COMFORTABLY NUMB: EAT THE PAIN AWAY

Is our obsession with healthy food just another way to eat the pain away, asks Kate Atkinson? Images: Instagram.com/dishpigs

“Food, glorious food!
Hot sausage and mustard!
While we’re in the mood —
Cold jelly and custard! “

Lionel Bart, Oliver – Food, Glorious Food Lyrics, 1968.

Cut to the twenty first century: “I’ll have the burger please. Only I won’t have the bun. Or do you have gluten free bread? Wheat gives me hives. Does it have seeds in it too? Where was the meat farmed? Were the cows happy, like REALLY happy? I mean, ecstatic. Oh and can you make sure there isn’t any cheese on there? I’m allergic to dairy. My whole face turns bright yellow when I eat it. Actually I’ll just have some lettuce, thanks.”

To quote the Miranda July film title, this has begun to sound just a little like me and you and everyone we know. And apologies in advance to all my vegan, gluten-free friends out there, but can we just take a step back from obsessing over every morsel that goes in our mouth for a moment?

I’ll preface this by admitting I ate gluten-free bread the other morning (and full disclosure, it was really not as good as sourdough). Why? Because I’d travelled from the NY winter (read: seven layers of clothes + one extra layer of fat) to my home town of sunny Sydney, and found I was suddenly hyper aware of what I ate. But how many of us actually have a serious intolerance to gluten i.e. celiac? Why not just say we feel fat, and are convinced for some reason that “gluten-free” also means less calories?

Here’s some food for thought: are we depriving ourselves of the snacks we know and have always loved, inventing all sorts of conditions, because we’re ashamed to admit that actually we just really want to be perfect? Ashamed of looking stupid and being so susceptible to the unattainable ideals we’re pushed, since we all know perfection is impossible.

As ballet coach Thomas Leroy says to an emaciated Natalie Portman in Black Swan: “Perfection is not just about control. It’s also about letting go. Surprise yourself so you can surprise the audience. Transcendence! Very few have it in them.” And when it comes food, I think we should do likewise.

Back in high school, the pursuit of body-perfection meant doing star jumps in the toilet cubicles and puking when we thought no one is looking. Not me personally, but many girls I knew.

Now we’re all grown up, its our addiction to false nutrition bullshit that’s feeding the same appetite for fear. See the modern malaise of Orthorexia nervosa – literally translating as “proper appetite”, and a pathological fixation with eating only “healthy food,” that has aptly been described as “a disease disguised as a virtue”.

A condition in its infancy, Orthorexia is not yet recognized as a psychiatric disorder – but I see focussing so thoroughly on virtuous eating as just another way of distracting ourselves from our reality, and numbing what’s really going on.

I believe perfectionism is self-abuse of the highest order – and deprivation just another means of exercising control in a world of imperfect unknowns. On a parallel with OCD, it’s a way of ignoring our pain and conforming to perceived societal norms…but what for exactly? To maintain the body of a 12-year-old who’s never even menstruated, or, come to think of it, slept with a man who told them they had a great ass?

A friend of mine, Georgia Ashdown, has recently started a blog in Australia called Dish-Pig as a way of exploring women’s relationship with food. Her crowd are foodies, but they aren’t obsessive, and while they’re all about sustainability and conscious eating, they also champion the enjoyment of food in a progressive way. Think hot babes (US Vogue are fans) eating ACTUAL food, not cotton wool!

I think it’s time for a new language around food. Most women (myself included) have a long way to go in learning to truly love  our own bodies. With so much social conditioning about we should look under our clothes, how can we not feel terrible when we see ourselves in the mirror naked?

By realizing none of this shit actually matters, because it really, really doesn’t. By remembering we are not the women being forced to marry suicide bombers in ISIS. By taking the time to tell each other how great our asses look. By realizing that it is totally normal and acceptable to pig out sometimes and not rush to justify it to others and ourselves. By no more comparing ourselves to celebrities or impossibly thin friends. By reading up properly on food, not just jumping on the latest fad diet when it comes along. By realizing that the people you want to look good for really DON’t care – they just want you to be happy in your own skin.

There are so many things in the world we can’t control. A talking head that no one can quite believe has been given an international stage. Gun laws that mean your four-year-old is able to shoot you. Climate change. Terrorism. Police brutality.

Can’t we just enjoy and be grateful for the simple pleasures we have?

