on breaking bread happily alone together


My daughter has been happily and successfully traveling the world for the last year and a half working as a freelance writer and photographer. As it happened to work out, she’s now in Tuscany, nearby where I recently traveled…
cor·re·spond·ence
noun
  1. a close similarity, connection, or equivalence.
  2. communication by exchanging letters with someone.

We share our news updates and thoughts via email and text; our correspondence is also often in the form of photographs, no words needed to convey the sentiment. We talk on Skype fairly frequently as a morning coffee date here as she has gets ready for dinner there. Healthy, delicious, and beautiful food is something she enjoys as much as I do. I like hearing what food she’s finding and relishing as she travels through varies countries, and it makes me smile to think how recently, when I caught a snotty head cold on a plane, she offered “drink ginger root and lemon tea”. Yes!

These days she’s not looking up her favorite childhood recipes on my blog– she’s a capable and creative cook, and she’s also jamming on article deadlines. And while we are now busy in time zones 9 hours apart, simple correspondence prevails in our daily experience. This was her visual message to me earlier today. I want to call it “Breaking Bread Happily Alone Together” because of course she is there now alone, while I enjoyed a similar experience of lovely brushetta– albeit with Prosciutto– and posted that here just a week ago. Such lovely meals, and such lovely shared experience.

IMG_5131(Photo credit: Lois Parshley)

why would a vegetarian eat fish, chicken, or dare I say, pork?


I’ve now been a vegetarian for over half my life, and over those many years I’ve read, thought, and discussed a lot about food, health and healing, cooking and eating well. During those years I was diagnosed as having a low-thyroid condition; I tried to address that through natural means of diet modification, and while that was supportive, I finally relented and accepted my allopathic doctor’s prescription for Synthroid. Concurrently I accepted my Acupuncturist’s advice to eat organic kelp, scallops, salmon, and white fish, trying for once or twice weekly, and to take Selenium supplements daily to support my thyroid. Thus I overcame my aversion to eating flesh by selecting fish whenever I was eating out on business meals; I can honestly say that for about 15 years I’ve enjoyed eating salmon.

Meanwhile I’ve forever been interested in other cultures, people and places, and now I’m at a stage in my life where I have more discretionary time and money, so I’m able to travel some. For over two years I’ve also enjoyed a loving partnership with a man who wants to travel with me, a man who enjoys tasty healthy food, and good spirits– by that I mean both good and happy people, also good wine, beer and liquor. When we traveled together to Ireland and Scotland a year ago, knowing we’d be staying as house guests part of that time, I decided it would be wise to add chicken breast to my diet too, to help me have more options when eating with others abroad. I’d enjoyed salmon and chicken in my mother’s home, and I recalled the flavors happily. My mind was willing, my gut easily survived. Culinary bonus points scored with discovery of draft Guinness beer!

I’ve been thinking about these things as I prepared to go on a wonderful vacation– we’ve just returned from Paris, Florence, and rural Tuscany. Ah, you say, French food! Oui! Oui! How fun that KLM/Delta aired the movie “Julie and Julia” (a comedy by Nora Ephron staring Meryl Streep as Julia Childs) on our flight to Paris! That was perfect, as my partner is a huge movie fan, and I, of course, love to cook.

Indeed we enjoyed the food in Paris– especially wonderful savory crepes, and quiche. Ah but yes, Quiche Lorraine has bacon in it. Oh, the restaurant menus– artichokes were in season, abundant, beautiful, and so delicious! Ah, pea soup! And oh, my, not just beef ragout in those lovely red individual serving sized enameled cast iron casseroles, but duck and rabbit as speciality menu items… The local markets were stellar, well stocked with beautiful produce. The artichokes, haricot verts, and so many types of beautiful greens! The bread, the cheese, oui, oui! And of course, the wonderful wines.

The food scene in Italy felt entirely different. There too the wonderful cheeses, wine, bread, and the olives! Best of all gelato! And my partner introduced me to Sambuca. Yum! I found the restaurant menus there were much more accessible to me as a vegetarian, even though I almost never eat pasta (having long ago given up gluten noodles.) I had lovely choices of fish, all beautifully prepared in delicious butter. The question for me on this trip though was pork. Did I want to eat pig meat after more than thirty years?? Thinly sliced prosciutto, on bruschetta with marinated artichoke hearts, thinly sliced pecorino romano, and a drizzle of olive oil, so perfectly Italian. I decided yes, when in Florence do as the Florentines do, and I was delighted.

