29 March 2007

Some Wheat-Free Recipes

Hmmm… I’m not sure how I feel about this blood type diet. Not eating wheat is okay. Not eating both wheat and corn gets harder. Not eating wheat, corn, or potatoes makes it damned difficult to grab a bite when I’m out running around and am hungry. (Salads just don’t do the trick when I’m hungry.) I did manage to find an asparagus frittata at a deli that wasn’t half bad. But all my usual solutions for a quick bite out are off limits.

On the other hand, cooking at home isn’t that challenging (other than missing potatoes). I tried my hand at spring rolls, and made a delicious stuffed chicken breast. Also concocted a simple pilaf that pleased my sweetie.

Spring Rolls

24 cooked shrimp (40 to 60 count), tails removed
1 cup of bean sprouts, chopped
1 cup of lettuce, chopped
1 carrot, grated
24 whole fresh mint leaves
1 cup softened thin rice noodles

1 Tablespoon fish sauce
1 teaspoon sesame oil
Juice from 1 lime
Sugar to taste (1 Tablespoon?)
2 to 4 mint leaves, chopped

Dip the spring roll wrappers (banh trang – rice based) into warm water for about 15 seconds, then lay out on your prep surface.

Place 3 shrimps, 3 mint leaves, and a bit of the other filling ingredients onto the wrapper, drizzle with sauce, then fold the bottom edge over the filling and tuck tightly (like you’re rolling a sushi roll). Fold the sides in toward the middle, then finish rolling. You can serve whole, or cut into two or three pieces.

Recipe makes 8 whole rolls.

Confession – these were tasty, but messy. I didn’t manage to roll them tightly enough to hold together. Also, if you can eat peanuts, they would be a nice addition.

Stuffed Chicken Breast

Thaw and drain one box of chopped spinach.
Crumble in about 4 ounces of Greek sheep feta
Add enough panko (rice-based “bread” crumbs) to hold the filling together.

Butterfly two skinless, boneless chicken breasts. Put half the filling on one side of each breast, then fold the other half over to cover the filling.

Drizzle the breasts with olive oil, sprinkle on more panko, and bake at 350 degrees for about an hour, depending on the size of the breasts. (Mine weighed in at 1.5 pounds for the two of them.)


Chop half an onion and sautee it in about 1 Tablespoon of butter until soft.
Add 1 cup of white basmati rice and continue cooking for about five minutes, stirring occasionally.
Add 1 cup of chicken broth and 1 cup of water.
Season with saffron (about ¼ teaspoon).
Bring to a boil, cover, reduce to low heat, and cook for 20 minutes.

While the rice is cooking, toast ¼ cup of slivered almonds and chop up a bit of parsley. (I used flat leaf. Cilantro would also be tasty.) When the rice is done, remove from heat, fluff, then add in the almonds and parsley.

20 March 2007

Wheat-Free Ain't So Bad

Yum! I made these muffins this morning, and they came out perfect. This is a modification of a recipe I found, I think in one of Elaine St. James' books on simplicity.


2-1/4 cups oat bran
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/4 cup sugar (can use maple syrup)
1/4 cup oat flour

Beat in
1 egg
2 overripe squirshed bananas
1-1/4 cups milk (can substitute almond or other fake milks)

Raisins or berries (I used raspberries)

Put in muffin tins. They don't rise much, so go ahead and fill almost full.

Bake at 450 for approx. 15 minutes, until browned.

Makes one dozen muffins and a mini loaf.


After poking around the internet (and reading the ingredients on a store-bought package), I came up with a general idea of how to proceed with wheat-free rye bread. Here's what I tried this morning.

1.5 Cups tepid water
4 Tablespoons olive oil
3 Tablespoons molasses
2 Tablespoons yeast

Allow the above ingredients to proof, then add in
1 Tablespoon sea salt
4 Cups rye flour
1 Tablespoon caraway seeds

I used my bread machine on basic setting to knead, leaven, and bake this loaf.

This dough is too dense and heavy for the bread machine to knead properly. Next time I will knead, etc. by hand.

The bread stayed dense. Without much gluten, I guess it's hard to get a good rise.

The bread is better for breaking off chunks and slathering with butter than for slicing.

The flavor is WONDERFUL.

19 March 2007

Playing with My Food

A client of mine has been following the Eat Right for Your Blood Type diet, and keeps raving about how much better she feels for doing so. Curious, I dug through my medical records and finally located my blood type -- type O. Then I visited Borders and sat down with a copy of the book, taking copious notes on what I should and should not eat. I realized several interesting things:

1. Many of the things I should not eat are things I don't like anyway.

2. Most of the things I should not eat are the same items that Marty, a nutritionist I worked with 18 years ago, muscle-tested me as foods to be avoided. (In other words, Marty's muscle testing agreed with the recommendations for my blood type.)

