Oh, do you know the Muffin Man, the Muffin Man, the Muffin Man..

muffinsAll of you who saw the beautiful pic on FB yesterday are wondering just where the recipe is, well, here it is!

Organic Vegan Gluten-Free, Soy-free, Rice-free Banana-BlueBerry Muffins

First off, use muffin papers or if you, like me, you are really into the re-use bit use the reusable thingies. These muffins climb when they raise and greased metal muffin pans except preheated cast iron, don’t support the climb and make for thick doughy muffins. Also when frozen and reheated they are waaaaay yummy but without the cups you will need a fork and bowl, which defeats the finger fun goodness of muffins.

Second, you do not have to use Organic, but try at least for the blueberries as the tastes and chemical content of non-organic blueberries is very, very different, in a bad way.

Third for those who have access to organic, free range eggs I have included that substitution also. I go back and forth. Am against cruelty to chickens so if a good source of eggs is not available I use Ener-G egg substitute. But in my interest in having a world for my grandchildren I will use eggs first if cruelty free are readily available and save the world from the processing and packaging. I am not expecting anyone else to support my line of reasoning, but I present it as a way to hopefully get some of you thinking about what you put in your mouth and body. Not just the Mc-Hipster version of things on a black and white website sponsored by Whole Paycheck or a Debby Downer’s Doomsday noms that is its antithesis showing science is the way. Gather information so meal by meal you can support whatever your own personal ethic is.

I feel more strongly about everyone thinking, than any particular personal thought. Also feel free to share at the end of this recipe blog, your own thoughts on organic, vegan, gluten-free, paleo, or down home comfort foods. More information is always wonderful and I am open to others journeys. You can even leave a link if you like. I do however, approve all comments so don’t worry if it doesn’t magically appear.

Now to the recipe portion of this program.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and drop a dozen little papers in a clean muffin tin

then start with a Blender (or a bowel, a wooden spoon, and a butt-load of elbow grease)

Throw in 2 Tablespoon Maple Syrup (the real stuff and I do grade B for more vitamins), 5 Tablespoons of warm-to-the-touch water, 5 teaspoons of Ener-G egg replacer, [if using real eggs 1 Tablespoon Maple Syrup, 3 eggs] and 3 medium or 2 large over ripe bananas, 2 T coconut oil (hence the warm water ūüôā and blend till smooth. Let sit at least ten minutes if using egg replacer.

In large bowel mix 3 cups blanched almond flour (aside on what I have learned here, my blender is better at making almond butter than almond flour so I buy it in small amounts and use it quickly. But if you have great equipment make your own with fresh blanched almonds. Almond flour goes rancid (bitter) and picks up odors that change food taste quicker than anything else) [for a lighter muffin make it 2 cup Bob’s Red Mill Gluten Free All Purpose Flour, 1 cup almond flour] with 1/4 teaspoon salt, 1.5 teaspoons baking soda (1.5 equals one and a half) and once thoroughly mixed make a well.

Pour in liquid, stir until just blended, stir in 1 cup fresh or frozen blueberries

Spoon in to muffin cups and bake 40 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean.

VERY VERY VERY IMPORTANT Let them cool at least 30 minutes.

High fat content food, yes its nut flour, it’s good fats but still high fat, taste better the longer they sit. For these to taste as yummy as they smell, let them cool. No butter needed, trust me. Because of this they are perfect take-a-long muffins.

They also freeze well.

Happy Baking!

No song lyric, just my curd recipe.

Here is the regular and vegan versions of my most requested recipe!

As always, please read the whole recipe before starting or suffer the catastrophic kitchen consequences.

