karmic revenge pancakes

As karmic revenge for me saying, “I don’t know how anyone could live without gluten and dairy,” I gave birth to a child who doesn’t tolerate two of my favorite food groups: gluten and dairy.  While this is an inconvenience (He can’t have any part of mac and cheese!  No pizza! He can’t even eat my bread!  What a nightmare!!!!), it has also forced me to keep his diet really, really healthy.  So healthy I am forced to eat things like french toast on the sly, just to feel normal.

Along with all the awesome food – veggies, organic/pastured meats, sardines, fruits galore – I also want to give my son a taste of what most would consider “normal” food for a kiddo.  Hence: my search for a non-wheat, non-dairy pancake.  I found a recipe in The Family Cooks by Laurie David that I tweaked a bit.  The results were fantastic, and now my son is slightly obsessed with pancakes, asking for them for breakfast (or lunch or dinner) several times a week.  “Cakes?  Peeeease?  Cakes?”

Karmic Revenge Pancakes

3 eggs
1  1/2 cups (12 oz.) milk, yogurt, kefir, or some combination thereof (I usually use Ripple (pea) milk, almond milk, or milkadamia– a macadamia nut milk that is delish)  Any milk is fine, though the pancakes taste best if you use milk with some fat content.  Buttermilk is excellent.  Goat milk kefir is fantastic.
1  1/2 cups (4.8 oz.) almond flour
1  1/2 cups (4.8 oz.) oat flour
1 tablespoon maple syrup
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon Celtic sea saltor Real Salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon (my preferred cinnamon is Penzey’s Vietnamese Cinnamon)

Mix all the ingredients (if you use a scale, you only dirty a single bowl) and adjust the liquid, if necessary, so the batter is thick but still spreadable.

Heat your pan and lightly oil it. (Ghee and avocado oil are my oils of choice for higher-heat cookery, as they have high smoke points and won’t leave your kitchen smelling like a greasy spoon restaurant.)  Ladle 1/4 cup of the batter for each pancake, and immediately spread out the batter with the back of a spoon so it is only 1/4 inch thick.  When the bubbles in the pancake pop, flip and cook the other side.

This recipe makes about fifteen 4-inch pancakes.  The batter keeps for four days in the fridge.

If there are leftovers, celebrate, as these pancakes taste almost better cold with a bit of jam slathered on them than they do right out of the pan, which sounds unfathomable but trust me, is true.

And I will note:  the first time I had these, I was very skeptical.  The texture is not the same as a regular wheat pancake, and it took me a couple pancakes to just go with this and embrace the difference.  The upside?  The flavor is exceptional, and the texture is neither better nor worse, just different.  Now I actually prefer these to wheat-based pancakes.  They taste better, and they’re more substantial, leaving me pleasantly full all morning, but not overly stuffed and lethargic.

The other upside?  They’re actually pretty good for you and won’t cause as much of a blood sugar spike as regular pancakes.  Almond flour is a good source of healthy protein, along with the eggs and milk, and the oat flour has all kinds of great health benefits.  These have fewer carbs than any other pancake I’ve encountered (and enjoyed), and they’re downright delicious.  Healthy is good… but for me what matters is taste!

Also:  the recipe is easy to alter for different numbers of people – essentially: 1 egg and 1/2 cup milk/almond flour/oat flour per person.  And if for some reason you can’t use either oat or almond flour, cassava flour is a good substitute.

Happy breakfasting!

Most of the links in this post for ingredients will take you to Thrive, a grocery service I’ve used for the last couple years and love.  Thrive carries organic, high-quality foods at lower prices than any regular grocery store, they offer lots of great free gifts with orders (presents!!!), and they ship for free with a $49 order.  If you give Thrive a try via this link, you’ll get 25% off your first order, and I’ll get $25 in free groceries (to buy ingredients to make more “cakes” for the tot, of course).

a nighttime story

As I put my son to bed, I lie on my side, and he lies next to me on his belly.  I rub his back, tiny gentle circles on either side of his spine.  If my hand stops, he quietly asks, “more?”  So I resume my tiny circles until his breath slows, his fidgeting stops.  Then his weight shifts and he turns onto his side, resting his back against my belly.  His little hand reaches back and finds mine, and he drapes my hand across his belly.  I hold it there, still, as his breathing falls into the same rhythm as mine, our chests rising and falling together.

