’t even think to ask how long they would be in season for.
In addition to two fabulous mangoes (they’re a little cost prohibitive, meaning two was a splurge, but goddamn they’re amazing tasting), I also have new pantry goodies I’d been wanting to use in a recipe: Dastony stone ground raw organic cashew butter and sprouted almond butter, and Imperial Tonics “Ancient Wisdom” powder that I’ve been adding to my morning Longevity in a Bottle & Cococeps beverage. Ancient Wisdom is super mild-tasting for having strong herbs in it like He Shou Wu and Astragalus, so I’ve been curious about how it would work in a raw cookie. The nut butters I was excited about just because, hey, it’s fancy raw nut butter and I didn’t have to make it. And of course, this is Hachiya persimmon season, so I don’t go making much sweet stuff without including those juicy gems. Thus, my Nod to Autumn in Los Angeles Dessert: raw, vegan, paleo-friendly, gluten-free, superfood enhanced, local organic fresh mango and persimmon cheesecake cupcakes (with a raw cookie crust, no less, which is way more thrilling and tasty and shockingly good for you than plain ole blended walnuts and dates).
Crazy Healthy Super Yummy Cheesecake Recipe:
1 1/2 cups Living Intentions Sprouted Super Flour (crazy unique superfood raw organic flour product, no substitution would work and it will change your raw culinary world so you should basically have it on hand already)
1/3 cup almond meal
1/3 cup coconut oil
1/3 cup coconut nectar, maple syrup or raw honey
1/4 cup vanilla protein powder
3 scoops Ancient Wisdom
2 tbls sprouted almond butter
1 tsp salt
Mix dry ingredients together (everything except the nut butter, sweetener and oil), then incorporate wet. Stir with a fork until a heavy dough that is slightly crumbly forms. Dough should shape easily, but not be gooey. Add extra flour by the tbls if needed to obtain a slightly crumbly texture. Line 12 muffin tins and divide mixture evenly among 12 cups, pressing crust up around sides of each. Freeze while you make other layers.
2 small very ripe Hachiya persimmons, or 1 large
3/4 cup raspberries (frozen are fine, they’re for color)
1 cup raw cashew butter
1/4 cup chopped mango
1/4 cup milk product
zest and juice of 1/2 a lemon
2 tbls coconut oil
Remove calyxes from persimmons, then add all ingredients into a high power blender. Blend until creamy and smooth. Divide mixture between the 12 muffin cups, and put back in freezer.
1 1/2 cups chopped mango
juice of 1/2 a lemon
3 tbls coconut oil
Blend all ingredients in a high power blender until creamy and smooth, then divide between 12 cups once the persimmon layer in the freezer is slightly firm.
Garnish: drizzle cashew butter atop the mango layer and pull through decoratively with a toothpick if desired.
Peppermint patties don’t have to be made of corn syrup and GMO madness! This how-to video blog will teach you a simple coconut oil based recipe for a raw version that are as healthy as they are tasty. And it will also educate you on who was NOT a Strawberry SHortcake character, and why you shouldn’t chain up your dog, because those things are totally relevant to candy making.
For the entire year of 2007, the only album I listened to was Fiona Apple’s “Extraordinary Machine.” This past fall, Mexicola avocados were in season for two months, and every day for breakfast and lunch I ate two small avo’s and a Hachiya persimmon (both from the same heaven-sent farmer). When I get an obsession going, I tend to just ride it out, and eventually it wanes. Thank heavens I don’t tend to get hooked on anything too expensive…
I’ve always been a fan of making fresh spring rolls, but ever since I created the almond-tamarind sauce I blogged about here, ALL I WANT TO EAT IS KALE SALAD SPRING ROLLS. I limit myself to two meals a day of them max. In the last month or so, I’ve made no less than 1-2 dozen batches of spring rolls– enough that I have acquired a few good tips about working with those daunting yet delicious rice paper circles.
1. Soaking the rice paper sheets in warm water will expedite the time needed for prep. Sure, 1-2 minutes isn’t forever to wait per sheet, but if you’re making a big batch, extra down time can slow your process. Once you get a rhythm going, you can place a new sheet in the water as soon as you pull the ready one out, and it will be ready when you’ve finished filling the first. Conversely, if you find you just can’t keep up, soak them in cold water to give yourself at least 3-4 minutes to construct each roll. Either way, you will streamline the procedure by placing a new sheet in the water directly upon taking out the old.
2. If one meal is not enough– and if you make them well, it won’t be!– it’s easier than you think to make extra and have them not dry out. When you pull the rice paper out of the water, don’t dry it on a paper towel as is generally recommended. For one, it will be easier to work with and less inclined to tear during folding, and for another, they will keep without drying out for at least two days because of the additional moisture in the paper. Store them in an airtight container, and if they do dry out after a couple days, wet your hands with cool water and rub them gently; they’ll soften right back up.
3. Punch up flavor by dressing some of the ingredients. You can add a simple sauce to one ingredient, making sure to drain it well, or dress all ingredients. Marinating porous foods like mushrooms (yes, you can totally put mushrooms in spring rolls) beforehand will lend additional flavors to the overall product.
4. If presentation is key, of course you want all ingredients julienned and placed in the wrappers individually. However, if you just want to eat something very yummy and perfectly decent looking, make a salad of your ingredients, and pack a few spoonfuls of it into the wrappers. I’ve been making this salad and just tossing 1/2 cup or so of it into each wrapper, while using extra dressing as the dipping sauce. You don’t need to julienne anything, but everything should be fairly small, and you do want to avoid any sharp edges that might tear the rice paper.
5. The ingredient options for spring rolls are fairly endless, but fresh herbs are key. If you simply can’t get a hold of any because the urge to make rolls strikes when you can’t get to the store, get creative with greens. When I wanted them but had no herbs on hand, I used carrot fronds, and it worked perfectly.
6. Think outside the Asian box. The spring rolls I made with carrot fronds had a main filling of a salad that consisted of sprouted chickpeas, dried sour cherries, and grass fed Greek yogurt. They were hearty and filling and in no way authentic, but one bite of a unique combo like that will have you proudly calling yourself a fusion chef.
7. There’s no need for noodles in my book (I’m not a huge fan of carb filled carbs: rice in a burrito is madness to me), but should you prefer your spring rolls with something stringy, kelp noodles make a wonderful healthy option. Simply soak them beforehand according to package directions.
8. For an extra pretty punch, place a mint, parsely, or cilantro leaf inside as you’re wrapping it up. Wrap it most of the way, center a leaf or two on it, then fold over the final edge. Make sure that the leaf doesn’t reach the edge of the wrapper, or it won’t stick properly to itself.
A moderately traditional vegan set up: cucumbers, red carrots, spinach leaves, Dave’s Gourmet tempeh, kelp noodles, mint
Decidedly untraditional vegetarian rolls: sprouted chickpeas mixed w/dried sour cherries and grass fed Greek yogurt, roasted sweet potatoes, carrot fronds, and Belgian endive