Corn Cakes: The Real Way to Win Friends and Influence People

This goes without saying, but I’m going to say it anyway: I am a huge nerd in the kitchen. Like, drastically nerdy. I am delighted by the most trivial of culinary things and experience big, swelling happiness over tiny details that (I’m guessing) most people don’t even notice. (Mason Jars, anyone?) I’m not your typical foodie, though. I don’t pore over glossy food magazines or experiment with complicated new recipes every week. Nah. I’d rather beam over a plate of simple steamed vegetables or marvel at ruby red grains of rice than I would hit up the trendiest new restaurant. Plus, I have a mile-long list of food sensitivities and a picky discerning palate, so it’s not very often that I can be wowed at a restaurant. I’m usually lucky if I can have one item (usually salad!) on any given menu, so Kitchen Nerdiness it is for me.

Exquisite!

Exquisite!

Anyway. Why am I telling you this? I just want to remind you what a dork I am before I go on to tell you that THESE CORN CAKES ARE EFFING AMAZING! Sure, I’m totally impressed by these corn cakes and feel like a bit of a celebrity chef every time I make them, but maybe you ought to take that with a grain of (Pink Himalayan) salt. I think they’re cool, and I’m pretty certain my mom thinks they’re cool, too, but maybe you’re the type of person who needs more than a geeky, glowing recommendation for a recipe, especially when corn is concerned. That’s fine. All I’m saying is this: if you want to win friends and influence people at your next potluck or cocktail party, make these corn cakes. You’ll impress the hors d’ouevre police, you’ll win the hearts of your vegan and gluten-sensitive friends, you’ll probably win the “Most Delicious Item” award of the evening, and you’ll do it all while being deceptively delicious and healthy. Who knew corn could do all of this? I did. And now you do, too. Yer welcome.

It doesn't get any better than this. Mmm... corn cakes!

It doesn’t get any better than this. Mmm… corn cakes!

Corn Cakes For the Masses!

(Recipe adapted from Christina’s original version at Fruit of Adventure here)

You Will Need:

  • 4 cups water
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 Tbsp coconut oil (or other high quality cooking oil)
  • 3/4 cup millet
  • 1/4 cup organic polenta (corn grits)
  • 1 medium leek, sliced into fine, short pieces
  • 1 cup frozen organic corn kernels, thawed
  • 2 heaping Tbsp fresh basil leaves, chopped (or 1 generous Tbsp dried basil)

How to Make Them:

1. Melt 1 Tbsp of coconut oil in frying pan and saute leeks over low to medium heat, until tender (about 5 minutes).

2. Meanwhile, in a medium saucepan, bring water to a boil. Add salt, 1 Tbsp coconut oil, and millet when water is boiling.

3. Slowly add polenta to the pot, stirring gently and continuously to avoid clumping.

4. Simmer millet and polenta on medium low heat (uncovered) for about 25 minutes, or until water is absorbed and millet mixture is sticky. Remove from heat.

5. Preheat oven to 350F and line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.

6. Add leeks, corn kernels, and basil leaves to millet mixture and stir well.

7. Use a measuring cup (1/4 cup to 1/3 cup) to form cakes with the millet mixture. (It helps to have a bowl of ice water at the ready to rinse measuring cup in between cakes. The cold temperature will help keep the mixture from sticking to the inside of the cup. Life-saving, really.)

8. Bake corn cakes for 25 minutes, or until they are slightly crisp/golden on the outside.

9. Serve with fresh guacamole* (and raw kraut, if you’re so inclined).

10. Prepare to amaze and astound your friends, dinner guests, work superiors, priest, etc. CORN WORKS WONDERS!

Corn cakes, pre-baking

Corn cakes, pre-baking

*****

*… and if you’re wondering how in sam heck to make fresh guacamole, I do it in three minutes like so:

OMGuacamole

You Will Need:

  • 1 medium to large ripe avocado, halved and flesh scooped out
  • sea salt to taste
  • red hot chili pepper flakes to taste
  • lemon juice, 1-2 Tbsp (or to taste)
  • handful of fresh cilantro leaves, washed and chopped

How To Make It:

1. Add all ingredients to a small bowl and smash with a fork. Done.

That's it. And now you'll be so savvy in the kitchen! You'll wow EVERYONE!

