Nineteen days away from his first birthday and the boy is cruising! He's been walking for almost three weeks and crawling for almost six months. He climbs up onto everything--top steps of stools, the couch, the kids' table.
He screams. Loud. He giggles. Adorably. He nurses. Incessantly.
He sticks any and all cords or electrical devices in his mouth. He cleans up the floor and yard with his teeth like a little goat. He shovels handfuls of dogfood into his cheeks when you're not looking and then screams with clenched fists when you try to take it. His colic has subsided (I think) and turned into a habit of waking up throughout the night.
Bodhi (or Bo-da as Finn likes to call him), is on his way to toddler-land. I regret that I was half asleep for the first year. I wish I enjoyed it more, but I was so damn sleep deprived and had trouble enjoying anything. I'm trying not to beat myself up about it (can you tell?). It was what it was.
He is cruising. And I can't get enough of those old-soul eyes and rosy cheeks.


Three minutes to energy, creativity and prosperity!

I was struggling for something to write about on this 29th day of National Blog Posting Month. Jason and I finally attempted to come up with a budget today--but I didn't want to post about money worries or scarcity, so I googled prosperity to see if there was any wisdom out there in cyberspace from the new age gurus. I found some fairly cheesy stuff (picture 5 minute You tube slideshows with words in Papyrus font and bad music); but there was nothing worth posting.

Then I remembered a Kundalini yoga kriya (a set of postures and breath) that is supposed to create energy, creativity and prosperity.

Have you ever done any Kundalini yoga? It is seriously crazy stuff. You can change your entire attitude and being in just a few minutes. So I broke out my book: Kundalini Yoga by Shakta Kaur Khalsa and thought I'd share it with you. I completed a yoga training with the author of the book and highly recommend it.

I also managed to convince Jasona to pose for the photos. (Not sure how I pulled that one off).

Damn. The copyright statement on the bottom of the webpage just scared me away from posting it here. Maybe I'm too irreverent, but I don't really understand the 'why' of it.  However, I do know that I don't want to piss off a yoga guru who could possibly invoke their yogic siddhis on me.

Instead--please do check out the instructions for this quick and easy 3 minute sequence for energy creativity and prosperity. There are 3 postures. You can do each for 3 minutes or just choose one. This can also be found on pgs. 130-131 of Shakta's book.

Here are the photos of Jason bringing it in:


Prosperity: "Excel, excel, fearless."


Yoga for Cancer

It was a rainy day in San Francisco--perfect weather for being inside a spacious yoga studio with a wall of windows. I was surrounded by a group of teachers dedicated to helping themselves and others heal. Some of them were cancer survivors in remission. Others were in the thick of treatments. And yet others (like me) either work with those affected by cancer or were somehow inspired to do so.

As people began introducing themselves around the semi-circle, I could feel their words like music that speaks directly to your heart--the kind of music that takes you out of your head and delivers you to life. I knew that I'd probably cry when I did my introduction. (I've always excelled at crying in front of others. My emotions diffuse through my skin, and I'm so sensitive to people's energy, which makes it hard to keep from crying. I was always embarrassed of this as a kid, but I've learned to run with it and embrace it as a strength.) I could  feel my mom in the yoga studio with me and the stories of those around me were so moving. There was some serious strength present and I felt honored to be be a part of it. This manifested as tears.

Tari Prinster, a yogi and a cancer survivor, shared with us some of her wisdom. I learned the science of why certain postures strengthen the immune system and why some should be avoided. She addressed the emotional, mental and physical needs of someone with cancer and how to work with these needs. I started going back through my notes tonight and wish I had done this a day after the workshop, rather than a week. I can barely read my own writing! Tari was wonderful and I hope that I can do a future training with her. Normally her teacher trainings are 45 hours. This was just a 2 day workshop (and I could only attend one day).

I look forward to sharing what I learned with others. I'm going to start with my husband's aunt who is interested in incorporating yoga into her treatment. From there I hope to offer a class to other people in the community.

Here is a quote from BKS Iyengar that Tari shared with us. I think of it as remembering to keep a 'beginner's mind' or the curiosity of a child when teaching or with everything, really....

To stay awake means,  “To not imagine that you already understand and impose your imperfect understanding on those who come to you for help.”

Or in the words of the Zen teacher, Suzuki: 
In the beginner's mind there are many possibilities, in the expert's mind there are few.


Sick of turkey yet? (recipe for turkey chowder with criminis, wild rice & pancetta)

Our spatchcocked turkey was delicious this Thanksgiving. I ate two lunches worth of sandwiches on walnut cranberry bread and two dinners worth of turkey tacos (yes, we squeezed everything from turkey to sage sweet potatoes into delicious sprouted corn tortillas and fried them up in coconut oil---sounds strange, but it was awesome).

