My son has an amazing way with words. He can spell, play word games, and write poetry with a flair. I marvel at these things all the more when I remember his apparent aversion to such things while in middle school. He would use generalizations when talking, to the point that it was often difficult to tell what he was actually saying. Every noun, it seemed, was identified as “that thing.” Verbs became, “you know, kind of…did something.” Or, he would use words like “lame,” and I would ask if he understood the meaning of that word. “It doesn’t matter,” he would reply. “It doesn’t mean that to me.” He would often add, “Words are stupid.” I would respond by regularly trying to persuade him that words mean things, and they help us communicate. One day, however, some sort of magical switch was flipped and he discovered that he, too, could enjoy the wonderful world of words.
With all this in mind, it’s a little odd that the meaning of “integrative medicine” is suddenly becoming clearer to me. I listened to quite a few practitioners in integrative medicine during my training as a health coach last year. I caught the vision of addressing a “whole person” each time I see a client. I was excited to look at the overall balance of my own life, focusing on areas that were needing attention. Yet, recently, some aspects of integration in life have come to the forefront in new ways, especially as I have been working with clients.
Part of what I enjoy about working with clients is that, inevitably, as I coach them, they are also coaching me, and I am even coaching myself. As a client describes to me the discovery that slowing down to cook a meal is a pleasant reminder to relax and enjoy the food, taking time to reflect and appreciate the small gifts in life, I listen. As I listen, I am reminded that I, too, have had a similar revelation, and that perhaps I have drifted from that perspective.
Lately, the concept of integration has been surfacing for my clients, and for me, too. Seeing the aspects of our lives that we tend to compartmentalize and thinking through ways to break down those divisions can be truly freeing. But, how can we do that, and what does it look like?
I looked up the word “integrate.” The primary definition came up as simply “unite.” So, related words include “unity” and “unified.” Unifying the disparate aspects of my own life can mean anything from using “cleaner” body care products as I clean up my diet, to getting clear about my career goals and saying “no” to good projects that distract me from those goals. One thing I think it might mean for me in the near future is to unify my online activities. Currently, I am maintaining 2 websites, 2 blogs, facebook, Twitter, and Pintrest accounts, 3 email accounts, numerous online subscriptions, and a few other odds and ends. Does that sound like a lot? Just typing it all out makes the picture a little clearer for me!
Integration also means aligning the way I present myself to the world. I’ve never made a secret of the fact that I am pursuing both art and health coaching. But increasingly, I’m wanting to unite those things. I’m realizing that some people only know me as one or the other, when I truly am both, and passionate about both.
What will that ultimately look like? Not sure, but working on it. Perhaps that is what’s at the heart of any integrative practice – noticing that every aspect of who you are affects every other area.
What about you? Are you finding ways to integrate your life? I’d love to hear about it.
We Americans are enamored of convenience foods because we are busy! We’re often grabbing a quick something on the way to something because we just finished something else. This is how I found protein bars, meal replacement bars, and “power” bars. I think it also had something to do with the idea of something that seemed a lot like a candy bar but was “good for me.” A friend of mine was asking me about snack/energy/nutrition bars. In fact, I’ve had questions about this numerous times, so maybe you’ll be interested in getting a little info about these little wonders of modern culture.
You may have noticed that I often talk about the benefits of eating real food. I have not changed my mind! That focus colors my opinion of many of the bars on the market today, and there are some great ones, I think. “Holistic” is the name of the game for me, so I’m really evaluating the total picture when I look at any snack. Admittedly, my tastes have evolved over the years to the point that I can tolerate and even enjoy eating foods that many people would reject outright. But, darn it, these bars should, first and foremost, taste fabulous! In the 1970′s, when my mom first introduced us kids to “health food,” everyone said most of that stuff “tasted like cardboard.” They were right, too. Why would we eat such things?
The next concern is for the quality of ingredients. I love that Lara Bars are made with whole foods, limited ingredient lists, and make a point to mention their use of only non-GMO foods. (Connect to their website by clicking here.) In the 1990′s, I bought a fair number of bars for my kiddos who were on the run to social engagements, dance classes, or school. I eventually began to notice that many of the bars featured soy protein isolate as a main ingredient. I now completely avoid those bars. Soy has been strongly linked to endocrine disruption, and most soy in this country is genetically engineered. Besides, it’s nearly impossible for humans to digest soy that has not been properly fermented. (Go ahead. Look it up on the internet.)