That’s it. And now you’ll be so savvy in the kitchen! You’ll wow EVERYONE!

Paradigm Shift!

I say, follow your bliss and don’t be afraid, and doors will open where you didn’t know they were going to be.

– Joseph Campbell

Day 3b

The last few weeks have been a wild ride, readers. WILD AND CRAZY EXCITING! As soon as I let it slip that I wanted to pursue schooling in the field of holistic nutrition — not maybe, not perhaps, not ‘when I find the time or money’, but ASAP– doors started flying open for me. Everywhere! Awesome ideas came to me in dreams or during meditation, opportunities to connect with exactly the right people came flying into my inbox, and friends near and far immediately offered me fountains of knowledge, resources, and great advice. Pretty great, right?

DSCN1447

Well. Lest you think that I suddenly stumbled into a perfect existence and settled into easy harmony with everything on the planet– Deepak Chopra style– let me set you straight. You see, with so many doors opening all at once, somebody (ahem) might have got a bit excited. And with all those (heavy) doors flapping about madly in the great hallway of life, somebody (cough!) maybe got decked in the face by one or two of them. Opportunity knocked. I answered. And got clocked in the teeth by accident…

It all started when cherished reader Michelle pointed me in the direction of Leanne Vogel, who I’m just going to call “Amazing” from now on. (It’s shorter and more to the point. She’s seriously awesome.) Michelle raved:

“I’ve been reading another blogger for months who’s a holistic nutritionist… She has kickin’ low-allergy recipes (today is a 5-ingredient chocolate pudding made out of NAVY BEANS) and Capital G-orgeous photos of her food. I know you don’t *need* another blog to read, but she might be a good resource along your journey (if you’re not already familiar with her work): http://www.healthfulpursuit.com” 

Clearly, I had to head over to Leanne’s site, Healthful Pursuit, and check out her G-orgeousness for myself. And it was G-orgeous indeed. So G-orgeous, in fact, that I strangely went from feeling like I was on top of the world to anxiously questioning whether I was cool enough for the internet and wondering if I’d always be less cool than Leanne. (Not my proudest revelation, for sure, but there you have it. Hello, insecurity!)

Being watched, being judged

Being watched, being judged

Leanne seemed to be so grounded in herself and collected in her relationship with food. She had a great website, a dedicated following, and countless recipes that turned the ‘woe is me, I have food allergies’ mindset right on its head. Take that, candida! You’re not the boss of me! (I nearly cried* when I tried her Runners Repair bars. *From the deliciousness, obviously.)  And who was I by comparison?

Bland as a boiled potato.

     Too tiny for this world, and way too small for my gigantic pipe dream.

A bright-eyed punk with pedestrian recipes and unfortunate photos. (Thank goodness I deleted my ‘groundbreaking’ recipe for ice, no? Ingredient: Water. Directions: Freeze. Of course, I jest.)

The smallest, most insecure shadow of myself suddenly worried that I would spend all this time and money on nutrition school and still not be as awesome as Leanne. Even worse: what if I spent all that time and money on nutrition school and became even less cool than I was already? Coolness regression– heaven forbid!

In my anxiety, I downed half a jar of peanut butter. In, like, 45 minutes. By the spoonful. Without even paying attention.

When I noticed what I had done (and how sick/swollen my belly felt– ya think?), the guilt kicked in. Big time. I felt terrible for eating approximately 100,000 calories of nut butter in one sitting. What kind of person does that, let alone what kind of nutritionist wannabe? I felt even worse, knowing that Kimberly Snyder (my nutritionist idol) disapproves of peanuts and recommends almond butter instead. (And it was salted peanut butter, too– probably with common table salt and not even high-quality sea salt. Ack!!) Soon, I was spiraling deeper and deeper into critical thoughts and all-around chastising. What have I done? Will I ever learn? Bad, wrong, no-good, awful, blah blah blah…

Enter Marty. Thank god!

Marty had been at a fitness class when the Peanut Butter Incident transpired (you know, taking care of his body and loving himself. The irony of his self care did not escape me.) He had left me, super stoked and brimming with positive energy!, and then had come home to a hot mess feeling totally down on herself. The intellectual part of me knew I was being silly and irrational (and that neither Leanne nor her website had anything to do with it), but at the time, my fear of change, putting myself out there, and creating a new life for myself with no guarantees of success threatened to swallow me whole. WHAT IF I FAIL? WAIT A SECOND– I ALREADY FAILED– LOOK AT ALL THE PEANUT BUTTER I ATE!

