Posts Tagged: vegan

Noshed in a Book: Let’s Just Say It Wasn’t Pretty

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“No dream can live up to its expectations.  Ownership is brief; in fact, it’s a fiction.  And beauty?  Beauty is a discovery that diminishes the truth of reality.  So keep looking.”

When I picked up Then Again, Diane Keaton’s first memoir and homage to her late mother, I remember spilling myself over each page as if I could heal my neuroses by learning from her’s.  I have, as you all will or have already come to know, a love for personal tales, memoirs, and biographies.  Understanding the strokes that make the painting of a person’s life, does not instill you with their one-of-a-kind nature or change the path you’re on, but there’s always a chance your endurance could be strengthened, and your will refreshed.  This was a safe book choice for me and I must admit, though expectations typically lead to disappointment, it’s only human to feel such a way when you’ve harbored a connection to a person’s life.  On that note, let’s talk about Keaton’s second book, shall we?

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Let’s Just Say It Wasn’t Pretty by Diane Keaton

A book that gives you an insight into the idiosyncratic mind of Keaton starting with the Introduction.  She combs the reader into the many ways in which she organizes her thoughts and her approach to life; an approach for which she makes clear, even she is still trying to figure out.  She cannot be faulted for this, in fact I take some comfort in knowing not everyone has it figured out, even in your sixties, but I did wonder at multiple times throughout this reading, what her true intention was for writing this book.  Learning a few life lessons from a woman I’ve garnered as one of my favorites for years, by the end, I thought that somehow I would have a better understanding of her intention, but I came away from this text more confused than sated.

“All of my feelings and all my emotion come out on my face–my sixty-seven-year-old face.  You see, my face identifies who I am inside.  It shows feelings I can’t put into words.  And that is a miracle, an extraordinary ordinary miracle, one I’ll think twice about before I change.”

“I was ready to go home to Black and White and Gray all over.  I wanted to be light on my feet, like Cary Grant.  I wanted to put on a smoky gray dress suit with suspenders.  I wanted to be an international stilt walker, with an ironic smile and a dimpled chin.”

But I can’t help but picture the goofy and well-timed performance of Keaton in Sleeper, where she imitates Marlon Brando’s performance in the cinematic version of A Streetcar Named Desire.  Her ability to break down the wall of celebrity superiority and the ego of a man like Brando, is part of the reason why I respect her, despite her lack of focus in this memoir.  She has always been, and remains to be, a star that is relatable, and one whose verbalized consciousness of her aesthetic appeal grounds her as just another human, instead of being of the alien race of Celeb.  What Keaton does beautifully in this memoir, is explore how acting is a tool for her to find the colors of the palette that make her life’s painting.  Her emphasis on accepting imperfections, mistakes and the challenges of aging, helped me understand the efficacy of mindfulness and positive thinking about one’s life.  I came to understand that our philosophy on life is different, but there’s beauty in this contrast, and for this I felt grateful to read her musings.

“Like the sparrows, I’ve flown into some serious plate-glass windows, but I survived.  On the way, I’ve learned a few things.  Namely this:  beauty’s a bouquet gathered in loss.  The sad part about my bouquet is that it keeps growing.  Now that Mother is gone, darkness is spreading across my fading petals.  Light is beautiful, but darkness is eternal.”

“I regret what I haven’t seen, but I’m thankful for what I have, and I promise myself this:  I will try harder to look for what I don’t see when it’s staring me right in the eye.”

“…but my love of the impossible far overshadowed the rewards of longevity.  I fell for the beauty of a broken bird.  The ecstasy of failure.  It was the only marriage I could make with a man.  Black with a little white.  Pain mixed with pleasure.”

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As for edibles, I decided to make a variation of French Toast.  Diane Keaton adopted two children for whom she devotes mornings to making breakfasts and school drop-offs. At one point, she mentions her son requesting French Toast and I thought it the best match to the book.  Semi-complicated with many variations and comfortable in it’s imperfections.  I now present to you my take on this sweet morning treat.

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 “That’s Neat” French Toast

Ingredients

  • 8 to 10 slices gluten-free bread (I used this one)
  • 1 cup almond milk (unsweetened, plain)
  • 1 tbsp ground chia seeds
  • 3 tbsp all purpose gluten-free flour (or almond meal)
  • 2 tsp maple syrup
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/8 tsp nutmeg
  • two grinds sea salt
  • coconut oil for skillet
  • Extra toppings:  toasted coconut, coconut whipped cream, berries, maple syrup, banana, nuts, powdered sugar, sliced strawberries, sliced figs

Instructions

  1. In a small bowl, mix together all ingredients except bread and toppings and let sit in refrigerator for twenty minutes to activate chia seeds.
  2. After mixture has set, heat skillet or griddle over a medium flame and begin to melt or disperse a small amount of coconut oil (just enough for a thin coating).
  3. Pour mixture into shallow container, I used a pie pan.
  4. Dip each slice of bread into mixture to soak the bread, but don’t let it become soggy.  About twenty seconds on each side in mixture.
  5. Place the soaked slice on the skillet/griddle and press with spatula until each side is golden brown, taking care to let each side sit before flipping to allow browning to occur.  About five minutes.
  6. Enjoy your “That’s Neat” French Toast with any of the above mentioned toppings or toppings of your choice.  I enjoyed mine with raspberries, maple syrup, and a few sprinkles of powdered sugar.  Don’t forget a delightful cup of tea or coffee, if you please, on the side. 😀

Notes:

  • I made enough to have some leftovers because I wanted a treat for another day, but if you’re just making a quick breakfast for two, I would recommend splitting this recipe in half.
  • The more dense the bread, the less crispy and absorbent your french toast will be. Keep this in mind.
  • I don’t recommend using a cast iron, as the retention of heat can have an adverse affect on the consistency of each slice’s browning.
  • Re-heat in toaster or toaster oven.