To quote political activist and author Anne Lamott:

“I think perfectionism is based on the obsessive belief that if you run carefully enough, hitting each stepping-stone just right, you won’t have to die. The truth is you will die anyway, and that a lot of people who aren’t even looking at their feet are going to do a whole lot better than you, and have a lot more fun while they’re doing it.”

We are all enough. More than enough. So isn’t it time we ate enough, too, and stopped picking toppings off our pizza? It’s getting really, really boring.

THE MAGIC INGREDIENT: A SUPER HEALTHY SUNDAY BRUNCH (IN BED)

Two high vibe and super healthy Sunday brunch recipes we’re currently crushing on…DIY Faux-coa Puffs & Chia Chickpea Pancakes w/ Coconut-Cinnamon Whipped Cream. By Raquel Griffin. Photo: Ashley E. Davidson

DIY Cocoa Faux Puffs (V,GF)
Filling, healthy, and party in your mouth!

WHAT YOU’LL NEED
1/4c raw amaranth
1c unsweetened fresh (or store bought) almond milk
2T maple syrup [or honey, brown rice syrup, etc..]
2-3t unsweetened cocoa powder
1t vanilla extract
1/4t cinnamon
2T dried unsweetened coconut

DIRECTIONS
Pop amaranth, 1-2T at a time. Popping instructions. In a bowl mix together amaranth, cocoa powder, cinnamon, dried fruit + coconut. Pour 1c milk in a bowl and whisk maple syrup + vanilla in until combined. Pour milk over your new favorite Saturday morning treat and dig in!

***Optional additions for the adventurous or… not so much ***
Add in chopped nuts to up the crunch factor (almonds, walnuts and pecans could all be major). Add in dried fruit like raisins, cherries or goji berries to give your faux puffs a little haute healthy flavor. Not a fan of dried fruit or coconut? Leave ’em out – it’ll still be a party in your mouth.

Chia Chickpea Pancakes w/ Coconut-Cinnamon Whipped Cream (V,GF)
This recipe has been my go-to for the last month. I cannot seem to get enough pancakes, but then again can you really ever have enough pancakes when they’re gluten-free, vegan, AND crazy high protein? I think not.

So before we jump right in let me give you the stats on these beauties. Two medium pancakes have about 20-22 grams of protein, 19 grams of fiber – plus you could easily hit 25+ grams of protein by adding a smattering of nuts into the mix. And did I mention they taste great and not like chickpeas at all? So buckle your seat belts because this recipe is about to become a mainstay in your Sunday morning repertoire.

WHAT YOU’LL NEED:
1T Chia (soaked for 10 min in 3T water)*
1T flax seed
1/2c chickpea flour
1/4t baking soda
1 capful of white vinegar
1/3c water
1 1/2t stevia
sprinkle of sea salt
Coconut oil (enough for frying pancakes)

For Coconut-cinnamon whipped cream
1 can full fat coconut milk *(stored in the fridge overnight)
1 1/2t ground cinnamon
1 capful vanilla extract
Sweetner to taste

DIRECTIONS
For the Pancakes
Combine all ingredients in large bowl and mix until lump free. Heat your lightly oiled pan over low-med heat. Next, pour or scoop the batter into the pan, using approximately 1/4 cup for each pancake. Cook on both sides till golden brown, serve hot and topped with coconut-cinnamon whipped cream.

For the coconut-cinnamon whipped cream (v,g)
Take your chilled coconut milk and empty the entire contents into a bowl and add your sweetener of choice, plus 1 1/2t of cinnamon and a capful of vanilla extract. Finally, whip on high using an electric mixer for 5-7 minutes until the whipped cream is soft, fluffy. Et voilà!
*Sealed in an airtight container the whipped cream will hold for approx. 4-5 days in the fridge.

***Optional additions for the adventurous or… not so much ***
Top with jam (I’m currently obsessed with fig, but orange marmalade, ginger, and of course any berry could all equally rock your world!) And of course, one can never go wrong with the classic pairing of nuts + fresh fruit + maple syrup.

THE MAGIC INGREDIENT: HAVE A HIGH-VIBE THANKSGIVING

Blindside your folks with these tasty vegan, gluten-free dishes, for a totally high-vibe Thanksgiving y’all! Recipes by Raquel Griffin. Photos: Oliver English

:: CHIA CORNBREAD WITH CARROT MAPLE MISO “BUTTER” ::
This is the perfect crowd pleasing vegan, gluten free Thanksgiving comfort food that even your SAD (Standard American Diet) loving relatives will enjoy. And it’s also easy-peasy to make. Vegan, Gluten Free Chia Cornbread with Carrot Maple Miso “Butter”. It’s a recipe. Make this.

