2 cake recipe contributions from a reader

These recipes were submitted by RuLea Taggart when I blogged about my kids’ birthday cake last August. (I have made healthier ingredient substitutions for these two recipes. Note that I have not tested the recipes, and any comments are welcome!)

If you don’t have Original Crystal Himalayan Salt, read my report on it here with a link to get some:

http://www.greensmoothiegirl.com/robyn-recommendations/salt/

Hot Fudge “Burn the Fat” Pudding Cake or

Healthy Hot Fudge Pudding Cake

1 c organic whole-wheat flour, hard white, ground fine

3/4 c. Sucanat

3 T. organic cocoa

2 t. baking powder

½ tsp. Original Himalayan Crystal Salt

½ cup filtered water

1 tsp. vanilla

Mix & blend together in your high-power blender or using a hand mixer. Pour into 9″ square or oblong  glass or non-teflon baking pan.  Double recipe for 9×13 cake pan.

1/4 c organic cocoa

1 c Sucanat

1 3/4 c filtered hot water

½ cup chopped nuts (sprinkle over the top, optionally)

Combine this mixture & pour over batter.   Bake  in oven  at 350 degrees for 40-45 min until done.   Serve warm or cool.   It is delicious and nutritious!

(I, RuLea, cut the sugar down & it is still plenty sweet.   I also substituted agave &  used less liquid.   Make as directed. It seems very runny, but the cake bakes up & pudding settles on bottom….yum yum.)

Note from Robyn: substitute 2/3 cup agave for 1 cup sugar in BAKING recipes. Rulea says cut the liquid. I have not tested this recipe, so please post if you have more specific alterations after trying it.

Yummy All-You-Can-Eat Cake with variations

Base:

3 c finely ground whole-wheat flour

2 t baking soda

2 c organic sugar

2 t vanilla

2 tsp. Original Himalayan Crystal Salt

(Spices to taste – cinnamon, allspice, clove)

Blend in:

2 c cold water

2 Tbsp raw apple cider vinegar

(Add apples, nuts, carrots, raisins, zucchini, dates, etc)

Mix together for 1 min in blender or 2 min by hand.  Pour into 9×13 pan.

Bake at 350 degrees for 35 min.

Hello from 13,000 feet up in the Andes: Part 2

Our 11-day trip to Peru will soon be over, and it’s officially the only long trip I have ever taken where I wished I could stay. Emma and I have fallen madly in love with 34 little brown children. We just went to church with them, where some of the girls were wearing Emma and Libby’s old dresses, which delighted Em. I have seen my daughter learn and grow in a profound way (her Spanish has  improved in a quantum way because she’s so motivated to express herself to the orphans). Today we visit babies in a hospital in Cusco and give them the donations we brought.  Babies go home wrapped in newspapers there, because the families are so poor.

One thing I won’t miss: the kids all call me Shakira, and I have had to respond to demands to ¡CANTA! and ¡BAILA! oh, I don’t know, 200 times? After singing Hips Don’t Lie and Underneath Your Clothes a few times, and doing Shakira’s hip-shakin’ thing, I decided that Ritchie Valens’ La Bamba would be more appropriate to sing. The kids vastly prefer my dancing to my singing. The adults called me Barbie (including random strangers when I went running every morning, ” ¡Hola Barbie!”). Apparently the only two people the orphans and even most of the adults have been exposed to, who have long blonde hair, are Shakira and Barbie? At first the kids would take my long hair and drape it over their heads to pretend it was their hair, and they’d surreptitiously pull out a strand of my hair to keep. Then after a while they got bold and would beg me to cut off a lock of my hair. (That’s where I draw the line.)

On New Year’s Eve we had a huge party for the kids at the orphanage, with live music, crafts, fireworks like I have never seen before, and a traditional feast the expedition volunteers paid for. The younger ones could barely prop their eyes open at the end of the night but, when asked to go to bed, pleaded, ” ¡Por favor, no!”

I met the most gorgeous 4 y.o. boy, Marco, who has cerebral palsy, and I held him and danced with the others for a couple of hours to give his mother a rest. His mother Kynet had apparently been told what I do in the U.S. and asked me, shyly: Will you help me with nutrition, for Marco? She was the cook at the orphanage until carrying Marco on her back tied with a shawl (all the women here do that) became too much for her.

Yesterday I had a meeting with her, with my friend Van translating, as my Spanish is adequate but I don’t have the sophisticated vocabulary for everything I wanted to say.

Kynet is very poor and has no education, but she is one of the most motivated, intelligent, loving mothers I have ever met. She talked about how Marco’s father (her common-law husband) said, “I will never smile again until my son is well.”

Kynet juices carrots and beets for her tiny boy, who is the size my children were at 15 months. She then adds the pulp to rice–brilliant!–rather than throwing it away. She didn’t know that brown rice is much more nutritious than white rice, and the grama of the orphanage, Eunice, told her where to buy it. We discussed high calorie and high nutrition foods such as avocado and banana to feed Marco more of. I taught her how to sprout seeds and raw nuts, and I emphasized the importance of raw foods. Kynet uses a cheap blender, because Marco cannot masticate food so she blends most of it. I am going to talk to BlendTec: between us we will get a Total Blender to Kynet. I told her she is a wonderful mother, smart and attentive, the mother God chose very specifically for Marco.

Marco has winces with pain when he eats anything slightly cold or hot because of impacted teeth needing extraction. The anaesthesia used by locals could put Marco in a coma, so a pediatric oral surgeon is needed, and one does not exist in the entire state of Cusco. My friend Van and I talked for a minute about how to get such a doctor to fly to Lima, and pay for Kynet and Marco to go to Lima. Kynet looked us both in the eyes, back and forth, and whispered in Spanish,

“I plead with you.”