3. I indeed suffer from some of the ailments most common to my blood type.

Intrigued, I decided to give the dietary recommendations a try for one month. (Well, most of them. I'm not ready to give up dairy.) On the chance that my experience with this (or my recipes/menus) will be of help to others, I've decided to share my menu plans and experiences on my blog. So here goes!

These are the foods I'm supposed to avoid:

Grains/Beans: Wheat, corn, navy beans, kidney beans, lentils

Meats: Pork and Goose

Fish: Barracuda, catfish, caviar, herring, lox, octopus

Oils: Corn, peanut, cottonseed, and safflower

Nuts: Brazil, cashew, litchi, peanuts, peanut butter, pistachios, and poppy seeds

Pickeled foods

Seasonings: Capers, cinnamon, cornstarch, corn syrup, nutmeg, black pepper, vanilla, vinegar (apple cider, balsamic, red wine, white)

Fruits: Blackberries, coconuts, melons, oranges, plantains, rhubarb, strawberries, tangerines (bananas and blue-boysen-raspberries are okay)

Veggies: Alfalfa sprouts, brussel sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, corn, eggplant, mushrooms (portobellos are okay), mustard greens, olives, potatoes (sweet are okay)

Juices: apple, orange

Whole milk and yogurt, most cheeses (butter and feta are okay)

Like I said, I'm going ahead and eating dairy, but otherwise am following the guidelines for foods to avoid. With that in mind, I put together some meal plans for the week. (Note: I'm supposed to eat meat.) This week's international feasts include:

Dinners --

Roast beef
Roasted parsnips, beets, and carrot (drizzled with olive oil and seasoned with Herbes de Provence)
Baked winter squash with butter

Stir fry of marinated chicken (tamari, honey, garlic, ginger, and sesame oil) with bok choy, portobello mushroom, and green onions served over mung bean noodles

Turkey meat loaf (onion, garlic, ginger, carrot, oat bran, worcestershire), steamed broccoli, and brown rice

Jewshi -- sushi rolls with smoked salmon, cream cheese, green onions, carrots, and toasted sesame seeds

Salad with Greek sheep's feta, dried cranberries, and toasted almond slivers dressed with olive oil/lemon/herbs (and maybe a side of dolmas?)

Breakfast options --
Curried (or scrambled) eggs with Ryvita
Oatmeal (slow cooked steel cut)
Raspberry oat bran muffins
Yogurt with fruit

Lunches/Snacks --
Seeded spelt crackers with brie
Roast beef and horseradish with lettuce on Ryvita
Leftovers from dinners
Yogurt with fruit

08 March 2007

Of Muses, Messes, and Misquotes

Well, I was quoted as an expert in Delaware's largest daily newspaper today.

Unfortunately, the reporter didn't mention my book The Spiritual Art of Being Organized, and he phrased our conversation enough out of context that it implies I'm saying things I didn't intend. (Other than that, it's a fun article and I enjoyed talking with the reporter.)

1. I told him up front that I have never read The Perfect Mess, so it troubles me slightly that he has me responding directly to that book's message.

2. Actually, what I said is that my favorite book title is You Can't Make A Difference When You Can't Find Your Keys. By attributing the title to me as my own words, it sounds like I'm stealing the author's material, which was not my intent.

3. He didn't include any of the juicy stuff I sent him or that we discussed. Ah well, here's where the Serenity Prayer comes in, eh?

Here is his original query, and my response:

His original post:

Is there a blogger in existence who cares about home decoration -- his/her workspace and the feng shui of it all? Aren't they all about ideas and words, rather than design and comfort? Are there any tips for bloggers who want to make the writing space more inviting and hi-tech cool? I'm a reporter with Delaware's largest daily paper and I seek bloggers, home decorators and funny souls to weigh in.

My response:

Of course there are bloggers who care about their writing space. Not all writers live solely in their head. Some of us enjoy creating an environment that supports our writing.

Or at least I do. My name is Claire Josefine, and I am the author of The Spiritual Art of Being Organized. I have been a professional organizer for 10 years, specializing in residential organizing with adult ADD clients (i.e., creative folks). I bring a spirituality and simplicity based focus to organizing that is unique to the field, and have been interviewed for Delicious Living magazine, BooxReview.com, and World Talk Radio.

Contrary to popular opinion, being organized -- and caring about one's environment -- does not belong solely in the realm of dullards and Martha Stewart devotees. In fact, my favorite reason for being organized is so we can find our toys. And when you strip away the woo-woo, feng shui is really about making sure a space is comfortable, safe, and inviting -- that you can move through the space freely in both body and mind. So here are a few practical tips for making your blogging space more inviting:

1. Make it comfortable. Obviously, ergonomically appropriate equipment is crucial if you're spending extended time at the computer. Removing obstacles -- precarious piles of paper, objects underfoot, furniture and objects that constrict access to your writing area -- is equally important.

