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Archive for October, 2012

I decided it was finally time to attempt my own gluten-free vegan chocolate chip cookies from scratch, cookies that would be really legit so that I could serve it to very important people (my friends). In this recipe, I give the option to substitute coconut palm sugar and xylitol for traditional sweeteners, but feel free to use brown or any other sugar. I used a bit of all-purpose gluten-free flour in addition to almond and oat flour made in the Vitamix.

They were delicious and a really superb texture. Here’s the recipe!

Gluten-Free Vegan Chocolate Chip Cookies 

Ingredients:

1/4 cup All-purpose gluten-free flour mix

3/4 cup almond flour (I just vitamixed almonds using the dry blade)

1 cup gluten-free oat flour (I just vitamixed oats using the dry blade)

3 Tbs applesauce

1/2 cup coconut palm sugar or xylitol (or a combo of the two, if you’d like)

4-5 drops liquid stevia

1/2 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1 tsp vanilla extract

4 Tbs coconut oil

1/4 cup water, or more if needed

1 Tbs “flax egg” which is 1 tbs ground flax (again, I vitamixed the seeds using dry blade) + 3 Tbs water

1/2 cup fair-trade vegan chocolate chips

1/4 cup cacao powder (optional if you’d like them to be double chocolate chip cookies)

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 350 degree. Mix dry ingredients. Mix wet ingredients. Add together and put on a pre-greased cookie tray/sheet. Bake for 13-15 minutes, or longer if needed.

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In the wake of the third presidential debate, I am left with social media feeds full of jokes about binders, bayonets, Big Bird, and more. While it is tempting to laugh at the memes, the imaginative Tumblrs, the relevant Twitter accounts and more, it became clear to me last night after watching Brene Brown’s new Ted Talk “The Price of Invulnerability” that there is something deeply troubling about our liberal responses to the debates.

As Silicon Valley Toxics Coalition and Food Empowerment Project director Lauren Ornelas points out in her wonderful blog “Appetite For Justice,” there are are several categories of responses to injustice and hate: “You have those who speak hate and vitriol, those who listen and are uncomfortable with it but laugh as they do not know what to say, those who agree and those who speak against it.” As Lauren’s categories suggest, some are in the Romney camp and agree with what he shares, and others speak out against his policies, but so many of the rest of us are left feeling what Brene Brown calls “numb to vulnerability.” The possibilities of the election turnout and the discussion of whether or not we will all be treated as equal Americans feels emotionally significant and makes our communities literally vulnerable.  Will our families be safe and treated equally under the laws?

Brene Brown says the danger of going numb is that it negates the possibility for positive emotions and, most importantly to this election, the emotions that result in our communities coming together to make change. By numbing ourselves to the horrific policies proposed by Romney-Ryan through reducing them to the latest humor gossip, we stifle ourselves and ultimately our activism suffers on all levels. For our individual wellbeing we need to feel and access our emotions, and ultimately this will enable us to build healthier communities.

Vulnerability researcher Brene Brown

I admit that at times I have resorted to numbness in the face of Romeny’s campaign. I have joked with my friends and posted on social media that  “binders full of women” is perhaps a jab at FTM folks, and made light of the emotional video of a brave gay Vietnam veteran taking issue with Romney’s views on same sex rights. But I have come to realize that these things are a result of my defense system working at full tilt. After all, is this election not an emotional issue for our LGBTQ communities, women communities, veteran communities, minority communities, and, let’s face it, the majority of Americans from whom Romney would attempt to strip rights and resources if elected? Does laughing make it slightly more tolerable, somehow, to imagine a man striking down the healthcare reforms Obama and so many others worked for? At least he would make us laugh, like George W. Bush did! We could pretend to feel less hurt by it, and his rule would be fodder for our yuks and at least we would have that. Otherwise, what would we have? We would have sorrow. Are our communities too scared to be vulnerable to that?

Today, I let myself really feel how sad I would be if Romney came to power. I felt the turning of my stomach, the sinking feeling that so many women would no longer have access to affordable cancer screenings at Planned Parenthood, and that I may never get to marry my partner in my home state if Romney chips away at my rights like he has expressed he has every intention to do.

If I am really honest, Mitt Romney and the policies he supports all just make me want to cry. But allowing myself to feel things, to get angry, to feel heartbroken, and sick, and cry, and feel sad, allows me to work through these emotions on a healthy level. Tuning into my body’s responses to the potential for great loss resulting from Romney coming to power better informs my activist response. At least for me, relying on humor at a time like this feels like an aborted fight or flight response. Yes, we can laugh at Big Bird jabs, but we cannot let laughter take the place of good old-fashioned upset.

