little bit of lagniappe

reflecting on everyday grace

Archive for the category “Food, Glorious, Food”

Plant-based Summer…and Forever…

Thanks to watching a documentary called Forks Over Knives earlier this spring and to reading a myriad of materials from researchers and doctors like T. Colin Campbell, I have changed my diet this summer.  While I feel like I ate fairly doggone healthy before, I have learned so much, and my diet is now primarily plant-based.  I have cut out all dairy (I still eat eggs upon occasion) and all animal meat (except for seafood, which naturally swims in these New Orleans’ born and bred veins!), and I also consume far less processed foods.  Hmmm…I guess I’d call myself a pescatarian with a side of eggs?

I thought I would miss former staples like chicken, turkey, yogurt, and cheese, and while it was an interesting transition at first, I now feel far more energized and alert, and I also feel creative while experimenting and cooking with simple, whole, plant-based foods.

Here are my usual staples that I ADORE and for which I give thanks:

unsweetened almond milk (oh, baby — SO MUCH better than dairy milk and more calcium, too!)

ALL FRUITS!

kale, bok choy, broccoli…hmmm…ALL VEGGIES!

quinoa, sweet potatoes, brown rice

nuts and seeds – walnuts, almonds, sunflower seeds, chia seeds

homemade guacamole, salsa, and hummus (Trader Joe’s 🙂 has some incredible varieties of hummus — of course they do; my current favorites are the edamame and cilantro-jalapeno!)

tofu, lentils, edamame beans, black beans…plain ol’ BEANS, baby (of course you remember that little tune, right?)

herbs and spices like turmeric, cumin, curry (I actually no longer take any ibuprofen like Advil but rather rely on these mamas for their anti-inflammatory properties…not to mention goodies like sauteed GARLIC and ONIONS!)

green tea (Yogi tea is my favorite!)

garden of life protein powder (excellent addition to fruit smoothies)

coconut milk ice cream (So Delicious brand, which is, of course, endorsed by my main man Drew Brees!)

Not only do I feel better in mind, body, and spirit, but this TEDx Talk I just found this morning by T. Colin Campbell also speaks to how we each have a responsibility to take care of our health and how by improving/changing our diet alone, we can help resolve our health care crisis that seems to be swirling out of control:

http://www.forksoverknives.com/t-colin-campbell-gives-tedx-talk-resolving-the-health-care-crisis/?utm_medium=email&utm_source=Newsletter080212

May we be mindful of our choices and EAT to LIVE, not LIVE to EAT.

(Also, how can we better teach our children and our children’s children about proper nutrition so that in their lifetime, our health as a nation and a WORLD improves rather than declines…?)

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Banana Bread…with a few twists…to make you shout!

For this born and bread New Orleanian and food-lover, I’m flabbergasted at myself.  How am I, nearly a year into this blogging gig, only just now posting my first recipe?  Maybe Gevin’s call to “Season with SWAG” (please see previous post) is rubbing off on me…

Today’s post was actually inspired by a dear friend who, during today’s teacher’s workshop on DISCUSSION (more to blog on THIS delicious nugget!), held up her “tired” banana in the air and declared fervently the need to make banana bread.  Little did she realize that I have been tweaking and playing with banana bread recipes all summer long; thus, a riveting DISCUSSION ensued…

I have been gluten free for nearly two and a half years now and have been playing with a wholly plant-based, dairy-free diet for almost two months (I guess I’m currently a self-described “free-gan” who has freely bent vegan rules to include seafood and eggs only).  Honestly, I don’t miss meat or dairy nearly as much as I thought I would, and this here recipe offers a blissful loaf that will make you forget about the need for sugar, butter, or white/wheat flour.  Additionally, some gluten-free recipes can be a bit complicated, calling for multiple types of flours, starches, and or xanthan gums, but this here, friends, features the plain-but-delicious-jane of banana breads.
Read it and weep, make it and your oven will squeak (and that’s a good thing).  I hope you enjoy it as much as my family and I do (I make it for my mama nearly once a week)!

🙂

Gluten Free and Dairy Free Banana Bread Recipe:  CCT style

Ingredients

2 cups brown rice flour or a simple gluten-free flour blend (I use Bob’s Red Mill)
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
2 eggs, beaten
1 1/2 cups mashed, ripe bananas (about 5-6)
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 cup canola oil

(depending on my mood, I add a “little bit of lagniappe” in the form of ground flax seeds, more bananas, and more cinnamon…please feel free to get crazy and experiment.  Also, if your tooth is sweeter than mine, a few doses of agave will hit the spot)

Directions

Preheat oven to 350F.  Spray medium bread pan with nonstick cooking spray and put to the side (feel free to do the same with a muffin pan, which you made need for self-discipline).  Combine and stir together the dry ingredients in a large bowl and make a well in the center.  Add beaten eggs, banana, vanilla, and oil to the center and combine them before folding into the rest of the dry ingredients.  Pour or spoon batter into your bread pan.  Bake for about an hour or until a toothpick comes out clean.  Cool for a few minutes before removing from pan, and then cool loaf on a wire rack before slicing a piece or two…or three…

The bread stays well in the refrigerator for a good while (I wrap it in aluminum foil and ziploc-bag-it to be safe).  I think it tastes delicious cold, but you can also zap in the microwave for 15-20 seconds for heated goodness!