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Making this dish allowed me time in the kitchen to mull over my relationship with this text, something I think is key for anyone to do when reading.  There’s a delicacy to talking about the intricacies of one’s life, and though Keaton is not the most graceful, her no-nonsense, quirky and creative language exposed her truest self.  Chipping all the dried, peeling paint away, this book imbued a sense of urgency in me to live life more fully and never hasten to forget the power and beauty of making mistakes because those mistakes make the masterpiece.

What are your thoughts on this book?  Did you prepare something else while reading it?  I want to hear all the details at #noshedinabook and see all of your pictures!  Check out previous Noshed in a Book posts and join me in my next reading selection Spinster: Making a Life of One’s Own by Kate Bolick.  And remember…bite responsibly!

Healthy Regards,

RAM

Noshed in a Book: Live or Die & The First Biography of Joan of Arc

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I added a surprise second selection for this particular Noshed in a Book post.  Most of the time, before I begin reading a book, I take some time to ponder the title and what it may or may not mean in relationship to the text.  Collections of poetry are no exception to this rule, and, I would have to say, heighten a stronger sense of my analytical self than prose.  Then of course there’s biographical books, which often–not always–follow a restrictive naming; the reader needs to grasp the purpose of the book immediately.  Oddly enough, reading Live or Die by Anne Sexton unfolded a series of poems that revealed the true meaning behind the title, but The First Biography of Joan of Arc–my surprise additional reading for this post–did not deliver on the title.  Titles are important, but maybe this was a lesson for me and us all that you can’t judge a book by its title, and if you do, expect to be surprised and don’t be disappointed if you’re not.  Let’s dive in!

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Live or Die by Anne Sexton

A series of poems that are organized chronologically, which for better or worse focus on our delicate relationship with not just death, but life as well.  My approach to poetry is one that is unpracticed because I tend to not read collection after collection, instead spreading out poetry collections over time.  Also, there’s a level of apprehension I have when reading poetry.  Each word is precisely chosen and I often fret about not giving due time to each poem and respecting its pacing and structure.  Anne Sexton’s writing is remarkable and flows and I didn’t once feel overwhelmed by the direction or pacing of her poems.  Just some of the topics Sexton touches on in this series are dreams, womanhood, death of love, death of literal life, mother and daughter confessions, and bones.  Here are a few excerpts that moved me.

 “Awake, I memorized dreams.

Dreams came into the ring

like third string fighters,

each one a bad bet

who might win

because there was no other.”


 

“I was tired of being a woman,

tired of the spoons and the pots,

tired of my mouth and my breasts,

tired of the cosmetics and the silks.

There were still men who sat at my table,

circled around the bowl I offered up.

The bowl was filled with purple grapes

and the flies hovered in for the scent

and even my father came with his white bone.

But I was tired of the gender of things.”


 

“Death’s a sad bone; bruised, you’d say,

and yet she waits for me, year after year,

to so delicately undo an old wound,

to empty my breath from its bad prison.”


 

“If I’m on fire they dance around it

and cook marshmallows.

And if I’m ice

they simply skate on me

in little ballet costumes.”

Additionally, I recommend checking out these particular poems in their entirety:  Mother and Jack and the Rain; Christmas Eve

The First Biography of Joan of Arc by Daniel Rankin and Claire Quintal

A book that is by no means a page turner, but by all accounts clear and concise in its diction, this text outlines the life of Joan of Arc–know as the “Maid”–a heroine of the fifteenth century who led and structured a siege in order to take back France from England during the Hundred Years War.  Only a teenager at the time of her leadership of the French Army–behind King Charles the VII–and at the time of her horrendous death–she was burned alive–Joan of Arc stands as a figure of bravery and as a trailblazing representative of the “YOLO” concept before it was ever a concept.  She lived her life for a purpose and broke through many class and gender barriers to be the figure she was for the people of her time and generations after.  This book, as I stated earlier, did not deliver on its title.  Maybe my expectation was too simplistic, but I wanted a straightforward description of her life up front with factual information pieced in categorically after this.  I feel like I have come to know more details about Joan from other sources over the years, but this book did a great job of outlining sources of materials and chronology.  Here are a few quotes from the texts that may intrigue you.

“You believe, gentlemen that because I am a woman, I do not know how to conceal a secret.  For your information I know every detail you have discussed.  Here I give you my pledge–I WILL NEVER REVEAL PLANS WHICH ARE TO BE KEPT SECRET.”


 

“The Maid has made use of magic and diabolic cunning.  She is a heretic.”


 

“For some time past it has been known to all and it is notorious that a woman who insisted on being called Joan the Maid, discarding the garb and vesture of the female sex, an act repugnant and forbidden by all law, a deed contrary to Divine Law and abhorrent to God, put on and wore men’s garments and likewise armed herself as a man.”


 

“As soon as her armor was made she put it on, went out into the fields of Poitiers with other armed combatants where she handled her lance as well or better than any man there.  She rode spirited chargers, the capricious ones that no one else dared mount without fear.”


 

“Without the presence of Joan of Arc it seems certain that the courage and stamina of the soldiers marching toward Reims would have dissolved into a speedy disaster.”

 

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Recipe Inspiration

As for edibles, I decided to make a piña collada smoothie.  This all started a few weeks ago, on a Friday evening, in the midst of pizza making.  All of a sudden I started thinking about piña colladas, and how I HAD to have one.  The Mr. and I started to scour the kitchen for all of the basic ingredients and had to improvise.  Let’s just say, after extra handfuls of ice and almond milk it was eventually edible. This culinary experimentation got me thinking about how I wanted to do this the right way, with or without the buzz.  Although it has been noted that Anne Sexton liked Dry Martinis and taking on the town with Sylvia Plath, I can’t help but feel she too would have loved the indulgence of a tropical treat every once in awhile, especially in the summer.  As for The First Biography of Joan of Arc, well, some of you may need something to liven up your day after this dry read and perhaps even have a lively discussion on women’s cultural icons with your gals.  Either way, enjoy the treat!

