01.03.2005

The Glorious Radiance of Being - by Judy Blereau

An unusual title for a food article, I know but nonetheless quite appropriate for this month I feel. My question to you is this - What worth is this human experience if not that of glorious beauty, joy and delight? At the moment we pass, would we be thinking about the money, house, car, clothes, jobs we have accomplished or achieved? I think not, but rather the love given, received and shared. Right now if you hold the feeling of love in your heart for a few minutes, do you not begin to feel the glorious radiance of being? This is to be a human and I know I have quoted this before but once again "Joy is a human's noblest act" - St Thomas Aquinas.

But to connect this to food - it is impossible for this glorious machine we know as our body to function as it is designed if we supply it with the wrong fuel. You know how it goes - you've read it here before - it needs to be real, whole and good enough to eat. But it seems that many of us simply don't understand what this means. I was taken aback the other night (and it takes an awful lot to shock me) while watching the movie Super Size Me This gentleman was in hospital awaiting a gastric bypass - he simply couldn't lose weight, and was so large he had a very limited quality of life (no glorious radiance of being!). The bit that shocked me was when the interviewer showed how much coke and soda he drank daily - about six extra large bottles of coke and soda - and this man still could not grasp the connect between the two. Neither could his wife (mind you, neither could the doctors). Now this is not unusual, I see this constantly - a profound disconnect on how food affects our human body.

When you eat real, whole food, your body and cells are nourished, and once nourished, begin to do the things they are meant to - regulate energy, make hormones, make bones, mend bones, heal, laugh, sing, make love, dance..... When the cells are undernourished (you can eat, be full and still be undernourished) we are always in survival mode, never having the opportunity to move on to our next phase of being - that glorious radiance of being. That's when things begin to work, energy begins to flow. The guidelines are very simple:

REAL - not fake flavours, fake colours or fake ingredients (basically all chemicals)
WHOLE - as close as possible to what nature intended, nothing added or taken away
GOOD ENOUGH TO EAT - grown and produced without herbicides, fungicides, poisons, hormones and antibiotics, not genetically engineered or irradiated.


A good example is boxed breakfast cereals that are puffed or flaked. They've been so processed (even the organic ones) there is little nourishment left. They are highly denatured and don't work in your digestive system like they should. Real and Whole would be an organic grain (whole, ground, or rolled) cooked with liquid (water, milk or juice). Profoundly different, worlds apart.
With the cooler weather approaching, my recipes this month include a couple of unusual breakfast "porridges", both easy, full of goodness and will give you a good beginning to your day. May that day be filled with your own glorious radiance of being.

RICE CREAM:
This is an excellent example of turning cooked rice (but it could just as easily be buckwheat, hulled millet or quinoa) into a delicious breakfast. A simplified version of a rice pudding that takes very little time to cook and is excellent any time of the day. Sweetened up with dried or fresh fruits and nuts, it also makes a fabulous pudding on a cold winter night.
1 cup cooked brown rice
1/2 cup water
3/4 cup milk
(any milk here will work - dairy, soy or almond)
Place all ingredients in a saucepan and bring gently to a slow simmer. Continue to cook over a very low heat, without a lid, until thick and creamy - approx 10 minutes. This can stick and burn easily, so stir frequently and keep your eyes on it. If you feel the mixture is too thick, just add more liquid. Serve with your choice of toppings. You can easily vary the flavour of this by adding additional treats to the mix. Grated lemon rind, dried fruits, almonds and a little cinnamon and nutmeg add sweetness and great flavour. Chop the dried fruits and almonds, add them all with the rice and cook as above.

MILLET, DATE AND PUMPKIN PUDDING - gluten free, vegan
Excellent for breakfast or as a dessert in the colder months. Make sure the soy milk is free of barley malt for this to be gluten free.
1 cup cooked hulled millet
1 cup water
3 tablespoons kudzu or cornflour
2 tablespoons maple syrup
2 tablespoons pear juice concentrate
1/2 cup fresh dates - seeded and finely chopped
1 1/2 - 1 3/4 cups soy milk
1 cup cooked mashed pumpkin
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
Place kudzu or cornflour in mixing bowl with pear juice concentrate and maple syrup and mix to a paste. Add the pumpkin, cinnamon, dates and mix together well. Add the millet and then the soy milk, a bit at a time until you have a nice smooth mix. Pour mixture into an ovenproof baking dish and bake in a moderate oven for approx 40 - 50 minutes or until the top is quite golden.

