Bird Seed Porridge

chicken_buddhaI eat a lot of eggs in our household.  My morning protein habit involves eating 2 or 3 boiled eggs about an hour after getting up.  It’s a diet protocol I read about in a book called Potatoes Not Prozac, and the practice has helped my health enormously.  It’s also a habit Twyla Tharp follows in her morning ritual.  The legendary choreographer spends time at the gym, followed by a breakfast of 4 cooked egg whites.  I have no idea how she does it.  I feel like Cool Hand Luke by the time Thursday rolls around.  My husband keeps making hints that we should raise chickens to feed my egg habit.
I am always looking for alternatives to boiled eggs, but had not found any good and quick alternatives. Monday rolled around, and we were out of eggs.  I knew I had to get something into my system or it would be a truly bad Monday, so I took at look at my cupboard and threw a high protein “porridge” together.
It looked like birdseed.  Really.
seeds
Side note: while I still don’t have a clever name for the “diet” I follow (aside from calling it a “sort-of paleo, unprocessed, anti-inflammatory foods diet”) I eat animal protein.  I absolutely have to eat animals in order to function.  I wish this was not the case.  It’s spurring me to learn how to hunt and butcher.  I feel like if I have to take a life, I should learn how to do it humanely and with reverence.  Recently I’ve added “heal my body enough that I can transition to vegetarian life” to my bucket list of health.  Hell, let’s go for broke: I intend to help my body heal so that I can be vegan someday, if I want.
Back to the birdseed.  I might have stumbled on the basis of a high protein protein mix that took about 2 minutes to make, and did not mess up my blood sugar.  It also happens to be vegan and gluten free.  It’s nourishing in that healthy-but-not-amazing way.  Since I made my diet change almost 2 years ago, I’m ok with nourishing but not tasteworthy.

birdseed
Birdseed Porridge
2 minutes to prep, 30 seconds to eat.
1 tablespoon chia seeds
1 tablespoon hemp hearts
1/2 tablespoon raw sesame seeds
2 tablespoons cooked quinoa
2 tablespoons boiling water
splash of coconut milk
cinnamon or garam masala to taste (optional)
(Maybe a small squeeze of honey or agave, depending on your sweetness preference.  Add fruit for some added sweetness and texture.)
In a glass mug or small bowl, place chia seeds and boiling water.  Mix the seeds in the water until the seed become gelatinous.  Mix in hemp hearts, sesame seeds, and quinoa.  Add some coconut milk, seasoning and a small amount of chopped fruit.  Wait until the mixture is cool enough to eat.  (Will take about 5 spoonfuls max to finish the dish.)

Why seeds are amazing: they bring so much important protein and magnesium into your diet.  There is no food coma crash, and you can go for longer without feeling hungry.  I also experience an excellent mental clarity when I have these things for breakfast.  Hemp hearts and chia seeds are very high in plant-based protein, magnesium, potassium, iron and omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids.  Sesame seeds also have these nutrients and minerals, and are a good source of folic acid and niacin (a B Vitamin) as well.  Basically, birds might be on to something.
But I need help – what else could be done to dress this porridge up?  It’s sort of boring (but fast to make and nutritionally dense.)  Fruit?  A drizzle of honey? Also what about savory options? I might put avocado in it tomorrow – and make a more savory small dish.
Help me dress up this porridge!  Please add your thoughts in the comments or post links to your recipes, and I will post an update this weekend.  (And please don’t laugh too hard if this idea of bird seed porridge some how becomes a Portlandia skit.)
I also found a nifty Nutrition Facts Calculator.  The nutrition analysis is here: Nutrition-facts-BirdSeed-Porridge.
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Declaring Independence from Crap

food

What a usual trip to the grocery store looks like.

In the last year, I had to make radical changes to my diet for health reasons (adrenal fatigue and nipping some chronic fatigue symptoms in the bud), which I have been able to do successfully.  I’m currently writing what I’ve been through – living through a year of eating what is roughly a bullet-proof-ish, paleo-type, sugar-free diet.  Knowing and reading people from the auto-immune community has also been a huge help.