ENJOY and let me know what you think!

‘Tis the “Season with Swag”

This might be one of my favorite posts yet because I get to introduce you to a former (and forever!) student and friend of mine, Gevin Reynolds, who just wrote to me about his new culinary blog called Season with SWAG

(he, too, is an adamant advocate of alliteration!)

A true Renaissance Man with a myriad of talents, Gevin humbly pursues life with passion and his enormous heart.  He has done so since I’ve known him as a 7th grader in my English classroom, and now as a high school sophomore, he inspires me still.  While Gevin excels academically and in every avenue he pursues, he is also driven by exactly what moves him in his heart and soul — without apology and without fear of what others might say.  As you’ll see when you explore his blog, “Sir Gev” (as he’s been labeled by his beloved “Ms. T” since 7th grade!) is a talented musician on a variety of instruments and is now tuning more finely his culinary passions.

Subscribe to his blog, and you’ll find flavors and delicious recipes for such savory treats as:

Skirt Steak Carne Asada Tacos with Pico de Gallo and Cilantro Sour Cream (that even makes this new vegetarian’s mouth water!) and “Super Salmon,” whose marinade consists of  the beautiful, simple marriage of a few favorite ingredients:  olive oil, garlic (I always double or triple what a recipe calls for here!), rosemary, thyme, parsley, and a little “S & P” …

SCRUMPTIOUS, CHEF GEV!

He also takes recipe requests, and you better believe that I’ll ask him to offer a concoction that suits my gluten-free, dairy-free, plant-based lifestyle!  I have no doubt that he is up for the challenge!

So…explore, savor, get your “SWAG” ON, and get to know this delightful young man AND his culinary arts!

Belting it out for our America…and this gift of life

We have SO much for which to give abundant thanks…every single day.  On this day after our Independence Day, I am in a very reflective mood, and while Pandora’s classical music station fills my room and heart space, I feel the need to write down this thanksgiving list on this here glorious 5th of July.

I am thankful for…

1.  Family.  No matter the tangles, thorns, the hurdles and challenges, they are my life’s heart beat.  My mama and pops have sacrificed so much for me and loved me unconditionally.  I love them with all that I am.

2.  My faith in God.  I’m not sure where I’d be right now without faith.  God gives me hope in the midst of storms and reminds me that light always emerges from darkness and that Love endures forever.

3. This silly infected elbow of mine.  While it’s been an uncertain, frustrating, and often painful journey over these many months — and still continues, I am learning more and more about the power of trust, perseverance, prayer, friendship, true healing, patience, and rest; grace is EVERYWHERE.  “Consider it ALL joy, my brothers and sisters…” -James 1:2

4.  Perspective.  Often when I feel like throwing myself a pity party, the power of perspective takes hold and shakes me out like laundry that needs to dry.  I am so very blessed:  I know love, I can laugh until it hurts and cry cleansing tears, I have my faith that gets me over all hurdles, I have an incredibly close family, I have magnificent and beautiful friends, I love being a teacher (with the summer O-F-F!), I have a sweet home and mode of transportation in “Miss Vicky,”  I have health, and even when that’s murky, it’s better than the reality for a whole lot of folks.

5. Books and the author’s minds who have so miraculously written them.  I have been digesting some amazing books this summer:

Last Child in the Wood by Richard Louv, Animal Farm by George Orwell, I Am One of You Forever by Fred Chappell, The Power of One by Bryce Courtenay

Next on the docket:  Hinds’ Feet in High Places, The Kite Runner (I know, I know…I can’t believe I haven’t read it yet either!), Born to Run, and A Tree Grows in Brooklyn

6.  Quiet.  As it says in Ecclesiastes, there is a time for everything, and a season for every purpose under heaven” (3:3).  And so there’s a time for movement (dancing!), for music, for laughter, for chatter, for all that wonderment, but there is also precious time for quiet, solitude, and rest, and goodness gracious, the summer has afforded some delicious doses of this natural remedy and gift.

7.  Music.  (oh, the irony…see above)  I ADORE music – both listening to and playing it, and I’ve been thankful to recommit myself to playing my guitar each day and to swallowing my pride and trying to dust off the old keyboard to remember some little ditties.  Scott Joplin, do you remember me?  Recent melodies/artists I’ve been turning up ALL THE WAY: Bonnie Raitt, Bach’s Brandenburg concertos, Joe Cocker, Van Morrison, and Peyt’s wedding mix.  🙂

8.  Whole Foods.  These are what God gave us to fuel, nourish, and heal our bodies.  I really cannot imagine putting anything else into my body, nor do I want to!  Yesterday’s 4th of July feast consisted of grilled peppers, onions, and zucchini alongside steamed shrimp and black bean salad…hmmmm…Lord, have mercy!

