Big Magic

IMG_3162 (2)“Curiosity is the truth and the way of creative living.” – E. Gilbert

I saw Elizabeth Gilbert when she came to Miami, a few weeks ago, to promote her new book, Big Magic. I had read a couple of her other books: Eat, Pray, Love and Committed both of which I enjoyed.  I just finished Big Magic and loved it! This book is about the creative process, how you get ideas, living a creative life and inspiration. In a nutshell, Gilbert’s point of view is that EVERYONE is creative. What we humans do is create. We make things. Some of us nurture this aspect of ourselves, while others don’t. I also appreciate Gilbert’s thoughts on IDEAS. If you have an idea you’re exploring—whether for a story, song, painting or other invention—and you don’t work on it, it will go to someone else who will. The IDEA is a life-force itself.

I highly recommend this book to anyone who is creative, wants to be creative, seeks inspiration, struggles with their craft, or is just plain curious.

Since I’ve been blogging primarily about plants and people– especially in relation to edible plants and tropical fruits, I thought I’d pay homage to Gilbert’s book by dressing “her” up as The Lady in the Tutti Frutti Hat. (Bonus points for anyone who knows who I’m talking about)!

Tacos!?

IMG_2753 (2)I love Mexican food. I have eaten countless tacos, burritos, enchiladas, pinto beans, salsas, etc.  Wherever I have lived, I’ve always managed to find at least one good place that serves yummy Mexican food. I’ve made it myself. And, of course, I have eaten delicious Mexican food… in Mexico.  So when I saw that the Day 1 Dinner recipe in The 22-Day Revolution was a recipe for tacos, I got excited. And then I read through the ingredients and discovered that the “shells” are lettuce leaves. What?! I figured the tacos wouldn’t have any meat and I didn’t have a problem with that… but lettuce shells?! The thing is that when I hear the word “taco”, my mouth begins to salivate for something warm, wrapped in a corn shell. Lettuce is a let-down for something called a taco. Something wrapped in lettuce is a “lettuce wrap.” I like “lettuce wraps”—just don’t call them tacos, please.

Here are the ingredients for the Raw Walnut Tacos in the book, which I prefer to call Raw Walnut LETTUCE WRAPS:

Filling Ingredients

  • 2 cups walnuts
  • 2 heads romaine lettuce
  • 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1 1/2 tbsp cumin
  • 1 tbsp coriander
  • 1 tbsp coconut aminos
  • Dash paprika, garlic powder, ground black pepper

Garnish Ingredients

  • 2 Haas avocados
  • ½ pint cherry tomatoes
  • ½ tbsp dried parsley flakes
  • 1 lime
  • Pinch salt & ground black pepper

I used fresh garlic and fresh parsley from my garden. I didn’t use the “coconut aminos” because I didn’t know what that was and didn’t have any. The recipe was enough for 6 lettuce wraps. They were flavor-full and refreshing. I did like them. But I won’t call them T_ _ _ _!

 

© 2015 Beatriz Portela and gardeningB.com. Excerpts and links may be used and are encouraged, provided that full and clear credit is given to Beatriz Portela and gardeningB.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content. Any other use and/or duplication of this written material & picture(s) is prohibited without written permission from Beatriz Portela.

What is Quinoa?

IMG_2744 (2)The Day 1 Lunch recipe I made from The 22-Day Revolution is Quinoa Salad with Lentils. The ingredients are:

  • 1 cup quinoa
  • 1 cup lentils
  • 1 large carrot
  • spinach
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon coriander
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • Dash ground pepper

I didn’t actually know what Quinoa (pronounced “keen-wa”) was before reading the book and doing a little research, though I had eaten it previously. Quinoa is the edible seeds of an ancient grain that originated in the Andean region of Peru, Bolivia, Ecuador and Columbia. It is high in protein—containing more protein per calorie than brown rice, potatoes, barley and millet. It has a low gluten content and is said to be well tolerated by people with celiac disease. The seeds are generally cooked like rice, and used in a wide variety of dishes.

I purchased both White Quinoa, grown in Bolivia, and a Tri-Color Blend, grown in the U.S. and containing white, brown, red and black seeds. I used the Tri-Color Blend in this salad. The recipe is enough for four and was very tasty.

 

© 2015 Beatriz Portela and gardeningB.com. Excerpts and links may be used and are encouraged, provided that full and clear credit is given to Beatriz Portela and gardeningB.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content. Any other use and/or duplication of this written material & picture(s) is prohibited without written permission from Beatriz Portela.

Porridge and Paris

IMG_2768 (2)The first recipe I made from The 22-Day Revolution was the Day 1 breakfast: Oatmeal with Banana and Blueberries. Porridge — as I fondly call it — is one of my “go to” breakfasts, which gives me energy until lunchtime. I always blend in some chopped-up fruit to sweeten it a bit. The easy recipe in the book contains:

  • 1 cup almond milk
  • ½ cup quick oats
  • 1 banana
  • ½ cup blueberries.