2. Make it usable. Keep your tools handy, whether they're a dictionary and thesaurus (some of us still use paper versions of these reference guides), or articles you've clipped for commenting on. Dedicate your computer area to writing, and keep only writing-related items there.

3. Make it fun. Decorate your writing area with bobble heads, rubber chickens, or inspirational quotes from Mahatma Ghandi -- whatever gets your juices flowing. After all, if it ain't feeding your soul, why bother?

02 March 2007

Wait. Maybe we shouldn't kill our TVs.

What if ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder) is actually a good thing? What if ADD is an evolutionary shift toward reincorporating the feminine principle, the goddess?

Okay, I know that sounds far-fetched. But play with me here. The idea came to me last year as I was simultaneously studying for my ADD Specialist exam and skimming Leonard Shlain's The Alphabet Versus the Goddess.

Shlain's originating question was, "What caused the disappearance of goddesses from the ancient Western world? … What in culture changed to cause leaders in all Western religions to condemn goddess worship? Why were women forbidden to conduct a single significant sacrament in these religions? And why did property begin to pass only through the father's lines? What event in history could have been so pervasive and immense that it literally changed the sex of God?"

His answer, briefly, is that literacy emphasized the development of the left brain, which is inherently more linear, aggressive, and masculine. "When a critical mass of people within a society acquire literacy," he writes, "especially alphabet literacy, left hemispheric modes of thought are reinforced at the expense of right hemispheric ones, which manifests as a decline in the status of images, women's rights, and goddess worship." Looking at brain function, he observes that "the written word issues from linearity, sequence, reductionism, abstraction, control, central vision, and the dominant hand -- all hunter/killer attributes. … Writing made the left brain, flanked by the incisive cones of the eye and the aggressive right hand, dominant over the right. The triumphant march of literacy that began five thousand years ago conquered right-brain values, and, with them, the Goddess. Patriarchy and misogyny have been the inevitable result."

So, if Shlain is right, alphabetic literacy stressed physiological development of our left brain and a cultural preference for its attributes. Interestingly, ADD can be seen as an underdevelopment of the left brain and a dominance of the right. In Organizing for the Creative Person, the authors (Lehmkuhl and Lamping) use the left-brain/right-brain model to explain the differences between "normal" Elbies and the more creative (read: ADD) Arbies. A chart of left and right brain characteristics (source: Mary Ellen Jirak's The Gift of ADD) shows left brain as the logical mode: linear, verbal, logical, analytic, digital, symbolic, temporal, and abstract. The right brain operates in gestalt mode: holistic, nonverbal, intuitive, synthetic, spatial, concrete (operates in the present moment), nontemporal, and analogic.

In other words, the right brain is the feminine side of our brain and it is the stronger side for creative people and those who are labeled ADD.

But why are so many more people manifesting ADD behavior? A number of theories exist. One of them has to do with television. In his book, Beyond ADD, Thom Hartmann notes that the rise in ADD is concurrent with the increase in television viewing and other visual input. "So much of our information now comes to us visually. More than two decades ago, television replaced newspapers as the primary way most people obtain their news. About that time studies began to show that children spent more time watching TV than they did interacting with their family or their peers. Print media has become more visual… Advertising … is wildly more visual and less verbal. … Best-selling books are translated into movies to reach wider audiences." At the same time, he reports that "children with ADD are less likely to become excited about reading at a young age" and that "kids with ADD tend to read less well, and so recreational reading is difficult for them." Ditto for kids who watch TV: the more TV children watch, "the less likely they are to perform well academically, and the less likely they are to read recreationally."

Shlain also notices changes as a result of television. He points out that comprehending TV requires different hemispheric strategies than reading, including using pattern-recognition skills and optical rods (instead of the cones used in reading). "As people watched more and more television, the supremacy of the left hemisphere dimmed as the right's use increased."

So, what we have -- thanks to TV, advertising, visual print media, and other phenomena usually damned for the dumbing down of America -- is a de-emphasis on the written word, a return to the visual and a redirecting of our brain's development back to the right brain -- back to the creative hunter/gatherer, back to ADD, back to the feminine, back to the goddess. To quote Shlain's epilogue: "I am convinced we are entering a new Golden Age -- one in which the right-hemispheric values of tolerance, caring, and respect for nature will begin to ameliorate the conditions that have prevailed … Images … are the balm bringing about this worldwide healing."

And folks with ADD are leading the way. They are the next evolutionary step, the pendulum swing back toward balance. Some may argue that ADD is an exaggerated swing, but it's a swing in the right direction.