Recipes :: Chocolate - Is it healthy?


All you need is love. But a little chocolate now and then doesn't hurt. - Charles M. Schulz

My diet has become quite restricted since being diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis and cardiovascular disease.  I'm okay with it, but some things I truly love and one of those items is CHOCOLATE!  According to the Mayo Clinic website, the following guidelines are given on the healthy benefits of chocolate:

In addition, some research has linked chocolate consumption to reduced risks of diabetes, stroke and heart attack. One caveat: More research is needed to confirm these results.

In the meantime, if you want to add chocolate to your diet, do so in moderation. Why? Most commercial chocolate has ingredients that add fat, sugar and calories. And too much can contribute to weight gain, a risk factor for high blood pressure, heart disease and diabetes.

We'll, I've always preferred good quality very dark chocolate.  Now that I'm on a low sugar diet, I get the stuff that is 75% or more dark.  That may be considered too bitter for many of you, but I love it!

The following recipe comes from Mary K. Lawrie, a friend and long time vegan. She calls it the Fudge Single Lady Brownie.  It looks unbelievably delicious.  There is one "weird" ingredient in it. It calls for mashed avocado.  This is second or third recipe that calls for avocado mixed with chocolate that I've seen. I've yet to try it, but given Mary's recipes are always good, I've got to give it a try.  If you decide to do so also, let me know how it goes for you. I'll report back in a few days after I've tried it.

With my rheumatoid arthritis, I've also jumped on the gluten-ffree band wagon.  It helps to keep my inflammation to a minimum in my joints.  Anyway, sometimes I don't always have time to cook from scratch, so I've looked at a few gluten-free brownie mixes, and I like the Namaste Foods Brownie Mix.  For the oil, I use organic coconut oil. Though I prefer sugars that are lower on the glycemic scale which cane sugar is not, but these don't have much sugar in them.  The mix is a tad expensive at $7.00 or so a box, but well worth it. The price helps set the brownies at the level of a treat, so you don't over indulge!  Even my daughter likes them, and she's picky having attended a French Pastry School.

And of course, there is always my favorite -Bissengers.  I've been frequenting this business since childhood. I figure if it was good enough for Napoleon (he bought their chocolates when the business was still in France), then good enough for me. Every penny I saved went toward molasses chocolate lollipops.  I can't have those now, but when I stopped by there the other day and told them about my low sugar restriction, they were happy to steer me toward their dark chocolates with nuts  and coconut. YUM! They even have a dark chocolate with Quinoa crunch.  Super delish!

4 month anniversary of stroke survival


“Illness is the night side of life, a more onerous citizenship. Everyone who is born holds dual citizenship, in the kingdom of the well and in the kingdom of the sick. Although we all prefer to use the good passport, sooner or later each of us is obliged, at least for a spell, to identify ourselves as citizens of that other place.” -- Susan Sontag

I passed a few major milestones in the past few weeks.  I successfully took the train to Chicago to teach at the university.  I managed to get around okay.  I was tired, very, very tired afterward.  I also regained my driver's license!  I joke that the silver lining in having had a stroke is that I get to feel 16 again.  I will use any excuse to drive.  I love the freedom!  While I am grateful for all the folks who offered me rides to and from rehab, but I hated feeling so dependent.  I eventually started taking cabs, just to have a little sense of independence.

The hardest part I face now is being respected by my family, for what I've endured and to have them accept that I've been permanently changed by the event.  I have worked hard to regain my faculties. I dilegently practiced all i was told to do in rehab which has helped. But my brain doesn't work the same.  They don't hear / see the difference, but I know it's there.  When I ask directly for help.  I rarely get it unless it is convenient for them.  Well, excuse me for living, the stroke hasn't been exactly convenient for me. I try to be pateient knowing that a severe illness effects more than just the patient.  But that's such bullshit.  I'm as a result forced to carry the weight of my illness and disability in addition to eveyone else's issues with my illness, as well as their own fears. I've begun to call the left side of my body George as I feel like a line splits me down the middle with my right and left feeling distinctly diffferent. The only thing that relieves my sense of the divide is Pilates and Thai massage. If you are a caretaker or family member reading this blog, please remember that the patient doesn't want to ask for help because they know they are being a burden, so when they do ask for help, for goodness sake help them! It took them a lot to just ask, not just emotionally, but they have to try connecting a few zillion neruons to get the words out of their mouth, let alone to make their mouth move.

It's now 3 weeks since I started this post.  I hesitated to post it as I don't like to focus on anger.  But anger there is.  My life is dramtically different.  I used to have a very full and busy life which was stressful at times, but which I really enjoyed. i am sick of people saying that  I am better off now.  How rude and flippant. It takes everything I've got to make it successfully through a day.  I have a fatigue that can zap me at any minute.  I would rather spend my day doing what I enjoy rather than hunting down a new doctor.  Because of the anger, friends keep suggesting I see a therapist.  Well back to that previous sentence.  I don't want to spend what little of my day of which I have energy to enjoy by chasing down a doctor. If you don't want to hlisten to me, then just say so or why not just change the subject!  Once again, you make me the one having to look out for you and that prevents me from focusing on myself and my healing process.  