The general rules for my diet are: no sugar (there are about 4 fruits I can have in extreme moderation), no gluten, no processed anything, no dyes, no dairy (because it metabolizes into a sugar, except a tiny amount of half-and-half in my morning coffee), no alcohol (because it also is like sugar.)  Lots of clean, lean meat – wild caught if possible.  Lots of veggies, nuts, seeds and lots of coconut milk, tahini, and herbal teas. (And still one cup of coffee.  Coffee and french fries/potato chips are my tiny food indulges.)

I’ve dropped 2 dress sizes (and let’s be real, I’d wear the larger size dresses if I could eat a chocolate sundae, but so it goes) and my fatigue issues have vanished.  One of my doctors told me I’ve probably headed off diabetes or similar chronic health issues, and I successfully quit smoking to boot.  I also dropped and kept off 10 pounds and have never been as lean in my life as I am now.  I wake rested, and my emotional ups-and-downs have leveled out to the point where some people close to me ask if I’m on anti-depressants. Har har. No drugs, just eating nutritionally dense food.

So I’m going to try to write and publish more about my journey and how I got here -in the meantime, I saw on social media that some friends are vowing to eat “cleaner” or at least not eat processed food for a week (you can do it – I’ve done it for year!), so I wanted to share a recipe that my husband and I use in heavy, weekly rotation. All comments, edits and feedback are so welcome so we can refine them.  And more recipes to come!

Good luck to all who say FUCK YOU to processed “food” in 2015 and rediscover the joy and independence of home cooking.

Chicken a la Mama

Inspired by a recipe by the same name that I found in a book about dinner parties – but vastly paired down and also gluten-free.  It’s homey and warm like the best chicken soup, and is one of our weekly go-to one pot meals – protein, citrus and greens, all in one.

10 mins prep time, 20 mins cook time

  • 1 lb raw chicken (we usually go with chicken thighs as they have more fat and (to us) taste better, but can also use chicken breast.  Cube the chicken and remove some (not all) of any fat still on the protein.
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 2 tablespoons capers (to taste, and we throw in some brine)
  • 1 cube vegetable bouillon (we use Rapunzel as it is magic!)
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 2 lemons
  • Pepper to taste.  Avoid adding salt, as the capers will be very salty.
  • 1 bunch of a dark leafy green (spinach, kale or collards work well.  we’ve also thrown in a cut up head of broccoli or cauliflower, and that worked really well.)

(Cook’s Note: We sometimes throw in dried basil (about a tablespoon) or a small bunch of minced fresh parsley.  Either works well – I like basil and Mykle is partial to parsley.)

In a large sauce pan or dutch oven, saute diced onion and minced garlic in butter until onions start becoming translucent.

Add cubed chicken, capers and the juice of two lemons (I always squeeze the lemons into the pot as the chicken is cooking.)

Add the vegetable bouillon and water, stir and bring pot to a low boil.  Cover the pot and let cook for about 10-12 mins, checking every 3-5 minutes to make sure the food is cooking evenly (I always take the top off, stir and put the cover back on.)

If you’re using chicken thighs, don’t worry about the chicken seizing up as it’s muscle anyway.  If using chicken breasts, add heat gradually or else the breast meat will get a bit tough.  Adding a little more water and keeping the pot covered will keep the meat moist.

When the chicken is thoroughly cooked, add vegetables (leafy greens, broccoli or cauliflower) to the top of the pot, cover, and let simmer for a few more minutes. Vegetables will become steamed.

Turn off heat when vegetables are steamed.  Serve over a starch of your preference (we serve this over lentils or squash, and occasionally quinoa or steamed brown rice.)

Leftovers reheat very well, and are great for lunch – keeps up to 2 days, if it doesn’t get eaten first.

Other augmentations: I’ve also thrown in diced potato, carrots, celery or mushrooms with the sauteed onions and garlic, and that works really well – but will quickly become a lemon chicken stew.  Which isn’t bad, just is a different recipe.  We’ve found that chicken fat, lemon and capers are a pretty magical combination that play well with basil, parsley, or other ingredients mentioned.

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The Power of Space Jam

powerI believe in power phrases.  They’re not quite slogans – they’re sort of like cheers at a sports event, or chants at a protest, and less like a jingle but just as catchy.  They jolt my distracted mind and help me shake off doubt that keep me from moving towards the something I should be doing.  I suppose it’s a habit I’ve created to keep me focused.  I stumbled into these power phrases completely by accident.

