Bliss through Food Mindfulness
March is an exciting month. If you are Irish, like I am (about half Irish), its time to celebrate our culture with St. Patrick’s Day, not with green beer – definitely not Irish-, but with traditional Irish foods, dance events, parades, etc. Its also the time of the Spring Equinox toward the end of the month, which gives us hope of warmer weather, and here in the PNW, we really need that after a pretty harsh winter this year.
I’ve decided it is Mindfulness March! How are you doing on your intentions? Have some fallen by the wayside? Are you still excited about the changes you are making to improve your life & overall health? I hope so! If not, no judgment - this is a great time to review & revise them and set your course on a different or better tack.
The trendy terms “mindful” and “mindfulness” stem from Eastern philosophies, which encourage one to be more, or fully, present in the moment. “Be here now” is another similar phrase that is helpful to release anxiety about the past or future.
One thing that I have learned to be very mindful of over the past 15 years is my diet. You see, back before it was common, I was diagnosed with food allergies; the main ones were wheat & cow dairy. These days, it is a common thing for people to avoid or be mindful about how much of these everyday items they consume. 15 years ago – it was not easy and people, even my own family, thought it was weird! While it was easier to avoid cow dairy, wheat was in everything: from sauces, dressings, bakery products, to pasta, etc. Everywhere I looked, there was something I couldn’t eat, unless I wanted to feel miserable, and going out to eat in a restaurant was essentially a nightmare. So I became very good at home cooking and modifying regular recipes so I didn’t starve or continue to feel awful.
These days it is much easier to find wheat-free and gluten-free (which are generally considered wheat-free) products. 15 years ago, not so much.
One of my favorite things to enjoy in March is Irish Soda Bread, traditional bread made fresh every few days by Irish farm wives and used as table bread. Its sweet with currants or raisins, with a hint of savory flavor from caraway seeds and can be slightly altered easily. Traditionally this was a rough loaf of bread, hand shaped into a round lumpy mass, with a cross marked in the top to allow for more even baking, (and to bless the bread) and then put in the oven on a baking sheet or straight on the oven rack.
But guess what? Irish Soda Bread is full of wheat & dairy – buttermilk to be exact! So I modified found recipes, and made up my own version, which is actually really quite good, if I do say so myself! Let me know what you think.
Bhrigha’s WF/GF/DF Irish Soda Bread Muffins
(easier to share and no messy loaf cutting required!)
2 ¼ cups Namaste Gluten-free Organic Perfect Flour Blend (I buy this at Costco in big bags)
2 teaspoons GF baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup granulated raw sugar
1 1/2 cups currants (best!) or raisins of choice
1 1/2 to 2 teaspoons caraway seeds, add to taste or omit (More authentic to add)
2 large organic eggs
1 cup sour cream substitute (I use Tofutti Sour Supreme Better Than Sour Cream)
6 tablespoons melted Smart Balance butter substitute or 1/3 cup coconut oil (I like to combine both so 3 tablespoons of Smart Balance butter & 1/6 cup coconut oil.)
Sprinkling of raw sugar, for topping; optional but yummy to add!
For best results, use full-fat sour cream substitute as nonfat will yield tough muffin; lower-fat will make an acceptable but less-tender muffin.
1. Preheat the oven to 400°F. Lightly grease a standard muffin pan; or
line with papers and grease the papers.
2. In a medium-sized mixing bowl, mix together the flour, baking powder,
baking soda, salt, sugar, currants or raisins, and caraway seeds.
3. In a separate bowl, whisk together the eggs, sour cream, and melted butter and/or oil.
4. Stir together the dry and wet ingredients. As soon as everything is
evenly moistened, stop stirring; this batter doesn't need beating.
Remember Irish Soda Bread is meant to look rough around the edges.
5. Spoon the batter into the prepared pan/papers; an ice cream
scooper works well here. The stiff batter will be mounded in the cups.
Top with sprinkling of raw sugar, if desired.
6. Bake the muffins for 18 to 20 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the
center of a muffin comes out clean. Remove them from the oven. Tip
the muffins in the pan, so their bottoms don't get soggy. Wait 5
minutes, then transfer the muffins to a rack to cool. Serve them plain,
or with butter and/or jam – both recommended!
Yield: about 12 muffins.
Eating healthy and avoiding food allergies doesn’t have to be difficult anymore. Its much more accepted now, even in restaurants. Many menus now have gluten-free options and you can always ask your server. Its also fun to come up with your own recipes and even just to cook without a recipe. I love to cook at home with my husband, trying new things, and enjoying companionship in the kitchen.
Remember, when you sit down to eat, to be mindful of what you are eating. This is not the time to continue thinking about or stressing over the day’s events. This is time for you – to take in the fuel you need to keep going. I like to thank the critters and plants who sacrificed their energy so that I may be nourished, the person who made it, the Universe for providing it for me, and ask that it may nourish my body, mind, soul, and spirit. A traditional Irish toast or blessing over food and drink is “Slaínte”, pronounced “slahn – chuh,”(accent on the first syllable,) which means “To your health” in Irish Gaelic.
Don’t forget to be mindful about booking a massage this month! I’ll see you on the table.
Wishing you Brightest Blissful Blessings,