1 Cup sugar or sugar substitute

6T unsalted organic butter

8 T fresh citrus juice

3 T citrus zest

1/4 tsp cardamom, ginger or mace (at festival it is either cardamom with lime or lemon; and occasionally ginger with lemon)

The following equipment is critical to create a perfect curd: a double boiler, a whisk, small grater, a juicer, and a 1 cup size wire mesh strainer, a second person to hold strainer while you whisk and pour. The recipe and process are simple, but like much simple science the timing, temperature and methods are very exact. The uncurling and binding of the protein chains of the white‚Äôs in the egg will occur to quickly in relation to the emulsion of the lemon and butter by the yolks and the consistency will not be pleasing nor the flavor correct if the eggs are not first whipped just till frothy and then poured through the strainer. Also fresh zest must be used as the pectin in the peel is another critical element of the consistency of curd, especially it artificial sugars such as Splenda or Truvia (the ones that say ‚Äúgood for baking‚ÄĚ cup for cup only please) are used. Also butter must be unsalted; and organic is better in all ingredients but not necessary to make the recipe work.

Put water in the bottom and place double boiler on to begin heating. Measure out 1 cup sugar or sugar substitute and juice 8 T of fresh citrus juice-lime, lemon or orange or any combination of the three. Orange is too sweet for my palate if used alone, I find that orange does well halved with lemon juice.

Whisk 3 eggs in a pourable container just until a slightly frothy yellow color and whites are thoroughly mixed.

Place 6 T (a bit less than one stick) of unsalted, organic butter in top of double boiler and let it begin melting.

Scrape just the colored portion of rind from either lemon, lime or orange to make 3 T (do not pack it down). (After many skinned knuckles I highly recommend Pampered Chef’s Microplane Adjustable Grater for all your grating needs) Add to pan once butter is almost melted along with juice, spice and sugar.

Stir until all sugar and spice is dissolved. Whisk briskly while pouring egg through strainer. Keep whisking until it starts to thicken and switch back to a wooden spoon. Keep stirring until you can make ‚Äúroads‚ÄĚ with the wooden spoon. Pour immediately into glass canning jars pre-heated to avoid shock. (to preheat a jar, fill with hot water and dump it all out just before filling). Add cap and let cool in fridge. Voila, perfect curd!

This can also be made with EnerG in place of eggs, and to make it vegan.

Here is that recipe

1/4 cup EnerG egg replacer
1 cup organic sugar (anykind will do)
1/4 tsp salt
1 cups filtered water
1/2 cup Earth Balance vegan sticks or 1/2 cup coconut oil or 1/2 cup water

bring all this to a boil on the top of the double boiler and when all sugar is melted and mixture is clear, add 1/3 cup citrus juice and 3 T zest and cook until thick.

It’s Not that Easy Being Green…..the first in a rainbow of recipes

I personally love vegetables and fruits, so being green, or red, or orange, yellow or purple or even blue is easy peasy for me.

But not so much true for most of my friends and family, so for those who find getting your greens a challenge I propose my Kermit Smoothie.

 

The Kermit Smoothie for 1

Into the blender place

1/2 a banana (Bananas are all sizes so about 7 slices 0.5 cm thick if you want more exact measurements, or the length of your index finger)

small handful spinach (1/4 cup of small torn pieces)

1/4 cup pineapple chunks

1/4 cup frozen blueberries

fill blender to 0.5 liter mark with Coconut water or carrot juice (I use Coconut water or Trader Joe’s Dynamo)

small handful ice (3 ice cubes from my trays)

3 T Hemp seeds

1 tsp maple syrup.

Blend it till it’s all smooth and creamy. Drink, and you will be amazed at how delicious a serving of greens and protein can be! This is in fact an very complete meal and a great way to start a day!

 

 

 

Vegan Ice Cream for the win!

Simplest recipe ever, and so absolutely delicious…tomorrow I make chocolate!

Open one can of Trader Joe’s Coconut Cream and dump into pourable mixing bowl. I use the one quart measure from Pampered Chef, but I think Anchor Hocking offers one as well, it has a pour spout and both milliliters and cup gradations, and a lid. Every well stocked kitchen should have one.

