Gothic Granola

Category Archives: Mental Health

Food Flashback and Labels



This is the 179th blog post on Gothic Granola, formerly Screwfoot Q. It’s time to make a 180 degree turn on some issues.

When I was in college and became vegetarian, then subsequently vegan, my suppers consisted of the following:
greens, crunchy raw veg, beans, nuts, dried fruit, maybe hot vegetable if it was decent, maybe a cup of soup. Dessert was cereal and non-dairy milk and decaf coffee or tea. More often than not, the hot veg entree was some kind of ethnic dish, not half bad. This I ate in the residential college dining halls; at the Center for Jewish Life I would maybe be able to have a hot entree. When I look back on what I ate, I shake my head and don’t wonder why I felt deprived (no real dessert! What nonsense!). The special diets situation has since improved slightly in Princeton’s dining halls, but I do not plan on going back anytime soon to confirm this.

I bought Nature Path’s Mesa Sunrise cereal recently. Sugar is my drug, as frequent readers of this blog know. Sugar for breakfast or in more than 2 tablespoons per day is not good for Q. So I had this cereal for dessert because it contains sugar, and the high-fibre dinner insulated me from its effects somewhat. I know I’m playing with fire, so I will bake with the cereal or manage my intake well. Next time I have a coupon, I’ll stick to the fruit-sweetened cornflakes.

Curry Bean Salad
Inspired by Whole Foods Market

1 16-ounce can pinto beans, rinsed and drained
1 16-ounce can kidney beans, rinsed and drained
1/3 cup raisins

1 yellow onion, diced
pinch salt
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1/4 cup water
2 cups beet stems, cut into 1-inch pieces
2 teaspoons curry powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin
dash cinnamon
dash cayenne
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
1 tablespoon maple syrup
1 teaspoon tamari

Place the beans and raisins in a large bowl and set aside.

In a medium skillet over medium heat, dry-sautee onion with salt until beginning to brown and turn translucent. Add the turmeric, cook for another minute, then remove from heat and scrape into bowl.

Return pan to the heat and add the remaining spices, stirring, to toast for 30 seconds. Deglaze the pan with the water, scraping up the browned bits of onion. Add the beet stems and the liquid ingredients and stir. Cook for 3 minutes or until the beet stems have softened somewhat. Add the beets to the beans and onions and mix well. Serve over greens and enjoy cereal and unsweetened almondmilk for dessert.

I served mine over raw collards, which with the beans, is probably too digestively hardcore for most people. I drank a lot of water and had a tall glass of zombie tea with the cereal.

curry bean salad vegan gluten-free | gothic granola

Vegan and vegetarian are lovely labels for convenience; living in an urban area means restaurants know what they mean and can prepare food accordingly. However, as with saying my alma interfector, saying I’m vegan tends to suck the air out of the room. Wow, judge much, people? No, I cannot change others. I can change myself.

While it’s cutesy to use “vegan and gluten-free goodies” in my blog tagline, this blog is about being oneself and doing things for oneself. I just happen to not eat animal products and gluten at this time. I can’t eat dairy, eggs, and gluten. Maybe one day I will eat animal flesh again. Labels are convenient tags for experiencing conventional reality, but they have no place in ultimate reality. The more I cling to labels, to marks of this world, the more difficult it will be when we eventually part (in this life, in the next…).

It’s time to begin divesting of labels. Goth, ace, androgyne, vegan, gluten-free, catholic, buddhist, metaphysical. These are the labels I use most often. Even together they form an incomplete picture, a fractured mirror. {Ed. note: No, no! Erasure! Don’t do it!}

What is the best mirror? A boon friend, as Buddhists call it, someone who helps you in your striving for nirvana, for escape from the world cycle. Someone who encourages you to be the best you.

In divesting myself of labels, I’m disrobing my soul, as it were. Labels are protective and keep people at bay (“I dress this way/ just to keep them at bay”). Losing labels affects my art and how I keep my heart on my sleeve as an artist. Pain and pleasure, the extremes and the mundane, are all the more intense when one experiences them with bare awareness, mindful attention, rather than experiencing them with the scratched and coloured lenses of labels.
The harder the cling, the harder the sting. Let ’em go, and there’s no sting. That’s the hardest thing.

