I took a break from writing the blog because there were some changes – I had to make some major changes to my diet (with my Spring Shingles and my already weakened immune system from Lyme, there is always nuanced changes to be made, and sometimes a harsh undertaking for acute issues…): no sugar, no dairy, no grains. I know, right? Can you hear the pain in my voice as my kitchen fills with pretty much those three things?! Ha! It’s not that bad. Targeted dietary changes when we need them – listening to our body’s new needs – directed assistance for improved health – a very useful tool. So, I embarked on this paleo/whole 30/ish journey. To be honest, though it is making some good changes, I am also very tired and scattered. I’ve done grain-free before and it does not serve me particularly well. I think all my good neurotransmitter production comes from the protein structure found in grains. I might change up (with my Dr. and nutritionist’s advice) being grain-free with being meat-free instead, and see how that goes. I am imagining that my body might prefer less ‘free’ hormones running rampant and less saturated fat to store them in and more/better thinking/processing/function I could have. All that said, everyone is different, and depending on your personal physical and emotional burdens, the expression of stress and dysfunction will be different for everyone. Functional diets are only functional if they are changing with your body’s needs. And we also need different things at different times of our lives.
Right now, this salad really hits the spot. Plant-based, protein, detoxing with flavor and texture. I managed to find some Native rice (as compared to store bought ‘wild’ which isn’t very wild at all, native rice is rice that grows naturally in wetlands and traditionally is harvested with care and attention from native peoples – this particular batch is out of Wisconsin & Minnesota, honored there by foragers taught by and with the Anishinaabe peoples and dried/parched over wood fire), and I foraged for new daisy leaves as my added green (though you could also forage leaves from violet, dandelion, or other greenery that will hold up in a bean salad, non foraged greens for this would be any kind of Kale though I would probably choose Tuscan/Dinosaur/Lacinato or a Winter Spinach – you want the greens stronger than Lettuce but not as tough as Collards). I love the added sweetness (esp since I’m not having added sugars) of the dates though I imagine you could try something like currants or dried cranberries (but maybe not figs – they are strong in flavor and match really well with other strong flavors, or even meats. I make a surprising tapenade with olives/figs/rosemary that paired with a whipped olive oil/goat cheese mix and crackers will knock your socks off!) but this combination seems to work pretty well. Add a few snappy touches and a light vinaigrette and it’s golden!
Chickpea/Wild Rice/Date Foraged Salad
Serves 6 as a side, 4 as a main
2 cups cooked Chickpeas/Garbanzo Beans, cooled or drained and rinsed
1 cup cooked Wild or Native Rice (or maybe farro or wheat berry?), cooled
8 oz pitted Dates, cut into pinky nail sized chunks
2 cups loosely packed med-strong greens, ripped into bite size pieces
1-2 Green Onions, chopped (both green & white)
1 cup Cashews, toasted and chopped (or loosely smashed with the flatside of a meat tenderizer, you want some crunchy nutty bits, not big chunks and not nut powder)
1/4 cup Olive Oil
2 Tbsp Rice Vinegar (or White Wine Vinegar, something with a hint of sweetness), to taste
pinch Sea Salt/fresh ground Black Pepper, to taste
pinch Ground Cardamom, to taste (optional)
pinch fresh Thyme or Marjoram leaves (optional)
For the salad: Combine everything (Chickpeas and Rice cooked, cooled, and drained) in a Large bowl, stir thoroughly. Toast the Cashews gently over low to medium heat in a clean saute pan, move often so as not to burn – transfer to a chopping cup when cooled and darker golden in color (or smash lightly in pan then toss onto salad).
For the dressing: In a Mason Jar (or dressing jar) mix ingredients and shake until emulsified, toss with salad, season to taste.
Best at room temperature. Enjoy! This would be a great salad to take to a potluck picnic!