Food Allergies and Sensitivities – Some Alternative Recipes |

Food allergies and sensitivities seem to be on the rise. Either that, or there are just more and more people who are aware of what is causing their ill health.Back in the 80’s, I was one of those people who scoffed at the claims of some people regarding environmental sensitivities. At that time the focus was on dyes, inks, fragrances and environmental pollutants. Many of the people featured in news articles and documentaries were reduced to living in tents or “bubbles”. I thought they were all a little bit “nuts”. Then I became one. It sure taught me a thing or two.The list of things that I must avoid is daunting: milk in all its forms; wheat in all its forms; corn, which includes corn oil, corn starch and corn sugars; bananas, all citrus fruit; strawberries; chocolate; caffeine; nuts; peanuts; yeast; mushrooms and environmental fungi; artificial sweeteners; artificial colors; artificial flavors; preservatives; alcohol, whether taken internally or inhaled as in a hairspray; and all artificial fragrances and quite a few natural ones. All of the above items give me migraine headaches. I had the migraines every day for about four years before I figured it all out. I have to severely limit my salt intake due to having Meniere’s Syndrome, which is too much fluid pressure in the inner ear. It causes extreme dizziness, ringing in the ears and gradual loss of hearing.Because of all of these limitations, I have had to find alternatives to the things that most people take for granted. I have spent a lot of years researching food allergies and sensitivities and the alternatives. I would like to present you with some of the recipes I have developed for some of my favorite foods.When I was young, my mother made the most wonderful ginger cookies. She used white wheat flour, butter, Crisco, salt and baking soda as well as a few other ingredients that I can still use. So, if gluten is not a problem for you, here is my ginger cookie recipe:1 ¾ cups whole grain spelt flour or oat flour½ cup brown cane sugar½ cup refined cane sugar1/3 cup molasses1/3 cup light olive oil4 teaspoons ginger2 teaspoons cinnamon1 teaspoon potassium bicarbonate (rising agent)¼ teaspoon cloveWaterUnwashed, raw sugar with large crystalsPre-heat oven to 370°In a large bowl, mix olive oil, sugar, brown sugar and molasses. Add the ginger, cinnamon and clove. Then add the flour and the rising agent. If it looks too loose or oily, add a little more flour until it doesn’t. If you add too much flour and it becomes to dry to hold together, add a little water. It should not stick to your hands.Take about a tablespoon and a half of dough in your hands and form it into a ball. Roll the ball around in the raw sugar and place on an ungreased, non-stick cookie sheet. They will spread out, so only place about 12 balls per average sized cookie sheet. About ¾ of the way through baking, the tops start to crack.Bake for about 15 minutes.Be a little careful as you remove them from the sheet to a cooling rack. They do not hold together really well until they have cooled. It will make at least 2 dozen, maybe more.I have been told by countless people that these are the best ginger cookies they have ever eaten.Another treat I dearly love are pancakes. I would eat them for breakfast, lunch and dinner if I could. Actually, I have, but not all on the same day.The trick with pancakes is to get them to hold together well. Also, to make them “gluey” enough to hold the gas produced by the rising agent so that they are nice and fluffy. Spelt and oat flours do not have nearly as much gluten as does wheat flour. The potato starch mentioned in the following recipe acts as a conditioner for the batter and the flax seed meal acts as the “glue”.1 cup whole grain spelt flour½ cup whole grain oat flour (or use all oat flour)¼ cup light olive oil1 egg2 tablespoons refined cane sugar (or raw sugar)1 tablespoon potato starch1 tablespoon flax seed meal2 teaspoons vanilla extract2 teaspoons potassium bicarbonate (rising agent, if sodium is not a problem, use baking soda)WaterMix the egg, olive oil, sugar and vanilla in a large mixing bowl. Add the flours, potato starch, flax seed meal and rising agent. Stir. It will be very thick. Add water by 1/3 cups until you have the consistency you desire. Cook on a non-stick griddle over medium heat until they are golden brown.Because oat flour and potato starch soak up a lot of water, the batter tends to thicken as it sits between batches. It may be necessary to add a little water as you go.I make smallish pancakes by pouring the batter by ¼ cupfuls onto the hot griddle. I get about a dozen from this recipe.I like my pancakes best served with 100% maple syrup or a little locally produced honey. Do not toss out the leftovers (if you have any). Just store them in the refrigerator. When you are in the mood for a quick snack, pop a couple in the toaster. Yum! I am always hoping there will be some pancakes left over.I hope you enjoy my first foray into presenting some alternative recipes. Be creative with your food and do not be afraid of failure. Cooking might be chemistry, but it is not rocket science.