Tonight I wanted something different. Enter: turkey 'chowda'.  I come from Rhode Island so any talk of chowder gets me a little bit excited. There's nothing like a warm bowl of clam chowder on a blustery winter day. But I'm also a bit of a chowder snob. Please people, don't just blend up corn and throw in some cream and call it a chowder... please?

This turkey chowder from an old issue of Bon Appetit is perfect for Thanksgiving leftovers. I used up the rest of my turkey, cream, gravy and even the stuffing. Yes, even the stuffing. I managed to make it gluten free by subbing almond flour for regular flour (and my stuffing was already made with almond flour bread).  I didn't have any corn in the freezer so I skipped that--but I would've included it. I also used bacon instead of pancetta, because they don't sell pancetta up here in the hills. Even better would be to use the wild porcinis that we didn't find this week. Next year.

But don't skip the gravy. Definitely not. I made cream gravy this year and I loved it.  Before adding it, the chowder was good, but the gravy put it over the top.

Don't be afraid of the turkey stock part. If you didn't make it this year, you can sub chicken stock. It was so easy to throw the carcass in a pot of water after  Thanksgiving dinner along with some veggies, herbs & garlic. I put a few quarts in the freezer and so had plenty on hand for the chowder.

Turkey Chowder with criminis, wild rice and pancetta- (taken directly from Epicurious)
  • 2 1/2 cups water
  • 3/4 cup wild rice (about 5 ounces), rinsed, drained
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon butter/oil
  • 2 3-ounce packages sliced pancetta (Italian bacon), diced (I used bacon)
  • 12 ounces crimini (baby bella) mushrooms, sliced (about 5 1/2 cups)
  • 1/4 cup ( 1/2 stick) butter
  • 2 carrots, diced
  • 2 celery stalks, chopped
  • 1/2 cup chopped shallots
  • 1/3 cup  flour (use almond flour for gluten free)
  • 10 cups Turkey Stock
  • 1 teaspoon dried crushed rosemary (or fresh)
  • 2 to 4 cups chopped cooked turkey meat (reserved from carcass)
  • 1 1/2 cups frozen corn kernels
  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream (I used less)
  • leftover stuffing & gravy (optional)
  • Chopped fresh Italian parsley for garnish
Bring 2 1/2 cups water, rice, and 1/4 teaspoon salt to boil in medium saucepan. Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer until rice is tender but still firm to bite, 45 to 60 minutes (time will vary depending on variety of rice). Drain; set aside.
Heat butter/oil in heavy large pot over medium heat. Add pancetta and cook until browned, stirring often, about 8 minutes. Using slotted spoon, transfer pancetta to paper towels to drain. Add mushrooms to pot and cook until beginning to brown, about 8 minutes. Transfer to medium bowl. Add butter to same pot. Add carrots and celery. Cover; cook until vegetables begin to soften, stirring often, about 5 minutes. Add shallots; stir until soft, about 2 minutes. Sprinkle flour over and stir 1 minute. Return mushrooms to pot. Mix in Turkey Stock and rosemary; bring to boil, stirring occasionally. Reduce heat to medium-low, partially cover, and simmer 15 minutes.
Add rice, pancetta, turkey meat, corn and leftover stuffing (if using) to soup. Simmer to blend flavors, about 10 minutes. Stir in cream & gravy. Season to taste with salt and pepper. DO AHEAD: Can be made 3 days ahead. Cool slightly. Chill uncovered until cool. Cover and keep chilled. Rewarm over medium heat before serving.
Divide soup among bowls, sprinkle with parsley, and serve. 



Letting go of expectations.

 Stuffed into borrowed, hand-me-down winter clothes, Finn was uncomfortable--scared and resistant to going out in the snow. Just two days earlier we went to see the Big Trees and he wasn't dressed warmly enough (because the kid flat-out refuses to wear a coat most of the time). He despised walking in the mud and snow. It took every drop of patience I had to help him have fun (picture frequent, loud three-year-old emotional breakdowns). I realized that I would have to force him into warm clothes for the trip up the mountain.

It was a beautiful, blue-bird day--perfect sledding weather. Finn's little friend was all about it. The two of them were like Frog & Toad. Remember them? Toad tends to be a bit reluctant and a pessimist, while Frog is a glass-half-full kind of guy. 

Finn laid himself down on the snow and refused to walk. I tried making deals like I did in the trees a few days ago: "Walk to that tree over there and then I'll carry you to the next sign". Wasn't working. Finally Jason pulled him on the sled. It was more important for him to have a positive experience then to make him walk on his own, but man, was he stubborn.

Of course, eventually I got him sledding. His cute smile truly melts my heart.

