Thursday, October 29, 2009

Eating Wildness by Stephen Buhner

"One of our greatest fears is to eat the wildness of the world.

Our mothers intuitively understood something essential: the green is poisonous to civilization. If we eat the wild, it begins to work inside us, altering us, changing us.

Soon, if we eat too much, we will no longer fit the suit that has been made for us. Our hair will begin to grow long and ragged. Our gait and how we hold our body will change. A wild light begins to gleam in our eyes. Our words start to sound strange, nonlinear, emotional. Unpractical. Poetic.

Once we have tasted this wildness, we begin to hunger for a food long denied us, and the more we eat of it the more we will awaken. It is no wonder that we are taught to close off our senses to Nature. Through these channels, the green paws of Nature enter into us, climb over us, search within us, find all our hiding places, burst us open, and blind the intellectual eye with hanging tendrils of green.

The terror is an illusion, of course. For most of our million years on this planet human beings have daily eaten the wild. It's just that the linear mind knows what will happen if you eat it now."

-Steven Buhner

Alchemille's Garden is now on Facebook

Here's the link: Alchemille's Garden

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Egg Free Almond Flour Bread

A simple adaptation of Elana's Simple Bread recipe:
  1. I replaced the 3 eggs with 1/2 banana (thoroughly mashed), 3 tbsp unsweetened applesauce and 1 tbsp flax meal + 3 tbsp water. Stir the mixture and let it thicken a few minutes.
  2. Instead of 1/2 tsp baking soda and 1/2 tsp apple cider vinegar, I used 1 tsp gluten free baking powder and 1 tsp ACV. Egg free baking requires a little bit more leavening.
Other than that, the recipe is the same. I just used less sweetener (1 tsp grade B maple syrup vs 1 tbsp agave nectar) and baked the bread a few extra minutes (it all depends on how moist the batter is).

The result is a tasty bread, not too sweet (the banana flavor isn't too strong either), and a loaf that holds well even when slicing (I guess I'm getting better at replacing eggs).

You could use just flax meal if you wanted too. I know flax is good for you because it contains omega 3s and blah blah blah, but it also lowers the body's estrogen level. This may be beneficial for some women but not for others. Plus I already have my omega 3s covered with cod liver...

I am considering camelina seeds as a replacement for flax seeds. Camelina (also called wild or false flax) belongs to the brassica/cabbage/mustard family and has been used much longer than flax (the Celts were using camelina as part of their diet). But it has a higher omega 3 ratio and its oil is more stable than flax's. As for flax, the seeds also become mucilaginous with water but I haven't found any information about phytoestrogens in camelina seeds. The only thing is that the oil is already not widely available, and the seeds are even harder to find.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Homemade Gluten Free Sourdough Bread & Baked Goods - Yes You Can!

I've been on a gluten free (leaning more towards the SCD and paleo diets nowadays) diet for years now. And bread is something I have given up for a long time, except for the occasional crepes, pancakes or flat breads and nut/seed flour based breads that I enjoy because they are filling and nutritious.

Commercial gluten free bread are horrible concoctions straight from a mad scientist's lab. They are expensive and let's face it: replace gluten by loads of starches and gums isn't a healthy solution. Carbs and starches are sugars that your body will store, not burn. I checked several recipes for breadmaking which are also strange concoctions of a myriad of ingredients that in the end give you some kind of dense, starchy, sponge-like brick that I wouldn't dare calling bread! Baking without yeast and eggs can be challenging too.

I was looking for something else: something healthy, nutritious, easily digestible, easy to prepare with few ingredients and most importantly, something properly prepared.

Even though I've cut grains almost entirely from my diet, I always soak them. I've also recently discovered the benefits of lacto-fermentation and now ferment almost anything: juices, teas, pancakes, vegetables...etc. I got used to the sour taste which I now crave (your body knows best what's right for you, you just have to listen).