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Piña Collada Smoothie with  Mango (animal-product-free, gluten-free, soy-free)

Ingredients

  • 1 cup coconut milk (from a can)
  • 1/2 cup almond milk
  • 1 frozen banana
  • 1 heaping cup fresh or frozen pineapple
  • 1/2 cup fresh or frozen mango chunks
  • 1/4 tsp Madagascar vanilla extract
  • 1/2 -3/4 cup ice cubes
  • 1 full dropper of liquid stevia (or to taste)
  • Cherries(frozen or fresh) and dried coconut for garnish

Instructions

  1.  Pour liquid ingredients into blender first, then add frozen fruit, vanilla extract, ice cubes and the sweetener
  2. Blend well until creamy
  3. Garnish with cherries and dried coconut
  4. Enjoy in your favorite glass

Notes:

  • Spike at will with your choice of rum, or if you’re my husband and there’s not rum around, use whiskey (don’t get me started, haha)

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Poetry and history have a differing tone that’s unmistakable, but reading the voice of a strong woman followed up by reading about the voice of another strong woman, was both inspiring and empowering.   When you read these books, what tasty treats come to mind and what are some of your favorite Anne Sexton poems or excerpts?  Know any special factoids about Joan of Arc?  I can’t wait to hear from you all.  Share your #noshedinabook pics and thoughts and check out more Noshed in a Book posts.  Join me in my next reading selection, The First Bad Man by Miranda July.  And remember…bite responsibly!

Healthy Regards,

 

RAM

 

 

 

Noshed in a Book: Just Kids

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“I have vague memories, like impressions on a glass plate, of an old boathouse, a circular band shell, an arched stone bridge.”

Another sweet gift from a friend, Just Kids by Patti Smith made its way into my life a few years ago.  Once again–I’m sure you’ll hear this more and more out of me–I don’t know how I went so long without reading this book.  Taking in every sentence as if it were smooth poetry, Just Kids was like delicious ice cream on a hot summer day; you’re moved to gobble it down but you don’t want it to be over. I cannot say that I wanted to live inside of Patti Smith’s world, but I appreciated the books ability to transport the reader into her mindset about life, art, and how we view ourselves and our pursuits, both creatively and personally.   When I was in college I came across Patti Smith’s music and was immensely moved.  A little over a year ago, I had the privilege of seeing Patti Smith perform in a relatively intimate venue and she was incredible.  She was both humble and confident in her ability to jam the hell out!  As the audience, we couldn’t get enough; a motif I see in myself when it comes to her art.

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Just Kids by Patti Smith

A promise takes written form in this meditative and exploratory look into her–Patti Smith’s–early life and her close companion Robert Mapplethorpe, the celebrated photographer and creator of art in many forms.  The delicacy Smith takes with her words and the majesty she holds with her stories has me, still, in a state of awe with her writing.  I have no complaints about this book except that it had to end and begin with the sadness surrounding her dearest friend’s passing.  Smith remarks on her mistakes, but never dwells in the negativity that surrounded each event or transition in her life.  Her portrayal of her personal narrative and the necessity she places in not judging herself too harshly put me at ease.

“I felt a fleeting pang in my heart for I knew that innocent phase of our life had passed.  I slipped an envelope with the black-and-white shots of Woman I that I had taken at the Modern into my pocket but left behind my failed attempts at painting her portrait, rolls of canvas splashed in umber, pinks, and green, souvenirs of a gone ambition.  I was too curious about the future to look back.”

On finding yourself, not selling yourself.  I have this theory that every person has a part of their brain or heart that they put on clearance.  Some people have this clearance regularly and they’re defining who they are by selling themselves short, while others utilize only temporary mark-downs and then spring back to their full-price self.  Whatever sale-rack you tend to place yourself on, if at all, taking note of your shortcomings will only get you so far, and then you have begun to wallow in the self-deprecation and self-doubt.  What’s enlightening about Patti’s story is that while she certainly goes through trials, she never puts her whole self on sale.  She reflects on her moments of self-doubt and leaves it there.  Everyone–but I feel women especially–could use a little more shelving of their self-doubt and less liquidation.

“I bought stacks of books, but I didn’t read them.  I taped sheets of paper to the wall, but I didn’t draw.  I slid my guitar under the bed.  At night, alone, I just sat and waited.  Once again I found myself contemplating what I should be doing to do something of worth.  Everything I came up with seemed irreverent or irrelevant.”

“I craved honesty, yet found dishonesty in myself.  Why commit to art?  For self-realization, or for itself?  It seemed indulgent to add to the glut unless one offered illumination.”

On optimism.  Maybe a little positive thinking can help fill up your goodwill water balloon for life and splash it all over you and those lives for which you touch.

“The goodwill that surrounded us was proof that the Fates were conspiring to help their enthusiastic children.”

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As for edibles,  I decided to make my version of jelly doughnuts.  Smith’s reverence for this nom during a tumultuous time in her life, helped me see beyond the negative view we have of comfort eating.  It allowed me to see that connecting to food happens on many levels and we should respect this.  Also, there were times in Smith’s life when she had only day-old bread and a wilted head of lettuce to eat and share with someone else.  Paled in comparison to this experience is the indulgence of a jam doughnut.

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“Every Sunday I would take a long walk to a deserted beach café to have a coffee and a jelly doughnut, two things forbidden in a home regimented by healthy food.  I savored these small indulgences, slipping a quarter in the jukebox and listening to “Strawberry Fields” three times in a row.  It was my private ritual and the words and voice of John Lennon provided me with strength when I faltered.” [On being pregnant for the first time and staying with a healthy-living surrogate family.]