Sacred Science – A Spiritual Look At Evolution |

Evolution, I propose, is the most Intelligent of designs. The miracle of life isn’t diluted by the science that makes it all possible, but deepened and enriched by it.Intelligent Design argues that ” certain features of the universe and of living things are best explained by an intelligent cause rather than an undirected process such as natural selection,” and “is thus a scientific disagreement with the core claim of evolutionary theory that the apparent design of living systems is an illusion.”I see much wonder, but no such apparent design, and neither, ultimately, did Charles Darwin, because knowledge lifted the scales from his eyes and the wonder of nature became less a thing divine and unknowable and more a natural work of art continually in progress.”The state of mind which grand scenes formerly excited in me,” he wrote,” and which was intimately connected with a belief in God, did not essentially differ from that which is often called the sence of sublimity; and however difficult it may be to explain the genesis of this sence, it can hardly be advanced as an argument for the existence of God, any more than the powerful though vague and similar feelings excited by music.”About “The old argument of design in nature…which formerly seemed to me so conclusive,” wrote Darwin, in his autobiography, it “…, fails, now that the law of natural selection has been discovered. We can no longer argue that, for instance, the beautiful hinge of a bivalve shell must have been made by an intelligent being, like the hinge of a door by man. There seems to be no more design in the variability of organic beings and in the action of natural selection, than in the course the wind blows. “He wrote his friend, botanist Joseph Hooker, “What a book a Devil’s chaplain might write on the clumsy, wasteful, blundering, low and horridly cruel works of Nature. My God, how I long for my stomachs’ sake to wash my hands of it.”But even that is to anthropomorphize the reality of life on earth with a suggestion of intent even more than Darwin knew he should. He ultimately came to prefer biologist Herbert Spencer’s phrase “survival of the fittest” over “natural selection” because the latter suggests the idea of some entity doing the selecting.It must have been extraordinarily difficult to be Charles Darwin in his age. He began with aspirations of one day being a vicar, but trusting the journey of his intellect and reasoning became a non-believer in a single presiding entity over the universe in support of the indominable forces of nature.”… can the mind of man,” asked Darwin,” which has, as I fully believe, been developed from a mind as low as the possessed by the lowest animal, be trusted when it draws such a grand conclusions? May not these be the result of the connection between cause and effect which strikes us as a necessary one, but probably depends merely on inherited experience?”I cannot pretend to throw the least light on such abstruse problems. The mystery of the beginning of all things is insoluble to us; and I for one must be content to remain an Agnostic. “My favorite sacred scientist, or at least sacred observationist, is Annie Dillard, and I pull from her bible, Pilgrim at Tinker Creek Harper (Perennial Modern Classics, 1998), for much of the rest of my text here. Few people, I believe, have brought together the sacred and the scientific as beautifully and thought provokingly as she has. Dillard’s “intelligent designer” echoes Darwin, and sounds more like actor Jim Carey in Bruce Almighty than the mysterious planner of creationist designs.”Nature,” writes Dillard, “is above all, profligate. Don’t believe them when they tell you how economical and thrifty nature is, whose leaves return to the soil. Wouldn’t it be cheaper to leave them on the tree in the first place? This deciduous business alone is a radical scheme, the brainchild of a deranged manic depressive with limitless capital. Extravagance! Nature will try anything once. This is what the sign of the insects says. No form is too gruesome, no behavior too grotesque. If you’re dealing with organic compounds, then let them combine. If it works, if it quickens, set it clacking in the grass; there’s always room for one more; you ain’t so handsome yourself. This is a spendthrift economy. Though nothing is lost, all is spent.”Dillard acknowledges the same mystery as Darwin, but heads in another direction, one that I find wholly inspiring, spiritually uplifting and fully life affirming, and that Darwin may have enjoyed as well. Dillard sees *some* sort of originating force. She uses the word “creator,” but keeps it lower case. She identifies this creator as “he” but that seems clearly for the utility of writing.”Look, in short, at practically anything,” she says, “the coot’s feet, the mantis’s face, a banana, the human ear – and see that not only did the creator create everything, but that he is apt to create *anything*. He’ll stop at nothing.”There is no one standing over evolution with a blue pencil to say, “Now that one, there, is absolutely ridiculous and I won’t have it.” If the creature makes it, it gets a “stet”. Is our taste so much better than the creator’s? Utility to the creature is evolution’s only aesthetic consideration. Form follows function in the created world, so far as I know, and the creature that functions, however bizarre, survives to perpetuate its form. Of the intricacy of form, I know some answers and not others.”