Most people think that soaking grains & legumes is time consuming and useless. Wrong! This process is absolutely necessary to remove the phytates/anti-nutrients, allow proper cooking and proper digestibility so that your body can fully absorb and use the nutrients in food. Using grains that haven't been sprouted, soaked or fermented will lead to vitamin and mineral deficiencies, tooth demineralization/enamel loss (which I have experienced), digestive problems and a whole lot of other health problems...

Anyway, I was on a quest to find a way to make natural, fermented/sourdough-like gluten free bread. And I found it! Shanon Kane, who has been suffering from food allergies and digestive disorders, has developed recipes to make gluten free sourdough bread. These recipes are free of gluten, dairy, eggs, yeast, corn, soy and gums. She uses water kefir to boost the fermentation of her sourdough starters, but if you are not dairy sensitive you can use whey, yogurt, kefir or cultured buttermilk as well.

Shannon offers an e-book which you can use to make your own gluten-free sourdough breads, muffins, pancakes and pizza, and contains "extensive and detailed directions to help you get started making your own gluten free starters. It also includes 10 delicious recipes plus a section on pancakes and interesting variations." She also has a few blogs, including the Art of Gluten-Free Sourdough Baking in which she gives a few recipes and explanations regarding sourdough fermentation, applying the principles of Weston A. Price to a gluten free diet.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Quinoa - The Golden Grain

Who hasn't heard of quinoa (Chenopodium quinoa) ? This little grain (which is in fact a grass from the chenopod family ~ like spinach and beets) has become increasingly popular these last few years, and is a blessing for people on a gluten free diet. But behind this little wonder of Nature that people can now enjoy worldwide, there is a sad and not-so-glorious story.

I just saw a very interesting documentary about quinoa and peasants of the Bolivian Altiplano. Quinoa has been a staple food in Bolivia for a very long time but with the increasing demand for the little grain and its proportionally increasing price, the poor folks of Bolivia can't afford eating quinoa anymore...They say even store bought pasta is cheaper, isn't it outrageous?

There's more to the story. Quinoa, it seems, has done a lot of good to the indian peasants of the Altiplano: they've become rich (and richer with higher prices on the market) and they've finally earned some respect! But here's the drawback: agriculture in the Altiplano isn't an easy thing - the land is almost barren and peasants already have a hard time feeding themselves & their families. Yet year after year, there's less and less quinoa being harvested in the Altiplano; the land they cherish is becoming "tired" as they say...And they start worrying and acknowledging that in a near future they won't be able to grow the golden grain anymore.

These people have been working hard to feed the world while they are already currently struggling to feed themselves.

Quinoa is a grain that doesn't have to many requirements, so that the home gardener can grow it too. There are a few seed suppliers selling quinoa seeds. If you can't find quinoa seeds (though I'm sure you can grow them from the boxes you find in your grocery store), there are other chenopods that produce similar edible grains (and greens) that you can grow, like Huauzontle (Chenopodium berlandieri) and the Giant Goosefoot (Chenopodium gigantium).

I believe that the agriculture of the future will be local. It has to be. If the best agricultural and environmentally friendly techniques were used worldwide, there would be enough to grow & eat (without depleting the soil: the ecology of the soil is very important) for everybody. This the 21st century and people are still starving...How come? There's enough money, knowledge and resources. Money is wasted, knowledge is hidden and resources have a price. It's always about money and the power to deprive & control poor countries which, with a little help and good will, could thrive! But that's another story...

I've just sown a few quinoa seeds this morning, I hope to be able to see the plants grow...And harvest my own seeds (even if just a few). I also hope that the peasants from the Altiplano will manage to grow enough quinoa to feed themselves first, before the rest of the world!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Alchemille's October Newsletter

Dear Friends,
I hope this newsletter finds you well.
I know I have been pretty silent lately, doing a lot of thinking and working on new ideas and projects.

