First Seeds of Spring, Hawaiian Mochi, and Food and Thought Evolution

The Big News: the very first seed order for the 2017 growing season arrived Saturday, yassss! All imported from Italy - kale, parsley, arugula, and chard. And all for the spring cool-weather greens garden.

Homemade Hawaiian mochi, made entirely vegan, turned out rich and coconutty. Sweet rice flour gives it its slightly gooey texture. It’s one of those ‘I can’t stop eating this’ foods.

Vegan Caesar salad? Yes! Substitute Veganaise for mayo, hold the egg and fish. I sprinkled ours with some ground flaxseed and cheesy nutritional yeast.

Roasted Brussels sprouts and carrots. A little agave nectar on the sprouts before baking, and coconut aminos over all after it’s out of the oven.

Think again if you think that vegans don’t enjoy UH-mazing food. Prior to going vegan last June, I too believed that a plant-based diet was going to be boring at best. It’s a good thing I have no problem admitting when I’m wrong.

And I was dead wrong.

Maybe because it’s February, with nothing to do outdoors near our home, and it’s winter all around us and we have cabin fever, but my husband and I were all about making and eating good vegan food this weekend. We made vegan Caesar salads, roasted root vegetables, baked Szechuan tofu wraps, Hawaiian coconut mochi (sooooo good!), arugula pasta, chai from scratch, hot chaga to warm the doshas, and cold lemonade to cool the doshas. We pretty much hogged our way through the weekend.

But the Big News is that the very first order of Franchi seeds for the 2017 growing season arrived Saturday! This is always a landmark day in winter. Four large packages of Italian kale, parsley, chard, and arugula arrived from, and they will be the first to be germinated for the spring greens garden.

In March, they’ll be sown directly in the ground and covered with a poly tunnel for heat retention. I’ve decided that this year, I’m going to double the space for greens. My husband, who before we met rarely ate anything green, is now including in his diet not only green food, but a lot of bananas and oranges. He still eats meat and processed food, but whole food is slowly making its way into the picture.

He and I grew up in much different families. My dad, who was a lifeguard and active and fit, was conscious of his food choices, and taught his family the same. I had the blessing of parents who asked questions about the food they put on the table. Meat was not allowed. Nor was salt or butter. Dad’s word was law, and the law was that you thought about it before you ate it.

My husband didn’t have that kind of parenting. He hails from an little town in Connecticut called Enfield, a community where it’s the norm to attend the local, academically substandard public schools, pass on college studies or travel, marry young, work at lackluster 9 to 5 industrial or office jobs, have children, and eventually, divorce. It’s a sea of strip malls, fast food joints, car dealerships, public buildings, hair salons, tattoo parlors, big box retailers, Chinese buffets, chain restaurants, abandoned stores, community colleges, walk-in medical clinics, pawn shops, movie theaters, arcades, and lots of traffic, anger, impatience, and disappointment. 

Shame on Enfield’s local government (and all other towns like it), who over the years has waved in far too many retailers and chain restaurants, ignored infrastructure aesthetics, failed its children by hemorrhaging taxpayers’ money into a mediocre and worsening public school system, and didn’t concern itself with the quality of its residents’ lives. There is too much asphalt, light pollution, and chemicals in its water. It really bugs me to see what ignorance and greed can do to a community. You see a lot of addiction, obesity, physical sickness, mental illness (clinical depression is a big one), underachievement, financial struggle, and petty crime there. And I solemnly believe that most, if not all those problems – including crime - can be traced back to food choices. We are in fact what we eat.

Location is everything. Give me a shoe box off-the-grid to live in, and if it’s a shoe box in an enlightened, progressive community of seekers, I’ll be very happy. I also believe that whatever you’ve learned by the time you’re 18 years old is the bedrock of your habits for the rest of your life.

So now, my husband lives in a home where there is always fresh fruit and veggies quietly on hand. We’ve been married five years, and he is just now noticeably changing his diet – and his thinking. He eats at least one piece of fresh fruit a day. He loves bananas. He eats meat still, but will make an accompanying vegetable as well. Last night, instead of drinking his mandatory soda, he was sipping water. We’re sharing some of our meals together. He’s willing to try food he’s never had before – like recently, kale chips. Baby steps.

Am I actually trying to say that food choices have the potential to make our lives happy or unhappy? I am. Ask anyone who has transitioned to a vegan diet. Before long, you think with greater clarity. Your body feels less like an encumbrance and more like your tool to move about in this world. You start craving healthful, animal-free foods. Small aches and pains disappear. You heal a lot faster and sleep a lot better. You become happier.

You may not lose weight, you may not become an athlete, and you probably won’t live longer, but that’s not the point. The point is compassion and respect for all sentients, living lightly on Mother Earth, rejecting corporate agribusiness and corporate bullying, embracing minimalism, feeling at home in your body, and improving your health so that you may get up, get out, and do good for the world.

So, those Franchi seeds are calling my name. Patience. February may be a beast, and maybe March will be wintery too. But the seeds are right here, ready when I’m ready. A few more months, loves, and we’ll be on our way. Let’s get this party started.

Live in peace.

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