He's like this in almost all new situations. Clinging to me or his dad and sucking on his finger while twirling his hair, it's usually time to go home by the time he warms up. Even though we know we shouldn't, Jason & I get frustrated sometimes: Why can't he jump right in and have fun like the other kids? It worries me. I want so much for him to be happy and fun and adventurous--my expectations get in the way. I try not to let them.

I was a sensitive kid and remember being shy. My emotions were (still are) difficult for me and my parents to deal with. I felt like my mom wanted me to be different--as if she didn't really like me. And that was sad. (It still makes me sad just thinking about it.) She did the best she could. We talked about it as adults, which was so healing for me. I don't blame my parents, I just want to learn from my own past and help Finn. My mom would say to me "Don't be such a worry-wart!", but no one ever told me how not to worry.

Finn needs my understanding and acceptance. He needs my help to learn how to deal with his own fears. I want him to know that it's okay, that I love him when he feels reluctant, or scared, or shy. He can take all the time he needs.  

And even though my parents didn't teach me how not to worry (probably because they didn't know how to show me at the time), they taught me how to persist when I felt defeated or unsure, to look for the positive in people and situations and to believe that I can do whatever I set out to do. I hope I can do the same for my boys.

I think I had a breakthrough on the snow. I will let go of all expectations. It's so simple, yet can be so hard to do.


Post turkey day

Thanksgiving was a lovely day. We ran the turkey trot and then went at it in the kitchen.  I'm fairly exhausted and know that I've been slacking on the posts all week (I'm posting daily as part of NaBloPoMo)...but there's only so much I can handle! I will be posting soon to evaluate my Thanksgiving recipe choices, the yoga for cancer workshop , and about our day today in the snow during which Finn severely tested my patience. Wow. But he did go to bed saying how much he loved sledding.

Thanking the Big Trees

Hide and Seek in the Giant Sequoias.
Grandmother trees. soft red bark. light filtered through the canopy. magic.
One 3 year old jumping in snow puddles, the other screaming--a mud aversion.


Spatchcockers Unite!

Tonight I spatchcocked and seasoned my turkey in preparation for tomorrow's feast.  Spatchcock, spatchcock, spatchcock! (I love saying that word) A friend of mine read me the directions on Martha's website while I did the dirty work.  It was a fairly funny scene and not nearly as easy as Martha made it look, so he gave me the idea of posting  a side by side photo comparison of me and Martha (although it's late and I can't get them side by side!). Let's just say my spatchcock job wasn't nearly as sterile or pretty as Martha's.

1. Cutting out the backbone-- maybe it would be as easy as she makes it look if I had those awesome kitchen shears....

2. Breaking the backbone. Martha suggests standing on a stool. This was not easy. Finally I opened it up enough on the bone side and was able to get a good crack.

And in video:

I'll let you know how it turns out! Happy Thanksgiving....

Images: Martha Stewart and Jason B Smith


The places that scare you

"When we try to avoid the discomfort we call fear our world grows smaller and smaller..."
--Cheri Huber, The Fear Book

Remember being scared as a child? I do. Lying in my bed while the shadows of monsters or scary ghosts danced on my walls, I thought that if I could be totally still they might not notice me. When I was 6 or 7, my grandmother and I watched a scary movie with a human sacrifice and devil worshippers and for months afterward I would whisper, "I hate the devil, I hate the devil!" as I ran back to my bed from the bathroom at night (I'm still getting over that one).

Tonight, just a few minutes ago, we were sitting in the living room when I heard a child sobbing (there are four in the house right now). I realized that Finn was crying in his bed (heartbreaking). He never does that. At bedtime, I convinced him to turn off the light that he normally leaves on in his room because we're trying to get the baby to sleep in there with him. The poor guy felt scared and all alone.

Some fears (like being scared of the dark or human sacrifice) are loud and obvious, but it's the other kind of fear...the subtle fears... that masquerade as resistance or anger, that are harder to recognize. I'm interested to look at how fear might be shrinking my world. I'll get back to you after some introspection.

How about you? How does fear manifest in your life?

(The quote above is from a Zen monk who runs a monastery close to where I live.  She writes mindfulness books that are powerful yet easy reading and practical.)


Sweet baby.

Our friends arrived from San Diego today.
Three year old boys running through the house "Poo poo on your head! Poo poo on the floor!"
(laughing hysterically like old friends)
B (11 months) wanted to keep up with the big boys, but was also interested in his future girlfriend. (pictured above. How could he resist?)
Sweet baby girl smiles and bright blue eyes. Soft cheeks.


