Monday, July 4, 2011

The Cure for the Common Everything. Best Paleo Veggie Burgers Ever, Plus a Little Impermanence For Good Measure

Yesterday morning I sat down to a precious few minutes at the computer and began to load last week's photos for My Time-Lapse Life.  My computer crashed.  Undeterred, I rebooted, only to discover that iPhoto was completely blank.  Yep, pictures all gone.  Five years of photos, not backed up. (The thing about the lower items on my to-do list is that, as the upper items all involve the survival of the family and are barely executed most of the time, they stay at the bottom.  Undone.  I have been meaning to back up my iPhoto and iTunes for about 3 years.)

My first reaction was to wail and weep as if the house had burned down.  Since then, oddly, I have felt really calm about the whole thing.  There is a good chance that I can retrieve the files if I take the machine to a tech (yes, I will buy backup memory and back everything up RIGHT THEN!), but my usual response to this type of situation is to panic until I have taken care of things.

Why am I sharing this scintillating tale with you? Well, in addition to offering an explanation for why I won't include any pictures this week, I think this is a testament to the incredible success my current dietary regimen has had in terms of regulating my adrenals.  Accepting impermanence, staying present and mindful, meeting each moment with openness and energy; everything is suddenly much easier.

I have shared here before that I often have insomnia, waking during the night for hours at a time.  While my other anxiety symptoms have declined over the years as I have made chances to my lifestyle and diet, I occasionally feel panicky or my heart races.  I have to be very careful what "news" I consume and how; certain issues put me over the edge and I have trouble bringing myself back to a normal mental and emotional state.

Last week, I wrote that I was making a casual transition to a modified paleolithic diet (and by modified I mean that I cheat sometimes!).  So now that I have gone and told everyone to eat lentils, I am easing myself off legumes and pulses.  Since I stopped eating wheat and all other grains (I am not strict about beans and lentils and dairy products, although I can tell that I don't digest as well when I eat them), I sleep at night.  Almost every day, I wake up refreshed at a reasonable hour.  If I am up during the night, it is because the baby is needing something, and I can usually nap during the day with him to catch up.  Other than that, I have energy all the time.  I feel terrific.

The big issue I am noticing during the transition is that I am hungry often.  At first, I felt really hungry, and I just ate snacks as often as I could, making sure to keep a lot of good stuff on hand.  After a little more than a week, I need to eat fairly often, but I don't feel ravenously hungry ever.  I don't eat very much at any one time, except for when I occasionally eat meat.  When I eat meat, I tend to eat a lot, and then I am not hungry for a long time; usually well into the next morning.  It occurs to me that I may be adjusting to a natural condition of being slightly hungry; I don't need to eat, but I can.  That would make sense if I were a grazing omnivore in a jungle somewhere.

One symptom I have been fortunate to avoid over the years is chronic headaches, but I know many folks who suffer from them.  I have recently read some fascinating stuff about glutamates (including, but not at all limited to, MSG).  You are right, Mom, autolyzed yeast is essentially MSG.  A lot of foods are high in glutamates, or exacerbate glutamate-sensitivity when cooked or fermented.  Check out the information on this website, it is fascinating stuff.  All of us should be careful with glutamates.  We need some, they are essential to the production of hormones that calm us down.  Too much overwhelms these processes and produces opposite and undesirable effects.  This is an area where I need to learn a lot more, so please add any links that are useful to you.

So what are we eating, you may ask? Here are some terrific recipes that are working for our family.  I still make bread or pasta when it is requested, but I am noticing a decline in demand lately as we all start feeling better.

I am living out of Ani Phyo's "Ani's Raw Food Kitchen".  Sometimes I follow her recipes but cook them.  I find the text in this book to be somewhat sanctimonious and annoying, but the recipes are terrific.

Sun Burgers with Basil Cashew Sauce

  • 3/4 C chopped celery
  • 1/4 C chopped yellow onion
  • 1 C chopped cremini mushrooms
  • 1t sea salt
  • 2t dried oregano or 2T fresh oregano
  • 1 C sunflower seeds, ground 
  • 1/2 C flax seeds, ground
  • 1/2 C water
  • 1/4 C chopped parsley
  • Basil Cashew Sauce, see below

  • Mix all the ingredients in a bowl, adding water last to get a good burger texture.  As it is important not to eat mushrooms raw, you can either pre-marinate them in a little olive oil and tamari, as I did, or cook the burgers.
  • Form burger patties.
  • If cooking, bake at 350 for about 10-15 minutes, checking regularly.
I did not use parchment or silpats, but I think these would be helpful in keeping the burgers from sticking the pans.

Basil Cashew Sauce


  • 1 medium garlic clove
  • 1 t sea salt
  • 2 C cashews (I soak mine for 4-8 hours)
  • 4T lemon juice.  If fresh, juice of 2 lemons
  • 1 T olive oil
  • 1 bunch basil
  • 1/2 C water, as needed

  • Puree all ingredients in blender or food processor to make a thick cream.  
I keep a batch of this in the fridge; it is terrific on raw veggies, or on "breads" (I'll add some bread/cracker recipes next week).

Ragged animal hides not required.


  1. I can't wait to make this! Trying to eat Paleo and being a vegetarian is a challenge!