The words Marty spoke as he cradled me in his arms were simple and delivered with love, and they lifted my spirits not only immensely, but immediately:

Please be kind to yourself.

There will never be another you!

There will never be another you!

It wasn’t an order or a demand– it was the answer. Holy paradigm shift! My angst simply dissolved when it met with Marty’s words. Snuggled in his loving arms, I felt a flash of realization:

Kindness is the first step.

Who knew? All this time, I’ve been doing things backwards: I always start with my mind (knowledge, information, statistics, a particular program, a list of ‘allowable’ foods, a certain diet, etc.) and then I promise my body and my spirit tenderness when (read: if) I succeed on whatever regime I’ve adopted. On a subconscious level, I’m only offering myself love, respect, and compassion as a reward for a job well done! WTF??

If you can believe it, I’ve repeated this backwards pattern ad nauseum since adolescence with the Wild Rose Cleanse, the Beauty Detox Solution, the ‘avoid gluten and chocolate’ program, the ‘stop eating rolled oats and lemons’ approach, the anti-candida diet, and most recently, with our elimination diet. In each case, I arm myself with important nutrition information (foods to eat, foods to avoid, milestones to achieve, etc., etc.) and impose that information on my body, knowing that if I just try hard enough or follow the rules closely enough, I will succeed. Who cares what my body thinks or how my body reacts? I find an odd comfort in deferring to the experts and take solace in the idea– however crazy it is– that somebody else knows how to make things right for me.

Who is in charge?

Who is in charge here? (Stained glass by artist Ted DeGrazia)

Here’s the kicker: even though I don’t go into these eating/diet programs consciously thinking that I’m soldiering off to war, that’s technically what’s happening. I am pitting my rational mind against my less-than-perfect body. Kindness isn’t often found in this equation, even though blind hope, optimism, and youthful naivety are. (In other words, I don’t undertake these programs in a willful desire to sabotage myself. I’m convinced in my mind that I am doing these things for the right reasons, but my body feels differently. It feels attacked and ignored.)

Using the awesome power of my mind, I control myself, discipline myself, deny myself, fix myself. And sometimes I do succeed. I lose x amount of pounds, or fit into x size of jeans, or get rid of x pesky condition (skin, digestion, whatever) but it never lasts for long. Without starting from a foundation of kindness, change is not sustainable! (Dr. Obvious, yes, but I’m a Slow Learner and had never really thought about things that way before.) Without caring for myself and truly loving myself right-freaking-now, no amount of willpower or healthy eating practices are going to mean or matter much, even if I undertake them from a desire to ‘detox’ or ‘clean up my eating habits’ or ‘figure out my food allergies’. I won’t change anything about myself without enlisting everything of myself– my body, my spirit, and my mind.

(The potholder I didn't buy)

(The potholder I really wanted but didn’t buy)

Kindness is the first step.

Wow, are you still reading? Kudos to you!

My fall from the top of the world into the deep recesses of my insecurities and back up into the light of a kindness-themed paradigm shift took all of 3 hours. (Yeah. I get around.) During that time, Leanne was still awesome. But so was I. My awareness finally caught on to the crazy obvious notion that it’s all good. Leanne’s amazing-ness in no way precludes or prevents my own. (And seriously– you should try making her recipes. They kick allergy ASS!) Judging myself more harshly than I’d ever judge anyone else makes zero sense. Eating peanut butter isn’t the end of the world. And loving myself is the start of something great!

Note: Even though the paradigm shift happened instantly, I realize that the practice of ‘genuine self love’ might take a little longer, despite the fact that my mind has officially declared myself Immediately and Perfectly Loved. Ha. I have started with 3 small practices– brushing my hair (which I haven’t done daily since I was about 12), oil pulling first thing in the morning, and giving myself mini foot massages every day– and reminding myself while I do those things that I deserve tenderness. So far, it seems to be working… slowly, subtly… and my hair is silky smooth! :)    

What about you, readers? How do you pull yourselves up from the depths of insecurity? How do you honour the whole of your being– body, mind, and spirit? What are some of your favourite self-care practices? I’d love to hear from you! 

Crazy Sauerkraut Lady

(Recipe included at the bottom of the post.)