Thanksgiving plans: Foraging shrooms and gluten free, paleo recipes

I don't have a final count for Thanksgiving quite yet, but I do know that I'll be cooking a 14 pound bird from a local grower. There are so many recipes I want to try that I'm going to have to hold myself back. We could end up with just four adults and we'll have enough food for twenty. Do you want to come over?

We are foraging as well. Jason went out for a porcini reconnaisance this morning and came back with a fine looking specimen. I hope we can find some more because a porcini stuffing sounds deliciously rich and amazing. And guess what? That fig tree is still stacked. I'll be making more fig sesame jam and some spiced grape preserves (we found  an unharvested vineyard) too.
Here's what I'm thinking.....

Fall Harvest Salad with butternut squash, pepitas & pecans
Butterflied Turkey with Cranberry-Molasses glaze or Apple-maple glaze (I think I may choose maple)
Cranberry Apple stuffing--gluten free & grain free (GAPS/paleo friendly)
Roasted brussel sprouts with bacon & apples
Mashed Cauliflower (but I'll be using butter in mine)--This is paleo- and GAPS- diet friendly
Green beans with toasted walnuts and dried-cherry vinaigrette (Finn loves green beans)
Sweet Potato and sage-butter casserole--This one isn't gluten-free-although it could be adapted

Cranberry Chutney with Fennel and golden raisins 

And desserts....

I'll use this gluten/grain free tart recipe for either a pecan or apple filling
and I'd really like to make this: Butternut squash and hazelnut bouchons with toasted nutmeg ice cream (sounds crazy good, doesn't it??)
but that might just be too much....

And drinks???
I'm thinking Jora's pumpkin spice lattes in the morning and  Louise's Rum & cider in the afternoon.

What are your plans?

Saturday in Photos

I went to San Francisco yesterday for a yoga workshop with Tari Prinster on teaching yoga to cancer survivors. It was a long day (3 hour drive) and I didn't make it back in time to post. I have to remember to take more photos next Saturday. I didn't get a single shot of my beautiful cousin! We had a bite to eat and a glass of wine at Chow. It was so cozy sitting at the bar on a cold and rainy night.

Here are some photos along the way-- ending with my car needing a jump in the  San Francisco Trader Joe's parking lot at 10 pm... I'll post more on the yoga workshop later today this week. I hope your Saturday was all that you dreamed of and more....

driving through the Central Valley

old bullring in the valley

Fortunately, I always find the nicest folks when my car breaks down


Buttery Cinnamon-spiced Nuts

The winds picked up today and a deeper chill set in. There is barely any food in the house, but I managed to find a delicious, warming snack for me and Finn. We are gluten free at the moment and crunchy snacks can be challenging to keep on hand (especially since I try to avoid the processed, packaged type).

We had buttery cinnamon-spiced nuts and  Rooibos Chai tea with almond milk and honey (or stevia).

Buttery Cinnamon-spiced Nuts
Butter, ghee or coconut oil
cinnamon, sea salt & turmeric (sometimes I add cumin too)
raw almonds & walnuts (any nuts or seeds work-- ideally, soak your nuts first to make them easier to digest and then dehydrate them in a low oven. more on this in a future post!)

You could make these in the oven, but I always do them on the stove top. I melt the butter, add the nuts with salt. When toasted, I put the nuts in a bowl and add cinnamon and turmeric to taste. They are delicious eaten warm.


What do you want me to do?

What do you want me to do? that was the text from Jason (the man who married me) me this afternoon after he received two desperate texts from me: 1.So tired and no break! I need sleep.  and 2. I'm not joking. I'm going to lose it. 

I'd just been woken up from a 10 minute half-slumber by the baby who also woke me up 4 or 5 times last night (and has been for the past 11 months) nursing and gnawing on me like a little rat, scratching me with his nails as he switches sides. Ouch. I'd just settled the 3 year old down for a nap after 6 hours of strife over everything possible--most importantly, the fact that he does not want the baby touching ANYTHING at all in the house, because Finn has it arranged in a very important manner and it must not be disturbed. Ever. Again.
What happened? Why two days of complete hell? What changed?
As usual (this happens every few weeks) I wonder, maybe I'm really not cut out for this parenting thing. And then I go and read some "mothering" forums about 3 year olds, commiserate and feel better.
The baby refuses to be put down, so I get out the baby carrier and slide him into the backpack. That's when he promptly pees down my back and I send the desperate texts. (note: I didn't even change out of the shirt for another hour or so--that's how bad it was.)