And in an instant, I am taken back in time to when I was pregnant with him, lying on my side in bed, my hand draped across my burgeoning belly, feeling our bodies connected, our beings so delicately intertwined.  I recall both the excitement and the gratitude I felt for holding him within me, feeling him grow, nurturing him (and me) with healthy food and rest and loving care.

Coming back to the present, I feel him again, the back of his soft warm head nestled against my breastbone.  Our shared breath seems at once like a wave, a tandem rise and fall, and then I remember: we are the ocean, not the wave.  He and I, and all together.

I slip out of his bed, silently, draping the covers over his shoulders, tenderly kissing the top of his head.  Tiptoeing down the stairs, I re-enter the world, pick up my phone, glimpse briefly at the headlines, and sigh.  Fire, terror, finger-pointing, name-calling, gunshots.  Right now it’s easy to forget that sense of connection that binds us all together.   Reading the news, it’s hard not to feel a keen sense of separateness from others.  We’re divided into so many fractious factions, and the reality that we all share this space together, exist in this singular ocean of existence, spinning around our corner of the galaxy on the very same watery sphere, is easy to forget.

So please, if you will:  Remember.  We’re all in this together.  What affects me affects you.  What ails you ails me.  And what lifts one of us up, lifts all of us up.

Lifting you up, sending you love from afar.

bright morning start

Earlier this week, as my toddler and I were peering in the fridge, trying to decide what to have for breakfast, he spied a pomegranate, which he identified as an apple.  I explained that it wasn’t an apple, but that he’d probably like it just as well, if not better, than an apple.

We ate the whole thing.  Actually, he ate 7/8 of it, and I managed to snag a few juicy gemstones that escaped from his grasp.  As I peeled the pomegranate for him, and as he grabbed at it, trying to get it away from me, I realized that the task of peeling it could be lots of fun for him.  And, indeed, it is.  Though a lot of people complain about peeling pomegranates – the consensus is that they’re more fuss than they’re worth – I’d respectfully disagree.  They may, in fact, constitute a net calorie loss, given the effort involved in getting them apart, but there’s nothing wrong with that unless you’re actually starving.  (And I’m betting that no one reading this post is actually starving.)

So if you’ve been averse to the pomegranate in the past, I urge you:  give it another try.  Here’s some tips to help you along:

I find that the best way to get into the fruit without making a gigantic juicy mess is to just barely cut into it.  To do this, position the fruit with it’s crown on the top, and imagine it’s a small red brain.  Then, using a knife, cut to dissect the brain into its two hemispheres – but only cut down about an inch.  Remove the knife and insert the tips of your thumbs into the cut, and gently pull the pomegranate into two pieces  – which will look eerily like a brain, with all its little bumpy compartments.  (See the photo above.)  From here, just gently use your hands to spread the compartments open.  This keeps the cells intact, and you won’t have a big mess.  You can also put half of the pomegranate in the fridge and safe for later, if you don’t want to eat all of it at once.

You might be asking:  why bother?

