Chickpeas in Broth with Senna and Kale

senna leaf chickpeasI have a confession to make.

While as paleoveganista I photograph and write about every new recipe I make that has garnered favorable results among family and friends (and sometimes just me) I have a set of standards and ethics to adhere to when sharing or promoting these recipes. Continue reading

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YAWP! (the redemption of the health bar)

slideshow_1YAWP! bars are the best thing to happen since…ever.

Since 2007 I have viewed all “energy bars” with disdain or else voiced ironic and original quotes (and often outright anger) regarding their place in “society” as glorified candy bars, or their infallible ridiculousness as a supposed health food. Continue reading

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The Drought

Ah, water conservation. It’s all “crazy hippie hype”, until it isn’t.

1. Timing. It’s a great idea to shower every day. It’s like brushing or flossing, or eating right and exercising. Everybody does it, or should anyway. If 15-minute showers are necessary for you, skip one every other day. Even if you go through the motions of DIY blowouts and flat-ironing (thereby adverse to getting your hair wet), throw on a shower cap and take that 2-minute shower.

Freezing-cold 2-minute showers aren’t the most comfortable thing, but seeing as we could all die from overuse of water, it’s worth considering. Continue reading

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Brussels Sprout Bisque

I recently watched a tutorial in which Gordon Ramsay demonstrates how to make broccoli soup. Unlike many other soup or bisque recipes, this one did not involve “15, 20 ingredients…chicken stock…shallots sweating down for 20 minutes [or] half a liter of white wine”, but rather “it’s just got broccoli and water”.

Sure enough, most of the broccoli bisque or blended brussels sprout soup recipes do call for chicken stock, white wine, butter, potatoes, onions, bay leaf, half and half and/or flour. So basically, to make broccoli bisque or blended brussels sprout soup the assumption is that one must create a roux and spend hours in the kitchen. No no no this is so illogical it hurts. And Gordon Ramsay, celebrity chef mastermind whose recipes are not typically hashtagged vegan, frugal, or basic seems to agree. As stated in the video, “The most important thing now, is keeping that water. That’s where all the goodness is. It’s got all the flavor of the broccoli in there”.

I planned to emphasize the importance of keeping the vegetable water, but now I don’t have to.

Chef Ramsay then said “We don’t need a chicken stock or vegetable stock. How can you make a broccoli soup with a chicken stock for god’s sake?”

My thoughts exactly.

Then he said “…this thing is great for vegetarians as well, bless ’em.”

Aha there it is…the vegetarian joke, to remind us all that the culinary world at large doesn’t take us seriously. It’s the sort of thing I expect to hear during a holiday dinner, and take with a grain of salt and/or see the humor in. It’s a rendition of what I hear at every holiday, with the exception of last Xmas (when I arrived after dinner) and the year before when I couldn’t make it due to car trouble, so I went to Chinese food with friends and ordered steamed vegetables (which is my favorite food anyway, although most people don’t believe me) or the Xmas four years ago when I had to work.

I’ve made blended soups using only 1 type of vegetable i.e. broccoli, cauliflower, zucchini for years, but never thought to share the recipe(s) on my blog because they seemed so simplistic and obvious. After watching Chef Ramsay demonstrate the recipe and explain each step in precise detail, I realized that single-ingredient blended vegetable soup can be more than a just a simple, frugal, no-frills meal or a means of utilizing the overgrowth of zucchini in the garden. With a bit of finesse, this basic soup becomes something of 5-star quality.

When I make this soup with broccoli, I boil the stalks along with the florets. I don’t see any logic in discarding them, especially in the case of a pureed soup. Also, with brussels sprouts, I typically don’t follow the convention of cutting them in half. I think the flavor improves when boiled whole, like in this recipe.

Seasoned with nothing other than bit of salt, this simple (but not simplistic) version is a ten-minute recipe that exemplifies just how easy it is to prepare healthy, crowd-pleasing meals for vegans and non-vegans alike.

You will need a pot with lid for cooking, a colander, a second pot for saving the water when drained from the cooked sprouts, and a blender.