CHICKEN FAJITAS:
Fabulous for the late summer, when corn and tomatoes abound and a great way to serve meat with lots of vegies. Marinating is a classic technique to break down any toughness in the meat and adds wonderful flavour. This is best done on a grill plate on top of the stove or on a flat barbecue plate, but could also be done in a frypan. Have everything ready at the table for people to put together themselves: Warmed Tortillas (wheat or corn) Guacamole, Blackened Tomato and Chipotle Salsa Serves 4 - 6
MARINADE:
2 tablespoons finely chopped coriander leaf
3 medium garlic - finely chopped
1 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup lime juice
1 teaspoon ground cummin
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
460 (approx) gms chicken thighs trimmed of fat and other, finely diced
Combine all ingredients together and add chicken. This will keep for up to 3 days in the fridge.
THE VEGIES:
1 purple onion - cut in half and finely sliced
1 - 2 medium carrots - cut julienne
10 - 12 snow peas - cut julienne
1 cob of corn - kernels removed for using
1 red capsicum - finely sliced
Leaving the onions aside, mix all other ingredients together in a bowl.
PUTTING IT ALL TOGETHER:
Begin by warming the tortillas: either by steaming them (a few at a time) in a steamer basket over a pot of simmering water, or lightly frying them in a pan, with a little oil.
This takes about 10 mins to put together, so make sure everything else is on the table. Pre heat the grill plate - I use the Le Creuset Reversible, on the flat side - for approx 10 mins - it must be really hot. Toss the onions with a little olive oil and whack them on - leave for a 1 minute approx, turning a couple of times. Add all the other vegies, followed by the chicken (leaving the marinade behind). Continue to cook over the hot grill, turning and moving it around with tongs, until the chicken is just cooked - approx 7 -8 minutes. Remove and turn into a serving dish.
Another way to serve this is to wrap a portion of the mix in the mountain bread and fry - very good. The only difference is in the wrapping - lay the mountain bread out in front of you so it looks like a triangle - pointy end closest to you. Place the mix in that corner and fold over, bringing in the sides next and then continuing to fold downwards - it needs to be a little smaller than the bean burrito with the extra folds helping to keep it all together. Place it into the pan, seam side down.

BLACKENED TOMATO AND CHIPOTLE SALSA - vegan/ gluten free:
When you blacken a fresh chilli, what you end up with is a softer flavour and a pronounced rounder & deeper heat. An extremely simple, yet very effective, salsa.
6 ripe tomatoes (the best you can find)
2 fresh jalapeno chilli - red
(or 1 if you don't want it too hot)
3 - 4 cloves garlic, rough chopped
1 - 2 teaspoons chipotle chilli puree
1 - 2 teaspoons apple juice concentrate
Place a frame over the gas jet on your stove - I use a cake cooler. Pop the tomatoes on top - you will probably only be able to do 3 at a time and cook over full flame until skin is blackened. Turn, from time to time, so as much skin as possible is done. Remove to a bowl and cover with a plate.
Cut down one side of chilli and open so it lays flat, remove seeds. Place on the frame and blacken over a slightly lower heat, so the flesh has a little time to cook before the skin is all black. Add to the bowl along with tomatoes. Add the chillies to the bowl with tomatoes, allow to cool.
Place roughly peeled tomatoes and chillies in food processor with garlic.
If you find the chillies too difficult to peel, use a small knife to scrape the flesh from the skin. Puree all ingredients together, adding a little black pepper if desired.
Turn the mix into a saucepan, making sure you get it all. Add 1 teaspoon each of chipotle puree and apple juice concentrate and cook over a very gentle heat for approx 10 - 15 mins, stirring every now and then - a low heat will enable the flavours to come together, without reducing too much. The salsa should have taken on a darker colour - check for taste, adding more of chipotle and apple juice concentrate if needed. Turn into a bowl.

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