Letter from America 3/5

It’s July 4th today and for the first time in 22 years, I’ll be attending my family’s yearly reunion with over 100 people in attendance! They gather on the site of the old homestead on the shores of Lake Alder which reflects the nearby 14,000 foot Mt Rainier for a day of feasting (each person brings food), games (tug-o-war and boating) and catching up. My 92-year-old great aunt Mildred is now the last one of her generation to be present and I’m staying with her tonight, with fireworks going off very noisily outside whilst I write. When she was younger, she used to decorate a white cake with strawberries and blueberries to resemble the US flag as blueberry season always begins here around this time.


Yesterday, my Mum dug up some red (skin, white flesh), yellow and blue (purple really – both flesh and skin) potatoes out of her garden so we could make a potato salad with vegenaise. Have you ever seen or eaten “blue” potatoes? They’re a real trip! Purple things are usually sweet so they’re a brain teaser as they just taste like normal potatoes! I’ve bought the purple seed potatoes in the U.K. before and have grown them myself in the past, but they aren’t easy to find.

If you can choose any food with colour over white/no colour, choose the food with colour! (eg black beans over white beans, spinach pasta over white pasta). Colour chemicals, or phytochemicals, are the nutrients and healing blocks our bodies use and apply. I attended infamous David Avocado Wolfe’s UK Longevity lecture in 2015 where he defined many of the benefits and attributes of each colour chemical but what I remember most is that black (or blue) in nature promotes longevity: think black olives, black grapes, black rice, black quinoa, black beans, black sesame seeds, blue/blackberries and cacao and you get the picture.

Tomorrow for the picnic I’m going to make a quinoa salad, so I thought I’d tell you what I’m going to make as it’s so quick and easy to do.

QUINOA SALAD (good hot or cold)
Quinoa is a complete plant-based protein but is fabulously easy and quick to cook as well as to digest – also great soaked for 8 hours and eaten raw, if you like.

As quinoa comes from Colombia originally, which is where my Mum is from, I’ve eaten it all my life. My mum’s secret is to cook it without salt, until the seed-like grain has popped, as salting it in the beginning slows the cooking WAY down.

You can buy tricolour mixes of black, red and white quinoa from the health food shop or www.buywholefoodsonline.co.uk which will give you more nutrition than the traditional white (and a 5% discount off your order with coupon code 5OFF-TMD5).

Measure 2/3 grain to 1/3 water and bring to the boil then turn down and simmer. After about 10 minutes, the grains begin to pop and you may add your seasoning. I like salt and cumin, garlic and onion powder.

Keep your eye on the pot after 18 minutes because you don’t want the quinoa to be too wet (and mushy), nor do you want it to burn (which it easily can). Take it off the heat as soon as it’s light and fluffy, making sure you taste and like the seasoning.

Next, add colour!! A few black beans, chopped red, yellow and/or orange peppers, tomatoes (if you like), coriander, spring onion, black olives, chopped sundried tomato, chilli – whatever you have in the house – drizzle with lemon or lime juice, your favourite healthy oil (olive, hemp) stir, taste again for seasoning and you’re done – great for lunches-to-go!

Cooked quinoa will keep for several days in the fridge on it’s own so you can make it straight (with just salt) then take portions out for eating it sweet (as a breakfast porridge with nutmilk and cinnamon) or savoury (as above).

Let me know how you get on with this and I’ll share some photos tomorrow.

Helena Cavan