It started during a conversation with a kick-ass friend of mine, Megan, over dinner one night.  Continue reading

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A solution in search of a problem.

Before I start this sloppy angry feminist rant — let’s just get a few things out of the way.morgan

  • I don’t actually like to rant. It just happens.  (Sorry not sorry.)  I’d rather look at pictures of people’s pets on Instagram. Really.
  • This post is sort of not really safe for work (NRSFW), due to swearing and some of the topics discussed. But only kinda.
  • Yes, I posted a picture of my dog at the beginning of this post. It has nothing to do with the post, but it will be the “designated picture” so that other pictures don’t mysteriously become the designated picture. (Please refer to the sort-of NSFW warning above.)  Also, that’s my dog giving the whole deal a major side-eye, which is how I feel about it, too.
  • Also, as I write this, it’s getting complicated – going from rant to something else. But I will still drop f-bombs.
  • Ok, are we good? I’m going to start. Continue reading
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Where good things grow

dancingtreeWhen I was small, there were a few landmarks I was always able to spot from the car – the hospital I was born in and the church where my parents got married.  Every time we’d see either place on a drive, someone would point them out.  It became habit when I was older or came home to scan the street for those two places.  Then I knew that I was really home.  Maybe because of this memory, when I decided to get married, I felt that finding a location I would see every day on the way to work would be poignant and important to me.

A couple of weeks ago, I got to marry to a wonderful human being at such an ideal place.  Mykle and I got married at Springdale Farm, a small urban organic farm, down the street from our house. weddingtree Chilantro was our caterer – coincidentally a nice hat tip to my Latina and Asian heritage – and we used compostable plates and flatware.  It was a perfect location for an outstanding day.  Sure, the ducks attempted to interrupt our vows – injecting an irreverent quality to the ceremony – and there was mud and bugs – and it was exactly what we wanted.  Successful marriages often sustain themselves for a long time because of balance, lots of love and a fair amount of dirt and noise.

The thing is, urban organic farms and community gardens are magical places to me. Continue reading

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Friggatriskaidekaphobia. It’s a thing.

I know it looks like a typo or something from the Urban Dictionary, but a fear of Friday the 13th has a name — the phobia is named Friggatriskaidekaphobia.  jason

Lately, I’ve been exploring the spiritual belief systems of ancient people, beyond just Christianity (which was the first faith I was raised in.)  What’s striking to me is that the number 13 is both considered unlucky, and also a symbol of what some call the “Divine Feminine.”  So, feeling glib, I shot off a tweet:

“The number 13 is (in some cultures) a symbol of the divine feminine. I always wonder if Fri the 13th is really an ancient knock at women.”

The response back was interesting — BendTime mentioned:

“Druids had women & men as high priests. Evry 13th moon was mtg of all priests across brit. Isles so christians made it evil”

So I did a little googling and beyond learning how to spell Friggatriskaidekaphobia, I learned that while demonizing the number 13 might be the ancient patriarchy continuing to mess with us, the origin is way less clear than that. Continue reading

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Us Girls Gotta Help Each Other Out

paybackThis post is being thrown together before I head off to stand with thousands of others in support of reproductive choice and women’s health in Texas.  I’m mad as hell so ignore the grammatical errors.

What’s happening in Texas is a strategic error on the part of some members of the Republican Party.  This isn’t me just spouting off an opinion – this is me reflecting on two conversations I’ve had with Republican women – one conversation happened in 2010, and the other happened yesterday afternoon.

Texans are some of the most complex, surprising and compassionate people I’ve met (and I’ve traveled this country a lot for the last 13 years, working on campaigns.)  I also travel a lot in Texas, and drive from Dallas to McAllen often.  Every once in a while I have to take a plane.

I also have a policy about talking to strangers on planes – I wait until the captain declares that we’re on the descent and in if the conversation goes sideways, I’ll be able to deplane in fifteen minutes or less.  Luckily, in this case, I had a surprising and wonderful conversation that could have lasted much longer.

One trip back home to Austin in 2010, I sat next to a “quintessential” Texan woman.  Continue reading

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