Cooking for the Wolf: Farmer’s Market Inspiration!

Despite the cold, torrential downpour, the fresh, fragrant produce of my farmer’s market anniversary celebration inspired and motivated me to log some serious time at the kitchen counter.  A second trip this past Saturday fueled the fire, resulting in an array of farmer’s market creations and discoveries: My first taste of sauteed beet greens (why throw them out?), the discovery of collard greens (perfect in smoothies!), my first batch of homemade  hummus, lentil burger patties, curried butternut squash with kale, raw marinara sauce, and chilled roasted beet and avocado soup.  Most of the recipes are from Brendan Brazier’s amazing book, “Thrive Foods: 200 Plant-Based Recipes for Peak Health.”  As a newbie cook, I’m loving the simplicity and ease of the recipes so far. I’m hoping to work through each recipe ala “Julie and Julia,”except without the time pressure. I’ve knocked off 11 out of 200 already, so there’s plenty of epic food adventure ahead! The raw recipes have me especially curious and eager to learn and experiment.  A Face Forward “Raw Food for a Week”  Wellness Challenge is definitely on the horizon!

Here are some pics of my most recent Cooking for the Wolf adventures. I can’t wait to visit the market again this weekend!

Kale bundles of nutrient-packed goodness! 

Anniversary Celebration Farmer’s Market Bounty!

Now that’s a good lookin’ onion.

Orange beets roasted and peeled for blending.

Chilled Soup & Margherita Pizza

Chilled roasted beet & avocado soup (Thrive) & tortilla wrap goat cheese mozzarella, fresh basil margherita pizza (my own creation) with homemade tomato sauce (modified from Thrive): The notion of cold soup was never appealing to me, but this recipe is delicious! I’m definitely planning to make this one often.

Lentil Patty Over Greens

Homemade lentil burger patty (Thrive) over a spinach salad with hemp & chia seed vinaigrette (my creation): My very first homemade patty! I pay $12 for a similar meal at my local vegan burger joint – why pay when I can make it at home on my own? No brainer!

Treasures from my market trip this past Saturday: Check out the rainbow carrots and the purple peppers! The fresh, organic basil was my favourite purchase of the day. The fragrance was so delightful, I continued my shopping with it held up to my nose as though it were a bouquet of flowers!

Raw Marinara Sauce & Brown Rice Pasta

Raw marinara sauce (modified from Thrive) over brown rice spaghetti: The recipe originally called for strips of zucchini instead of cooked pasta for a truly raw pasta dish, but I opted for the quick fix. Sorry for the poor picture quality, I was so hungry I didn’t think to check the picture before digging in!





La Vie en Vert: The Magic Green Shot


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The moment I watched kale disintegrate into my smoothie, I knew that I had crossed a threshold.  When I was willing to drink green (and throw some hemp seed in there, too), I realized I was a “green believer.”  After all the research through books and blogs of cured health gurus, I’m finally ready to commit to “la vie en vert:” Life through green coloured glasses, or, in this case, a healthy life by drinking glasses of green.

This belief and commitment has been heightened by the fact that my white blood cells have dropped to 1.9 once again (normal WBC is 5.0 – 10.0).  It’s due to the fact that I’ve been off prednisone for about 3 and a half months, something that my naturopath isn’t overly concerned about, but she says is definitely on her radar. I feel fine, with the exception of needing a bit more sleep lately, but I admit, I’m feeling worried.  My next rheumatologist appointment is in May and I know if I don’t get these white blood cells up naturally by then, Dr. H is going to recommend I go back on prednisone.  I don’t think I have to say how I feel about that.

I’ve been drinking green smoothies everyday, hoping it will help give my body what it needs to rebuild itself.  I’m also considering what is highly touted as “the magic green shot:” Wheatgrass.  According to “Green Health:”

  • One ounce contains 103 vitamins, minerals and amino acids.
  • One ounce of wheatgrass juice represents as much nutritional value as approximately 2.5 pounds of fresh green vegetables.
  • Wheatgrass juice is high in chlorophyll.
  • It is very high in vitamins A, B-Complex, C, E and K.
  • Wheatgrass juice is a natural source of laetrile (B-17).
  • It contains beta-carotene, which is found in red, green and yellow pigmented fruits and vegetables. Beta-carotene acts as a scavenger against harmful molecules flowing naturally through the body or through toxins inhaled from cigarette smoke, air pollution and other damaging sources.
  • Wheatgrass cleanses, purifies and feeds the body by activating the white blood cells, which boost the body’s immune system.

It sounds too good to be true, but apparently it has worked for countless people, playing a large part in putting disease into remission.  I’ve zoned in on a local wheatgrass seller and plan to drop by in the next week.  I’ve heard it doesn’t taste very good, but it’s a small sacrifice in the big scheme of things.  Otherwise, all I can do is get enough rest, exercise, focus on foods that boost white blood cell production, drink green tea (stimulates WBC production), and try to stay stress free.  Let’s see if I’m able to convince my rheumatologist (and my body) that I should stay Evil P-free!