A few reasons.  First, pomegranate is so delicious.  I asked my son what he was eating, trying to get him to say “pomegranate,” and he bypassed that by announcing, “treats!” It really does feel like treats – a sort of holistic version of nerds or gushers candy.  (Yes, I ate those growing up!  And loved them!  People can change…)

Secondly, because pomegranate is amazing for you.  Per Rebecca Katz’s The Longevity Kitchen, pomegranates are anti-inflammatory and promote heart health.  She writes,

Nitric oxide helps blood vessels relax, making it vital for cardiovascular health, and pomegranates have been shown to pump up levels of nitric oxide in heart cells and also lower systolic blood pressure.  In animal studies, pomegranate extract also helped slow the absorption of sugar into the blood, which could be beneficial for those at risk of metabolic syndrome, which is associated with type 2 diabetes and insulin resistance.  Pomegranate antioxidant levels are so high that Russian physicians used it to reduce the effects of radiation exposure following the nuclear disaster at Chernobyl.

While that latter bit will hopefully not become relevant to us, it’s safe to say that pomegranates are nothing short of phenomenally good for you.  Dr. Josh Axe goes so far as to claim that pomegranate seeds are a natural aphrodisiac, that they can reduce arthritis and joint pain, fight cancer, lower blood pressure, fight bacterial infections, and improve heart health and memory.

If pomegranate were patent-able, phizer would be All. Over. It.

In sooth, I’ve never been one to choose foods based solely on claims that they are “Healthy.”  I choose foods more like a cat does – Does it smell nice?  Is it delicious?  Can I play with it for a while before I eat it?

(Kidding.  Mostly.)

Back in the 90’s, when low-fat foods were all the rage, I dismissed them and opted for the “unhealthy” full-fat versions of foods – based on the fact that the low-fat foods were uniformly gross tasting and that had terrible texture.  Now we know that the low-fat fad was terrible for us: our bodies need healthy fats to function, and most of the processed low-fat foods were simply re-engineered to cut the fat and replace it with sugar and salt and weird ingredients to try to mimic the texture of actual foodstuffs.

Yuck.

In my coaching practice, I counsel clients to opt for foods that are not just “healthy” or part of any current health fad – but to choose whole, real foods that are delicious and just happen to be amazing for our health.  This is a foreign concept to many people, but I assure you, the crossover between these two categories is immense.

So, as the holidays approach, I want to raise a toast to the delightful pomegranate.  Not just the juice, but the actual fruit, in all its cellular splendor.  May all your senses be delighted.

Steel Cut Oats

You may not think of oats as being terribly decadent, but that’s just because you haven’t had them how Rebecca Katz makes them.  If you’re unfamiliar with her, Rebecca Katz is a healing chef and the author of many cookbooks.  My first introduction to her was via her book, “The Cancer-Fighting Kitchen,” which I purchased when caring for a friend’s mother.  The recipes were filled with healing ingredients, and better than that, all of them that I made tasted amazing.  I bought the cookbook years ago, and to this day, it’s still my most-used cookbook, despite the fact that I’m not cooking for anyone with cancer.  The recipes are just that good.

And, really, this fits with my philosophy about food and coaching clients around food:  my goal is never to restrict one’s diet, or tell someone they can’t have this, that, or the other thing.  (I will point out what foods in a client’s diet are likely causing problems, but that’s just informational.  In a media climate where you have conflicting studies coming out every other day telling you that butter is good, then butter is bad, it’s sometimes hard to know what to make of butter.)  So, rather than restricting certain foods, my goal is generally to help clients increase the awesome parts of their diets, which will naturally crowd out the less-awesome or totally-not-awesome parts of their diets.

(It is uncontested in the scientific research that Diet Coke is totally not awesome.  Sorry, soda drinkers.)

I digress.  Back to the oats.  This recipe is inspired by Ms. Katz’s “Best Oatmeal Ever

Ingredients:

1 1/2 cups organic steel cut oats
1 tablespoon sourdough starter or 1 tablespoon lemon juice
about 3 cups water

The night before I plan to make the oats, I put them in a mason jar with the spoonful of sourdough starter and fill the jar to the top with water.

Next, mix up the raisin mixture, which you will use for multiple batches of oats and cut down on your morning prep time.  Measure the following into a pint jar:

2 cups organic raisins
2 teaspoons cinnamon
2 teaspoons ginger powder
1 teaspoon ground cardamom

Shake, shake, shake, and cap for use in the morning and on future oat-filled mornings.