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I’ve come a long way since my first foray into making raw sauerkraut at home. I started out with a great deal of trepidation, reluctance, and even a bit of nose-wrinkled condescension towards the lowly cabbage. Yes, I was making kraut, but it wasn’t because I enjoyed eating it or felt that I benefited from consuming it. Nope. I was just making it because Kimberly (nutritionist and overall goddess) said I should, and I am nothing if not obedient.

Well, dear readers, have I ever turned a page in that book! I now enjoy boatloads of raw kraut– every day!– and I even have a hard time jarring enough of it at home to keep up with my frenetic, kraut-consuming pace. Our cupboards and fridge are filled with jars of kraut, and I even bring smaller jars of it with me in my purse if I know that we will be eating out or visiting with friends. (Yes, you heard me correctly. I am your Nerdy Friend who will show up at your door with a small Mason jar of sauerkraut. To make matters worse, I rarely bring enough to share! I’ll just cover the bases for Marty and I and leave you– my host– scratching your head and wondering when the heck I became so possessive of my cabbage. <– To explain my sauerkraut stinginess: Experience has shown me that most people– shockingly– aren’t all that enthusiastic to partake in a raw sauerkraut munch-down, and there’s no way I’m wasting my homemade kraut on anybody who is less than on-their-knees grateful for it. So I generally only bring enough for Marty and I. Just so you know.)

1.5 *gallons* of kraut at the ready... sorry, not enough to share!

1.5 *gallons* of kraut at the ready… but sorry, there’s not enough to share!

Anyway.

It nearly killed me to start this epic road trip of ours, because I knew that I wouldn’t be able to take a crate of raw sauerkraut with me across the border. You’re (usually) allowed to bring (certain) food items across “for personal consumption”, but I was pretty sure that a border guard wouldn’t greet gallons of sauerkraut jars with kindness or understanding. ‘What’s that glass clinking sound coming from the back of your van? Are you a bootlegger? Wait a second– what on earth is that smell?? Smells like… rotten cabbage!’ Awkward…

I pictured myself hollering “ALL THIS SAUERKRAUT IS FOR ME, OFFICER, I SWEAR IT!! THERE’S NO WAY I WOULD TRY TO SELL IT!” as I was being dragged off to Border Violations Prison, and then I had the horrific vision of being forced to throw away all of my raw sauerkraut in front of a guard’s watchful eyes before being permitted to dock in Port Angeles, WA. What a waste of good bacteria! It was too much to bear. Yes, I am a Crazy Sauerkraut Lady, but I’m not an International, Border-Regulations-Flouting Crazy Sauerkraut Lady. Hence, I packed a solitary, small-ish jar of kraut in our cooler and braced myself for around 2 weeks without the good stuff.

Almost all of our lunches and dinners are topped with a generous portion of kraut. This wasn't the case on our road trip.

Almost all of our lunches and dinners now are topped with a generous portion of kraut. This wasn’t the case AT ALL on our road trip.

After painstakingly rationing out that one jar of kraut and making it last as looooong as possible, we were faced with the great, kraut-less unknown. I’m not going to lie: both Marty and I suffered without regular doses of raw kraut en route to Arizona. Our bodies had become accustomed to healthy portions of probiotics on a daily basis, and the combination of being on the road + camping + eating for convenience (oh, hello gluten!) + sauerkraut withdrawal proved to be pretty deadly. Let’s just say that I nearly wept at the altar of Whole Foods when we finally rolled into Tucson and purchased several “transition” jars of raw kraut to tie us over until I could make our own again.

I am now in the process of buying canning jars so that I can whip us up an apocalyptic amount of raw sauerkraut for our two month visit. Yes. I’m buying jars. That I will eventually leave in Tucson when we head back up to Canada. I am nuts for kraut! (And for some strange reason, every grocery store in Canada seems to sell canning jars and supplies, but none of the grocery stores in Tucson do. I had to google search “canning jars + Tucson” to discover that jars are mainly sold in hardware stores here. Insane? Yes! Now I just need to find me a hardware store. I already bought six organic cabbages at Whole Foods. They are waiting for the jars.)

