Monday, December 3, 2012

Why I'm Here and Hibiscus Tea

Apart from a handful of notable exceptions, there are very few paleo-style recipe and information blogs run from the woman's perspective.  I feel this is an important point to bring up at the very beginning because study after study after study in the past two decades has demonstrated that the female physiology works differently from the male and often, a woman's physiology functions in diametric opposition to the male's.  Therefore, it is exceptionally important for women to bring their voices, their experiences, and their knowledge to the table in attempting to heal ourselves with the foods we eat and make ourselves as healthy as possible.  As far as I can tell, there are no paleo blogs at all that are run by women who are Jewish.  I am a Jew.  I love to eat.  More importantly, I love to cook.  Thus, a paleo Jewish food blog.

A few notes to start off right:

~~ I was not raised in a culturally (or religiously for that matter) Jewish home.  Therefore, virtually nothing in my cooking repertoire is recognizably "Jewish," that is, coming from the eastern European background from which the vast majority of America's Jews hail.

~~ While I certainly do not any longer fall into the trap of being one of "those" Jews who eat pork, I do not keep "perfect" kosher.  What I do works for my philosophy and ethics and in my world of Conservative Judaism, that is more than good enough.

~~ At the risk of sounding like an elitist food snob, 90% of our food is grown or produced within 200 miles of home.  I will never specify "grass fed this" or "organic that," however.  To my mind, those labels are less important than avoidance of the standard American diet.  If big box grocery's beef liver is what you can afford and is most accessible, then that's what you eat rather than eating none at all (I'm a huge pusher of organ meats).

~~ My food is informed by both the Weston A. Price Foundation and the Paleo philosophy.  In summary, this means that we eat no grains, we highly restrict dairy and sweeteners, and on the rare occasions when we do eat legumes, they are very well soaked in mild brine before cooking.

~~ No diet works for everyone.  This is what works for me and mine.

This is Chance.  He's my little man.  One of the refrains I hear continually is "Me do too.  Just like abba."  He imitates everything his abba (daddy) says and does.  He'll be five in December; 2 years ago he was diagnosed with apraxia of speech.  Chance makes coffee for me most days, literally begs to help wash dishes, and tells me his leg hurts when he's hungry, because that's where his stomach is.  Chance is also enormously sensitive to blood sugar swings that provoke epic tantrums.  His speech responds to fish, turmeric, and chilies in all forms; ingredients known to help reduce inflammation system-wide.  Like his sisters, Chance inherits a long family history of hypoglycemia, high blood pressure, Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes, and gluten intolerance - in other words, a dozen blood relations who have overt or sub-clinical metabolic syndrome.  Paleo is for Chance, for his speech, his metabolism, his ability to live a life free of the chronic diseases of Western Civilization.

This is  Shula, my little princess.  Three years old, wants to do everything her big brother does.  she's a daddy's girl.  Loves trains, guns archery, and her gigantic, fluffy hot pink tutu.  More times than I can count, I have found her playing mad crazy "boy" games with her brother, fluffy pink tutu flouncing about her waist.  She is somewhat less sensitive to blood sugar swings; her moods are neither as sudden nor as dramatic as her brother's but she is calmer, sillier, and more artistic without the highs and lows of the insulin roller coaster.  Paleo is for Shula, not just to avoid the metabolic syndrome I hope to stave off in her brother but also for her thyroid (she also inherits a family history  of thyroid disorder that includes her mother) and for her future fertility.
Lilit.  My pudgy pink pachyderm, more commonly called Miss Lili-poo.  Eight months old, sunny tempered, easy going.  Very few things bother her apart from a hungry tummy or messy diaper.  In the past month, she has started eating solid food, choosing liver, salmon, chicken bones over all other offerings.  One recent evening, I watched her mentally debate between a tomato or a piece of pita bread my husband offered her.  She decided the tomato was far more yummy, not to mention messy.  Thanks to that decision, she has yet to eat anything made from grain.  Determined to catch up to Chance and Shula as fast as possible and to keep her pudgy baby rolls for as long as possible.  Paleo is for Lilit.  So those sunny Colorado-blue eyes stay sunny and bright and never know the pain of illnesses food could reverse.

This isn't a "Jewish" or paleo recipe.  It's just a beautiful tea that I love in late afternoons and evenings when I crave a hot cup of something but don't need caffeine or a sugar high.  Plus, the photo gives me an excuse to show off the pink Depression Glass tableware I recently received as a gift.  It's incredibly simple to make, cheap, and beautiful to look at.  Dried hibiscus flower can be found in the Hispanic section of many supermarkets, often labeled "Jamaica flower."

2 or 3 dried hibiscus flowers, crumbled
8 oz hot (not boiling) water

Pour the water over the broken flowers and allow to steep for 3 to 5 minutes.  Strain off into a pretty cup and enjoy.  No cream or sugar needed.

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