Feels like Summer

Maybe because it’s June (!) or maybe because the weather has been so nice, it’s just starting to feel like summer.

Ice cream for lunch from an all-you-can-eat ice cream fundraiser (we got to keep the bowls!)

Spa water is my favorite summer drink (lemon, cucumber and mint) and CHERRIES are my favorite summer snack (in the same bowl I had ice cream in earlier).

My summer isn’t going to be much of a break with my class schedule, but I am definitely trying to make the most of my weekends.

What makes you feel like summer has started?

Healthy Snack: Spirulina Cookies

Between working full time and then heading to class after work for my graduate program, I need to have snacks I can grab and go or else I cannot be trusted to stay away from store-bought junk food.

I had to try this recipe a couple times but this is one *healthy* cookie I like:

Spirulina Almond Butter Cookies 

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(Recipe adapted from Organic Burst)

Ingredients: 

  • 1 cup almond butter (or sub peanut butter or sun butter- could probably also work with tahini. Whatever you got!)
  • 1/2 cup rice malt syrup
  • 1/2 mashed banana
  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil (melted)
  • 1 tablespoon spirulina
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon pink Himalayan sea salt
  • 1 cup almond flour

Instructions: 

  1. Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees F
  2. Mash banana, then mix in almond butter, rice malt syrup, coconut oil, and vanilla. Rice malt syrup is very sticky and thick, so don’t be alarmed by the consistency.
  3. Mix in baking soda, cinnamon, sea salt, spriulina. Mixture will be very dark green.
  4. Mix in almond flour.
  5. Cover a baking sheet with parchment paper and spoon mix onto the paper. It’s very thick. That’s OK. I fit about 6-7 per (decent sized) baking sheet because they spread out.
  6. Bake for 6 minutes, cool for a couple minutes and transfer to cooling rack.

TIP: Store in an airtight container using the parchment paper from the baking sheet between layers of cookies. These are so soft and chewy that they will fuse together (hey, who doesn’t love a super cookie?) if stacked directly on top of each other.

WHY ALL THESE RANDOM, HIPPIE INGREDIENTS? 

  • Spriulina is an algae that is also a complete protein, which means it has all 9 essential amino acids that our bodies need, and also contains vitamins, iron, and potassium.
  • Rice malt syrup is a sweetener that is a blend of glucose and maltose, which are easier to digest than fructose, which is in most processed sugars and sweeteners. It’s not as sweet as common sugar sweeteners, so I think it takes some getting used to, but it’s a good option if you’re trying to cut back on sugar.
  • Pink Himalayan sea salt – Basically its less processed than table salt and has better nutritional value.
  • Almond flour is gluten-free, and has healthy fats and protein. It’s also a very fluffy flour and I think balances out the heavy rice malt syrup nicely in this recipe.

These cookies are a good protein boost and satisfying snack, and being lightly sweetened, will satisfy a craving for sugar but won’t trigger you to go crazy. I found a 6 minute bake time is perfect–they get slightly browned at the edges and are thin but very soft.

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Whoever wrote the Organic Burst recipe got a good base but apparently never baked these, because when I followed the recipe exactly, the bake time in their recipe was 15 minutes and they came out black and hard as rocks. Moral of the story – trust your instincts when you think a recipe’s instructions look off. The recipe also didn’t include a flour, and when I added some, they got better, but were still way darker green than the picture on their website. I’m still not sure how they got the cookies to look like that for the picture. Anywho, these are great and I recommend them.

Eating Ethically – review of “Food Chains”

Food Chains is worth your time.

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The Coalition of Immokalee Workers (CIW) is a human rights organization based in Immokalee, Florida, made up of agricultural workers (turned activists) who campaign for fair working conditions.

The average person in the US is pretty divorced from the process that gets their food on the table. You may have a backyard garden, but probably most of your food comes from a grocery store. This gives the illusion that food is a simple commodity and not connected to politics, capitalism, and human labor.

Food Chains follows the (CIW) as they protest Publix (a grocery chain in Florida) to pay one penny more per pound of tomatoes. Does that sound crazy? For consumers, that translates into paying approximately 44 cents more per year, but it would effectively double what the agricultural workers in the CIW earn per year.

The CIW gets a fair amount of press (I’ve been seeing more about them recently as students at several colleges have recently fasted for CIW awareness), and in 2014 was awarded the 2014 Presidential Medal for Extraordinary Efforts to Combat Human Trafficking, but even if you’ve heard of them before, Food Chains is really worth watching because it puts human faces to the food process. Agricultural workers in the US  are typically some of the most exploited workers, and not that long ago, it was a system based on slavery. After the Emancipation Proclamation, share cropping, convict leasing, and early migrant worker programs effectively continued slavery because even when workers were paid, it was so little that they didn’t have any other options. And even today, migrant workers are still exploited under slavery. The CIW works to ensure there are more protections for workers, that workers are educated about their rights, and that the agricultural industry has more checks and balances, and they have had a lot of success.

I think there’s a lot of emphasis now on what we’re putting into our bodies– is it organic, is it clean, is it … –but not a lot of emphasis on how we’re getting that food. Agriculture is one of the most deeply unequal systems out there, so it is crucial that we ask those hard questions and do our due diligence.

This article 4 Not-So-Easy Ways to Dismantle Racism in the Food System is a great primer on the history and issues that food justice faces:

Farm management is among the whitest professions, while farm labor is predominantly brown and exploited. Meanwhile, people of color tend to suffer from diet-related illnesses such as diabetes and obesity, and to live in “food apartheid” neighborhoods—high-poverty areas flooded with fast food and corner stores, but lacking healthy food options. While some writers refer to these areas as “food deserts,” I prefer the term “food apartheid” because this is a human-created system of segregation, not a natural ecosystem.

Our food system needs a redesign if it’s to feed us without perpetuating racism and oppression.

Building a just society is hard because it means thinking outside of ourselves. Food lobbies and government and large corporations do not want us to see where our food comes from, because it makes it easier for them to exploit labor and maximize profits for those at the top. But this is inhumane and unjust, and ultimately a drain on society. I love a good documentary and I’m picky about what I recommend, but Food Chains is really important and really worth the watch.