17 January 2013


For real and for…the “working class university of life” as I saw someone listed as their school on Facebook.  I’m from the deconstructionist school of eating, but that’s a whole ’nother story.

On Monday I officially began the Institute for Integrative Nutrition ® program to become a health coach.  What is a health coach?  A health coach works with people who want to make positive changes in their physical, spiritual, and mental health by encouraging said people along their wellness journey.  A health coach makes recommendations for sustainable changes and holds hir clients accountable for making gentle changes in their lives in support of the clients’ goals.

Currently, my life courseload is in the following departments:
  • --nutrition, fitness, “wellness” (including cookery)
  • --lived medieval history
  • --writing
  • --spirituality

The department in which I would like to expand is art.  Specifically, I would like to get back to “DIY”-ing clothes, get into making costumes, and pick up guitar again.  I miss my guitar, a black and white Fender Squire strat that every kid has when he wants to learn to play guitar as a teenager.  I blast music to feel it, but I can feel it by singing and playing it (and not lose my hearing quite so quickly).  Maybe I’m searching after that “high” I achieved when playing bassoon or singing in chorus class in high school; shared effort to make art (jeez that sounds antiseptic) raises all our vibrations.  As a theatre-mate and I were trying to explain to someone years ago, we like metal because it carries us. Playing—making—music of any type gives me that feeling.

As I try to unlearn the bad habits I developed in college, there are some habits I picked up that I can deploy “in real life.”  School is not real; don’t kid yourself it ever was.  University is such a manufactured environment; don’t get me started.

Research!  I did research on candida (also known as thrush, a yeast infection) in order to craft this dish for a friend who is suffering from thrush.  Using IIN’s dietary theory library and The Candida Diet website, I developed this dish to be a nourishing vegan entrée.  Avoiding sugar and any foods that naturally are high in sugar are musts on an anti-candida regimen.  Rutabaga is a root vegetable that is not as sweet as parsnips, carrots, or the like and is therefore acceptable, at least according to this source.  From my various health book readings, I’ve come to consider spinach a “lesser vegetable” compared to the nutritional value of kale or collards.  However, greens were on sale, and variety is the spice of life.

Rice-Spinach-Bean Kickasserole

1 cup short-grain brown rice
2 cups water

1 cup pecans
water to cover
1 tablespoon raw organic apple cider vinegar or lemon juice (you must use the raw organic apple cider vinegar; substitutions are NOT OK here because other types of vinegar are NOT GOOD for candida.  ALL CAPS are necessary.)

2 medium rutabagas, scrubbed, peeled, and logged (large matchsticks; AKA: Swedes or yellow turnips)
2 medium onions, half-mooned
3 cloves garlic, smashed
2 tablespoons coconut oil, melted

1/4 cup cured olives, pitted and chopped (make sure they are only in olive oil and salt, not brine)
1 16-ounce bag frozen spinach (or other greens)
1/4 cup water

1 16-ounce can kidney beans, rinsed and drained

GF soy sauce or tamari to serve

Rinse the rice until the water runs clear.  In a medium saucepan, combine the rice and water and let soak for 8 hours or overnight (it can hang out on the countertop or cold stove).

In a lidded container, combine the pecans, apple cider vinegar, and water to cover the pecans.  Seal and let soak overnight in the refrigerator.

The next morning, bring the water to a boil and cook the rice, about 40-45 minutes, until tender and all the water is gone.  Turn off the heat and let the rice sit for five minutes.  In a 9*13*2-inch glass casserole, spread the rice across the bottom and set aside.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.  Rinse and drain the pecans, spread on a parchment-lined baking sheet or a piece of foil, and toast in the oven for 10-15 minutes or until fragrant.  They will be soft from the soaking and that is OK.

In a large bowl, toss the garlic, onions, and rutabaga with the melted coconut oil until covered.  Spread the vegetables on a parchmented or Silpatted baking sheet and roast for 45 minutes to 1 hour depending on how large you cut your vegetables.  When the onions have a little bit of toastiness and the rutabaga is soft, they are done.  Remove to a rack to let cool.

In a medium saucepan, combine the 1/4 cup water and frozen spinach.  Heat until the spinach is defrosted and there is little water in the pot.  Turn off the heat, add the olives, and stir well (or don’t add the olives if you have that nagging feeling that the intended audience won’t like them—listen to your intuition, folks!).

Spread the spinach mixture across the rice layer in the casserole.  

Break up the pecans and add them to the roasted vegetables.  Combine the kidney beans and roasted vegetable mixture.  

Top the spinach mixture with the bean-pecan-vegetable mélange.  

Press down to fit everything into the casserole.  You are now ready to travel.  Reheat as is in a 350 degree oven for about 20 minutes, or deconstruct and reheat on the stove.

You are now free to move about the country.

Actually wanting to get out of bed in the morning is an amazing gift.  It’s been a heady experience to be making big-kid decisions as I sought a new job in a field of my complete, organic choosing and am beginning my health coach studies.  Honouring the lessons I’ve learned from “the working class university of life” and figuring out a schedule that will allow me to both work and study has given me this incredible lightness.  The light feeling is like the—don’t laugh—lightness of green juice, the metaphysical green light I feel from within when I drink green juice in the mornings.

Maybe I’ve gone off in what Macrobiotics pinpoints as the deep end of eating too many greens: you begin to believe in a green goddess!  Naw, seriously, I am trying to cultivate a gratitude practice where I post on my social media three things for which I am grateful each day.  I’m on the verge of putting down roots in a place where institutional cycles (i.e., traditional school) won’t plow me under every twelve or so weeks. Big changes are coming as I begin my new job and I dig into my studies, but I know the soul—I meant to write “soil,”—is rich.
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