I believe that to react intelligently to Romeny’s proposed leadership means to react feelingly. Yes, it is ok to laugh at the absurdity of hatred, but then let us use this opportunity to access our vulnerability to how it all feels. Let our grief and sadness turn into righteous action, and allow our feelings to give us the  strength needed in our communities to help the elderly in the community get transport to the polls, to help our loved ones figure out how to send in absentee ballots, to help our students and teachers take the necessary time off to vote. Let us come together in this time of difficulty to take a stand for women’s rights, LGBTQ rights, and equality for all human- and non-human animals!

As our nation progresses towards greater equality for same-sex Americans than it has ever known, this man intends to take us back to the closet, back to the “we’re just friends” era where being gay was shameful and the law failed to recognize our love and families as equal. We have shows like Glee and Modern Family that tell us that the new future, the New Normal, is upon us. And then we turn on the debates and there is no mention of same-sex issues whatsoever. We were erased from the discussion for reasons I can only guess, and that upset me (and I know many others).

Obama is far from perfect, and I take issue with several of his policies, particularly those relating to the military. When he gets re-elected, I expect to exercise my American right to dissent, and press him to continue to make the changes he has promised. I agree with my LGBTQ community members who feel same-sex marriage will never be the only issue needed to heal the economic and social injustices within our diverse communities, and I will fight for those issues once Obama is slated for another four years. But right now, Obama needs our support to continue his presidency into another term. As we support each other, we must access our true feelings and allow them to inform our activism. Laughing alone won’t get Obama re-elected.

I’ll leave you with this quote from Lauren Orenelas’ blog: “We must use our collective voices to speak out against all forms of injustice if we think we can ever chip away at it.”

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I absolutely love eating purple plants! Purple cabbage, purple carrots, purple eggplant, purple peppers–wow, nature is so colorful and delicious! Navitas Naturals recently sent me generous samples of maqui powder and chia seeds. I have always loved chia seeds for their high omega-3 content and long-lasting protein and energy, and Navitas Naturals’ product is definitely extremely high quality. Maqui berries, which Navitas Naturals sells in a conveniently ground powder, offer more antioxidants than any discovered fruit, and are a great source for vitamin C, calcium, iron and potassium, according to the company’s website. Super healthful superfoods, but what to put them in?

After a little bit of brainstorming and experimentation, these gorgeous purple muffins were born! They are gluten-free and vegan, packed with protein and antioxidant punches that pair beautifully with a tall frosty glass of almond mylk. They’re dyed purple with a gorgeous, healthful superfood rather than crappy artificial food dyes, which might be my favorite thing about them, besides the fact that they taste delicious–slightly sweet, perfectly hearty and crunchy thanks to the whole chia and poppy seeds. Here’s the recipe!

Navitas Naturals’ Lemon Maqui Chia Muffins (Makes 14-16 small muffins)

Ingredients:

2 tsp Navitas Naturals Maqui Powder

1 Tbs Navitas Naturals Chia Seeds

1 cup almond mylk

1 tsp vanilla extract

Juice of 1/2 lemon

1/4 cup applesauce

1/4 cup coconut oil

2 cups gluten-free flour

1 ripe banana, mashed

1 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp baking powder

1 tsp apple cider vinegar

2 Tbs poppy seeds

5 drops liquid stevia

1/4-1/2 cup coconut sugar or xylitol powder

Instructions:

Grease muffin tins, or use liners. Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. Melt coconut oil, and mix it with each of the liquids together. Mix all of the dry ingredients, and then put the wet and dry together. Put in muffin tins, bake for 20-25 minutes, and voila! Purple superfood muffins!

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A recent post in the rad queer ladies’ blog Autostraddle named Queer Vegan Food a top queer food blog. (Hooray!) Since the post went up, I’ve gotten a bunch of new readers, many new blog views and comments on older posts. I mention these things because I’m really grateful that more LGBTQ people are checking out this blog. Not all of the food blogs mentioned in the Autostraddle post were vegan or vegetarian, and while I respect the diversity in our community on all levels, I do feel strongly that a compassionate diet deserves a place at the queer table, so to speak.

I created Queer Vegan Food because I wanted to contribute to broader discussions about the interconnections between oppression against LGBTQ folks and against non-human animals. I believe that people of all sexual orientations can benefit from a compassionate diet, and that there are particular overlaps between the marginalization of queer human animals and our non-human animals companions, and I wanted to use this blog to talk about and help each other understand them.