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Antipasti of thick sliced cold salsiccia, with a cold Bierra? Hmmm, that Salsiccia just looked to be a bit much for me to stomach; the bierra was delicious. For breakfast in before a full day out adventuring in rural Tuscany, my partner made his awesome over-hard eggs that I have come to enjoy (I was vegan for many years), with fried tomato and yes, a little salsiccia sausage link cooked perfectly. Yum! And no gastric distress. Moderation is the key.

Now home again, I went to our County Master Gardener’s “Incredible Edibles” organic vegetable and herb start sale event last weekend, and I’m making progress turning and weeding my raised beds after a horrendously wet Spring. I’m thinking about eating with the changing seasons, and as the name of my blog reminds me, as a Conscious Vegetarian. Thinking about that now, I acknowledge that means for me also cooking salmon or chicken breast on occasion.

Last night I was really hungry, and knew I needed a generous serving of protein. I enjoyed braising 3 oz of salmon with garlic, dill, and lemon, then making a lovely salmon salad with mixed greens, radicchio, topped with black olives, sheep feta, walnuts, thin slices of red onion, and orange slices, dressed with a little olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Yes, it was a perfect meal for me, a conscious vegetarian.

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carrot and sunflower seeds coconut balls for your sweet tooth


Dinner and dessert at my friend Sharon’s house led to my discovery of the Living Candida Free cookbook by Ricki Heller, PhD, RHN…. and thus to this, my first attempt making my own modified version of her Carrot Balls recipe. Yum! My guests and I devoured these fast, and I think even my hardcore chocolate loving, non-vegan, non-gluten free, unabashedly desert centered sister would like these. A lot.

ingredients:

  • 3/4t fresh ginger root, finely chopped
  • 1 c raw unsalted sunflower seeds
  • 1 1/2 t cinnamon
  • 1/8 t cardamon
  • 2 t ground flaxseeds
  • 2 T coconut for balls, plus additional 6-8 T coconut for rolling balls in.
  • 1 T plus 1t lemon zest
  • 2 t lemon juice
  • 2 t blackstrap molasses. Or 1 t blackstrap molasses plus 1 t maple syrup
  • 1-2 t water, as necessary or skip the water and increase the lemon juice
  • 6-7 T fresh finely grated carrot

instructions:

Using a food processor, finely chop fresh ginger root, then add sunflower seeds, spices, ground flaxseeds, and coconut. Process until medium fine. Then add finely grated lemon zest, lemon juice, and molasses until it just comes together as dough– it will be rather heavy. Add carrot and pulse to mix evenly. Don’t be frightened by its dense texture! Form into small balls, then roll each ball in a small bowl of the additional coconut to coat well. Refrigerate in an airtight tupperware type container until firm and chilled. Makes 18-20 balls, with 2-4 balls being a perfect dessert serving.

I made these using 1t molasses plus 1t maple syrup, and thought they were just a little too sweet when I tasted the dough after the second step, so I threw the 2 lemonquats I happened to have on hand into the food processor too! Next time I’ll try using just molasses and more lemon juice but no water to make them with a bit more zing. My guests and I all thought these were a great dessert. I think they’d be wonderful too for a light breakfast snack if I need a little energy before going to an early morning yoga class.

pumpkin cranberry muffins


IMG_5358With one friend sick with a snotty head cold and another who is facing down a career challenge coming over for lunch, it’s time to make a big pot of carrot ginger root soup and some comforting muffins. Some days simply deserve a treat! I served these warm, with sunflower seed butter or cream cheese as options. Some fresh ginger root tea and pumpkin muffins– if any are left over– make a great breakfast to clear away a cement head. My pets love pumpkin too, so the rest of the can of pumpkin will be heartily enjoyed, with the fiber great for their digestive tracks.

ingredients:

  • 3 T butter
  • 1 1/2 T molasses
  • 1 1/2 T maple syrup
  • 1 c pumpkin
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/8 c or so milk, as needed
  • 1 c whole wheat flour
  • 1 c oat flour
  • 1/2 t cinnamon
  • 1/2 t nutmeg
  • 1/8 t clove
  • 1/4 t sea salt
  • 1 1/2 t baking soda
  • 1/2 t baking powder
  • 1/2 c or so fresh frozen cranberries

instructions:

Preheat oven to 375F. Melt butter over low heat, adding in the molasses and maple syrup. Measure flours and other dry ingredients and mix well together in a large measuring cup. Beat together the egg and pumpkin, then add in the melted butter mixture. Beat all together well. Add the dry ingredients, and stir decisively but briefly, to mix all together well. Be minimalist in stirring. Using unbleached muffin cups or buttered muffin tins, fill each 3/4 full, then depending upon size of fresh cranberries, tuck 3-5 cranberries into each muffin. Bake about 20-22 minutes until toothpick comes out clean, then cool on rack. Makes 12.