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Strawberry Jammin’ Doughnuts (animal-product-free, gluten-free, soy-free)

Plain Cake Doughnut Ingredients

[Inspired by this recipe]

  • 1 cup coconut sugar
  • 3/4 cup brown rice flour
  • 1/3 cup garbanzo bean flour
  • 1/2 cup potato starch
  • 1/4 cup arrowroot powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/8 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp xanthan gum
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/3 cup melted coconut oil (a little extra on the side for oiling up your doughnut baking pan)
  • 6 tbsp unsweetened applesauce
  • 1 tbsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup hot water
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar plus some extra for sprinkling on top

Doughnut Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 325°F
  2. With clean hands use some of the coconut oil that has been set aside and rub it on the doughnut baking pan in each crevice
  3. Sift all dry ingredients together in a medium-sized bowl to break down any large clumps.
  4. In a small bowl mix all liquid ingredients:  water, vanilla extract, applesauce, coconut oil
  5. Pour liquid ingredients into the dry ingredients and stir using bowl scraper.
  6. Fill each doughnut region using a tablespoon.  Make sure to fill it above the middle separation as to create a bottom for the doughnut.
  7. Bake for 8 minutes in the center of the rack, then turn the pan and bake for 7 to 8 more minutes or until the doughnuts are a golden-brown color.  Use a toothpick or fork to making sure it comes out clean.
  8. Let doughnuts rest in pan for 5 minutes, then flip over onto a cooling rack and allow to cool for 10 to 15 minutes.
  9. If serving immediately, place powdered sugar in zip seal baggie and place each doughnut in–one at a time–and gently shake around until doughnut is coated in sugar.  Remove and cool for above listed time (10 to 15 minutes).
  10. Once cooled, fill holes with strawberry jam. [I let it spill out, best eaten with a fork. :D]
  11. Using a sieve, sift some of the leftover powdered sugar over the jam and ENJOY!

Quick Strawberry Jam Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups strawberries (cleaned, rinsed, cut into quarters)
  • 2 heaping tbsp raw honey
  • 2 tsp balsamic vinegar

Jam Instructions

  1. Place all ingredients into saucepan and bring to boil over a medium-high heat.
  2. Stirring consistently until most of liquid has cooked out.
  3. Allow to cool before filling doughnuts.
  4. The mixture should become thicker and the strawberries will be mainly broken down.

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There are few people whom I can say I truly admire, but Patti Smith is one of them.  This book, much like her music, pushed me out of a rut and forced me to stand up on my feet and take a better look at my life and the world I live in, and I’m eternally grateful.  I had such a blast making these doughnuts–which we shared with friends–and it allowed me to feel a little more connected to her world.  What are your thoughts on Just Kids and jelly doughnuts?  Let me know in the comments section below and share pics of your #noshedinabook creations. Check out more Noshed in a Book posts to see what else I’ve been reading this year.  Join me for my next reading selection,  Salt:  A World History by Mark Kurlansky.  And remember…bite responsibly!

Healthy Regards,

RAM

Smith in other places:

Commencement speech

 Special site

Free listening

On Lou Reed

Off the Shelf

Edible Inspiration: Week 24

Images to explore from the week.

1)  Nature confetti.

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2)  Peeling beets, stained fingers and food prep.

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3)  This happened.  And yes, they were gluten-free, vegan, and soy-free.  And no, I didn’t eat them all. :p

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4) The copious amount of green onions we’ve had are slowing down, but these beauties made their way into some tacos.

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5)  First batch of homemade tortillas for the year! Best batch yet.

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Thanks for taking the time to look over this week’s Edible Inspiration.  I can’t wait so see some of your pics. #edibleinspiration  And remember…bite responsibly!

Healthy Regards,

RAM

Noshed in a Book: Bossypants

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As with most of the memoir and personal essay books I pick up, I expect something.  Yeah, I know expectations are a tricky thing.  Oftentimes, I don’t have a clear vision of what it is that I expect, and this muddled perspective may be part of the solution or part of the trouble.  Maybe you’re asking yourself, “what is there for you to find trouble or a solution in?”  It’s important that I find a voice in the writing; it’s important that I find some humor; it’s important that I find some true and deep personal anecdotes for which I can either relate or contrive some humanity from the writer.  The list goes on.  In many ways, when I’m preparing a dish or sitting down to eat a meal that someone else prepared, I have similar aspirations.  Yes, food can have a voice–although if you’re food’s talking to you you may want to look into that–and food can be imaginative and fun, and I should hope that some of your meals bear a meaning in your life, and in their preparation or enjoyment a life story is created.  The reason I pontificate about this is because Tina Fey’s book, Bossypants, did this for me.  It had a voice, it made me laugh most genuinely, and it excavated some personal anecdotes that displayed a person, beyond the comedic, media icon.

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Bossypants by Tina Fey

A sarcastic, facetious, yet hilarious auto-biography that takes few risks but speaks truthfully in tone and anecdotes.  Bossypants is more than just a memoir because it almost perfectly channeled Tina Fey’s incredible humor and voice in a way that many memoirs don’t.  Tina’s self-deprecating anecdotes at times come off as a way she assuaged herself from becoming too immersed in the depth of her life and ‘soul’ on the page, which was the biggest down-fall of this book for me.  Fey proved she’s not ready, nor feels the need, to write a memoir filled with post-reflective ‘aha’ moments and sentiment. In this way, her writing is obdurate and the title, Bossypants, begins to hold a stronger meaning.  With no true cohesive nature, Fey is still able to make me laugh consistently on nearly every page and for this, I thank her.  The lack of structure seems to work in her favor as a thematic metaphor that she herself is still trying to understand who she is in life.  It became a genuine point of comfort for me to read about such a talented and enigmatic figure struggle to have a bone-strength confidence in herself, yet continue to have the grit to keep going.  Fey’s writing felt effortless and suave.  She captures the minutiae of transitioning from a girl into a woman and the key moments when innocence of self is lost, but self is never lost without purpose or a meaningful outcome.

“One afternoon a girl walked by in a bikini and my cousin scoffed, “Look at the hips on her.”  I panicked. What about the hips?  Were they too big?  Too small?  What were my hips?  I didn’t know hips could be a problem.  I just thought they were fat or skinny.  This is how I found out that there are an infinite number of things that can be “incorrect” on a woman’s body.  At any given moment on planet Earth, a woman is buying a product to correct one of the following “deficiencies”:  big pores, oily T-zone, cankles, fivehead…”  [Age 13; Fey continues to list ‘deficiencies’.]