In the morning, the oats will have soaked up much of the water in the jar, and the soaking process will have helped break down the tough outer coating on the grain, making the oats more digestible and nutritious.

Pour the soaked oats into a fine mesh strainer and run water over them til the water comes out clear.

Next, add the following to a saucepan:

soaked oats
1/2 teaspoon celtic sea salt
3 cups water
1/3 to 1/2 cup of the raisin mixture

Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low and cover, stirring frequently, until the oats are fully cooked.  This will take anywhere from 20-40 minutes, depending on your oats.  Once most of the liquid is soaked up, turn the heat off and let the pot sit on the stove for 10 minutes.  The oats will have a nice chewy texture, but they won’t resemble the wallpaper paste that my grandmother’s oatmeal could pass for.   (She cooked rolled oats in a slow cooker… all night long!  Can you imagine?!)

Ms. Katz recommends serving the oats with chopped nuts or her blueberry compote, which is fantastic, though I prefer the simplicity of piling a serving of oats on top of half a cup of frozen organic raspberries.  The oats quickly thaw the raspberries, and the raspberries bring the oats down to a non-mouth-scalding temperature.  You can add a swirl of maple syrup, or not, depending on your tastes.

This recipe serves 3, but I make it when serving me and my toddler, and it gives us enough leftovers to not cook the next morning and just heat up the oats in a saucepan with a bit of water.  They taste just as good, if not better, reheated, and will keep in the fridge for 4-5 days.

Also, if you mix up the cooked oats with frozen fruit and then refrigerate them, they taste pretty great cold, too.  We have used them as a meal-on-the-go many a time, and they’re pleasing to both adult and toddler tastes.

Why “Upstream”?

A client asked me, “Why’d you name your practice Upstream Health and Healing?  It makes your program sound hard, like we’re swimming upstream.”

That’s a valid question.  Indeed, for many of us, our journey to greater health may, at times, feel like we’re swimming upstream, but that’s not what the name is referencing.  Rather: our health is like that of a stream.  If I walk out to my section of the stream and there’s slimy algae growing on the rocks, and the fish are dead or missing, and there’s bits of flotsam and jetsam lining the banks, and the whole thing just seems… nasty… well, there’s only so much I can do right here, where I am.  I can pick up the trash, tidy things up, but how do I address the algae?  If I re-stock the fish, will they survive?  Probably not.

(You know where this is going.)

To really fix things, you have to go upstream.  You need to hike in the woods a while, heading for the source of the problem.  Is there a confinement hog operation upstream, diverting its waste into my waterway?  If so, the fix is not just cleaning up my section of the stream.  It may mean nicely asking my neighbors to build a lagoon.  If they refuse, it may mean petitioning for stronger regulations on the hog farm.  Worst case scenario:  if my environment is toxic and I can’t find any way to fix it, I may need to move and find a cleaner stream.

This is all largely metaphoric, unless you have an actual hog farm upstream from you, in which case, you may actually want to move.

The point is:  we can mask symptoms with pills and potions, but unless we go looking with curiosity and open mind to see what’s truly causing our symptoms, and unless we set about treating the actual causes, not just the symptoms, we’re always going to be sitting by our section of the stream, griping about the moss or the fish (or the lack of fish).  And you can do this, if you wish.  Lots of people do.  Just hang out at an old-time cafe, and you’ll see and hear lots of this.

But you needn’t live like that.

As Robert Frost wrote in “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening,”

The woods are lovely, dark and deep,
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.

We all have miles to go on our journey toward greater health and well-being, and it’s often upstream and uphill, if we really want to fix things.  But the hike is lovely, and you needn’t go alone.  If you’d like a guide on your journey, a caring companion to help you along the way, please contact me and schedule a free consultation.

My hiking boots are already in the car.