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Time Mirror

I saw my old self in a teenage girl today. She was getting out of a car with her family and into the wind. You could tell she was very irritated at the breeze as it made a mess out of her formerly perfect hair. Her attempts to keep her tresses down and prevent them from covering her cute headband were comically futile.

Looking around, there was no one there but her family, myself passing on the sidewalk, and maybe one other pedestrian across the street they showed no signs of recognizing. Why all the fuss? The answer is simple: image. If anyone sees you, the image must be perfect. It doesn’t matter who or where – they all must think you have it together and that you’re flawless. The reasoning is so recognizable because I burdened myself with it at her age and beyond.

My musings were then interrupted by the sight of my current self reflected back in a shop window. My short hair was nearly perfectly vertical from the wind, but I made no effort to fix it knowing how utterly useless that would be until I was inside.

I saw myself walking back over the same sidewalk half an hour later with a heavy backpack and a large package of toilet paper hanging from the plastic handles they stick on at Target to make them easier to carry. It wasn’t embarrassing or “uncool”. It said nothing about whether I “had it all together”. It just was. It was toilet paper. We all use it. My hair was once again tossed around by the wind. So was everyone else’s. It was funny to see how little it mattered now.

Then I came home, wind blown hair, toilet paper and all, to a smiling husband who tells me I’m beautiful, treats me like a queen and who also appreciates that I ran to the store and bought toilet paper.

Warming pancake topping to ease into spring

Last time, I left you with a horrible tease. I told you how to make my favorite pancakes and didn’t tell you about the warm, awesome topping I had on them.

Yeah, these are what I'm talking about.

Yeah, these are what I’m talking about.

While talking with my homeopathic doctor about seasonal allergies. She recommended what she called Kapha calming foods as a way to naturally ease myself into the season. Among the things she listed were apples, pears, and pineapples – all cooked. In addition to that, she recommended figs, ginger, cinnamon, and cloves. There were other spices such as coriander listed, but my head took the rest and said “That sounds like a recipe.”

Fruity goodness!

Fruity goodness!

It’s not like I need an excuse to eat fruit. My husband can attest to how absolutely bonkers I can go in a good produce market.

Nice, tart apples

Nice, tart apples

Also, maybe I’m just crazy, but figs are just plain cute. They’re plump and stubby and when you cut into them, there’s that beautiful, speckled, seedy inside.

I love these little things!

I love these little things!

The pictures I’m showing this time around is when I made a double batch of this because we had guests coming. I warned them in advance that we’d be eating vegan food. They really didn’t mind. But still, if I’m going to feed my guests something outside of their normal diet, I want it to be as good as possible.

And we're ready to fly!

And we’re ready to fly!

Another good reason to make a double batch is because it just reheats so well, either on the stove or in the microwave. It’s nice to have something a bit more special than usual on a busy morning sometimes. It helps get off to the right start.

Massive bowl of hot fruit!

Massive bowl of hot fruit!

Also, this recipe tasted very “Christmasy” to me. I feel like it would make a great Christmas morning breakfast. I also want to try this on top of Oatmeal, not just on pancakes!

Hot “Kapha Calming” Pancake Topping
Serves 4

1/2 teaspoon fresh grated ginger
zest and juice of 1 lemon
1 apple peeled, cored, and sliced in 1/4 inch thick slices
1 pear peeled, cored, and sliced in 1/4 inch thick slices
2 cups diced pineapple
3/4 cups Conadria figs, quartered
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 cup honey
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 cup water
Chopped almonds – optional

1. Prepare all of your ingredients and add them all to a medium saucepan. For the honey, since you’re not using oil in this recipe so you can’t use it to coat the measuring cup first, feel free to spray the measuring cup lightly with a touch of spray oil so it will come out of the cup easier.

2. Bring the water to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook for about 10-15 minutes stirring occasionally until the fruit is soft.

3. Serve over pancakes. If you’d like, sprinkle with a bit of chopped almonds for added protein.

Gluten free vegan pancakes

Oh my word I’ve wanted something sweet. As in, my poor husband has never seen me in this kind of a rampage kind of wanting sweets. It’s a little harder to get that fix without cane sugar. I’m pretty much limited to making something myself since what comes off of a shelf will be full of the wonderful, yet horrible, stuff. Oh yes, and possibly butter and eggs if I go for the baked goods. Not happening.