Reading Jasona's text, I realize that I did it to him again. I sent him a 'venting' text. He doesn't even like it when I vent in person or on the phone.  He gets all 'male' on me and thinks, Why are you telling me this? Don't tell me unless there's something I can do to fix it. 
Why do I send him a text like that? What do I want him to do?
1. Stop time and let me sleep for a couple of weeks.
2. Stop time and let me go to a tropical island where I can lie on a hammock at the beach and sleep.
(note: the 'stopping time' element is key here. I fantasize about it all the time. I don't really want to leave my nursing baby without mama for a couple of weeks, I just want to freeze time and let myself escape.)
3. Grant me daily massages and trips to the sauna.
4. Just listen to me.
5. Get home in time for me to take a shower before teaching yoga?

(I only texted #5)

Happy sleeping.

Image source


Easy Paleo dinner: oven 'fried' chicken and salt & vinegar kale chips

Finger-lickin' good!

Today was a serious day. Finn had some extremely loud and physical complaints about Bodhi touching his stuff. I nearly lost my mind with frustration. We made it to the park after Bodhi's first nap, thankfully, because I broke all candida diet regulations and downed the remaining dark chocolate chips that I had squirreled away in the freezer in a desperate attempt to boost my serotonin. The outdoors is a far superior neurotransmitter adjustment for me.

I decided on a simple dinner and it was tasty. I make this a lot. It never fails to please and is gluten and grain free.

Oven "fried" chicken (based on this recipe)
1 package of 6 organic chicken drumsticks (I actually like it better with the 'drummettes')
1/3 cup of almond flour
2 teaspoons paprika
2 1/2 teaspoon celtic sea salt
1/2 teaspoon fresh ground pepper
1 teaspoon curry powder (I've made it without paprika and only curry too--yum)
2 teaspoons herbs du provence
1/4 cup butter (tallow actually works better here if you can get grass-fed beef tallow--I order it here.)

Preheat oven to 450. Mix up the almond flour and spices in a large zipper bag (think shake & bake).  Line a 9x13 pan with foil or parchment. Put the butter or tallow in the pan, put in oven to melt. Put the drums or drummettes (3 at a time for the big ones) in the bag and shake. Place chicken in pan. Bake for 30 minutes then flip and bake for 15-20 more minutes.

Salt & vinegar kale chips. Based on Elana's recipe --actually it is Elana's recipe except that I decided to bake them at a lower temperature (this time at 275) to get closer to a raw food effect. I'd like to truly dehydrate them next time. Finn LOVES these--and so do the rest of us. Bodhi even ate a couple.

1 head kale, chopped
1 teaspoon olive oil
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
1 teaspoon celtic sea salt

  1. Place chopped kale in a large bowl
  2. Drizzle with olive oil and vinegar, then sprinkle with salt
  3. Massage above ingredients into kale with your hands
  4. Spread out kale on 2 parchment lined baking sheets, so that pieces of kale do not touch
  5. Bake at 275°  until dry and crispy (it takes 13 minutes at 375...I'm thinking it took 25 minutes? Sorry! didn't time, just kept checking.
  6. Cool 10 minutes and serve

 (I'm trying beet chips tomorrow!)


Thanking my bike. And the guy who married me.

I'm feeling out of sorts today. My cousin's husband has a brain tumor (glioblastoma). He was going through his life as an amazing husband, father and friend and then, Bam. Brain tumor at age 48. There's something that tells me he will be okay, but my heart aches for him and his family. This is on my mind.

I had a few different ideas for Day 15 of blogging every day, but to change up my mood, I decided to throw them out and make a list of some of the things I am thankful for today. For me, practicing gratitude is one of the quickest ways to feel better--even if I'm not feeling the least bit grateful when I start doing it.

1. The color of autumn leaves (even here in northern California there is some color!). I was driving today imagining being in New England where the whole landscape would be painted, but the pops of color here and there make for lovely unexpected eye candy.

2. Outer Aisle (where I buy my food). My farming friends, Christine & Eric Taylor, opened a farmstand which is actually a store.  This food nourishes me in so many ways. Today I bought gorgeous kale, a red pepper (they still have peppers!), pears, garlic, granny smith apples, fennel, beets, a small red leaf head of lettuce, dates, eggs, sprouted corn tortillas and sauerkraut. I'll let you know what I make.

3. My bike.  I spent too much time inside today. When it came time to teach yoga this evening I pulled on my new wool hat, hopped on my bike and felt the cool air against my cheeks as I rode the half mile to the yoga studio. Did I mention that I love riding my bike?

4. The guy who married me. (I'm not a big fan of the word husband--when I say it I have to use a funny accent-- I know, strange. It's just my own hang-up). He's in the kitchen right now doing dishes, which he does every night regardless of how many pots and pans I used. (I am a messy cook. I'm trying to get better about it.) He also puts up with all of my shit. (and he cleans up shit too--not mine, the kids').