Now fill that same can with unsweetened coconut milk, I buy the Organic stuff at Fry’s but any will do, even sweetened or Vanilla if that is what you have, I just like to minimize ingredients and sugars. Stir all the extra goo off the edges of the can and dump on mixing bowl.

Add 1tsp (very important it not have alcohol as that changes the freezing temperature of the mixture) non-alcohol vanilla extract or soak ¬†a crushed vanilla bean in the mixture for a day and then blend till smooth, the vanilla bean is yummy and gives it that gourmet speckle but usually I just use my flavoring (also from Trader Joe’s)

Add 1/8 tsp kosher salt

Add 1 TBLSP Organic Agava syrup or Grade B Organic Maple Syrup

Blend completely. Start your Ice Cream Maker and pour it in! And yummmmmmm!

 

Summer soft, wakes you up with a kiss…

I love mornings,  all mornings, but summer mornings have special significance in Phoenix, Arizona, it is the one time of the day when I can step outside the door without bursting into flames or instantly becoming a small pile of dry ash. So it is a blessing that my dogs are faithful alarm clocks even when I forget to set a mechanical one.

Both dogs can comfortably go about 7.5 to 8.0 hours between bathroom trips, so if I am not stirring yet on my own they recognize a kiss is the perfect way to wake their sleeping princess.

This morning I walked them for about 15 minutes then in my SOFT pursuit, hit the pool. My training after six months of light duty pretty much consists of actually going (rebuild the habit) and pushing myself one length past the point where I think I want to stop. I also stay swimming for 30 minutes. Today my max without a rest was two laps, however this is my first time since coming back to actually do freestyle strokes with breathing and goggles on, and yes I did try to talk myself out of it at first, but that is why I set specific goals, so I can push through the resurfacing fears like putting my face in the water or bike riding.

Today’s goal is to also break my 10,000 steps. ¬†You may not notice but here I went and placed my dead FitBit into its charger and changed the music. ¬†I was listening to Stevie Wonder but now am on to Nat King Cole and Peggy Lee. Next on my morning playlist will be some Mantovani. That kind of morning, joyful and blessed.

So everyone’s favorite question when they learn I am a S.O.F.T. (Slow Old Fat TryAthlete) training fro an event and also a vegan is, “Where do you get your protein?”

My smartass reply is,”Same place you do, from plants; I just leave out the middle cow.”

But for those who are actually interested and not just threatened by my choices, here is a favorite breakfast (what I made this morning actually)

Blueberry Protein Porridge for 1

Place  a cup and a splash of cold coconut water or spring water into a sauce pan. (Coconut water adds Potassium, needed with all the sweating I do!)

Add a small handful of organic dried blueberries (or cranberries) into the water (thats why the extra splash of water), a pinch of Nutmeg, a pinch of cardamom, and a dash of salt. If your spice cabinet is not as eclectic as mine, cinnamon works too.

Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally. (About 3 minutes on my stove at high)

Just before the boil rolls, turn the heat down to simmer and add a half cup of whole oats. I don’t recommend quick cook oats ever, the wholer the oat the better the nutrition and flavor, my favorite are steel cut but today all I had on hand are the organic flat cut from Trader Joe’s. Stir.

Cook till desired consistency but about 5 minutes. Spoon out into a bowl and add 3 T of raw hemp seed and a T of Organic Earth Balance Vegan Spread.

Nom, nom, nom.

High Protein, High fiber and with the “butter” it also has my Omega might increased! Now off to conquer the world!

 

Thriving 2.0 and a tasty vegan recipe

I made a goal to not use my vehicle one day a week, as part of my commitment to saving my favorite bears and being more green.

Achievement unlocked!

Did I mention thriving for me means being kind to ALL others, including Mother Earth and her flora and fauna?

I have a goal of eating whole, live foods.

Achievement also unlocked

Today I made a tasty pot of  Herbed Lemon  Pottage to use up the last of my last Bountiful Basket herbs.