And finally– the recipe part! I am no longer making kraut the way it is specified in Kimberly Snyder’s Beauty Detox Solution book. That recipe calls for miso paste and ginger, neither of which I am using anymore. Instead, I’m keeping it simple and kicking it old school. Read on if you’d like to try making what I call “Royal Kraut”… which is basically purple and red kraut instead of the usual green version. :)

Royal Kraut (Vegan, Gluten Free, Soy Free)

You Will Need

Sterilized mason jars with tight-fitting lids

Wooden spoon

Food preparation gloves (highly recommended)

Large purple cabbage

2-3 red beets

1-2 tsp high-quality sea salt or celtic salt

1 tsp caraway seeds (or to taste)

½ cup filtered water

Heh. Even though this receipe is for red cabbage/beet kraut, most of the photos in this post will be of green cabbage. Just use your imagination and pretend that everything is a healthy shade of purple.

Heh. Even though this receipe is for red cabbage/beet kraut, most of the photos in this post will be of green cabbage. Just use your imagination and pretend that everything is a healthy shade of purple.

How To Make It

  1. Remove outside leaves of the cabbage (approx. 5-6 leaves) and set aside for later.
  2. Chop rest of cabbage into thin ribbons and place into large mixing bowl.
  3. Shred beets using the grating blade on a food processor (easiest) or using a cheese grater (good luck!). Add to cabbage in large mixing bowl.
  4. Add sea salt and caraway seeds to mixing bowl, and use your (gloved) hands to coat kraut well. Dr. Obvious Warns: Beets will stain your hands, countertops, and anything else if given the chance. Use caution and try not to touch with your bare hands! (Also: do not wear a white shirt while making this recipe!)
  5. Once kraut mixture has been well coated with salt and caraway, use your gloved hands to stuff it, bit by bit, into your mason jars. Add a small layer of kraut and then use the handle of the wooden spoon to pound the air out of the layer before adding more cabbage to the jar. You want to make the mixture as anaerobic (air-free) as possible to avoid mould and to allow the friendly bacteria to flourish.
  6. Continue adding kraut mixture to the jar, layer by layer, pounding out excess air throughout, until there is between 1 and 2 inches of free space left near the mouth of your jar.
  7. Roll outside leaves of the cabbage into tight, burrito-style rolls and stuff on top of the shredded kraut mixture. The aim is to pack the jar as tightly as possible, right up to the top with the rolled outer leaves.
  8. Slowly add filtered water to the jar, until it levels with the shredded kraut mixture (not all the way up to the top of the jar). Unless your jar is very large (or you didn’t pack enough air out of the mixture), you will need very little water in your jar. A half a cup is a generous amount– I usually use more like 1/4 cup water or less.
  9. Slide the lid onto your mason jar and close it to make an airtight seal.
  10. Label your jar with the date, and leave it in a dark cupboard to ferment for between 4 days (warmer climates) and 4 weeks (cooler climates). Kraut does best in a room temperature environment, and cooler locales will take longer to ferment.
  11. When kraut is ready to consume, break airtight seal on jar, discard outer cabbage leaves, and fork as much cabbage onto your plate as you desire. (I eat between ½ cup and 1 cup of kraut every single day, with any type of meal—except breakfast.)
  12. Store opened jars of kraut in the fridge and consume within 2 months.
Chopping. Some like it thin, some like it coarse.

Chopping. Some like it thin, some like it coarse.

Kraut layer, pre-pounding.

Kraut layer, pre-pounding.

Packed-in shredded cabbage leaves, waiting for burrito-style outer leaves to finish off the jar.

Packed-in shredded cabbage leaves, waiting for burrito-style outer leaves to finish off the jar.

Special Notes:

If your kraut develops a black mould or film on the top of the jar while it is fermenting, believe it or not, the rest of the jar should be okay to eat. (The mould will develop where there are still air bubbles.) Simply pick off the mouldy bits and chow down on the kraut further down the jar… using your common sense, of course.

Kraut can sit in a cupboard fermenting for longer than 4 weeks, too. Longer sitting periods make for a tangier kraut in the end. Do not fear the healthy bacteria!

Fermented kraut will taste zesty, a bit salty, and almost like a pickle (i.e. vinegar-y). It is an acquired taste (at least it was for me), but once you get familiar with it, you may find yourself shoveling it back with no restraint whatsoever (at least I did/still do).