Lovely goop

Lovely goop

Among all my food sensitivities, I’m fortunate that gluten isn’t on my list. It is good to just give the body a break from it sometimes, though. I’ve heard a lot from my homeopathic doctor about rotating grains in my diet and how it’s better not to be completely dependent on one grain like I tend to be with wheat. So, it’s time to get creative.

Flipping time!

Flipping time!

Any type of batter is the first go-to for me for alternate grains since gluten is not a necessity. In fact, typically over-mixing is avoided for the sheer purpose of not wanting to develop the gluten.

We're getting there!

We’re getting there!

I went for rice flour straight out of my grain mill. You can buy rice flour and make these, but with a mill on hand, why not toss a bag of brown rice in there and work with what comes out? If you do have a mill, you’ll want to go for a very fine flour setting.

It's a start!

It’s a start!

So, we have pancakes that are whole grain, cane sugar free, vegan and gluten free. If you had asked me a few months ago, I wouldn’t have thought that was appetizing. Now, it makes me about giddy. My husband, who is diet restriction-free, went back for a big plate of seconds!

That's more like it!

That’s more like it!

The beast is satisfied. The rampage is over and my husband looks a lot less scared now.

Gluten free, cane sugar free, vegan pancakes

Yield: about 20 4″ pancakes or 4 servings

2 tablespoons flax meal
6 tablespoons warm water
2 1/4 cups rice flour
1 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoons sea salt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 cup canola oil
1/3 cup honey
1 1/2 cups almond milk

1. Combine the flax meal and warm water in a bowl and set aside at least 5 minutes before combining with other ingredients to hydrate the flax.

2. Mix together rice flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt in a bowl.

3. In a separate bowl, combine the vanilla, canola oil, honey, almond milk, and flax mixture. A helpful tip is to measure your oil first in the same measuring cup you plan on using for your honey and tilt it so it coats any areas the honey will touch. Your honey will come out of your measuring cup a lot easier that way.

4. Add the dry mixture gradually into the wet mixture, mixing until smooth.

5. Over medium heat, preheat an ungreased, non-stick pan. Spoon pancake batter into the pan in the desired amount for the size pancakes you want. When the batter is bubbly on the top and looking dryer around all of the edges, flip them over and cook the other side. Pancakes will be golden brown on top (the first side that cooked) and mottled brown on the bottom.

That’s it! Serve with maple syrup or your favorite topping:

That's what I'm talking about.

That’s what I’m talking about.

What’s that on top? A recipe I’m tweaking a bit and I’ll share next time around.

A blog…finally!

I’ve been itching to blog for a while, but the whole idea of setting up the site is daunting. So, here sits a basic WordPress template. One day, it will be customized, but for now, I’m blogging.

I’ll be talking about food, art, food, music, food, Chicago, and a few recipes thrown in. With a list of food sensitivities about as long as my arm, I hope to post recipes here that cater to variety of dietary restrictions, not just my own. I love to eat and I love to eat well. If I feel restricted in my diet, then it’s game over. I just can’t do it! Meal time needs to be something to look forward to regardless of whether or not your list of ingredients had a few items knocked off of it.

A bit about my background – I grew up cooking. My mom and grandmother knew they could always put me to work in the kitchen and I’d be a happy camper. As an adult, I went to culinary school for a while and got the rest of my training on the job working under some of the best chefs in Nashville. I worked in nice hotels in banquets as well as their restaurants including a very high end steak house. I threw myself into the indulgent mentality of a chef. Yes, we worked ourselves to the bone and wore the scars with pride every time we added a new cut or burn to our list of battle wounds. The reward, though, was on our plates. The meats, the cheeses, the butter, the sugar, all the goodness. No sense in saying no to myself. I didn’t go into the business to go on a damn diet.

A few years down the road, I found myself working in tech support and still do. I never saw myself behind a desk, but here I sit. The constant, though, has been good food and not settling. Lunch may have been a grilled cheese, but it was on fresh ciabatta with gouda and muenster.

Then, the bottom fell out on my entire take on food. After testing, I found I can no longer have pork, beef, poultry, dairy, eggs, and cane sugar to name a few things. This wasn’t a minor tweak in my diet, this is a complete lifestyle change and not one I was at all excited about. I’m definitely one to take quality of life over the length of it, but that wasn’t the issue. My quality of life had deteriorated badly and to get any kind of life worth living out of my time here, I had to make some changes.

So here I am. I’m on an adventure. I’ll be sharing bits of what I learn along the way and recipes that make me feel like I’m not giving anything up when I eat them. After all, who wants to feel restricted by their diet?