Tuesday, November 27, 2012

A Wheat free Thanksgiving with Hawaii Ingredients

Mac-nut Biscuits
This Thanksgiving we made a major change in our favorite holiday foods.  We replaced our bread dressing with wild rice dressing and made a crushed nut crust for our pumpkin pie.  We found alternatives to our favorite cream gravy and buttermilk biscuits using Hawaii ingredients and started a new tradition of wheat-free Thanksgivings. 

We started a wheat-free diet after two recent gout attacks that occurred after eating a lot of bread.  We have not found any studies that show that wheat causes gout.  However, some doctors claim that the modern hybrid dwarf wheat, the primary wheat available today, causes insulin spikes, inflammation, and is responsible for many other health problems.  Though we find it hard to believe that wheat is as toxic as Dr. Davis claims in his book: Wheat Belly: Lose the Wheat, Lose the Weight, and Find Your Path Back to Health having a gout attack after eating a lot of bread motivated us to see if a wheat free diet would improve our health.  After only six weeks on a wheat free diet, my feet are less swollen and shoes that were too small a year ago suddenly fit which makes me suspect that bread may indeed be the cause in my most recent gout attacks.   Though we miss bread, we have found healthy replacements for our favorite foods using local products from the Big Island of Hawaii.

Here are two of the recipes we used last week for Thanksgiving. 

Wheat-free Biscuits
2½  cups dry-roasted macadamia meal (we ground Mauna Loa Baking pieces)
½ tsp baking soda
½ tsp gluten free baking powder
3 Tbsp coconut oil
3 tsp coconut milk
2 eggs

Mix the baking powder and soda with the macadamia nut meal.  Whisk the eggs, coconut oil, and coconut milk and add to dry ingredients.  The mixture is very wet – you can roll it into flat balls or spoon it on to an oiled flat pan.  Cook in oven (preheated 350 degrees) for about 20 minutes until lightly brown.  This makes about 12 biscuits.

Coconut Cream Gravy
2 Tbsp  rice flour
3 Tbsp  coconut flour
4 Tbsp  coconut oil
1/2 cup broth
1/2 cup coconut milk
Salt and pepper to taste

Mix the flours and oil in a pan and heat the roux.  Slowly stir in the cup of broth and coconut milk until all the roux is absorbed.  Turn up the heat and stir until it boils, then lower the heat. Stir until the gravy thickens – makes 1 cup of gravy.
Coconut Cream Gravy

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

2013 Year of the Water Snake

Once again it is time for predictions based on the Chinese lunar calendar of the upcoming 2013 Year of the Water Snake.  The Chinese Zodiacpopular in East Asia and Hawaii, assigns an animal to each year with characteristics that help predict the events of the year as well as the personality of those born during the year.  As predicted, the current 2012 Water Dragon pushed the unpleasant realities in the world to the forefront and the unsettling change will continue until the start of the Snake Year on February 10, 2013.

Snakes are all about material wealth. They will plot and scheme to make sure things work out in their favor. The upcoming Snake year may get the world’s economies back on track, but it may be achieved by Xenophobia and isolationism.  A Snake’s view of success and wealth is possessive and nationalistic.  Though peace and harmony is preferable, anyone that criticizes or jeopardizes progress will be attacked.  The cunning, proud, money-oriented, and at times vicious snake may shelter itself and not help with the conflict and unrest in the world. 

The last Water Snake year in 1953, brought the Hydrogen bomb into the world and atomic bomb testing started in the US, Russia, and Australia.  McCarthy had his anti-communist rampage and President Eisenhower fired any federal workers who took the “5th” amendment, saying that meant they were “Reds” (communist).  Fidel Castro began his rebellion in Cuba and China started their push through Korea which ended in the formation of North and South Korea. The most recent Snake year was in 2001, when the September 11, 2001 attack occurred. The 9/11 attack shut down air traffic in the US for 2 days and invoked the NATO agreement which backed strikes by the US against aggressors. The year of 2001 brought the Tiananmen Square incident in China, Anthrax mailings, the shoe bomber, and the US invaded Afghanistan. The Office of Homeland Security was established, the Patriot Act was enacted, and military tribunals were set up.   During Snake years, countries tend to focus on internal issues and protect their “own” at any cost.

There are positives about Snake years when advances in areas that require intuition and intelligence are made. During the Water Snake Year of 1953, TV came into its own with broadcasting stations set up across the country and coast to coast televised shows and news events took place for the first time. Crick and Watson discovered the structure of DNA, Salk announced his Polio vaccine, Einstein announced his revised unified field theory, and Banting and Best isolated insulin.  Transportation was reformed with the first west to east transcontinental nonstop jet service, the first helicopter passenger service, the first Corvette was manufactured, and Chuck Yeager reached Mach 2.4 in a rocket plane. In the 2001 Snake Year, a spacecraft landed on an asteroid, Mars Odyssey was launched, and the world had its first space tourist. The first draft of the human genome was published, the first artificial heart was created, Apple announced iTunes and released the iPod, Wikipedia went online, and China was granted normal trade relations with the US.

From the ashes of change during the 2012 Dragon Year, the 2013 Snake Year will bring more focus on the US economy and advancement of welfare, and harmony.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Designing an “ideal” 2013 calendar and planner for Hawaii

Every year we have trouble finding a good calendar for planning and keeping track of our activities in Hawaii.  Few stores on the island even carry daily planners and those that do run out quickly.  We end up spending a lot of money for marginally useful calendars without any of the state holidays and celebrations that we like to keep track of in Hawaii.

We thought it would be easy to design a much better daily planner for 2013 with Hawaii holidays and celebrations.   It turned out to be lot more work than we guessed to include everything we wanted and to research the many unique holidays and special days celebrated in Hawaii.

We wanted the calendar to have room to record food, calories, and weight so we could track the relationship between what we ate and our weight loss or gain each day, week, and month. We wanted a calendar with a place to write annual goals so we could easily review them every day. We have read several studies about goal setting that showed people who write down their goals have a greater chance of achieving them.

Every week we take some time to think about how we can improve our life and write down any insights or lessons learned, so we added a place to write them down in the planner every week.

We have been inspired by stories of how top athletes use visualizations to improve their performance.  We want to keep visualizations of our future in our thoughts every day, so we included an area to write them down as well as an area to write our appreciations. 

“Your Ideal Hawaii Calendar 2013: Daily Planner and Calories Counter” incorporates goal setting, calorie counting, weight tracking, visualizations, and affirmations with space to schedule and record monthly and daily activities.  The planner has holidays, special days, and annual events celebrated in Hawaii with information about what is going on around the state every month. We left out photos to make as much space for writing as possible. The calendar is in paperback book form, because we think the wire bound calendars are not as easy to read or keep in a book shelf for later reference. 

If you are looking for a 2013 calendar/planner, you may want to try this planner.  We priced it at $8.99 on Amazon so it is not a big investment to try.   If you find it useful or have ideas for improvements for next year, please let us know.