So, What's New?
Well, since my Wise Woman Exfoliating Glove has become a popular item lately, I offer another "fancier" looking glove: the Rosette Exfoliating Glove. I knit both of these upon request and you can choose the fiber you want me to use: jute, Himalayan nettle or Himalayan hemp. For each glove, I provide instructions for use & care (see more under listings).
Halloween is approaching, so I listed my seasonal Samhain/All Hallows Tea: 100% organic and freshly blended with black tea, rooibos, orange peel, cinnamon, ginger, cloves and rosehips. This tea is only available until November 2nd.
I now also offer Seasonal Tea Subscriptions, called "ONE SEASON OF TEA". The current Fall offering (October to December) includes: 1 Thé du Matin (Moning Tea), 1 L'Orangerie and 1 Thé à l'églantine (Rosehip Tea)

>October: “Thé du Matin”/ Morning tea (organic green tea, organic rosemary, organic orange peel, organic rosehips, organic cinnamon and organic cloves) CONTAINS SOME CAFFEINE. AVOID DURING PREGNANCY.

>November: L'Orangerie (organic black tea, organic rooibos, organic orange peel, organic cacao nibs and organic cinnamon) CONTAINS SOME CAFFEINE. USE SPARINGLY DURING PREGNANCY.

>December: "Thé à l'églantine" / Rosehip tea (organic black tea, organic rosehips, pesticide free rose petals and organic cloves) CONTAINS CAFFEINE. USE SPARINGLY DURING PREGNANCY.
For more details regarding the subscription, see listing:
>Note that the 3 teas above are also listed individually.

Madame Alchemille also recommends:
-Thé d'Automne (Autumn Tea), a blend of organic rooibos, organic cinnamon, organic dried apples, organic anise seeds, coriander seeds, organic rosemary and organic peppermint.
-Zen Coffee, a 100% organic blend of roasted chicory roots, cacao nibs, cinnamon chips & cloves.
-Journey to Middle-Earth, a 100% organic blend of green & red rooibos, cinnamon chips, peppermint, anise seeds and rosemary.
-Vitamin C Tea, 100% organic blend of hibiscus, rosehips, dandelion leaves and strawberry leaves.

Autumnal beauty care items such as Autumn Cinnamon Wise Woman Lip Balm, Woodland Fairy & Autumn Fairy Facial Elixirs, La Campagne & Magic Pumpkin Face Masks, Autumn Faery Beauty Pack...
What am I currently working on:
-Sets of handmade, natural, biodegradable runes (with instructions) to allow you to do your own readings/divination at home or with friends
-Seasonal druidic creams and matching oils (both herbally infused) inspired by the Druid's Herbal.

Herbally Yours,

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

More Recommended Cookbooks

A few weeks I posted a long list of recommended cookbooks for special diets (gluten free, SCD, paleo...etc). I'd like to add a few more books to this list ;).

  • "Gluten Free Mediterranean" by Sanaa
  • "Gluten-Free Italian ~ Over 150 Irresistible Recipes without Wheat - from Crostini to Tiramisu" by Jacqueline Mallorca
  • "Specific Carbohydrate Diet ~ Southern Style" by Jan Locker (with almond flour)
  • "Cooking to Heal ~ Nutrition & Cooking Class" (DVD + Booklet) by Julie Matthews
  • "A Primitive Diet" by Beverley Southam
  • "Totally Flour-Free Baking" by Dinah Alison (with almond flour)
  • "The Allergy-Free Cookbook ~ How to avoid the 8 major food allergens and eat happily ever after" by Eileen Rhude Yoder
  • "The Allergy Exclusion Diet ~ The 28-day plan to solve your food intolerances" by Jill Carter & Alison Edwards
  • "Recipes for IBS ~ Great tasting recipes and tips customized for your symptoms" by Ashley Koff
  • "Food Energetics ~ The Spiritual, Emotional, and Nutritional Power of What We Eat" by Steve Gagné


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