Tailspin | Gingerbread

A video primer:

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The Brack is Back | Two Tea Breads with Tea

Today I present two recipes using golden assam tea, both of which were made for “events.” 
Golden Assam Tea Bread

  golden assam tea bread  {vegan gluten-free } gothic granola

and Irish Tea Brack
 irish tea brack vegan gluten-free | gothic granola
But Q, you say, I thought you weren’t going to post more than one recipe per post?!  Well, no, I’m trying not to, but one of these recipes is a rerun.  I ought to trust myself more. As I searched for this recipe, I failed to take into account that after I separated out the recipes from my gonzo 2011-2012 posts, I have two posts with “brack” in the title, and the bread recipe was in the second post. I knew it was on this blog somewhere! Anyway, I redid the recipe, and I used chia seeds in the egg replacer since I think they bind better. I used different dried fruit as I have a friend with date sensitivity. I also used different flours in a different ratio since that’s what I have in my pantry.

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Countercycle |Oatmeal Kickasserole

Slow down or be slowed down. 
Prophetess of doom that I am, I’ve learned this one a few times during this time of year the hard way (November-February).   At age 22, I’m sick of making myself sick by trying to raise my energy to the wrong vibration for winter.  For the past eight years, I’ve had midterms or finals in January during the rush-rush madness of the Thanksgiving to St Valentine’s Day gauntlet, meaning I did a bunch of concentrative, intense, mentally loud work when the energy around me was quite expansive, hushed, and contemplative.  I ended up out-of-phase, out of sorts, and out of breath.
Max says Pay Attention to Meee | vegan gluten-free | gothic granola

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Dear $(6,4)@# | Cats on a Cleanse Part 2 of 2

Dear $(6,4)@#,
What’s all this detox business about?  Can you give me some pointers?

Cats on a Cleanse



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Breakfast Interlude

Instead of chocolate chips in your breakfast, have some raw cacao nibs: crunchy, tasty antioxidants!  Instead of riding the white sugar roller coaster from some cookie-lookalike cereal, enjoy a chocolate-oat-nut mélange that will power you through the morning or the rest of your workday, if you’re like me and enjoy granola for lunch a few times a week.

 chocolate cacao nib granola vegan gluten-free | gothic granola

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The Holidays and You: Perfect Together? | Melty Mints

Remember that old New Jersey tourism slogan, “New Jersey and You: Perfect Together”?  Can you be a tourist this holiday, observing but not being of them?  Granted, there’s also the tourist philosophy of, “When in Rome, do as the Romans do.”  My family’s not from Rome (Naples and Sicily, thank you very much).

What I want to get at here is this: the holidays are a source of stress for some people.  Common knowledge, no need to cite the source.  Whether you’re facing in-laws you dislike, coming home as a newly queer-identified individual, dealing with religious tensions, or feeding an obnoxious number of people with disparate dietary preferences, there are numerous ways in which–

OK, enough with not telling us anything we don’t already know.  Here’s what I do to make the week of self-destruction indulgence from Christmas Eve to New Year’s Day bearable.  These are strategies I employ in other situations of uncertainty as well.  I’ll tell you my bias up-front: why is it socially acceptable to over-consume food, fuel, and material goods (question the term “goods”) in the name of religious miracles?  I’m all for feasting in celebration, but there’s a line between feasting and frenzy that disappears right quickly, in my experience.  Feasting, as well, according to the Oxford English Dictionary, means, “To keep holiday, give oneself to pleasure; to enjoy oneself. Obs.”  Enjoyment does not connote overconsumption.  Let’s be honest here.  It doesn’t.

This is my bias.  I’ve read a number of blogs and articles about dealing with the holidays whence I first dismissed the authors as “Haters!” for not condoning pulling out the stops and making outrageously unhealthy dishes and gorging oneself on food and drink (and annoying company).

Recently, at Buddhist meditation, we sang a song in which one line was,

“May all beings be safe.”

Indeed, feeling safe is what I want to feel this holiday season.  And so I wish this for you, too.

‘Couple things on the agenda:
cookie recipe

Every year, my mother and maternal grandmother–and since last year, when I became vegan–and I bake several kinds of cookies each in order to share with the family, neighbours, friends, coworkers, and dorm-mates.  Last year and this year I had tea and cookies parties a few days before break so I could share my passion for baking with my friends.  I veganised most of the traditional recipes last year–pizzelles, melty mints, peanut blossoms, chocolate-dipped shorbread, chocolate-white chocolate chips, gingerbread cookies, et cetera–and this year, I set out to make secretly healthy cookies.  OK, they still contain sugar, but I’m using whole grain flours, less sugar, less oil, as many organic ingredients as I can find, and scooping them small.  In case you’re wondering, I get this drive to healthify from my mother.  We–since I was home during “hell week” before Christmas–used white whole wheat flour to replace half or all of the flour in most recipes last year.  I even used regular whole wheat flour and Sucanat in chocolate cookies, and people ate them up.  So if you’re someone who ate my cookies last year, guess what, I slipped you some whole wheat flour.