Detox Challenge: The Final Word

So, I did it.  21 days without fruit, sauces, sugar, bread, and dairy, to name a few.  During Thanksgiving Dinner, I stood defiant as my family members tried to coax me to indulge in not one, but three of my favourite Filipino desserts. If that were not cruel enough, my sister brought a Marble Slab Creamery Raspberry Ice Cream Cheesecake .  That’s a mouthful, but I definitely didn’t have one. I was about to crumble into a trembling heap, but instead, I chose to cheat in the form of one piece of sliced mango.  And even then, I clutched it in my hand so long before eating it that I drew confused looks.  Yes, I was lost in a moment of crushing guilt and temptation, but amidst the ridiculousness of that moment, I had a realization:

For years, I was absolute in my knowledge that I would never have the will power to change or sustain the kind of diet I knew could make a difference in my life with lupus.  I had heard of many people with chronic illness who had changed the quality of their lives through diet, but everyday there was a new craving that needed to be satisfied:  Bubble tea, M & Ms, tootsie rolls, chocolate almonds, chips, pastries, Nutella, pad thai, deep fried banana cheesecake with ice cream.  I felt like I deserved these “foods,” that I was allowed to have them because I was feeling so crappy.  It was my reward for getting through the day, the release from hiding the pain from others.  By thinking I owed myself these treats, I was contributing to my body’s decline. I was “feeding the wolf” and it was a vicious cycle I didn’t have the will or desire to control.  It didn’t help that I couldn’t cook, nor did I want to.  I needed something that I could enjoy and indulge in and my inner treat monster was the way to get it.

During the detox, I felt better, lighter, and cleaner, but more than that, I felt responsible.  It was the first time I truly took responsibility for everything I put into my body. By completing the detox, I found the iron will I never thought I had! In the face of my most desired desserts, I “cheated” by eating a piece of MANGO.  So clearly, the final word on the detox is “hope.”  After completing the 21-day detox challenge, I feel like there’s hope that I will be able to make the right food (and treat) choices for the long haul.  The first thing I wanted to eat when I finished my detox wasn’t bread, nor cheese, nor chocolate, but plump and juicy, organic raisins!!  Nothing has ever tasted so good in my life!  I think that speaks for itself!

My next food challenge:  Going “raw” for a week… but I’m definitely going wait a while before I attempt to do that. I think I deserve at least a few months of “laid back eating!”

A Filipino Vegetarian? Say What?

This hilarious video says it all:  If you’re born filipino, pork is practically your middle name.  Oh wait, so is beef, chicken, and salted, deep-fried fish. Before my health forced me to consider becoming a full-fledged vegetarian or vegan, the thought never occurred to me. I couldn’t imagine cutting meat entirely out of my diet.  I would literally starve at my family’s dinner table!

About four years ago, after my anaphylactic adventures with Celebrex and a sobering afternoon watching the documentary “Earthlings,”  I gave up red meat.  I still ate chicken and fish from time to time, but for two years, I turned my back on a startlingly huge portion of the filipino dishes I knew and loved. My digestive system and I felt great, but it was a struggle to refuse favourites like filipino pork barbecue, lumpia (pork spring rolls), and sinagang (filipino sour stew).  I was surprised to realize how emotionally attached I was to these foods and how isolating it was at family events.  Fortunately for me, my parents were highly supportive and ensured that there were dishes that I could eat at immediate family gatherings.  My mom even started making a healthier, baked version of lumpia with ground chicken instead of pork.  I was slowly working up to cutting out chicken and fish entirely, but my efforts were curbed by lupus cerebritis.  I was fed red meat in the hospital and during my recovery.  Almost two years later, I eat very little red meat, but I have yet to cut it out entirely.  I have no reason or excuse for not going back to my red-meatless life or why I haven’t taken it to the next level in order to completely forgo my meatosaurus self.  I’ve been content in having the choice to taste a co-worker’s beef stir-fry, bite into a bison samosa, or enjoy Filipino dishes as they were intended.  The option has felt too sweet to give up, despite the fact that I would usually only indulge in a bite or two.

Well, my friends, this two year stretch of dietary limbo is coming to an end.  It’s time for this Filipina pork goddess to give up her barbecue skewered crown.  After this upcoming Easter weekend meal with my family, I will say good-bye to red meat.  After that, I will wean myself off of chicken and fish gradually while I learn how to properly and delectably replace animal protein through research, cooking experiments, and consultations with my naturopath.  I’m not saying that I will be fully vegetarian forever, but I think I need to try it in as pure a form as I can in order to observe it’s effect.  It might take months for me to say that my diet has totally crossed over, but the journey officially begins next week.  I’m feeling fully intimidated by the task, but a google search led me to burst of motivation and inspiration in the form of a vegan Filipino cuisine restaurant in California called, “No Worries.”  Yes, I said VEGAN.  I stumbled across the No Worries Menu as I contemplated the idea of a vegan version of my most beloved, favourite Filipino dessert, “halo halo.”  If vegans can have halo halo, then I am confident that with some creativity, I can still have the tastes and comfort of the food I grew up with!

I mentioned trying to whip up some vegetarian Filipino dishes a while ago, but a busy schedule has kept me in a narrow, tried and true daily meal plan.  I promise to follow through in the very near future, so keep an eye out for some “Cooking for the Wolf” experimentation while I keep my eye on the prize:  A medication-free, healthy life!