…But of the variety of form itself, of the multiplicity of forms, I know nothing. Except that, apparently, anything goes. This hold for forms of behavior as well as design – the mantis munching her mate, the frog wintering in mud, the spider wrapping a hummingbird, the pine processionary straddling a thread. Welcome aboard. A generous spirit signs on this motley crew.”Consider the jumping spider. Have you ever taken the time to look at one, before flinging it away from you? Jumping spiders are amazing creatures! They have incredible vision and can jump over 20 times their body length. They have eight eyes to gauge distance and detect motion. Four of the eyes are long and tubular, with a narrow field of view but allowing for sharp focus. That’s why they seem to look at you so critically – they are! Jumping spiders also have four eyes on the top of the head – 2 toward the back and 2 toward the front, that broaden their field of view and act more like motion detectors.How about frogs? Without their help, we’d be over-run by insects, and predatory animals would lose a principle meal. In some parts of the word, they form the largest component of vertebrate biomass; with more live weight per acre than mammals, birds, or reptiles.They’re also, for better or worse, a key environmental barometer; they’re indicator species, the canaries in our environmental mines. Find a frog with more than four legs and something’s up in the neighborhood, and it’s probably not good.Their metamorphic life cycles – usually egg to tadpole (or other water-living larva) to land-based adult – exposes amphibians to both aquatic and terrestrial habitats. Unlike birds or snakes, their eggs have no shells and are protected only by a very thin, permeable gelatinous membrane. And adults, with their moist thin skins, are very sensitive to its surroundings, as well.Lizards? Like frogs, they’re both a vital predatory species with respect to insects, and an equally important species of prey for larger animals. Our lizards here in Florida are spectacular…we’ve got beautiful skinks that actually guard their eggs until they hatch; so-called “glass lizards,” which are legless and are the largest lizards in Florida; we’ve got geckos with huge catlike eyes and feet Spiderman would envy.Zoologists Eric R. Pianka and Laurie J. Vitt call lizards “Windows to the Evolution of Diversity,” and wrote a coffee table book of the same name (University of California Press, 2006) . Who’d a thunk it? A coffee table book about the evolution of lizards! Only people for whom life on earth, whatever its source, is a miracle could spend lifetimes exploring the ways and means of lizards.”Certainly nature seems to exult in abounding radicality, extremism, anarchy,” wrote Annie Dillard. “If we were to judge nature by its common sense or likelihood, we wouldn’t believe the world existed. In nature, improbabilities are the one stock in trade. The whole creation is one lunatic fringe. If creation had been left up to me, I’m sure I wouldn’t have had the imagination or courage to do more than shape a single, reasonably sized atom, smooth as a snowball, and let it go at that. No claims of any and all revelations could be so far fetched as a single giraffe.”The question from agnosticism,” observes Dillard, “is, Who turned on the lights? The question from faith is, Whatever for?”Whatever for, indeed.Perhaps the answer is simply, “Why ever not?” “Tug on anything at all,” said John Muir, ” and you’ll find it connected to everything else in the universe. ” With all the cocktail of the universe whirling through the agar of space, how could the lights *not* come on?”The creation in the first place, being itself,” wrote Dillard.” Is the only necessity for which I would die, and I shall. The point about that being, as I know it here and see it, is that , as I think about it, it accumulates in my mind as an extravagance of minutiae. The sheer fringe and network of detail assumes primary importance. That there are so many details seems to be the most important and visible fact about the creation. … If the world is gratuitous, then the fringe of a goldfish’s fin is a million times more so. The first question – the one crucial one – of the creation of the universe and the existence of something as a sign and an affront to nothing, is a blank one. I can’t think about it.”And when you come right down to it, how can any of us? Why waste any of the relatively precious few moments we have on earth quarreling over the question we can’t answer, let alone ask properly, when there is so much to learn, or at least appreciate, about the fringe details?”