Fey comments on the superiority complexes that occur among women, and we are doing our gender a disservice by not equaling the playing-field.

“…you were either blessed with a beautiful body or not.  And if you were not, you could just chill out and learn a trade.  Now if you’re not “hot,” you’re expected to work on it until you are.” [Fey comments on then and now.]

While devouring this book, a moment of sadness flushed over me when she peaks to not feeling a bond between herself and other animals.  It’s hard to realize that someone you admire doesn’t “actively care”–as she put it–about something you hold dear, but I cannot fault her for this.  Again, I appreciate her honesty.

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As for edibles, all I have to say is N A C H O S!  No, that’s not all, but really, nachos make a cameo in this book that I feel is worth focusing on.  Fey talks about the magical moment in time when homemade nachos were the “it” thing to make.  What’s so refreshing about this commentary is the manner in which she turns your typical junk food into a food celebrity.  The same way that quinoa and kale have brandished their way into the fast-food, box-food episode of the food world.  The imaginary drama we create with food trends is comical and to have someone reflect on a time when homemade nachos were the shining star is ridiculously satisfying.  It is for this reason, I decided to make my version of nachos, which have made an appearance before.

 Gourmet Nachos  (animal-product-free, gluten-free, soy-free)

Avocado Sauce Ingredients | generously serves 2 people

  • 2 avocados [rinsed]
  • juice from half of a lime [or more to taste]
  • 1/4 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp garlic granules
  • /14 tsp onion granules
  • 1/4 cup cilantro leaves [rinsed, and stems removed; use 1 tsp dried cilantro if fresh is not on hand]
  • salt to taste
  • freshly ground black pepper to taste

Sauce Instructions

  1. Slice avocados in half lengthwise, remove pit and use spoon to scoop out flesh into bowl or mortar.
  2. Squeeze lime juice over avocado.
  3. Now add cumin, garlic granules, onion granules, salt, and black pepper and cilantro leaves.
  4. Using back-end (convex side) of spoon or pestle and mash avocado, lime juice, cilantro and spices until you have a creamy but still slightly chunky sauce.
  5. Set aside and enjoy with nachos and other delectables.

Nachos Ingredients

  • 1 bag of blue corn chips
  • 1 can refried black beans
  • 1 package of ‘cheddar’ Daiya
  • pickled jalapeno [sliced, by taste]
  • grape tomatoes [quartered, by taste; I use about 8 per person]
  • 2 crimini mushrooms [thinly sliced]
  • cilantro [minced, no stems; *optional]
  • 2 green onions [minced; only the greens; set aside white part for another meal, *optional]
  • avocado sauce [see recipe above]

Nachos Instructions

  1. On oven safe dish, spread out your chips in layers to a proportion that suites you or use a platter if multiple people will be eating from the same plate.
  2. In a small saucepan, heat up black beans and spoon beans over chips, no need to be a perfectionist here.
  3. Now, place sliced jalapeno pieces, quartered cherry tomatoes, and sliced mushrooms over the beans, evenly.
  4. Sprinkle the Daiya on top.
  5. Place plate(s) under broiler until ‘cheese’ melts, being careful not to burn anything, maybe 3 or 5 minutes.
  6. Once plate has been removed from oven, sprinkle with cilantro and green onion.
  7. Finally, place a big wallop of avocado sauce on top of the delicious mound and enjoy!

Notes:

  • Keep some napkins and a fork handy, these might be fun and messy!
  • That plate’s hot, be careful!
  • Another option would be to place your avocado sauce in a ramekin on the side for dipping.
  • Some like to enjoy hot sauce with their nachos for an extra spicy kick, go for it!
  • Have some extra chips around, the beans can get a little heavy in the middle of the plate.
  • Know when to hand your plate over to your friend or partner; I made the mistake of eating too much because it was in front of me.  Big, full-belly mistake.

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I can’t say I’m a ‘nacho eater’, but I can say that these made my husband very happy and coupled well with this book.  Tina Fey is the kind of woman I would like to have tea with on a rainy Thursday morning while we giggle about playing hooky from our work.  Her humor speaks very clearly to the sensibility I hold dear and this book will stay near to me both figuratively and physically for years to come as a reference guide and to ground myself.  Thanks Tina.

Thanks for reading this week’s Noshed in a Book and make sure to share some of your #noshedinabook experiences and pics.  Join me ind reading Intruder in the Dust by William Faulkner.  I hope you all enjoyed Bossypants as much as me, and remember…bite responsibly!

Healthy Regards,

RAM

 

Noshed in a Book: The Bell Jar

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No more than two pages into it, I began to ask myself how it was that I had gone this long without reading Sylvia Plath’s, The Bell Jar.  In all honesty, I contemplated not writing this post because I’m still trying to digest what this book meant for me, but then I realized writing would be a keen way to tackle my feelings and a great place to start.  As I’ve stated before, I feel that reading and eating are both very personal experiences.  The Bell Jar was an intimate experience for me and I am grateful that the chance presented itself.  I don’t want to dance around the simple fact that this novel could be viewed as sad, depressing even, but I am also a firm believer that shielding ourselves from those situations in life which are unpleasant, can lead to unnecessary shocks later in life.  Thus, here’s to embracing literary life in different ways just as we do with food.

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The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath

[spoiler alert]

“If Mrs. Guinea had given me a ticket to Europe, or a round-the-world cruise, it wouldn’t have made one scrap of difference to me, because wherever I sat–on the deck of a ship or at a street café in Paris or Bangkok–I would be sitting under the same glass bell jar, stewing in my own sour air.”