The love of a mother. It is profound. It made tears well up in my eyes, in Van’s, and in Kynet’s, and I have the same reaction writing this. As difficult as life will be for Marco, a severely handicapped boy in a third world country, whose father makes $200/month, his eyes shine from all the love he’s given daily. The 34 children of the Sunflower Orphanage break my heart even more.

I have had much to reflect on during many hours of physical labor at the orphanage.   We planted a vegetable garden, ploughed and planted a wheat field, painted dorms, hauled rocks, built a swing set, built an outdoor sink. And played with the children, read to them, did arts and crafts with them, loved them up. If only you could love and touch and physically give enough to a child in a week to shore up a lifetime. It takes $30K and 2 years to get a child out of a Peruvian orphanage, only if you’re lucky.

Primary among my reflections has been how significant parents are. I cannot really describe for you the effect on me–and more importantly, on my daughter–of spending an intensive week serving and loving children who have no mothers, no fathers. The children are fascinated by parents and grandparents and grilled me endlessly about mine: How old are they? Where do they live? Do you live with them?

I will post a photo of my meeting with Kynet, Van, and Marco when I get home. Give your children, if you’re blessed to have them, an extra hug from the GSG readers who are here. All the children of the world deserve parents.

Hello from 13,000 feet up in the Andes

Hola y buenas dias de las montanas hermosas del Andes Peruvianas! Prospero Nuevo Ano!

I am here in the rarefied air of the Sacred Valley of Peru near Cusco and will write more when I ´m home. But there ´s a rare opportunity to get on the only PC here in the hotel because I ´ve opted out of going for Chinese food with the group. We ´ve had virtually no down time to write, but when I ´m home I ´ll tell you the most interesting parts of this incredible adventure.

Today we visited a tiny village called Huilloch at 13,000 feet in the Andes, a place untouched by tourism that my friend Van knows. They are as fascinated by us as we are by them. They dress in native, homemade clothes, colorful wool skirts and unique inverted hats. The Peruvian government brought them rudimentary electricity 3 years ago, taking them from the 17th century to the 19th, and then, in an explicable move the village elders are unhappy with, threw them into the 21st century by bringing them the Internet in a central location in the village.

The female head of the village women ´s arts association (they make crafts and clothing by hand to sell) invited us into her home. Isabel, her daughter Virginia, and her baby Jefferson live with Virginia ´s husband and his mother, and two others, in a mud hut, one of the nicest in the village, that is half the size of my master bathroom. These are the poorest people I have ever met.

Twenty guinea pigs live under the small bed that sleeps two (the others sleep elsewhere, and there ´s a small fire in the corner somewhat vented to the outside). They speak Quetchwan rather than Spanish and only Van speaks rudimentary Quetchwan. He told them in los Estados Unidos, we name guinea pigs and never eat them. They thought that was hilarious.

The children are healthy and strong with strong white teeth, unlike the children in town (and at the Sunflower Orphanage we are here serving) who all have snotty noses, blackened teeth, and stunted growth. That ´s because the children of Huilloch are far from civilization and processed food, and the water they drink is mineralized stream water. I met and photographed a 120 year old woman wearing ancient Incan gold rings she found in her childhood that, if sold (she has no idea), would probably support the village for a year! She is one of three in the village! She chews on coca leaves all day (the plant that cocained is derived from) and is without teeth, but she is lucid and funny and walks on her own with a stick.

We played soccer against the women and girls of the village in a muddy field full of puddles. Even with their wool skirts and flipflops that flew off when they ´d kick the ball, they absolutely schooled us in their native sport. Emma and I both nearly scored once, but the score, in the end, was downright embarrassing.

I just received my laundry from a very poor local woman who took 1 1/2 days to do it by hand (for $3! don ´t worry, I paid her more), and none of it is folded, so I am off to complete that task. I will tell you more when I return next week about the phenomenal, heart breaking, life changing experience my daughter and I and some GSG readers have had here. And I will post photos, including one of the 120 year old village elder.

I hope that all your dreams come true in 2010! Much love,

Robyn

Raw green food and kidney stones

I have more requests to address oxalates.

It’s another one of those “they” things: first they tell us greens are good for us, and then they tell us oxalates will cause kidney stones and other problems.   Many people are fearful of kidney stones since they’re not only common (estimates are than 10 to 15 percent of Americans are diagnosed at some point), but also terribly painful.

Here’s the thing: it’s a gross oversimplification to say greens contain oxalates, oxalates cause kidney stones, and so you shouldn’t eat greens.   First of all, calcium is so plentiful and highly bioavailable in greens, and calcium binds to excess oxalates to render them harmless and easily removed from the body.   With all but a few serious health problems where specific nutrients are banned by your doctor, green foods are VITAL and should be eaten DAILY.   Some evidence says BLENDING oxalate-rich foods neutralizes it–voila, green smoothies!)

Foods high in oxalates include soy, beer, wheat, nuts, beets, chocolate, rhubarb, spinach, and strawberries.   I eat wheat, nuts, beets, chocolate, spinach, and strawberries regularly, most of them daily.   But if you have a problem with kidney stone formation, I would address eliminating three deadly S’s rather than greens: SODA, SUGAR, AND SALT.   Those chemically upset your body’s ability to utilize minerals like calcium and magnesium, leading to stones.

I know a schoolteacher who suffered with stones and eventually kidney failure, probably because for 30 years she didn’t want to have to leave her classroom to go to the bathroom, so she avoided drinking water.   Drink LOTS of water to avoid kidney stones!