9.  Having a pen pal.  My dear friend Mary and I write to each other every day, and while it’s not in the old-fashioned letter form that I so adore (we live in the same city!), it’s still real and special and genuine.  While our writing is cherished, I am looking forward to visiting her again soon in person!

10.  Early mornings.  I adore getting up early, and yes, even in the summertime…  snuggling and burying myself in the covers…listening to the birds chirping…watching sweet rays of sunlight…tasting that first sip of coffee…journaling and reading to the symphony of quiet…and realizing how blessed we are to have another day.

11.  Postcards.  Ah, the unexpected treasure!  I just received a postcard from my dear friends Erin and Brent during their travels in Rome (with quite the attractive local gent on the front!).  Something so small can mean the entire world.  Hmmm, I think I’ll send somebody an ATL postcard…just ’cause…

12.  Our America.  Our Freedom.  I, for one, take this so for granted.  God Bless our United States and for all those fighting to keep us free.  May it not take a holiday for us to remember…

From Nathan Angelo’s heart to mine and yours, listen to this:  America, the Beautiful

Dates with Daddy

Ever since I was a wee little lady, my sweet daddy and I have shared lunch dates.  While our family trio has always been close and enjoyed spending time together as the three of us, there has always been something irreplaceable and special about my dates with daddy.  I remember fondly such papa-daughter outings at New Orleans “hot spots”  like Pancho’s of Airline Hwy (mama always shuddered with distress when she found out about this regular choice), the classic Taqueria Corona on Magazine St., Cuco’s near Carrollton (can you sense the common theme here?), and occasionally Camellia Grill.  We even shared breakfast dates at the doughnut shop (be still my heart) on the corner of Prytania and Napoleon — a sweet dozen savored between us, down the hatch in no time flat.  While the food was always important (I mean, we are both true New Orleanians!),  it was the simple pleasure of being together — sharing giggles, conversation, delicious bites — just being papa and me.

Over the course of the past few months or so, papa and I have rekindled our lunch dates.  Work/school schedules have prevented such from happening regularly since I’ve been back in Atlanta, but given the freedom of an intentionally restful summer this year, we picked up our old routine.  However, in the name of healthy eating at sustainable, locally-minded eateries, I decided to introduce my papa to my absolute favorite place in the ATL:  Urban Pl8.  Nestled off the beaten, rugged, and oh-so-eclectic path of Huff Road between Howell Mill and Marietta Blvd, Urban Pl8 takes the cake in every category of what I look for in a top restaurant:  value, atmosphere, open kitchen, down-to-earth folk, green-minded practices, whole food (and gluten free!) offerings, and TASTE.

To say that papa enjoyed this new adventure would be the king of understatements.  To say that now he would, could, and probably will eat there for every meal of the day is more like it.  In fact, Urban Pl8 has been the ONLY destination of these recent papa-daughter outings.  We’ve become pals with Matthew and Cathy, our most beloved waiters, we have “our” designated table, we guess what each other is ordering THIS time, and we lovingly (yet quite consciously, each feeling mildly protective about our own order) share bites while our eyes dance to the back of our heads, marveling in delight.  We have our special tidbits – those nearly intangible ingredients that make our dates what they are.  Yes, the food is amazing, and neither of us want to leave or have the meal come to an end.  But what’s so powerful, so simply powerful about these dates with daddy is how full and content we feel just being together.

Sometimes, it seems like I could be 10 years old again, except this time FOR ONCE I’m not wearing a Saints’ jersey or ball cap.

Yet, I’m no longer 10 years old, and he’s no longer 50.

And that wide span of years between our past and present selves reaches across a beautiful expanse of experience — times that were both distressing and joyful, challenging and simple.  As human beings, we often long for that past — to reclaim, relive, or perhaps recapture what was — before that clutter crept in.  We often long for the less complicated times.

However, what I find now is that the tangled mess of experience between us has flavored our laughter, warmed our glances, seasoned our conversations, made deeper our dimples.

That tangled mess of experience has made more real and true and honest our love.

And so…

Today, I celebrate the dates we have shared over the course of these 31 years.

Today, I celebrate our present intention (a successful one, I must say!) to make time for the dates in the midst of busy schedules that have crept up again.

Today, I celebrate the dates that are yet to come, both on earth and in heaven.

Today, I celebrate his successful three rounds of immunotherapy to knock out the cancer that has invaded his bladder (three down, five to go, thank you, Lord!).

Today,  I celebrate the joy I feel knowing I’ll always be his little girl and he’ll always be my daddy.

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