Brussels Sprout Bisque


2 cups brussels sprouts, trimmed
4 cups water

Bring a pot of salted water to a rapid boil. Cover, and boil for 5 minutes. Run a knife through one of the sprouts; if it slices through easily, turn off heat. Carefully pour brussels sprouts with water into a colander over a large empty soup pot. Immediately add sprouts to the blender, and add enough broth to half-cover them. Puree until velvety smooth and thin enough to drink from a mug or a jar, yet thick enough to enjoy in a bowl with a spoon. If the result is more of a puree than a liquid, add more broth in 1/2 cup increments until desired consistency is reached. Add salt to taste and blend again, if desired. Serve immediately.

brussels sprouts soup pre blend
brussels sprout bisque
brussels sprouts bisque square

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Thoughts on Yummly + PaleoVeganism

Yummly is a site that helps you discover and collect recipes that are specifically tailored to your preferences. For people like me who have food allergies and dietary restrictions, it lets you customize your profile to filter recipes with the offending ingredients from your recipe search. For example, if you’re vegetarian and prefer not to look at recipes involving meat and/or prefer to avoid the hassle of swapping out certain ingredients to make a dish vegetarian, this feature is especially handy. The same goes for vegans, and paleo eaters.
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Vegan Borscht + pumpkin seed sour cream

In college I worked at a global-fusion restaurant/cafe called Pangea that specialized in soups and natural/organic/locally-sourced ingredients. *If any of you dear readers go to Ashland, Oregon, definitely eat there. It even has a collection of coffee table books for your viewing pleasure, including What The World Eats, which I consider one of the best and most culturally-relevant photo essays ever made. I would’ve written a 5-star yelp review for Pangea but I don’t know if I can; I think yelp prohibits all employees (former included) from yelping about businesses they are or once were affiliated with.
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I walked away from my book deal

exitLast year, I had a book deal. I worked very hard, but then I bailed. I bailed because of a book called Paleo Vegan by Ellen Jaffe Jones.

I dream about meeting her and asking why she stole my ideas. I want to know why the first sections of her book (where she explains what “paleo-vegan” means) seem stolen paraphrased directly from my blog.

I built what is now the “Paleo Vegan trend” from scratch. I did numerous searches in my college library, the public library, on PubMed and Google Scholar. I looked through Good Housekeeping editions from 1950 to 1970. I read anthropological journal articles in college that didn’t specifically pertain to the research interests I declared. I chose to develop a focus in US-Mexico borderlands and immigration in the context of public health, but still read a lot of archaeological texts and couldn’t shake the idea of “paleo vegan’ from my brain. This was 2009. The terms “paleo-vegan”, vegan-paleo, or pegan (as an MD with a blog recently coined) did not exist. Trust me. I don’t brag about a lot of things, but in terms of library and internet research…I don’t mess around.

I quit working on the book and gave up because I couldn’t justify to the publisher the reasons why I think eating corn is paleo. This was taken out of context, and I couldn’t find a way to explain the entire archaeological record in a Skype meeting with a 60-minute time limit.

I often regret backing out, because I could probably own a yacht right now had I bitten the bullet and said “oops, my mistake, I’ve become so much more profound a scholar since the days when I ate corn. I no longer think it’s paleo…haha…next question? I’ll take my $25,000 up-front payment now, thanks.”

The thing is, I still eat corn. Not corn products i.e. corn-derived ingredients such as high-fructose corn syrup, or byproducts e.g. maltodextrin, but I eat purple corn. I sometimes eat hominy. But I really frickin love grilled corn, husked and cooked on a flame, by a woman in Guatemala who sells them on the street and serves them in the husk, with a slice of lime. It’s perhaps literally my favorite thing to eat in the world, so to denounce corn in my book would not seem genuine.

I sort of regret not selling out, but in most ways I don’t. Even though others have literally paraphrased my words, and I essentially lost the book deal of a lifetime, I’m still the original paleo-vegan. I hope to find a way to connect with someone else who offers me a book deal—someone or some entity who listens when I send them academic documents and journal articles as evidence to prove my point about corn.

Sorry for ranting, but I needed to.

Please comment, dear readers. I think I need your input during this time of frustration.

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Shampoo + Conditioner Myths Revealed

shampoo conditioner mythsFor shampoo, I’ve used Dr. Bronner’s liquid soap for years. Shampoo is basically glorified soap with a higher price tag. It strips your hair of its natural oils. Just as soap strips your body of its natural oils. Shampoo is glorified soap. I cannot stress this enough.

