Tuesday, August 2, 2011

July Reflections & a Summer Veggie Burger

July came and went, it seems, faster than I could blog about. The last post reminded me of a half-baked muffin batch, so I decided to delete it and start again. I don’t think I could even begin to describe how amazing these kids are, how living on campus with a gluten-freer’s essentials (sans a kitchen) brought further self-assurance in my abilities of traveling anywhere, and how I learned so much about myself it’s ridiculous. In less than a month forty-three kids, eight mentors, two directors, and those amazing people behind the scenes became a family. The goodbyes were grief-ridden, heartbreaking, and two days long. Every group that left received tearful embraces that took over half an hour to complete, not including the rides to the airports.

Mazadar Kabob Restaurant in Fairfax, VA: delicious gluten free options 

I’m truly going to miss them. But it isn’t really goodbye. It’s more like “See you later.”

Much of my self-reflection had to do with how I felt around those participating in the Institute. As previously mentioned, I regained a sense of self I thought I had lost. Despite the crash that lasted five days, being around people is what makes me content. My energy is based on the love and compassion I have for life and everything in it. Being around people makes me happy, even when I need some R&R after.

When we traveled to Philadelphia and New York City, I experienced something similar to being glutened. I think the food at the restaurants we visited, including the hotel we stayed at, had a bad reaction in my system. That, and in addition to taking too much of my thyroid medicine in the morning, I stayed in my hotel room in a fetal position while the group toured Manhattan by boat. Kombucha (the grand total of four bottles) really helped me lose that “hangover-without-the-fun” feeling in a matter of twenty-four hours, but the feeling of distrust and anger lasted longer. Of course, it isn’t anyone’s fault. The restaurant in Phillie did provide me with a meal, but the hotel’s scrambled egg mix was probably what did me in.

My Heroes: Green Cafe off of Broadway....

Being glutened or experiencing food with preservatives and pre-mixed keeps me from going out to eat. I don’t think people realize how important it is to share a meal with others. For the majority of my meals I had to pack my own while everyone else ate what was provided. Only when we visited the house at the Environmental Studies on the Piedmont was I able to eat the same food (the majority of it), and I felt like I belonged. 

... & the fresh produce stand on the street corner

It’s disheartening not being able to break the same bread with other guests at a table. It makes me think I’ll be judged as someone unable to travel for work, to visit friends near and far, or partake in adventures the universe has been leading me towards. 

It’s times such as these that holistic living seems restrictive as opposed to freeing.

Five days of downtime – much of it sleeping and rereading the Te of Piglet – has me back to my good ol’ Morri self. Recipes are being written down and photographed. Miles are being run. My simple eating and constantly being on the go last month resulted in losing five to six pounds (121 lbs.), one and/or six pounds towards my ultimate weight goal. Sadly, although I’ve lost weight, the inner dialogue is in overdrive. If I ended up around 115 lbs., I still wouldn’t be content with myself. I did gain a more prevailing belief in myself and I am confident in my abilities and aspirations, but the idea of “never being good enough” whispers around the edges. And to be honest, I’m kind of over feeling that way.

This recipe was inspired by the meal I had at the house on the Piedmont. It was here I tasted the Sunshine Burger, a great vegan alternative for the grill that just so happens to be soy and gluten free. I think my favorite thing about this delectable morsel was this quote on the box:

“Carol’s farm fresh vegetarian burgers are not meant to be a beef imitation but an excellent flavor sensation of their own.”

And it did not disappoint. In fact, I was the complete opposite of disappointed that I had to make my own veggie burger, grain and nut free.

Summer Veggie Burger

2 oz Canned black beans, drained
0.75 oz Carrot, finely grated
1 oz Yellow zucchini, finely grated
1.5 oz Quinoa, cooked
1 Garlic clove, coarsely chopped
1 scant tsp. Chia seeds
1 tsp. Ghee (easily substituted with olive oil for vegans) 
1/4 tsp. Sea salt
1/4 tsp. Pepper
1 Flax egg*

Preheat the oven to 350°F.
Coarsely puree or mash the black beans by hand or hand mixer, then blend in the remaining ingredients except for the flax egg.
Add in the flax egg and let the mixture sit for up to ten minutes.
On a lightly greased baking sheet (or a small cake pan, like I used), mold it into a patty shape with an even thickness.
Bake for 35 – 40 minutes until the patty is cooked all the way through and firm.

Makes 1 patty. Serves 1.

*Flax egg: 1 tbsp. flaxseed meal with 2 – 3 tbsp. water. (Let sit at room temperature up to three minutes.

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