Esther Greenwood personifies the terror associated with reaching for greatness, all while being stifled by gender and class.  Uniquely bound, Esther yearns to escape what she’s labored after; a scholarship supported, academic writing career of prominence soon to be forgotten for the societal prize of a life of domesticity.  Plath steeps the audience in the character, Esther, who has a predilection to sullen behavior, and is terrorized by self-loathing and her own self-destructive nature.  Though academically intelligent, motivated and determined, Esther begins to unravel in a way that no one around her seems to comprehend.  Plath is masterful when subtly hinting at Esther’s decline, and before you know it, it seems as though she’s beyond saving.  It’s impossible to read this book without cringing at the excessive amounts of ECT (electroconvulsive therapy) used on the women at the sanitarium in the later chapters.  As a feminist of the twenty-first century, the debasement of the women who were struggling with their mental health was suffocating, just as I’m sure Plath intended her audience to feel; trapped under the bell jar.  There’s so much more to unpack about this novel, but for the purpose of this blog, I’ve said my piece.  Sylvia Plath’s time on this earth only allowed her a singular novel for which she was able to transcend time and mortality to speak directly from the flesh of many woman.  An incredible work, not to ever be forgotten by me.

“When I lifted my head, the photographer had vanished.  Jaycee had vanished as well.  I felt limp and betrayed, like the skin shed by a terrible animal.  It was a relief to be free of the animal but it seemed to have taken my spirit with it, and everything else it could lay its paws on.”

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As for edibles, Esther loved to gorge herself on food, and mentions butter with voracity.  In fact, she and her magazine colleagues overindulged on some–unbeknownst to them–tainted caviar and they all became very ill with food-poisoning.  Plath sprinkles bits about food and consumption throughout the book, but it never takes front and center.  In picking a food to couple with the book I decided to make Sarah Britton of My New Roots recipe of Valentine Rawlos for a few reasons.

  • Because whether you’re into it or not, tis the season, and ignoring Valentine’s Day, whatever the reason, is–as Mrs. Tina Fey says–like avoiding Photoshoped magazine covers, it’s right in front of your face and not going anywhere.
  • Because when Esther began her apprenticeship with the magazine, it’s likely she was given assorted boxes of chocolates in gift bags and on her pillow of the hotel, or so I like to imagine.
  • Because small, chocolate hearts are rich, full-bodied and express choice and can be a constant.

niab5_3Any thoughts about The Bell Jar and any food take-away?  Check out more Noshed in a Book posts and share some of your own #noshedinabook thoughts with me.  Join me in reading Bossypants by the incredible Tina Fey.  And remember…bite responsibly.

Healthy Regards,

RAM

Chocolate Chip Cookies on a Baking Stone

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Lately, as I’m sure this may shock some of you who know me, I haven’t had much of a sweet tooth.  Everything in the savory category gets me going to a point where I like to always have kalamata olives and kimchi on hand.  Wilted greens with a bit of apple cider vinegar; yes please!  In fact, I haven’t had the consistency of a sweet tooth for some time now, but when the feeling strikes or when I get an able mind, I spring into action for something to satiate my hankering.  This time, it was COOKIES!  And what better than two dozen–yes, I kid you not–chocolate chip cookies?  For this woman, nothing.

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I decided immediately that an older recipe wouldn’t do.  I have used this one recipe for gluten-free chocolate chip cookies for a while, and though they taste like a chocolate wonderland, they wouldn’t be pin worthy.  This time, I wanted something that would be both mouth-watering and eye-pleasing.  After scouring the web for a while, I realized there was not one perfect recipe out there for me. Instead, I improvised.

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One evening, a friend and I were bouncing our hips to some jazz singers, elbow grease stirring up some tasty treats.  What follows is the final recipe that we couldn’t stop eating.  It’s important to mention, in knowing the temptation to eat the entire batch, my friend sent the majority of these cookies home with me for my husband and I to enjoy.  I thought it would be just my husband gormandizing these delicious treats. Sadly, that was not the case.

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Chocolate Chip Cookies

 

-Gluten-free, Vegan, Low-Glycemic Index

Ingredients

  • 2 1/3 cups all-purpose gluten-free flour blend
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 3/4 cup sucanat
  • 1/2 cup coconut sugar
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin coconut oil (between solid and fully liquified)
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened original almond milk
  • 2 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1 1/4 cup mini chocolate chips (or whatever chocolate chunks you have on hand)

Instructions

  1. Preheat your oven to 350 ° F
  2. Place baking stone out on counter and wipe down with a moist cloth; let water evaporate or dry with towel
  3. Using a medium-sized bowl with fork, sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda, & sea salt
  4. Set aside the flour mixture
  5. In a large bowl, using a hand mixer, cream together sucanat, coconut sugar, & coconut oil for 1 to 2 minutes
  6. Add in the almond milk, & vanilla extract and mix until well blended
  7. Slowly add the flour mixture into the creamed mixture; dough will be very thick (at this point, we started to use a bowl scraping spatula)
  8. Now fold in the chocolate chips
  9. Roll about two tablespoons of dough into a ball or use a scoop and place balls on baking stone
  10. Press dough down slightly with the back of a spoon or your fingers
  11. Place each ball about two inches apart
  12. Bake about 14 minutes (8-9 minutes if using a parchment paper lined baking sheet)
  13. Allow to cool on stone for 4 minutes
  14. Place cookies on cooling rack until fully cool OR enjoy warm and gooey!
  15. Store in air-tight container.
  16. Share with friends and loved ones and ENJOY!

Notes:

  • Cookies should bake on stone in about three rounds
  • As stated above, makes approximately two dozen cookies (two inches across)

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Today, I’m grateful I’m able to share this recipe with you and I’m heartened by the thought of you all making this tasty batch and sharing it with those you care for.  Sometimes a little sweet something brings a lot of sweetness into your environment.  And remember…bite responsibly!

Healthy Regards,

RAM

 

 

Kitchen Letters #10: I Choose My Choice!

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Dear free thinkers,

How are you all feeling this week?  I am writing to you now–after a week of a “cool-down”–because I wanted to tell you about a recent confrontation that, in its aftermath, left me dumbfounded as to what had just occurred.  So much so in fact, that I reached out to a former colleague to not only commiserate, but to share my tale, as I knew that she too has been put in the same, uncomfortable and unnecessary position as I.  After realizing the umbrage I took at this unpleasant encounter, I knew I needed to write about it in a more public manner.  I understand that what I’m about to describe is not an isolated occurrence, and its meaning weighs much more heavily in my mind with respect to human rights than I think was ever intended.