The next thing I ask is “what is the balance of sugars to protein?” The really high protein bars nearly all use soy, but there are great ones, like Kind Bars, that use nuts. Nuts contain all sorts of good stuff, including good protein & healthy fat. Obviously, there is no sugar in a nut. However, the bars are held together by a sugary syrup. Still, there’s really not too much sugar here. The dark chocolate, nut, and sea salt variety has 6 gm protein and only 5 gm sugar. And besides, I like the company’s emphasis on a “message of holistic kindness,” and they, also, avoid all GMOs. (Connect to their website by clicking here.)
One of the first “energy” bars I ever tried was a Power Bar. These bars might be of some benefit to an athlete, and indeed, they were designed for athletes. However, they are made with tons of sugars and artificial ingredients by a company that opposes labeling of GMOs, so I do not recommend them at all.
There is one more bar I want to mention. It’s actually a variety of food bars from one of my favorite companies, Garden of Life. These bars contain top-notch ingredients, including whole foods and even sprouts. They taste great, in my opinion, and are quite satisfying. They are also a little more expensive than some of the other ones, but if I know I need something substantial on the go, this is the one I choose. Here’s the link, if you want to learn more.
If you want to make your own snack bars, there are bunches of recipes online. I’m going to be including some in a new cookbook I’m working on with a friend, but it won’t be ready for some months (sorry!) As always, I’d love to hear what foods you love!
Why “at long last?” Because I am late posting this. It’s a season that is surprisingly full of meetings, events, and deadlines, and I am behind. I mentioned in my last post that I would give the recipe for the pie I made last week, and that is what I intend to do before another day goes by.
The pumpkin used in the pie was from my garden, and was baked at 330 degrees (more or less) by first cutting it in half, scooping out the seeds (which I saved to plant next year), and placing on a coconut-oil-covered baking sheet in the oven. I had a busy day in progress, and I really don’t know how long that pumpkin was actually in the oven. It was soft but not burned when it came out (perhaps 45 minutes?) later.
I stored the half I did not use last week in the fridge, and made another pie today, so I could show it to you. If this was terribly time-consuming or difficult, I would not do it! So, this is for all of you who are intimidated by the prospect of making such a pie from scratch.
The first step is to begin the crust by placing 1/4 cup coconut oil and 1/4 cup butter in a pie pan, and putting it into the oven just after turning the oven on, set to 450 degrees. It’s not too warm, so in a few short minutes, you can have melted stuff without burning it. Meanwhile, I set up my food processor and put the cooked pumpkin in. I’m guessing there was about 4 cups. Then, I pulled the melted stuff out of the oven and added the flours.
Here’s what I used for the crust: 1 cup brown rice flour, 1/3 cup buckwheat flour, 1/4 cup sorghum flour, 1/4 cup tapioca flour, and 1/4 cup ground seeds (pumpkin, sunflower & sesame seeds & pecans). I put all of this right into the pie pan and mixed it thoroughly with the melted fats. The consistency of this mixture should allow you to easily form a ball (though there’s really no need to!) Next, I added the liquid, which was an egg white mixed with a couple of tablespoons of water. I did not use all of this mixture, as it would have made the dough too wet. I probably had nearly half of it left, which I added to the pie filling in the food processor.
Now the crust was ready to be pressed into shape. I know people talk about rolling gluten free crust between wax paper. You can do that if you like. I find this method much easier and faster (and less frustrating). I like to press it out so that there’s plenty to pinch into a pretty border, and there certainly is enough dough in this recipe to allow for that.
Back to the filling. To the pumpkin add 3 more eggs, 2 tablespoons blackstrap molasses, 1/3 cup organic sugar, 4 tablespoons each of tapioca flour and brown rice flour, 1/2 cup coconut milk from a can or coconut milk creamer (real cream would work; I just can’t have it right now), and the spices, You can use a premixed pie spice or this: 1 teaspoon cinnamon and 1/2 teaspoon each ground ginger, nutmeg and clove. Finally, add 1/4 teaspoon salt.