When I had dreadlocks, I used Dr. Bronner’s because my dread-expert travel companion (who installed the dreads in Ecuador in 2010) told me to. After I cut them I thought about the chemicals in the shampoos I used. With the dreads I could only use Dr. Bronner’s. Before, I tried a multitude of natural shampoos from Whole Foods in California and the natural foods co-op near my college campus in Oregon. Before that, I used John Freida Brilliant Brunette shampoo, and before that, John Freida Sheer Blonde. For conditioner, I dyed my hair so often that the packets of conditioner to “color protect” that came with the box dye lasted until my next chemical hair treatment.

When I stopped dying my hair or getting it cut (apart from DIY maintenance with a sewing scissor) I started to use Garnier Fructis products again. I used it in high school, with favorable results. Granted, in high school I flat ironed my hair so religiously that I’m surprised the curls came back when I stopped. I used a lot of hair serums also, until 2007 when I learned how ridiculous they are.

In high school I used Garnier Fructis Sleek & Shine fortifying conditioner for “frizzy, dry, unmanageable” hair. This worked really well for taming my lion’s mane of frizzy, untamable curls.

Post college, when I worked at a music festival and couldn’t deal with hair in my face, I bought a bottle of the conditioner from Garnier Fructis’ “natural” line called Pure Clean that was “92% biodegradable, with Acerola Berry Antioxidant for stronger, healthier hair with no weigh-down”. The label also states that it contains no parabens, silicone, or dye. I was sold, since even though my job often entailed scrubbing floors and refrigerators, I had to meet and greet celebrities and drive them to the venue. It seemed important to look good and professional, since the list included Willy Nelson, Bill Cosby, The B-52’s, Ziggy Marley, Amy Mann, Brandi Carlile and Ray Lamontagne, Gwen Stefani’s ex who I can’t recall the name of, etc. etc. Curly, frizzy hair seemed unprofessional to me. Driving 12-passenger vans terrified me. Having a stick-straight A-line haircut and wearing all black with combat boots and a radio that resembled a cop radio…I thought this look defined professional. I did yoga before work every day, but not until I’d consumed an entire french press of strongly-brewed coffee and straightened my hair.

The job was very interesting. I drove Slightly Stupid to a birthday party that turned into a house party. I sweated bullets, trying to get them back to the venue in time for sound check. Despite the incredible stress, it makes for a great story at dinner parties.

This is not a dinner party, so back to conditioner.

I tried Delon conditioner with argan oil for HEALTH AND SHINE AND INSTANT ABSORBTION because it isn’t tested on animals and it’s made in Canada. I was using the aforementioned argan oil because it was cheaper than “Brazilian Oil” yet the ingredients are literally the same on the labels of both products. That aside, this conditioner seemed to work well. After a few weeks of using it I began to wonder why my hair looked brassy. I’d grown out my dyed and chemically-abused hair to let my natural roots grow, but something seemed off. My hair had begun to turn gold-ish, and due to the coloring of my skin and my eyecolor, I’ve never looked good with “warm” tones. I then looked at the label to find that it contained FD&C Yellow 6 (CI 15985) and Yellow 5 (CI19140).

After this I turned to Giovanni “eco chic hair care”. I later learned it’s not as natural as its marketing purports it to be. It contains a lengthy list of herbs, which would seem appealing to most consumers—including me. I think it’s on the less-toxic end of the hair conditioner spectrum, but the first 17 ingredients listed involve unpronounceable chemicals.

If natural products don’t work, then what should we turn to? I’m rather certain my ex-boyfriend never used conditioner and his hair looked great. Do most men use conditioner? Probably not. Conditioner is marketed strictly for women, and it’s just another way that corporations can delude us into buying their ridiculous products.

I started to use shea butter for conditioner, and vow to never dye my hair again.

Main points of this post/posed argument:
1.) Shampoo is glorified soap
2.) The concept of shampoo is a marketing tactic
3.) When you have a frizzy mane of curly hair, don’t straighten it. Rock it.
4.) Conditioner is ridiculous. Use shea butter.

The one hair conditioner I recommend is Aubrey Organics, which is “great for color-treated hair”. The brand was created in 1967, and its ingredients actually don’t contain parabens, unlike other “natural” conditioners.

Coconut fatty acid cream base, coltsfoot extract (not literally extract of colt), horsetail extract (not really from horses), organic rose hip seed oil, St John’s Wort oil, amino acid complex, evening primrose oil, extracts of fennel, hops, balm mint, mistletoe, chamomile and yarrow; rosemary oil, sage oil, aminobenzoic acid, carrot oil, citrus seed extract, and vitamins A, C, and E.

But seriously, shea butter works too.

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