A little background.  I attend catered events, and being someone who does not eat within the boundaries of the typical diet, oftentimes it behooves me to speak up about what my dietary “restrictions”–as they are often referred to by many–are.  Otherwise, I’ll be politely drinking 6 cups of water and making percussive noises with my utensil set all throughout the dining event, just to distract myself from the hunger pangs.  Knowing my grub circumstance, once a formal invitation is sent out, I typically send a notification to the necessary party, informing them of my food needs.  However, this time a chance was not given.

I was approached directly.  This dialogue, if it can even be called that, quickly took a turn for the worst.  Upon approach, a feeling of guilt was implied by the turn of grammatical phrase from this person and soon I was compared to another individual who, by her own demure nature, did not stand up for herself when approached, but merely avoided confrontation by yielding to the antagonist.   Soon I felt myself being verbally sabotaged with nowhere to turn but my own–what I hope was graceful– verbal sortie.

Yes, I follow a plant-based diet.  I am a person who eats, and its’ selective, yes, but it’s my choice, and I make this choice with love and care.

person planning event:  “Is this a medical choice or just a personal choice?”

me:  “It’s a personal choice (inside my head, “as if it even matters!!!”), I’ve been vegan for years and it’s important to me.”

I won’t say more about the actual remarks of the circumstance as that defiles the meaning of this post.

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When being asked about why I have chosen to eat a certain way, which is, in essence, asking me why I have chosen to live my life a certain way, I endeavor to have an open heart and mind.  In all honestly, it’s often strange to me that dietary choice, if you’re fortunate enough for it to be a choice, is not considered with more brevity in defining your lifestyle.  Of course in today’s world, the idea of foodies and following food-trends is socially acceptable, which has engendered a more accepting community to the many dietary limitations out there, but I don’t think this foodie world has given much reverence to those on the fringe.  In an ideal world, people wouldn’t reproach at the very thought of my decisions in regards to comestibles, but would converse with humility and acceptance.  Instead, acerbic rhetoric that was aligned to make me feel nothing but disrespected and discouraged about my choices was hurled in my direction.  I would like to note, that I don’t think this was entirely the intention of this individual, just the unfortunate outcome.  It is often the case that as humans, we react in defense of our own insecurities or ignorance, for this, I cannot fault anyone, as I’m sure I too have been guilty of such an affront at some point in my life.

Additionally, and as eloquently pointed out by my former colleague, would I have been approached in the same accusatory and dissatisfied manner were I a man?  I think not.  A male counterpart, I’m certain, would have been confronted with a much calmer and appeasing tone, or not at all.  Not to dwell in gender, but I find this to be incredibly disconcerting.  HeForShe!

Food choices don’t have to be approached with a confrontational tone and our reactions shouldn’t be that of a defensive nature, either.  And this is why I write to you today.  It’s not to rant about something you may find trivial; something like food choice.  I write to implore you to take a look at how you’re approaching others in your day-to-day.  I entreaty you to take a moment to STOP and ask yourself why you’re approaching a circumstance a certain way.  Be mindful.

Here are some ways you can feel more prepared when you’re sitting around the table with family and friends this coming holiday season.

  • Be open.  I understand that most holidays are rooted in tradition, and with this tradition are certain food stuffs that need to adorn the table, but be open to new dishes and creative ways to approach a traditional dish that’s long loved.
  • Do NOT torpedo question the person or people who are not participating in consuming the same fare as you.  If you are curious, don’t feel as though this person will crumble into tiny pieces upon questioning, just be thoughtful and calm in your inquiry.
  • Educate yourself before the event.  If food is being served at an event you’re attending and you know someone or multiple people with an alternative diet, take the time to read about their dietary alternatives.  Read about it for the sake of learning.
  • Be generous, provide a substitute dish or meal if that’s within your means.
  • Don’t stare.  If you’re at the table or standing around munching with someone who doesn’t eat the same things as you, remember what your mother told you as a young child, try not to stare.  One can easily feel ostracized when multiple sets of eyes are on the “freaky food” you’re eating.  Look away.

I’m sure there are some of you out there who think, “GET OVER IT”, and you don’t want to tread lightly for others.  When you’re feeling this way, think of any situation in life where you, as a functioning member of society, have been taught to have manners, integrity, and respect for other people’s choices.  Food choices are no different, and they are a human right that’s being denigrated, not uplifted, even with the foodie movement.  Help be a part of the acceptance and change!

Joining together in conversation about food and our choices is crucial, but remember to be tactful and considerate.  The idea of reaching harmony can come to us cloaked, and that cloak may be in the form of a meal with someone you know or love or both.  Be tender if you can.  And remember…bite responsibly!

Healthy Regards,

RAM

p.s.  My catch phrase lately, “I choose my choice!”  #ichoosemychoice

Kitchen Letters from the past.

Coconut Milk Coffee Ice Cream

icecream1Good day humanoids,

Unless you’re one of the few–like Adam from GIRLS–who does not dig the dynamic and delectable nature that is ice cream, then I hope you had the most chilly, creamy, National Ice Cream Day on Sunday.  A gift for 2013’s winter holiday was a long-awaited ice cream maker, and this flavor goes out to mihoeneypie!