I made it with quick rolled oats (1-minute) and used only half a banana, which was plenty. A thumb-up on this recipe. Porridge power! And power to Paris…

My friends and all people in Paris, you have been on my mind constantly. You are in my heart. I dedicate my food preparation to you, my morning yoga, my picking up the leaves in the backyard, the sound of the wind chimes, all my happy thoughts and strength, my love. Enjoying life is a triumph over terrorism.

The 22-Day Revolution

IMG_3153 (2)I read The 22-Day Revolution, by exercise physiologist Marco Borges, while on vacation. I had been given the book a few months ago at an event where the author was speaking. The book contains the fundamentals for starting a plant-based diet & maintaining healthy habits; and a detailed 22-day meal plan. The book’s Forward, written by Beyonce, is about how and why she converted to a plant-based diet; and the Introduction, by Dean Ornish, M.D., touches on the benefits of eating whole plant foods for your health and the environment.

Borges’ program is based on the principle that it takes 21 days to make or break a habit, so his regimen is 22 days, just long-enough to kick some bad habits and adopt new, good ones. The first 100 pages are about the why and how to change your diet from animal-centered food to a completely plant-based, non-processed, whole-food regimen. It has lots of nutritional information and tips for how to set-up your kitchen, how to shop, etc. The next 100 pages are the actual regimen, broken down into Day 1 through Day 22. For each day, he provides an inspirational message and/or power-talk and a recipe for breakfast, lunch and dinner. The last section of the book contains more information on lifestyle, exercises and additional recipes.

What I like about the book is that the diet is for a defined and reasonable amount of time—less than a month–so it seems do-able. It makes sense that if you feel good at the end of the 22 days you will want to continue eating that way. That is what the point of the book is—it’s not only about losing weight (although you can use it for this) but about eating healthy to have a vibrant life. I also liked the beautiful color pictures of many of the recipes in the center of the book. Honestly, this is what first enticed me to delve into the book. I know I had to try some of them! So for the next few weeks, I’ll be making many of the recipes and sharing a corresponding picture and thoughts with you. Hope you let me know if you try any of them!

© 2015 Beatriz Portela and gardeningB.com. Excerpts and links may be used and are encouraged, provided that full and clear credit is given to Beatriz Portela and gardeningB.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content. Any other use and/or duplication of this written material & picture(s) is prohibited without written permission from Beatriz Portela.

A Common Plant

IMG_3136(2)Do you recognize this leaf? It belongs to a common plant, grown in many people’s yards. It’s a Monstera Deliciosa, also known as Ceriman, Split-Leaf Philodendron or Swiss-Cheese Plant. I first wrote about Monstera last July when mine began to fill with fruit. What’s special about Ceriman is that it is one of few plants that flower and fruit in full shade. And most people don’t know that they can actually eat the fruit. Monstera can also be grown in a planter, and as a houseplant, though it is unlikely to produce fruit like this.

If you want to use the fruit, Monstera is best grown at temperatures of 20–30 °C (68–86 °F). It requires shade and likes high humidity.  The fruit begins to ripen when the hexagonal green scales start to lift off naturally. It takes about a week for all the scales to come off, so one piece of fruit is harvested over several days–not all at once. As the scales come off, you scrape off the moist flesh underneath, which is what you eat. With the piece of fruit in the picture it took 9 days for all the scales to fall off. Since I wasn’t going to use it right away, I scraped the flesh off into a container and froze it every few days, until the entire fruit was finished ripening. A warning is warranted here—don’t force the scales off! You need to let it ripen naturally to the point where the scales lift-off on their own. Then you can eat the flesh underneath. If you eat the flesh before it is fully ripe, it could cause severe irritation in your mouth and throat. If you do this once (as I did the first time I attempted to eat the fruit), you won’t do it again!

Monstera is high in potassium and vitamin C. It tastes like a blend of pineapple and banana. Here are some of my recommendations for how to eat the ripe fruit: mix it into a fruit salad, add it to smoothies, put it on granola or on top of oatmeal, sprinkle it on salads.

© 2015 Beatriz Portela and gardeningB.com. Excerpts and links may be used and are encouraged, provided that full and clear credit is given to Beatriz Portela and gardeningB.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content. Any other use and/or duplication of this written material & picture(s) is prohibited without written permission from Beatriz Portela.

Pumpkins

IMG_3122 (2)Pumpkins—they’re like sunflowers. I can’t help but smile when I look at them. And I love Halloween, now more than when I was a child.

© 2015 Beatriz Portela and gardeningB.com. Excerpts and links may be used and are encouraged, provided that full and clear credit is given to Beatriz Portela and gardeningB.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content. Any other use and/or duplication of this written material & picture(s) is prohibited without written permission from Beatriz Portela.