Yesterday was really the icing on he cake.  A woman at a coffee shop noticed me limping a bit I was tired and when I tire, my left side gets weaker, so I limp a bit. No biggie to me.  I'm just glad to be wakling and talking.  She had the gall to ask me why I was limping.  I told her the truth, that i had had a stroke and was feeling tired.  She and her boyfriend proceeded to tell me that it was all due to me being a vegetarian.  What the fuck.?!  Excuse the language. But really people?  I asked if they were doctors.  Of course not.  Doctors don't know everything.  Well, clealrly they know zip, let alone how to mind their own buisiness.

This is my last survival update for a while. I started them as their was nothing out there for young patients.  Eveything was geared toward those in their 60's - 80s.  I'm not retired, or even close to it, I don't have a husband to support me.  This is it.  Me and only me keeping the balls rotating in the air.  I'm now going back to craft and art.  Thank you for reading.

 PS - My 40 year anniversary day for suviving chidhood cancer is August 4th.  I was given 3-6 months to live at the time.  HA!  I'm thinking that a float down a local river might be the best way to celebrate living.  :-) And now for some chocoalte! We vegetairians need our antioxidants!

Thinking about Spring


My garden is my most beautiful masterpiece. — Claude Monet

Groundhog’s Day is around the corner.  If it’s sunny, Mr. Groundhog will see his shadow and tuck in for another
six weeks of winter.  Fingers crossed for clouds, because I am done with winter.  St. Louis hasn’t been hit as hard
as other parts of the country, but I’m not real thrilled with my fingers going numb and white from the cold.  

Continue reading "Thinking about Spring" »

Festive Cranberry Muffin


I'm just someone who likes cooking and for whom sharing food is a form of expression.  --  Maya Angelou

Cranberries need to be pulled from ranks of sauce and given their full due as a fruit.  These muffins are the perfect blend of sweet and tart. The bright dots of red color add a festive note to what is essentially a basic muffin.

I adapted this recipe from The Joy of Cooking by Mrs. Irma S. Rombauer.  This is my basic go to cookbook for anything and everything even as a vegetarian.  Gam was friends with Mrs. Rombauer and did much of her initial recipe testing.  Gam was the kind of baker who kept a notebook of the weather as she baked.  An overcast sky always meant baking times would be slightly longer.  She instinctively understood the chemical reactions of baking soda, baking powder and the various liquids such as milk, sour cream or yogurt.  

Continue reading "Festive Cranberry Muffin" »

International Day to End the Violence Against Women - Wear Orange!

UN Women End Violence Against Women

Today is International End Violence Against Women Day. Look at that statistic.  1 in 3 women and girls experience violence within their lifetime.  The violence can be outright such as rape or more subtle like emotional abuse.  This problem is worldwide and not particular to one class, race, or religion.  Sexism is rampant, ugly and violent.  

Continue reading "International Day to End the Violence Against Women - Wear Orange!" »

7 Lessons I've learned about crafting a creative career

Crochet book

You only live once, but if you do it right, once is enough.  --  Mae West

I recently read a great blog post by artist, curator and teacher Sergio Gomez on the 7 lessons he has learned about the art world.  I found myself nodding along as I read through it and decided to add my two cents.  Here are 7 lessons I've learned about crafting a creative career.

Continue reading "7 Lessons I've learned about crafting a creative career" »

Birthdays and New Year Resolutions

Lindsay Silhouette

God gave us the gift of life; it is up to us to give ourselves the gift of living well.  --  Voltaire

This time last year I sat in bed recovering from a cold looking on Zillow at property in St. Louis.  Should I move?  Should I not move?  What exactly should I do?  Birthdays are a reminder to live your life to the fullest.  That afternoon I called a realtor.

Continue reading "Birthdays and New Year Resolutions" »

NaBloPoMo - National Blog Posting Month

NaBloPoMo November blogroll large

Either write something worth reading or do something worth writing. -- Benjamin Franklin

I may have just jumped off the high dive without checking whether there was water in the pool.  Time will tell.  I have joined the BlogHer's blogroll for this year's National Blog Posting Month.  The event corresponds with National Novel Writing Month.  Inspired by Kathy Cano-Murillo of Crafty Chica, I would love to sit down and write a novel.  I know her first novel came from this event, but truth told, a whole novel seems incredibly daunting.  The pressure to try is even more daunting given that my cousin Amor's first novel made it on The New Times Best Sellers list.

Continue reading "NaBloPoMo - National Blog Posting Month" »

recipe :: fried green tomatoes


...No one is born a great cook, one learns by doing.
 --  Julia Child

Fried green tomatoes are entrenched in my memory.  Every fall Gam would head over to the farmer she befriended and pick up a bushel or two.  Most of them went into making her famous green tomato pickle, but I always begged that a few be reserved and fried up.  For me, they equal home, the hearth, memories of carefree moments. 

Continue reading "recipe :: fried green tomatoes" »

How to Draw an Owl


Every child is an artist.  The problem is how to remain an artist once we grow up. -- Pablo Picasso

I have to share this set of charming directions on how to draw an owl.  Written and illustrated by my 9 year old neighbor, you will hoot with delight as you draw your own.

Continue reading "How to Draw an Owl" »