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healing foods for a horrible snotty head/chest cold


If like me you are tempted to reach for a triple shot latte after a night spent blowing your nose and coughing, try a couple of these Limequats instead! Limequats provide a big hit of Vitamin C and sharp citrus flavor that will knock out your sweet tooth (useful as sugar as well as milk products are mucous producing). It’s a lime crossed with a kumquat, small with a punch! Be prepared to pucker up a bit, then pop the whole thing into your mouth, skin too. Awesome goodness.

Next up: brew some fresh ginger root tea. Slice an inch or so off a ginger root, pare away the skin, then slice thinly. Put ginger into 2 quarts of fresh cold water, bring to a boil then simmer covered for 20 minutes. Ginger tea is good hot or room temp, will keep in the refrigerator for 24 hours. This will chase away your chills, settle an upset stomach, thin out your mucous and quiet down your cough.

How to use the rest of that ginger root? Make carrot ginger soup. With carrots and yam (snot be gone!), this soup is rich in beta carotene, vit B6 and C. It’s tasty and comforting.

Ah, then there’s the raw onion (sulfer) and grapefruit (vit C) magic of mustard greens (vit K, A and C) salad and quinoa! Add some black beans to increase the protein.

Be well.

About Protein


A healthy active female needs about 50 grams of protein a day, preferably split between 3-4 servings throughout the day. To help make it easier to gauge and so plan a healthy diet, I’ll post here the protein available in some of our favorite staple foods:

Nancy’s nonfat yogurt: 1/2 cup= 6 g protein.
Nancy’s lowfat cottage cheese: 1/2 cup= 14 g protein.
Cheddar cheese: 1 oz (a 1 inch cube)= 7 g protein (but also has lots of saturated fat- bad for cholesterol.)

Oatmeal: 1 cup has about 6 g protein. Amaranth has more. And either with nuts and seeds will have still more protein- but read labels and be careful to avoid unhealthy fats and excess sugars in packaged museli.

Adams peanut butter: 2 Tablespoons= 7 g protein
Sesame Tahini: 2 Tablepsoons= 6 g protein

Almonds, cashews, walnuts, pecans, raw or dry roasted only, never choose roasted in oil: about 14 nuts = 1/4 cup= 1 serving= about 7-5 g protein, with almonds highest and walnuts lowest in protein. Almonds and walnuts have “heart healthy” fats, lower your risk of stroke and diabetes.

Tofu, firm: 16 oz pkg= 75 grams. So 1/4 pkg= 18 g and 1/6 pkg= 12 g protein.
Tempeh: 8 oz pkg has 38 grams. So 1/4 of a pkg= 8-9 g protein.

Beans– black, kidney, pinto, garbanzo: 1/2 cup cooked has about 7 g protein. So for a bowl of one of my bean/lentil soups or chile, count as 1 cup or 15 g protein.

Pumpkin seeds, sesame seed– raw or dry roasted only: pumpkin seeds have one of the highest protein content, with unsaturated (healthy) fat, high in iron, zinc and magnesium, 1/4 cup has about 7 g protein.

Coming down with a head cold? Ginger Tea


Ingredients:

  • 1 node of a fresh ginger root
  • 4-8 cups water

Instructions:

Measure water into large pot with lid. Cut ginger into 1/4 inch or slightly thinner slices, then carefully pare away outer skin. Use 1 slice for every 1 cup water “plus one for the pot”. Put ginger slices into water, bring to boil, turn down to simmer with lid on for 20 minutes. Remove from heat and allow to cool before storing in refrigerator. Will keep in refrigerator for 2-3 days. Drink hot or at room temperature to fight off a snotty head cold. Also warming for when fighting off chills/fever of flu. Drink a lot of it, every day- hydration is really important.

Got a head cold? Get a neti cup or use an eye dropper to perform a nasal rinse with warm water in which a scant 1/8 teaspoon salt and scant 1/8 teaspoon baking soda have been dissolved. Doing a twice daily nasal rinse will help prevent or clear up a sinus infection.

Avoid dairy, sugar and simple carbs when you have excess mucus. When you feel yourself starting to get ill, take 3-5 grams of vitamin C  and 25 mg zinc daily, also grapefruit seed extract 3x daily. Source Naturals “Wellness Formula” is worth going to the co-op to buy to take if you know you’ve been exposed and feel yourself starting to go down hard- or buy it on sale in the autumn to have on hand before finals and cold season arrive.