Vegan Gluten Free Chia Cornbread
Makes 16 servings
1 – 20 oz. package gluten Ffee cornbread mix (like Bob’s Red Mill)
1 ½ cups fresh almond milk
2 tablespoons chia seeds soaked in 6 tablespoons water
½ cup coconut oil

DIRECTIONS
Have all the ingredients at room temperature. Preheat oven to 375°F. Generously grease a 9 x 9-inch pan. Place cornbread mix in large bowl. Add milk, chia and water mixture, and oil. Mix until blended, then mix vigorously for 30 seconds more.Pour into prepared baking pan. Bake until golden-brown, about 25 minutes.

Carrot Maple Miso Butter
Makes 1⅓ Cups
2 cups carrots, peeled and chopped into 1-inch pieces (about 6 medium sized carrots)
2 tablespoons chickpea miso (like South River Organic Chickpea Miso)
1 tablespoon maple syrup
2 tablespoons melted coconut oil

DIRECTIONS
Place the carrots into a pot of simmering, salted water. Simmer for 10-15 minutes, or until the carrots are very easily pierced with a fork. Drain the carrots. Place all of the ingredients into a high-powered blender or food processor and blend until smooth. Add water as needed to get a light, spreadable texture. Store the butter in an airtight container in the fridge. It will keep for up to five days. Serve with cornbread.

(Butter recipe adapted from The Full Helping)

:: COZY GREEN SOUP WITH SPICED PUMPKIN SEEDS AND HORSERADISH CREAM ::
This is the perfect winter soup when it’s cold and blustery outside and all you’re looking to do is cozy up under the covers. It also helps that this recipe is pretty flexible and can be whipped up with virtually whatever green items you’ve got on hand – that wilted kale, failing broccoli and any other sad sack green veggies taking up residence in the back of your fridge. Cozy Green Soup with Spiced Pumpkin Seeds & Vegan Horseradish Cream. It’s a recipe. Make this.

Makes 6-8 servings
3 tablespoons coconut oil
1/3 cup chopped leeks (or onions if you haven’t got leeks)
6 cloves garlic, minced
6 cups fresh almond milk (or store bought…if you must)
5-6 cups of whatever green veggies you’ve got on hand, roughly chopped
(Escarole, Spinach, kale, purslane, celery, broccoli, even cauliflower will do.)
2.5-3 cups cooked quinoa
1 avocado
2-3 tablespoons Bragg’s Liquid Aminos
3 tablespoons nutritional yeast
2 teaspoons each of sage, basil & rosemary
Sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper

For the fresh almond milk
6-8 tablespoons of raw almonds (soaked overnight)
6 cups of filtered water

For the spiced pumpkin seeds
1 cup raw green pumpkin seeds (pepitas) or any nut except peanuts
2-3 tablespoons coconut oil
1 teaspoon smoked salt (garlic salt will also work)
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon coriander

For the vegan horseradish cream (optional)
½ cup plain Almond Milk Yogurt (like So Delicious Plain Almond Milk Yogurt)
3-4 tablespoons Vegenaise (or any non-dairy style “mayonnaise”)
1 tablespoon horseradish
Sea salt & fresh black pepper to taste

DIRECTIONS
To make the cozy green soup: Begin by sautéing the leeks and garlic in a pot until the leeks are translucent. Then add all the chopped vegetables along with the fresh almond milk, basil, sage and rosemary and simmer for 8-10 minute or until veggies are soft. From there, transfer the contents of the pot into your blender or food processor, then add the avocado, Bragg’s Liquid Aminos, nutritional yeast and quinoa and blend until mostly smooth (about 2-3 minutes on high). Serve topped with a dollop of horseradish cream and a sprinkling of spiced pumpkin seeds.

To make the fresh almond milk: Combine soaked almonds and water in any high-powered blender and blend on high until the consistency is smooth, frothy and light about 2-3 minutes.

To make the pumpkin seeds: Preheat the oven to 350°F. Toss the seeds with coconut oil and spices. Spread onto a sheet pan and bake until toasted, about 10 minutes. Cooled pumpkin seeds can be stored in an airtight container for up to 4 weeks.

To make the horseradish cream: Combine almond milk yogurt, Vegenaise, horseradish, salt and pepper in bowl. Whisk ingredients together until smooth.

 

What’s your favorite high-vibe Thanksgiving dish? Please (really, please) share in the comments below, or show us on Instagram, Facebook or Twitter.