Use organic ingredients, the highest quality of sea salt you can afford (not iodized or table salt), and filtered/distilled water (not tap water). Table salt and/or tap water can disrupt the naturally occurring enzymes and living cultures inside the cabbage, making your kraut-making adventures a waste of time, ingredients, energy, and money.

Everything is ready to go!

Everything is ready to go!

Variations on the theme:

Make kraut with red or green cabbage (or both)

Use caraway seeds or not. Try adding dill, fennel seeds, dried sea weeds, shredded ginger root, etc. Make the kraut yours!

Sub shredded carrots or golden beets for the red beets, or just go with a simple cabbage mixture.

Some people use special sauerkraut crocks, but all you really need is a glass jar with a tight-fitting lid.

Questions? Holler at me! I’m determined to convert the whole of North America to raw kraut eating, so if anything needs to be clarified or elaborated upon, just let me know. Otherwise, enjoy your Royal Kraut! It’s so good… and good for you. xo

Evolution, Revisited

It all started with a sign—a literal sign on the wall, not some encrypted message from the cosmos (as much as I love those slippery types of universal signals).

Sort of like this, only less digital.

Sort of like this, only less digital and GPS-y. (Photo taken somewhere along the Washingston state coast line.)

There I was in a downtown Starbucks, waiting at the end of a messy countertop for the barista to call my name. I was regretting my impulsive decision to try a piece of their banana bread (which was terrible) and feeling even more guilty about my calculated resolution to toss it—barely nibbled—in the garbage can when I saw it: a picture of corn tacked up on the Community Message Board.

Also sort of like this, only with corn.

Also sort of like this, only with corn. (Photo taken in beautiful San Francisco.)

Inexplicably enchanted by this black and white photo of rustic maize ears, I examined the poster more closely and peered at the logo in the bottom corner. A school? Could it be true? Was this really a possibility? My heart began to flutter and chirp with excitement, much to the chagrin of my less-than-impressed Rational Mind. “Remember, Dana—this is corn we are looking at”, it sniffed haughtily, while my heart did interpretive dances and gleeful cartwheels all the same. At that moment, an approximation of my name broke through my trance as it rang out from the end of the messy countertop. I took my Vanilla Rooibos tea from the barista and headed back to the Harbour without giving another thought to that sign.

A few weeks later, a subtle stirring in my heart prompted me to my laptop, where I Googled the logo I had seen on the poster: Pacific Rim College. There, I discovered their Holistic Nutrition Program. I was gripped with an overwhelming sense of curiosity. My heart and head wrestled with each other as I scrolled through the course descriptions and program information, each of them vying for the prize of my attention and, of course, my ultimate confidence.

*****

Heart: Look at this! A whole course in Ayurvedic Medicine! And several courses in Holistic Cooking! OMG OMG OMG!!! [general rejoicing and celebrating]

Head: [non-plussed] Please. Give me a break! Dana—Listen to me. Why would you ever want to go back to school? You’ve already done six years and two degrees at university. And you became a horrible shadow of yourself while you were completing your Master’s Degree. Isn’t that enough? [figurative arms crossed in defiance]

Heart: [undeterred] But check this out! Herbal Medicine courses! Student clinics! An entire course on vegetarianism and veganism! This is totally up our alley!

Head: Seriously, Heart? Grow up already. It’s too risky. And how much does it cost?

Heart: [suddenly deflated] Oh. It’s a three year program and costs around $27,000. Never mind. You win, Head. I hate you.

*****

Knowing that the Holistic Nutrition program would eat three years out of my lifetime and cause significant damage to my sensitive financial landscape (“New Lawn: Please Keep Off”), I shelved the idea of becoming a Holistic Nutritionist in my “If I Ever Win the Lottery” file and kept on keeping on at the harbour. Oh, well.

A visual representation of my delicate financial landscape.

A visual representation of my delicate financial landscape.

My heart is a pretty sneaky bastard, though, so one day I found myself “casually” mentioning the program to Marty. It was the first time I had ever given an out-loud voice to this crazy notion, and as soon as I “nonchalantly” told him about this program, I experienced a surge of adrenaline chorusing through my body. HOLISTIC NUTRITION, YES!! (Picture choirs of angels, cherubs, and silver-lined clouds.) As if on cue, my Rational Mind muscled its way into the situation and immediately took control:

*****

Head: Yeah, love. I found this program on the internet that costs $27,000. [significant pause for effect] There are no scholarships or bursaries available, so I’d have to pay for the whole thing out of pocket. [pursed lips, pause] Or I could take out $30,000 worth of student loans… you know, with textbooks and all. [sideways glance] And it would take 3 years to complete. But other than that, it looks okay.