There are so many more, but I need to go say goodnight to Finn (who is hopefully already asleep) and then spend some time with the guy in the kitchen (who will hopefully be finished cleaning it). My mood is looking better already.

so here's a speedy list: I'm also thankful for the two boys who call me 'mama', my friends who love me even though I'm not good on the phone, my family, dog & chickens, chocolate, yoga.....(I'll say the rest right before bed. That should seal the deal on sweet dreams, right?))

(thanks for reading!)

Image: Print by Nick Dewar.


Why butter is better. Paula Dean is right.

How to make your own butter from The Art of Doing Stuff
Butter is better. We knew it all along, but here's an attempt at understanding why.

I started researching fats about six months ago when I started the GAPS diet and learned about how unhealthy it is to cook with olive oil at high heat (which I'd been doing for years). I'm compiling a lot of information, so I'll dole it out a little at a time as I begin to organize it in my brain (if that's possible!).

Basically all fats and oils are a combination of saturated, monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats.
Those high in saturated fats (butter, coconut oil, lard, tallow, etc) are more stable than unsaturated fats. Saturation refers to the fact the free carbon bonds of the molecule are occupied with hydrogen atoms. There are no free electrons ready to interact with other substances in your body.

Monounsaturated fats (olive oil) have one double carbon bond. They are "unsaturated" because there are no hydrogen atoms linked to the bonds. They are also relatively stable-- but not as stable as the saturated.

The carbon bonds of polyunsaturated fats have unpaired electrons ready to react with other substances. We need to ingest these fats because they include the Essential Fatty Acids (EFAs) that our body can't produce on its own. However, we don't want to expose the fats to heat because they breakdown easily and create 'free radicals' which wreak havoc on our system--damage cells, DNA/RNA, cause mutations, etc.  We also ingest far too much Omega 6 fats and not enough Omega 3. Most of the polys are primarily Omega 6. (more on that later).

I went looking for the details on grapeseed oil (a polyunsaturated oil). We've heard that it has a high smoke point which should mean that it is suitable for cooing-- in other words, maybe it doesn't break down?

I'm finding out that smoke point has "nothing to do with the health benefits of an oil" (Barringer). The smoke point refers to when an oil breaks down to glycerides and free fatty acids and causes the oil to smoke. This affects the taste of the oil-- so we don't want it to happen. However, even when exposed to low heat, polyunsaturated oils still create free radicals.

The articles that I found explaining this referred me to the primary research of Dr. Mary Enig, a lipid biochemist renown for her research on healthy fats. She wrote: Eat Fat, Lose Fat (with Sally Fallon) and Know Your Fats: A complete primer... I haven't read these books, but I'm interested.

So there it is. I'm just starting to understand all of this, so I'll be posting more on this, including what oils to use in what circumstances....

In the meantime, slather on the butter.

"The Truth about Saturated Fat", by Sally Fallon & Mary Enig, PhD (excerpt from Nourishing Traditions).
"Cooking with Grape Seed Oil or Rice Bran Oil: Is it safe?" by Caroline Barringer (link to original article is on this page)


free food at Ikea! --and why I didn't have gravlax today.

gravadlax (not my photo. I didn't get any.)

Bodhi and I tagged along with J to Santa Clara this weekend. He had to be there for a ski trade show. Finn stayed with the grandparents, but the little nursling had to come along. [He started walking this weekend!] As I'm sure you saw in yesterday's post, I went to visit my dear friend Jennifer in Pacifica on Saturday. Today I hit Ikea, along with everyone else in the Silicon Valley. Oh my. Insanity.

I made it through the showroom without passing out from hunger and then got in line at the restaurant. I have never seen such a crowd at an Ikea restaurant. I had Bodhi in a front pack carrier and a bag on my shoulder which was starting to ache. I was trying to keep an eye on the cold case to see if there would be gravlax--which I love. We were in one of those lines that snakes around those metal dividers and I noticed that a group of people two rows ahead helped themselves to 4 plates of gravlax! Oh no...they're going to be out! (obsessing) They'll replenish it. (reassuring) They'll have some by the time I get up there. 

I noticed that the people ahead of me were grabbing four desserts between the two of them. Odd. I mean, I love dessert too, but four huge pieces of cake? They inquired about the gravlax...."10 minutes" the woman behind the line says. Ten minutes?! There's no way I can wait here in the cafeteria line with a baby and people trying to get by me for another ten minutes. I anxiously looked at the line on the other side to see if there was some over there. Nope. I seriously considered waiting and then realized that it wasn't rational.

I settled for the overcooked poached salmon with steamed, bland vegetables. It was just plain fine damnit.

At the cashier I mentioned the crowd and she informed me that everyone was there because lunch is free if you spend $100 in the store. Bonus. Ahh. That explains the four desserts. Maybe I should have bought food for the road trip home.