Confession.  I am a scoop ‘food-in-love’ with ice cream–of the vegan persuasion that is.  I remember when I decided to no longer eat dairy, one of the first things I decided I had to try to win me over was, yes non-dairy ice cream.  Nutritionally, not the most sound choice, but I can’t change the facts of the past.  In fact, I think the first non-dairy ice cream I tried was Tofutti-chocolate.  It was my third year in college, Saturday night, and an evening of film watching–would you expect any less?  On a more nostalgic note, when I was a wee lil’ blueberry, I remember feeling all a flutter when the ice-cream truck came jingling down the street.  As an adult, it often feels like the hypnotic, cheery songs that roar muffled from the 30-year-old speakers of the ice cream truck will never wain, but as a child, that music dissipated faster than ice-cream could melt on a hot July day.  Thus, I would gather up change collected in a bank or run to my mother for some dolla-bills, and soon I would be scampering outside to receive the truck.  There was one instance in particular, that in my mind proves the giving and thoughtful nature that ice-cream can bring out of people, and it was the Pink Panther incident of 1994.  There I was, unwrapping my mal-formed, yet perfect Pink Panther, paper sticky, tangy sherbet bar with gumball eyes–the type of bar varies as I age (Sonic, Tweety)–only to take a few licks, and SPLAT!  Ice-cream on pavement.  My mother, without hesitation, decided to give me her nomnom.  It was a strawberry shortcake bar, and I felt–in that one ice-cream scarring moment–what selfless giving was.  Call me crazy or overly sentimental, but it’s those types of moments that shape the way we, not only see the world, but how we see food.  I know that food nostalgia can lead to a lot of health issues.  I can’t in good conscience lead you all to believe that just because you have a fond memory of your first bag of Flammin’ Hot Cheetos, that it’s okay to eat those, but I can say that memories of food–and in this instance for me, ice cream–can be life-changing.   Now, I think it’s time for an ice cream recipe.

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Coconut Milk Coffee Ice Cream

– vegan, gluten-free

Ingredients

  • 2 13.66 fl oz cans of unsweetened coconut milk (full fat)
  • 1/2 cup coconut sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup highly concentrated coffee

Instructions

  1. In a medium-sized sauce pan over medium heat stir together coconut milk, sugar and coffee until mixture is a light brown color and sugar is fully dissolved
  2. Let mixture cool completely in a container with a spout and lid
  3. After the mixture has completely cooled, follow instructions for your ice cream maker
  4. Top with raw cacao nibs and enjoy!

Notes

  • This ice cream recipe is not overly sweet, which I prefer, but if you’re into extra sweet cream, I suggest upping your coconut sugar amount to 3/4 cup.
  • The ice cream maker that we have has a large 2 quart reservoir that we keep frozen and then the ice-cream mixture is poured into it for processing.  It takes around 25 to 30 minutes depending on how thick and creamy you like the ice cream to be.
  • The trick with most ice cream makers is to make sure, without a doubt, that your reservoir is 100% frozen before beginning.
  • If you do not own an ice cream maker, there are many easy methods for making ice cream in your blender or straight from the coconut milk can to the freezer.  Don’t give up!

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This ice cream was demolished so quickly after eating it, my shivering teeth had no regrets.  It’s days like yesterday, when I’m completely overwhelmed with a feeling of gratitude to having the sense of taste, smell, and the emotion of love.  I love ice cream.  How ever inconsequential it may seem, ice cream makes me happy, and makes me grateful to be alive.  Oh the joys of this frozen fare!

Please share your #latergrams of your National Ice Cream Day cream pics or your new pics under the hash-tag #cabicecream and share your favorite ice cream stories.  And remember…bite responsibly!

Healthy creamy regards,

RAM

VegFest 2014 Vol. 2

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Good day all,

It was an extra early-rise day Saturday, but the chilly wind helped keep us all high energy and functioning.  It was very encouraging to see how many volunteers showed up for the 6 a.m. shift–20+ to be sure–and humbling to experience the functionality of people coming together for a cause that we all stand behind.  We completed all of the ‘set-up’ tasks far before expected and we were all able to help out in areas we did not initially expect to, which was both a positive learning experience and a true test of multitasking. One of the many highlights of my volunteer experience was the fact that I was able to spend my entire volunteer shift with my husband, which is incredibly rewarding, being able to experience the fun together. Another highlight was a young mother who decided to bring her young baby along with her the entire morning by carrying the baby in an Ergo type carrier, marsupial style.  She was one diligent marsupial momma and she became my inspiration for that particular day and days to come.  It was encouraging to see someone being active and volunteering as a woman and mother, deciding to not let her world stop because she is now a mom.  She chose to involve her young one and display an act of community giving that is priceless.  I know I’m about to sound terribly cliché, but it made my heart grow three sizes bigger.  I was so taken aback, I had to tell her!

After our volunteer shift was completed, we decided to disguise our VegFest tees’ and become official guests of the event.  Though we were a little rushed, I feel like the time we spent went swimmingly!  The flow of the crowd seemed to be better circulated than in years past due to–in my opinion–better organization of the booths. Also, there were many more vendors and food stops where you could get information, samples, and a full-blown meal!

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While walking around and getting to know the vendors–some old hats and some newbies–we came across a new company called Uber Foods that makes energy bars.  After just one small sample and hearing about their new company from an eager young man, I decided to buy a bar; ‘dos cacao’.  It’s made here in Austin, has only six ingredients and it’s gluten-free and vegan!  It was pricy, but I never mind paying a little more for quality and in support of a growing company.

There were farms represented at VegFest this year, and Tecolote Farm is a local farm!

There were farms represented at VegFest this year, and Tecolote Farm is a local farm!

My tummy was soon grumbling for a meal following our volunteer shift and I had my eye set on Aster’s Ethiopian booth.  It was good gloop!  What’s wonderful about Ethiopian food is the manner in which they go about eating.  They not only use their hands, but they consume the food with a spongy bread call injera made with teff flour, which is rich in amino acids and several vitamins and minerals.   Some Ethiopian restaurants add wheat to their injera, however, Aster’s is 100% gluten-free!  Happy tummies all around. 😀

We ended our Texas VegFest time, much like we did our second year, with a bowl of Sweet Ritual ice-cream–salted caramel.  No sprinkles were on hand this year, but the ice-cream left nothing to be desired for a sweet tooth.

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Attending Texas VegFest was a pleasant reminder that we should all take a moment to re-evaluate the way we approach our time and how we devote it, not only to the food we eat, but to other people around us. You get what you give in life, so let’s all try to give a little more. :)  And if you can, involve the little one’s in your life in your activities.  Experiences are the best gifts you can give and will last longer than all the toys in the world!  Oh, and remember…bite responsibly!

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Healthy Regards,

RAM