‘S how I get my kicks.

This year, though, my eight types of cookies have less sugar, less oil or margarine, and are smaller than the original recipes (save pizzelles…they don’t go smaller).  Certainly, in the recipes I shall post, you may use more sweetener or fat as per your preference.  Here’s a truism Michael Pollan didn’t include (at least, not verbatim) in Food Rules: your taste will match your waist.  Just sayin,’ and I’m also saying that I’m not immune to going on overconsumptive benders during the holidays either.  I do not write from a position of superiority, assumed or otherwise.  “Bless me to understand my own faults.  Bless me to have no desire to examine the faults of others,” as we chant every week at meditation.

So, if you haven’t gotten it by now, I highly recommend meditation during the holidays.  Taking time for yourself, whether you’re doing a sitting practice or doing yoga or going for walks, is very important.  Whoa, wait, Q–objects a reader–the holidays aren’t all about you.  They’re about togetherness and family and–

Q says, “ ‘And?’  Why must we use conjunctions to keep adding obligations and abstracts and things and things?  Why not just ‘is?’  Why not ‘enough?’”

There’s a Dutch proverb I like, and though I don’t know how it goes in the original tongue, the translation I read is, “Enough is great riches.”  That “being grateful” spirit extends from Thanksgiving into Christmas and Solstice and New Year’s (I don’t celebrate Hanukkah or Kwanzaa religiously, so I can’t and won’t speak for that which I don’t know).  “Enough” is generally pretty simple, too.

I like early morning.  Being up early’s enough to make me content.  Fresh peanut butter is also very nice.  Sitting and writing with pen and paper’s most enjoyable.

Think about what’s “enough” for you.  Yes, I’m giving orders.  You’re free to stop reading.  You always have been.

On to the programming: Microlunch.

Microlunch is my term for a container full of a high-protein, portable, non-refrigerated snack.  It’s not a full lunch, but I can survive until supper if it’s all I eat.  I fill a container with dried fruit, crackers or other gluten-free, whole-grain starch, and nuts or nut butter.  If I can bring a piece of fruit and water, tea, and maybe even non-dairy milk (since that’s shelf-stable), then that’s basically lunch.  I like the Mary’s Gone Crackers because they’re crunchy and the work it makes my mouth do gives me a greater sense of satiety.

Cookie Recipe

This is my favourite recipe from since I can remember eating Christmas cookies.  It’s a deep chocolate cookie with—the best part—a pastel mint non-pareil in the center.  Through the years, it’s been more difficult to find non-pareils, and last year I switched to Endangered Chocolate’s mint chocolate bars, cut into pieces.  Non-pareils and other such candies are often coated with confectioner’s glaze, an insect-derived component.  I like to eat the cookie first then melt the chocolate in my mouth.

Melty Mints
Modified from The Vegan Cookie Connoisseur, Kelly Peloza, p. 88, and an unidentified Better Homes and Gardens cookbook.

1/4 cup non-dairy milk
1/2 cup chocolate chips
1/3 cup canola oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

3/4 cup brown rice flour
1/2 cup sorghum flour
1/2 teaspoon xanthan gum
1/2 cup Dutch-process cocoa OR black cocoa
2/3 cup sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/8 teaspoon salt

32 or so pieces vegan mint chocolate for teaspoon-scoop cookies (25 pieces if using a 2-tablespoon cookie scoop)

Preheat oven to 350˚F.  Line two baking sheets with parchment.  Melt chocolate chips with the milk in microwave.  In a large bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients.  Whisk the oil and vanilla into the melted chocolate mixture.  Add wet to dry.  (You can refrigerate the dough at this point for up to 24 hours before baking.)  Shape into teaspoon-sized balls (or use a 2-tablespoon cookie scoop for monster cookies) and DO NOT FLATTEN on baking sheets.  Bake 10-12 minutes.  Remove from oven and immediately press chocolate piece onto each cookie.  Cool on the baking sheet for 5-10 minutes then cool completely on a rack.

Wishing you contented, safe holidays—
Come to the Dark Side…we have vegan and gluten-free goodies.