Wash 4-5 organic carrots and 4-5 large stalks of celery, chop into bite size pieces. Dice 1/2 an onion or a few mushrooms if desired (I had neither, so I didn’t) Toss all this and 1 T ¬†Extra Virgin Olive Oil in a heavy saucepan or skillet, stir around a bit while the oil heats. Chop leftover bundle of limp herbs such as dill, cilantro, or parsley. ( I had dill) Saute for another 3 minutes. Add 2 cups of water and bring to boil, then simmer for 10 minutes to soften vegetables and blend flavors. Add 1/2 cup organic sprouted bean trio, or faro, or barley (I use truRoots bean trio the most!) Cook another 5-10 minutes until protein source is softened and water mostly absorbed. Squeeze half a small lemon over it (or 1 T from bottle, I use fresh) and serve. YUM!!!!

No tortillas today so I am making little Romain lettuce wraps but is also good just in a bowl.

Weeds attended to and half the Christmas stickers are off the front window, as well as all the regular daily stuff like dishes, laundry, patient paperwork printed for visits tomorrow and MGA reports sent in; so Good Day! I thrived!

 

Oat and Hemp Seed Porridge with 18 grams of protein; easy and tastes good too and a really funny thing to watch while you eat!

It has been unusually cold in Arizona this winter and cold weather means HOT breakfast. ¬†I get to use more of my delicious porridge recipes this year which makes me happy. ¬†Sweaters and porridge don’t get a lot of mileage in Phoenix, a fact that I both relish and regret.

This morning I am eating my favorite porridge. It is simple and as nutritious as can be with 18 grams of protein, 30 percent of my daily iron needs, 16 grams of fiber, 400 calories and no added sugars and no bad fats, although I will admit to eating it with a nice Tablespoon of Earth Balance on top which adds another 100 calories and some saturated fats.

Here is the very simple and easy recipe.

In small saucepan stir 1/2 cup rolled oats, 1 cup water, 2 T of¬†dried¬†fruit (my favorite is Trader Joe’s organic¬†dried¬†cranberries although I have been known to buy the HUGE bag of ¬†Ocean Spray Dried Cranberries at Costco when feeling particularly frugal), and a dash of salt. Turn the burner onto medium heat and bring to a boil, cook for 3 minutes or so with a good stir here and there to prevent burning. Turn off the heat and cook to preferred consistency. Add 3 T of Earthly Choice Raw Shelled Hemp Seeds and stir and serve. Yum! In under 10 minutes of kitchen time we have a delicious and healthy hot breakfast.

For my day at home away from others (I am in my first 24 hours with one of the bugs raging through the United States so contagious, meaning avoiding others completely) I finished with a nice homemade latte of Organic vanilla soy milk and started with a fresh squeezed glass of OJ, so my breakfast calorie total was 717 calories. This may sound like a lot of calories, but compare it to a fast food breakfast where just one McDonald’s Big Breakfast comes in at over 1000 calories for ¬†comparable amounts of protein (only one that has same amount of¬†protein¬† but less nutrition and a much higher glycemic index. )

Anyway, that is my recipe for the day, as to my exercise, I have two dogs who badly need an outing, as they just are demonstrating while chasing a bird through my already suffering garden, so gotta go….

Maybe later a poem or personal update.

But for now let me leave you with an awesome video to watch while you eat! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ftNG15GpnTU!¬† I have not laughed this much in a looooong time. I already love Geek and Sundry, and have to watch (get to watch?) more than my share of children’s programming with my job as a pediatric nurse. I think of ¬†“LearningTown” as kind of what would have happened if the original Saturday Night Live crew had taken over for Mr. Rogers. ¬†Of course that is because I am old, I am certain their is a much cooler (hipper?) analogy just as I am certain the¬†villains¬†have no relation to a certain NickJr ¬†program. But then, I don’t know, why don’t you go watch it and let me know. And Hey, tell them Crowfae sent you ūüôā

 

Hello 2013, what ya got to say for yourself?