.. it is to the fringe of that question,” decided Dillard. ” that I affix my attention, the fringe of the fish’s fin, the intricacy of the world’s spotted and speckled detail.”It is evolution, says Dillard, says Darwin, says life on earth, that is the vehicle of that intricacy, the detail man.”The stability of simple forms is the sturdy base from which more complex stable forms might arise,” writes Dillard. “forming in turn more complex forms and so on. “Dillard observes that there are 228 separate and distinct muscles in the head of an ordinary caterpillar, and that there are six million leaves on a big elm. Not only that,the leaves are toothed, and the teeth themselves are notched.”In and out go the intricate leaf edges,” says Dillard, “And “don’t nobody know why”.”Only ten percent of all known life forms on earth are alive today. All the other forms, notes Dillard, fantastic plants, unimaginably strange creatures with various wings, tails, teeth and brains, are all gone, utterly and forever.”Why so many forms?” asks Dillard. “Why not just that one hydrogen atom? The creator goes off on one wild, specific tangent after another, or millions simultaneously with an exuberance that would seem to be unwarranted, and with an abandoned energy sprung from unfathomable font. What is going on here?”The point of the dragonfly’s terrible lip, the giant water bug, the birdsong, or the beautiful dazzle and flash of sunlighted minnows is not that it all fits together like clockwork – for it doesn’t, particularly, not even inside the goldfish bowl – but that it all flows so freely wild, like the creek, that it all surges in such a free, fringed tangle. Freedom is the world’s water and weather, the world’s nourishment freely given, its soil and sap; and the creator loves pizzazz.”Isn’t it all spectacular?! Even these storms that blow us off the face of the earth, melt our civil engineering projects into mud, force us fleeing onto our man-made highways with our carbon dioxide belching steel and plastic beasts of burden. We can’t have one without the other: beautiful, peaceful nature without ugly brutish nature; drought without flood; summer without winter; light without darkness; life without death.”Evolution loves death more than it loves you or me,” observes Dillard. “this is easy to write, easy to read and hard to believe. The words are simple, the concept clear – but you don’t believe it, do you? Nor do I. How could I, when we’re both so loveable?”And here’s the crux of the whole thing: Either the world, our mother, says Dillard, is a monster, or we ourselves are freaks.To consider that the world is a monster, running, as Dillard suggests, “on chance and death, careening blindly from nowhere to nowhere” we must assume that it somehow produced “wonderful us” with our senses of moral outrage in an amoral world.”..little blobs of soft tissue,” said Dillard,” crawling around on this one planet’s skin are right,” and the whole universe is wrong.”The alternative, she suggests is that “creation itself is blamelessly, benevolently askew by its very free nature, and that it is only human feeling that is freakishly amiss.”Our excessive emotions are so patently painful and harmful to us as a species,” writes Dillard, “that I can hardly believe that they evolved. Other creatures manage to have effective matings and even stable societies without great emotions, and they have a bonus that they need not ever mourn.”She adds that some higher animals do appear to have emotions similar to ours, that dogs, elephants and otters, among others, appear to mourn their dead.”Why do that to an otter?” she asks. “What creator could be so cruel, not to kill otters, but to let them care?”It would seem that emotions are the curse, not death…We are the freaks, the world is fine, and let us all go have lobotomies to restore us to a natural state…and go back to the creek lobotomized and live on its banks as untroubled as any muskrat or reed.”You first.”Of course you won’t go first. Nor will I. And neither will Dillard, and even Darwin was not sufficiently discouraged by the brutal facts of life he saw all around him.Like Dillard, we bring our human values to the creek and so save ourselves from being brutalized.”My reservations about the fecundity and waste of life among other creatures is…mere squeamishness,” says Dillard. “After all, I’m the one having the nightmares. It is true that many of the creatures live and die abominably, but I am not called upon to pass judgment. Nor am I called upon to live in that same way, and those creature who are, are mercifully unconscious.”We have signed a covenant, says Dillard, to which every thing, even every hydrogen atom, is bound.”The terms are clear: if you want to live, you have to die; you cannot have mountains and creeks without space, and space is a beauty married to a blind man. The blind man is Freedom, or Time, and he does not go anywhere without his great dog Death. The world came into being with the signing of the contract. A scientist calls it the Second Law of Thermodynamics. A poet says, “The force that through the green fuse drives the flower/Drives my green age.” This is what we know. The rest is gravy.”And it is the gravy that I live for! Some see God as a wishing well, throwing him penny prayers: ask and you shall receive, knock and the door will be opened.I see God as force and energy; atoms of air; waves of light; birth and death powering the evolutionary machine of adaptive, ever changing life. This, I feel, is a god worth falling face down upon the macrobiotic soil for, a god worth thanking with every oxygen-rich breath I take; a god before which to lay the sacrifice of stewardship before, and for whom to perform atonements of voluntary simplicity, like walking and recycling in the service of continued life and living!”The universe was not made in jest,” concluded Annie Dillard,”but in solemn incomprehensible earnest. By a power that is unfathomably secret, and holy, and fleet. There is nothing to be done about it, but ignore it,or see. “May we live with eyes wide open!