*****

Rainbow veggie sushi roll... why not?

Rainbow veggie sushi roll… A random photo, yes, but why not?

The world stood still as I waited for Marty’s response. I didn’t dare breathe, lest my exhalation sway his thoughts out of my favour. After what seemed like ages but was probably more like 3 seconds, Marty expressed unwavering support. To my great relief, he confessed his suspicions that I would want to go back to school for something, eventually, and he was interested in seeing me pursue the holistic pathway, even if we had to budget and scrimp to our teeth to make it happen.

*****

Heart: Haha! TRUE LOVE CONQUERS ALL! Woot woot!

Head: I have irrationally strong thoughts of anger and resentment toward you, Heart.

*****

A visual representation of how it felt to have Marty support my wacky idea.

A visual representation of how it felt to have Marty support my wacky, going-back-to-school idea.

Since then, I have looked into a number of different Holistic Nutrition programs, ranging from 11-month courses in Vancouver to 18-month options in San Diego. (I ended up nixing the 3-year course at Pacific Rim pretty early on, once I discovered that 2012 was the inaugural year of their program, that there were still significant vacancies in their teaching staff, and that most other schools offer similar graduating credentials after only 1 year of study.) Every school offers a slightly different spin on the generic “Holistic Health” foundation, but I used a killer combo of heart-driven intuition and head-driven logistics to narrow the choices down.

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My final two contestants (say in Chris Harrison, Bachelor-style voice) were both located in Vancouver—the Big-To-Me-City. Both options take 11 months to complete, and both of them have similar course profiles. I was in Vancouver during Marty’s aforementioned Artist Residency, and I used the opportunity to visit both of the schools on site and to let my gut make the final decision. I visited one of the schools on a Monday and felt alright. I noticed that my Rational Mind was doing a lot of the talking, though: “I could make this work”, “It seems decent enough”, “The owner seems professional”. The next day, I visited the other school and experienced a full-body explosion of joy! My heart was about to explode with ecstasy, and even my stodgy Rational Mind got in on the excitement. “What a great instructor!”, “I see myself belonging here!”, “This course seems so comprehensive!”

How it felt when I visited the second school. Starfish jump!!

How it felt when I visited the second school. Starfish jump!! (Photo taken– obviously– on historic Route 66, California leg)

Ultimately, there was no contest between the two institutions– one of them gave me a tentative feeling of ‘meh?’ (not even a definitive ‘meh’.) and the other one felt like I had come home. (Even saying that ‘coming home’ part to my mom got me all choked up, so I took it as a good sign.) That’s my big news, though (sorry for the month wait): I am going to go back to school! And I’m going to pursue certification as a Holistic Nutritionist!

In case you were wondering, the tunnel to heaven is located in Port Townsend, WA. You're welcome!

In case you were wondering, the tunnel to heaven is located in Port Townsend, WA. You’re welcome!

I don’t know why this new direction in life came as such a shock to me—me who has more photos of salad than of scenery; me who fawns over beets and has an ongoing love affair with quinoa; me who can’t resist buying bundles of rainbow carrots whenever I see them (and who exclaims “How beautiful!” every single time I slice open a purple one lengthwise); me who has relished every aspect of our Elimination Diet, including the initial food restrictions and even my pesky food sensitivities!; me who loves to cook and make everything from scratch; me who converted to the Cult of Raw Kraut and is now actively recruiting new members; me who bemoans getting off track every harbour season but is determined to fit in my ‘off-season jeans’ every autumn. My passion for whole foods is fairly obvious when I think about it this way, but who knew I would flip the switch of passion and consider turning it into a career? I think I know what I want to be when I grow up now, and I couldn’t be happier! :)

A few of my favourite things: lighthouses and homemade (garlic-free) guacamole. Heaven!

A few of my favourite things: lighthouses and homemade (garlic-free) guacamole. Heaven! (Photo taken along the Oregon coastline.)

Obviously, I wasn't going to publish this post without including a photo of kale. Who do you think I am?

Obviously, I wasn’t going to publish this post without including a photo of kale. Who do you think I am?