I’m glad that more queer ladies may find my blog thanks to Autostraddle. I hope that this will continue to be a blog where people of all orientations and genders feel welcome.

Since I created this blog, I’ve heard from numerous people on all ends of the sexuality/gender spectrums who feel similarly passionate about these connections. I’ve read many inspiring pieces online that inspire me to keep learning and sharing about this topic. Check out what some of our queer community bloggers are doing in the realm of vegan food, culture and activism:

  •  Our Hen House has a section called The Gay Animal which addresses queer-vegan interconnections.
  •  Ari Solomon and others participated in a Veg News discussion that is a great primer on many of these issues.
  • My friend and former Vassar classmate Rachel Lee authors the hilarious and amazing blog Vegan Gluten Free Karaoke. Tegan and Sara karaoke and vegan food? Yes please!

I appreciate that this blog can add to these discussions. I thank you for reading, and hope to keep sharing recipes and ideas that broaden the discourse on how we can nourish our communities and ourselves.

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After spending nearly two years working for an all-raw completely gluten-free vegan retreat center in Arizona, I had effectively stopped eating all gluten. After a year or so experimenting with eating some gluten since I left the center, I’ve still had a hard time allowing myself to eat gluten when gluten-free options are available. Many health circles promote a gluten-free lifestyle pretty heavily. It’s become trendy to eat gluten-free, and frankly, that concerns me. I have mostly cut gluten from my diet, but there isn’t really research out there effectively showing it’s not suited for the average person. I’ve been wondering: have I decided to eschew gluten without really questioning whether research shows it’s better to go GF without diagnosis of an allergy or celiac?

In the past few weeks, I have been gently coercing myself to try foods containing gluten. A little wheat-containing fake meat here, a little piece of bread at Vedge there. I’ll admit, even dabbling in gluten territory has been kind of tough for me emotionally. It’s been labeled an “unsafe” food by the medical doctor I worked for at the center, and as someone with a history of disordered eating, I’ve worked hard to move beyond labeling foods as “good” and “bad” (purely from a nutritional standpoint. This doesn’t apply to animal products, because I acknowledge that they’re foremost horrible from a cruelty standpoint).

I spent years studying with a doctor who said gluten would eff you up, and I’ve read enough Kris Carr and Mind Body Green blogs to see why it’s just cooler to avoid gluten. But sometimes I take a look at JL Goes Vegan, or a post on Choosing Raw that includes a gluten option, and I am faced with the question: am I really avoiding gluten because I feel kind of icky physically after eating gluten, or is it emotional, or both? I think these are important questions to ask ourselves, regardless of the food items in question. Our emotions are certainly tied to our guts–scientific studies have shown that the bacteria in our guts can influence our emotions in big ways–but there isn’t enough scientific evidence to suggest that those without intolerance to gluten need to forgo it, and it’s so plentiful in many vegan foods, it seems a shame to tell people to avoid it altogether and push them towards gluten-free products, many of which are not vegan.

I’ve noticed many so-called health-oriented vegans moving away from veganism because while being a gluten-free vegan is certainly doable and even easy once you get the hang of it (If you’re a gluten-free vegan, I highly recommend the Manifest Vegan blog!) it adds yet another set of “must-do’s” and may make veganism feel more restrictive to certain folks. High raw seems like a great option for folks who want to eat raw food but don’t want to be all-raw; gluten-free, as in “you must not eat anything with gluten,” may push would-be-vegans off the path. Nutritoinist Ginny Messina discusses the importance of vegans encouraging diverse food choices in their budding vegan friends and loved ones, and I agree with that.

I’ve got one wacky food allergy that I am already aware of (no testing needed)/ I’m the only person I know who gets Angelina Jolie lips and breaks out in hives when I touch or eat mangoes (it’s a shame, I know–they really are delicious). It’s not inconceivable that I’ve got a gluten intolerance given that eating gluten sometimes makes my tummy feel weird, even in small quantities. But, I’m willing to get tested to find out for sure what’s going on. Even if I do choose to avoid gluten after testing negative, that will at least be a more informed choice. While I believe that we should honor how our bodies feel above test results, I really am curious whether my outsized fear of gluten is just that–a fear–or if it really is rooted in a biological issue.

Have you ever considered cutting any vegan foods out of your diet completely, even if you haven’t been diagnosed with an allergy or intolerance? I would really love to hear from you in the comments.

Thank you for reading. Stay tuned for the results of my gluten tests. xo

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