I found a high chair and shared a big round table with some other people. I'm telling you, the place was insane. 

Image credit


Saturday in photos.

I went to Pacifica today to visit a friend. 
Salty air. 
Sky & water 
pale blues, yellows & pink. 
one hundred people fishing for dungeoness crab on the pier. 
No computer access today--so day 12 of posting daily will have to be in pictures. 
typing on my phone is not fun.



Sesame Cookies--gluten & grain free

I love these cookies from Elana's Pantry. She is my number one source for gluten free baking recipes. Elana perfects her recipes like a chemist, systematically testing out various ingredients and amounts. I also love that she uses almond flour or coconut flour rather than some of the more questionable 'gluten free' baking ingredients that I see in packaged/processed baked goods in the stores.

I substitute raw honey where she uses agave syrup. I'm sure agave is fine, I just choose raw honey because I can get it locally and it is less processed. Oh--and I don't usually bake with grapeseed oil (or other polyunsaturated oils)--so I subbed butter this time-- coconut oil would work too. I've been reading so much lately about how polyunsaturated oils go rancid with heat creating free radicals. I don't want those. (More on this in a future post--I'll provide links and research).

These are quick & easy to make, full of protein, and so delicious:
(adapted from this recipe at elanaspantry.com)
1 ¼ cups blanched almond flour
¼ teaspoon celtic sea salt
½ teaspoon baking soda
⅓ cup raw honey
⅓ cup tahini
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
¼ cup sesame seeds
Combine dry ingredients in one bowl (except for seeds). Mix wet ingredients in another bowl. Mix wet ingredients into dry. Form into small balls and roll in sesame seeds. Flatten a bit. Bake at 350 degrees for 8-10 minutes. Makes about 14-20 cookies.
Yum. Enjoy!


talk nice.

I love the voices in my head. I wouldn't trade them for anything. But lately, they've been bringing me down with their endless commentary and criticisms.

Last night I went to the first class in a series with Christa Rypins. She is the owner of Intelligent Body Movement Studio (where I teach yoga once a week) and a renown teacher of yoga, Pilates and the Franklin Method of imagery. The class is called Digest for Happiness. Christa shows us how to visualize our digestive system to help it work better through breath and imagery. Very cool. You wouldn't believe how transformative this stuff can be.

Here's the example she used to introduce us to the practice. We did the simple exercise of inhaling our shoulders up to our ears and then exhaling while releasing them down our backs. This is something I do daily and remind my yoga students to do throughout a class. After doing it the way I just described we then used 'self-talk' while doing the exercise-- saying (in our heads or out loud) "My shoulders are healthy and flexible". Just that simple change alone increased the movement of our shoulders and the positive feelings while doing it. We also tried 'mood' talk: shrugging while saying "I am loved, I am loving."-- it may sound out there to you, but try it-- it sure feels nice. Anatomical visualizations and metaphors were next. We did the exercise while visualizing the way the scapula bones glide up and down the back and also while comparing the movement to a waterfall. By the end of this my neck felt long and my shoulders were so relaxed I could practically reach my knees with my fingertips.

How will I use what I learned? First of all, it brought my attention to how negative the voices in my head have been lately. I'm always telling yoga students: "Talk to yourself like you would talk to your best friend", but I have definitely not been practicing this. I'm going to start integrating imagery and self talk into my yoga class and personal practice to help increase relaxation and mind-body awareness.

I feel better already.

How are the voices in your head?


Go to your happy place.

Don't I look happy?

I've been caught in a bad place for the past week. It's like I've been wearing dark glasses on a stormy day. Maybe it's the time of year...or the serious sleep deprivation....or the damn month-long candida diet (which I haven't been totally faithful to as you can see from the figalicious post).
Since I can't change the time of year or force my baby to sleep and I need to stick to the diet to get rid of allergies.....I'm in desperate need of a change in perspective.

Jora's post yesterday reminded me of this, So I'm copying the idea.

It always amazes me how a simple tweak in my surroundings can completely shift my energy. My neurons begin to fire differently creating new pathways and BAM! I feel better. Even if only for a moment, it helps. (Have I mentioned that I'm a total brain chemistry geek?)

Here it goes, a list of things I can do to change my perspective:
(I will refer to this list and add to it as I remember things)

Step outside
lie down under a tree and look up.
Go for a walk (even with the kidlets)
Ride my bike to get somewhere--riding downhill with no helmet makes me smile
Go mountain biking
Listen to music/dance
Cuddle with my boys
Make a cup of tea
Take a hot shower or bath
Climb rocks
Call a nurturing and/or funny friend
Bake something
Cook with no time limit and no kids around and eat slowly with friends
Get an adjustment from Dr. Beau (too bad he's so far away now)
Go skiing
Go swimming in the ocean
Sit where I can see the ocean
Go to a farm or a farmer's market
Read Rumi or some other mystical poetry
Read something else helpful or inspiring
Go somewhere alone--coffee shop, bookstore, massage
Eat sushi

What's on your list?