Now, whiz all this around in the machine and pour it into the prepared pie shell. Bake at 425 degrees for 10 minutes, then, without opening the oven, turn the temperature down to 350 degrees and set your timer for another 50 minutes. The edges of the pumpkin should look dry when it comes out. I may have let mine cook a bit longer, as I went out to the garden and the timer was off when I arrived back at the kitchen.
This really is delightful and nutritious all at once. I’m so excited to have it for dinner again!
Here’s a list of all the ingredients for this pie:
4 cups cooked pumpkin
3 eggs, plus whatever is left from making the crust
1/3 cup organic sugar
2 tablespoons blackstrap molasses
1/2 cup coconut milk (canned)
4 teaspoons brown rice flour
4 teaspoons tapioca flour
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon each ground ginger, nutmeg, and cloves
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup melted butter
1/4 cup melted coconut oil
1 cup brown rice flour
1/3 cup buckwheat flour
1/4 cup sorghum flour
1/4 cup tapioca flour
1/4 cup ground seeds & nuts
1 egg white, beat with
2 tablespoons cold water
Do you call the evening meal “supper?” Or “dinner?” When I was growing up, we sort of mixed up all the names for mid-day and evening meals because my parents traveled a lot. At least, that is my theory. In the south, if I understand correctly, the mid-day meal is “dinner,” and the evening meal is “supper.” Both of my parents hailed from the south, but they moved to the Midwest, where the noon meal is “lunch,” a term which my family used. We called the evening meal either “supper” or “dinner,” which caused me confusion when we visited our southern relatives!
In our home, the evening meal included meat, and we ate every kind I knew of – pork, beef, fish, poultry, organ meats, and every kind of arrangement thereof. This meal also included a vegetable or two, which may be fresh, frozen, or canned. In the 1970s, it did not seem to matter much. Then there was bread. My mother was an expert bread maker. She made yeast breads and rolls, and quick breads like biscuits, cornbread, and banana bread better than anyone. She also made pie very well, but that was dessert.
We Americans tend to be rather fixed in our concepts of what foods may constitute which meals. “Breakfast for dinner” means having waffles or scrambled eggs at the evening meal, which actually is a departure from what most Americans eat for breakfast: cereal. Many foods which are considered central to restaurant breakfast fare are loaded with sugar, such as cinnamon rolls, pancakes with syrup, or muffins. Yet, most people would never think of having sugary foods as a main dish at the evening meal. How strange, then, that I, who never condone lots of sugar consumption, should feature pie as a main dish at our evening meal, supper.
Pumpkin pie is a perfectly viable option for a sustaining supper in autumn, in my opinion, as long as it is made well. I grew some nice pumpkins in my garden this year. A couple of days ago, I cooked one in the oven. This is my preferred way to fix most winter squash, because it is so easy. Simply wash the pumpkin and place it on a baking sheet in a 350 degree oven until it is soft enough to easily cut. In this case, the pumpkin was large enough that I cut it in half and scooped the seeds out, cooking only half at a time by placing it cut-side down.
The pie I made was gluten-free, low in sugar, and easy to make because I simply whizzed all the ingredients for the filling around in the food processor. I served some small turkey burgers along with the pie, but I do not feel the least bit odd about including the pie alongside the burgers because pumpkin is super nutritious! The pumpkin alone is loaded with antioxidants such as beta carotene, which neutralizes free radical damage and contributes to eye health, especially low-light vision. It also contains vitamin C, fiber, and guess what? A cup of cooked pumpkin contains more potassium than the better-known banana.
I had some left over pie filling that would not fit into the crust, so I saved it in the fridge and made breakfast with it the next morning. I placed it into the skillet with some left over quinoa and a little melted butter. I sprinkled in pecans and cooked the whole mess of it, so that the egg in the pie filling would cook. Then, I placed it into a bowl and topped it with my famous cranberry orange ferment. Delicious! I will be posting recipes soon. Until then, when it comes to pumpkin, feel free to enjoy it any time of day according to your own inspiration.