Well, here I am at the brink of 2013. ¬†I gained 5 pounds over the Christmas Holiday after finally breaking through my personal goal of 199 lbs. ¬†The reasons were the both the usual suspects (tasty food and beverages) but also a bit of a lung thing that kept my my running shoes still and no time clocked in the pool. Returned to working out yesterday and after 10 minutes on the elliptical on level 1 and 30 minutes of strength training got dizzy and nauseated so didn’t swim. Today was just patient care for exercise, tomorrow I will do a walk or swim and a wee bit more strength training. I got goals you see, big goals, at least for me. Here they are

Swim 52 kilometers (not at one time, for the year!)

Bike 104 miles (ditto)

Run 800 Kilometers (in 5k and maybe even 10k stretches)
and be able to pop out 50 pushups, 50 crunches and one real pull-up.

And yup, I will be running a couple races, doing one or more mini triaths and at least one maxi!

Now on to the more important stuff like what am I cooking,

Simple and Cheap with flavor that can’t be beat!

Black Eyed Peas, Vegan Style.

Sort, rinse and soak a pound of dried black eyed peas overnight, rinse again in the morning (this helps make them less “musical” if you catch my drift, LOL)

Poor the hydrated beans in your slow cooker and cover with water (about 4-6 cups), add a tsp of red salt (or kosher or sea), two small bay leaves, 2 tsp of dried oregano, and a 1/4 tsp ground pepper. Close the lid put it on low and get on with your day! In 4-6 hours serve up a delicious and nutritious bowl with cornbread, or for a special treat add collard greens or spinach the last half hour of cooking.

Its cheap and ooooh so good in the cooler months, and purported to bring good luck!

Eating some even as I write this.

Namaste friends

 

White flies (old post that I somehow sent to drafts…posting 12/5 written 11/21)

That is all I can say right now, “White Flies.” They have become the symbol for my November. If you don’t know what a whitefly is, this the the wiki brief ¬†http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Whitefly.

They have devastated my garden. It is too late for lady bugs this year, so I lifted the leaves and really, really got in there with the soapy spray.  But it really is too late for this year, all I am doing is preventing an even fiercer battle next growing season.

Life has been that way as well. Everything looks great and green one day, and the next everything has changed and I feel as wilted as my zucchini plants.

But it is not how many time we fall down, or how many times we get a result we weren’t seeking, it’s how many times we try again.

I am buying marigolds and adding them into my half dozen that survived from seed. ¬†Let’s see how this goes.

And on a better note, I met some other amazing nurses today at the hardware store who brightened my day, natures little lady bugs for the white flies attacking my soul.

 

Responsibility and gratitude versus blame and credit, or how I got here from there and how I intend to keep going

The most difficult choices are often the subtle ones. Pairing the green slacks with a blue or brown button down instead of with the shiny orange tank top for a business meeting is an easy choice, but picking which blue has the best base notes to complement the green is more difficult. This practiced nuance is what I work to achieve in sorting that most difficult wardrobe accessory, confidence.

Confidence comes from making good choices. Making good choices is predicated upon discerning what is in my control and empowering myself to continue functional behaviors and to change what isn’t working. ¬†This is where it gets tricky. Persisitence and insanity (doing the same thing, expecting a different result) can look incredibly similar. Acceptance and defeat also share a similar hue.

When life gives me lemons when I ordered bananas, it’s much easier to do make nothing at all except excuses, after all I ordered bananas. I know I have the ingredients for banana bread, I am craving banana bread, and lemons absolutely do not substitute into my bread recipe. So the lemons rot away while I starve to death dreaming of banana bread cursing the heavens for my lack.

