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my harvest of Cleavers

Yesterday I had a delightful hike in the South Hills of Portland, exploring historical sights, hidden stairs, and great views.  Along the way I found a bunch of Cleavers (Galium Aparine) growing in the woods.  I brought some home and made a simple (single herb) brew by pouring hot water over the fresh herb and letting it steep overnight.)  Today I’ve been enjoying the mild herbaceous taste of the cooled simple.  Cleavers are a wonderful all around tonifying herb.  Known specifically to support the lymph system, but also as a blood cleanser.  Drinking a “simple” is one way to add herbs into your daily routine.  Find safe, tonifying herbs, steep overnight, and enjoy all day!  Other herbs to consider: Parlsey (mineral rich diuretic), chamomile (bitter tonic for digestion, nervine), chrysantamum (fortifies the lung, liver, eyes), nettle (mineral rich, tonic).

St. Patrick's Day is coming!

Seeing corned beef in the grocery stores these days made me dream up this low glycemic version of one of our favorite breakfasts.
I used Okinawan purple sweet potatoes, (which are high in anthocyanins and low glycemic, getting some press these days as a new “super food”) instead of white potatoes and added quartered brussels sprouts for a high fiber, satisfying breakfast! My son poached me an egg and mixed up a mixture of ketchup and chili sauce for the perfect accompaniments.

One of my guilty procrastination techniques all through medical school was to watch Mark Bittman’s Minimalist Videos.  I LOVE them!  They are short, funny, and produced well.  But most of all they offer fantastic recipes:  simple to execute, healthy, and delicious.  Just what everyone needs more of in their lives!  His recipe for chickpea flour savory pancakes has become a staple in my repertoire.  I leave out the wheat flour, and double the chickpea flour to make it gluten free.  Often I add shrimp, diced red peppers, scallops, fresh parsley, fennel bulb, or minced scallions.  It is incredibly versatile.  Another recipe that I have adopted successfully is his sweet potato salad.   Sweet potatoes are nutrient dense compared to their white potato counterparts.  In this version, Bittman gives potato salad a complete makeover, adding black beans, cilantro and lime.  Fresh, creative, easy and nutritious!  I was very excited when I learned that he would be speaking at Powell’s Books this week!  He is touring to promote his new cookbook titled The Food Matters Cookbook, following the publication of his book, Food Matters.  The thrust of his message promotes movement toward a plant based diet and away from processed foods.  His personal health has improved since making these changes in his diet and he argues that this way of eating is good for our planet’s health too.  He shared some statistics about the industrialized livestock industry which were indeed damning.  It was at that point in his presentation that I started questioning his message.  Sure, I agree that industrialized animal production is a nasty business, using far more water, land, petrol, and resources than it should, but all these statistics are based on feeding animals a GRAIN based diet.   Cows, pigs, and chickens have not evolved to eat grains, and neither have we.  Factory farmers feed cows corn because it fattens them up and makes them grow faster than their grass grazed cousins.   Prairies and grasslands that could be feeding cattle using only the sun and rain as resources have been converted into giant corn and soybean monocrops in order to feed cattle and fuel our industrialized food industry.  The solution is not to become vegetarian, but to raise our meat sustainably.  In my experience as a physician I see my patients’ health improve when they eliminate grains (especially, but not just wheat) from their diets.  I would assert that eating grass fed meat with heaps of vegetables and small amounts of properly prepared grains and legumes is the ideal to shoot for.  I do agree with Bittman’s main message that we need to eat REAL FOOD, which means we need to cook.  We need to protect our children from anti-foods like soda and chips that are available from vending machines in their schools, and served to them on trays (subsidized by the government) in school cafeterias.  My personal mission is to help people realize that it is not hard or time consuming to cook healthy meals.  I think Mark Bittman is on the same path.  I did buy the cookbook because it is chock full of innovative simple meal ideas.  In fact, he took a picture of the couple in front of me while I was in line to get the book signed, and I made it onto the website!  (I’m in the second photo) I would love to hear from my readers:  what are some obstacles to cooking real food that you experience?  What are some solutions that you’ve found?  What do you think about vegetarianism or sustainable agriculture?

yumthingsI have been reading Nourishing Traditions this week and got inspired to sprout some lentils.  Sprouting beans, grains or seeds unlocks a whole new level of nutrition in them, changing the enzyme activity, and the carbohydrate:protein ratio.  Nutrition facts for sprouted lentilssprouted lentilsThen I had a mason jar full of live little growing lentils that were calling my name today.  All morning in class I kept thinking about them.  On the way home I stopped by the Asian grocery near my house and bought some ginger, jalepenos, and cilantro and I went home and created this recipe.  It is extremely easy to put together (provided you have a food processor).  I thought they were delicious!  And filling!  I do need to think of a better name for them though.  If anyone has any suggestions…

Sprouted Lentil Yumthings

2 cups sprouted lentils (green)
1 sweet onion
3 cloves garlic
3 jalepenos
1.5 inches fresh ginger root
1 bunch cilantro
1 cup pecans
1 generous pinch of dried kelp flakes
2 eggs
2/3 cup garbanzo bean flour
1 Tablespoon sea salt
coconut oil

Sprout your lentils.  To do this start with a wide mouth mason jar 1/2  full of dry lentils.  Add water to the top of the jar and let them soak overnight or for 12 hours or so.  Drain them (you can buy a handy screen that fits exactly in the top of a wide mouth mason jar, or you can use cheesecloth, or a fine mesh strainer) and rinse them well.  Leave them in the jar, which should not be sealed shut, but allowed to drain upside down in the dishrack.  Rinse them 2 or three times a day.  The sprouts should pop out by the second day or so.  I like to use them when the sprout tails are fairly short (about 2 days), but you can let them grow longer if you like.  When they are sprouted to your liking, rinse them again and then store them in the fridge with a closed lid on the jar this time.  They will stop growing in the cold fridge.

Get out your food processor.
Process the pecans first.  You want these to be ground up fine, just be careful not to turn them into nut butter.  Empty these into a bowl.  Next process the onions into a nice small dice.  Saute the onions a little in a skillet with some coconut oil.  Then add them to the bowl with the pecans.  Next process the garlic, ginger, jalepenos, until they are finely chopped.  Add the cilantro to the processor and give it a whirl until it is nicely chopped as well.  Add all these things into the bowl.  Next process the sprouted lentils.  These should reach almost a paste consistency.  Add to the bowl.  Then to the bowl add the kelp (or omit if you don’t have any), salt, garbanzo bean flour, and eggs. bowl of goodies Mix all the ingredients together.  Taste to make sure you have added enough salt.  It should be  fairly soft, but hold together somewhat.  It’s not an exact science.

Heat some coconut oil in a skillet and fry the patties until brown and crispy on both sides.  Make sure that the first side has browned completely before you try and turn it over.  You will be happy if you do this because they will hold together better.frying yumthings

Serve hot with chutney and lime chili pickle.

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