National Blog Posting Month Day 7: Here I am.

You may have noticed that I suddenly started posting every day. On a whim (after reading this post over at Eat Thru the Pain) I decided that maybe I, too, should try writing every day. Why not? I think I may be the type of person that likes to have a defined 'project'. Maybe it keeps me  from obsessing about various things (for example: health, sleep, food, what direction I want to go with my life). Or more likely, it's just a healthy way for me to channel my obsessions. Last month's project was Halloween & Day of the Dead. This month it's NaBloPoMo (I'm trying to embrace this acronym, but I'm not going to lie, I'm having trouble).

So, here I am, with no particular goal in mind other than to enjoy the process and maybe even create some routine in my life.

Confession: I have a hard time with routine. I don't seem to be able to follow a self-imposed weekly schedule--for example: Every Monday I'm going to post an interview, or Tuesday is current events, etc. I've tried this sort of thing as a teacher --and I'll stick to it for a month or so, but then I have to change it up, I just can't help myself (which is why I'm better suited as a high school rather than grade school teacher). As a parent I've also tried -- we had fun little 'jobs' on a homemade chart that we did every day. That lasted all of about a month too. *sigh*.

Oh, I understand the benefits of such routines--kids feel secure and know what to expect, planning is easier (I can imagine it: pizza fridays or taco Tuesdays-- the shopping list could practically write itself). I think the key for me will be to see them as rituals rather than routines. I love rituals.  That's it! I need my own rituals.

See? NaBloPoMo is helping me already.



It started to get cold up here in the hills this week.
As freeze threatened, Finn and I rushed to harvest all of the green tomatoes still hanging from the plants in our front yard and the last of the basil too. Jason spotted a fig tree full of fruit up the road at an empty house. We know the owner, (also the proprietor of a local winery) so J asked if he'd mind if we went at it.
Foraging fruit is a magical endeavor.
I wish the streets were lined with fruit trees. In San Diego you can find lemons, pomegranates and even avocados. Now that we live in the colder mountain climate we can't pick citrus or avocados but we have family and friends with apples, figs, pears, pomegranates, peaches, plums and raspberries.

Figs are food of the gods, for sure. I don't think I even knew about figs before moving to California 12 years ago and started working on small farms.
Our fig bounty called for a Mediterranean meal-- so this is what we did:

I made (recipes & details to follow):
Fig sesame jam 
figs, goat cheese and rosemary on almond flour herb crackers
pesto, broccoli, red pepper and tomato pizza (with a grain free crust)
roasted tomato soup 

1. Let's start with the amazing fig-sesame jam:
I followed this recipe from Gourmet at epicurious.com, but used 1/3-1/2  cup of raw honey instead of 1 1/4 cups of sugar.
I love to eat this with my friend John. We spread fig jam on a baguette with Humboldt Fog cheese (my absolute favorite cheese in the whole wide world). But I only had regular chevre on hand, John is in San Diego and we're not eating gluten-- so we had it on homemade herbed crackers from Elanaspantry.com.  I seriously want a tub of this jam!

2. Another favorite of mine is grilled Rosemary fig skewers-- (but our grill isn't functioning and my oven was busy). It's kind of like this recipe but instead you skewer the figs on a stick of rosemary, slice the fig and stuff it with the goat cheese, drizzle with honey and olive oil and then grill. I'm telling you this stuff is indescribably delicious.  Since we couldn't do the skewers, I just put all of that stuff on my cracker bread. It was good too--but didn't compare to the skewers.

3. Pesto pizza
I turned the last basil of the season into pesto, put some of it on the pizza and froze the rest in an ice cube tray. I'll put the little squares in a freezer bag so that I can use it this winter.
Here's the grain free pizza crust recipe I use (made with almond flour), but I vary with the spices. If you're dairy-free, sub the Parmesan cheese with 2 tbsp ground sesame seeds, 1 tbsp ground chia and some salt and spices (found this tip in the comments of the above recipe post). I love this crust.

4. Roasted tomato soup with broiled cheddar from Smitten Kitchen. Crazy good. I slow roasted the tomatoes instead of quick roasted them. It's like grilled cheese and tomato soup all in one. Perfect for a rainy day. It's so good that I forgot to take a photo of it until it was all gone.

How about you? Do you love figs? What are you eating as the weather turns cold?

All photos by Jason B Smith except for the empty cup of soup.

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