Or,

I can begin to look at how to use the lemons. Hey, I have flour and sugar and butter and eggs all available for the banana bread so maybe some scones and lemon curd are in order, and I finally grind the pecans  (I put pecans in my banana bread) to make fresh pecan butter as a perfect complement and thank the universe for my abundance.

How does this look in real life?

I have had many challenges, opportunities to survive. Hey, everybody has challenges, so mine are no bigger than yours, just different. Some of my life challenges have been the kind where people cheer to still have you here, like cancer; some are the kind people inwardly want to blame you for (to protect themselves from realizing it can happen to anyone) like homelessness, poverty, abuse and assault; some are the losses that anyone who has a heart will eventually experience like the death of family members, friends, or relationships. ¬†All of my challenges have come with plenty of opportunity to whine, blame, and wallow in what I didn’t have or couldn’t do.

There is a great little story I will completely mis-tell here as I distill it into what I remember. It is about a boy who dreams each night of two wolves fighting. One wolf represents fear and famine and hopelessness; the other wolf represents love and abundance and persistence. The boy dreams them equally matched over and over again, and he goes to his father and asks which will eventually win, and the father answers that the winner will be the one the boy feeds.

I get that concept, verbally choosing love over fear, that is the easy part; like picking the business blouse instead of the  sports top. Truly implementing it is the tricky part, choosing and change.

What do I actually have the power to change?

To go back to the bananas, some things are obvious, if I only planted Lemon trees the odds of harvesting bananas are really, really slim. A real life example is if I say I want to be healthy and pain free but I do not choose to daily exercise and stretch the muscles  I do have use of, nor do I choose to eat whole, healthy natural foods, then I am planting lemons and seeking bananas.

Also, things we plant do not always grow.  I have core body changes related to health challenges that make balance and certain fine motor and gross motor movements less than reflexive  Sometimes it takes lots of failed attempts to get a desired result. This could be compared to growing bananas where I live. Bananas take lots of moisture and 18 months of no frost to bear fruit; I live in Arizona so bananas are possible although difficult, and as I am still working on actually harvesting zucchini from home grown plants bananas are a loooooooong way off for this gardener.  In time I will master banana growing or I may, in the meantime, develop a real love for lemons which grow pretty easily here and abandon the pursuit of bananas. Here is the subtle part again. Realizing that it is a choice. If I decide to focus on lemons or marigolds or zucchini in my garden, how I tell the story to myself is the difference between responsibility and blame.

If I tell myself and others, “Yea, I grow lemons (or marigolds) because I can’t grow bananas in Arizona, its just too dry.” I am a victim, I will in time resent the harvest and the home. However, ¬†if I say to myself, “You know bananas are taking up too much of my time and I really love lemons so I am going to grow the best lemons I can!” I am empowered and a survivor and glutted on gratitude.

To move back again to real life, surviving survival to again thrive is the toughest challenge of all. Some days it seems like everyone has moved on with their lives and are winning all the races, while I still struggle with running a mile or balancing on a bike.  Those are the days I review my 20 wishes book, reassess where I am today, and recommit myself to who I want to be tomorrow. I am not competing with anyone but me, all I have to do is keep trying, and slowly improve and I am a success.

I have so many dreams still; some involve a healthy pain free body, some involve managing to actually have lasting intimate relationships, some involve formal education, some are about world travel and some just involve feeling safe.  I can tell myself the stories about how and why I hurt, am afraid, isolate, stay home, am not in school; or I can look at the stories and determine where I actually am, what I can change, what I want, and devise the  steps I can take to get there if it is a goal I want to pursue.  Some of these goals are bananas some are lemons. Not all dreams need to be realized, but it is always a choice.

Responsibility and gratitude got me where I am today. I am not dead, in a wheelchair, or homeless and on the streets. I am a nurse, a published author and critic, a mother of amazing sons and surrounded by friends who even if they don’t actually get me most of the time, do at least accept me. ¬†Sometimes life just drops bananas in my lap, today is one of those bananas.

Namaste my friends.