How to make the most delicious popcorn I’ve ever had

March 20, 2010

Buttery popcorn without butter

The most delicious popcorn I’ve ever had was not in some movie theater. It wasn’t some exotic flavor in a gourmet restaurant. It was, of all places, in the remote jungles of Indonesia.

There was nothing special about the popcorn per se. The secret was obviously in the oil…extra virgin coconut oil, which the women made by cooking the coconut for hours until the fat separated.

After I came back home, I tried to re-create the yummy-ness and found that I could.

Vegan Buttery-Tasting Popcorn
2 Tablespoons extra virgin coconut oil
2 Tablespoons popcorn (preferably organic)
salt to taste

Place the oil and ONE popcorn kernel into a pot with a tight-fitting lid. Put on high or medium-high heat.

One kernel of popcorn and coconut oil in the pot

When the kernel pops, add the remaining popcorn. Hold the lid on with one hand and use the other to move the pot back and forth over the burner rapidly, to prevent burning.

Use a pot with a tight-fitting lid

After about 40-60 seconds, the corn will start to pop. This lasts for about 20-30 seconds.

Watch out–there is a bit of sputtering. Keep that lid on!

AS SOON AS the corn stops, remove it from heat, and dump it into a bowl. Sprinkle with salt and enjoy!

Extra virgin coconut oil can be found in a health food store. Be sure it’s food grade, not cosmetic grade. It probably won’t say as much on the label. Look for guidelines as to how much to consume or how to add it to food; then you’ll know it’s food grade.

Don’t be surprised if you have to spoon it out of the container and it won’t pour. Coconut oil solidifies at 76 degrees F. It’s perfectly fine to use either solid or liquid.

You can try to use less oil, but in my experience, you lose the flavor. There is no real coconut flavor to the finished popcorn, only a luscious butteriness without the butter.

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Appreciation for the complexity of Nature

March 13, 2010

One miraculous, home-grown, organic strawberry

As I ponder the first strawberry from the garden that has not been eaten by something (I suspect roaches) before it has ripened, I marvel at the miracles of Nature.

One friend has died, gone from dancing and alive, to dead, within a month’s time. Liver cancer killed him quickly.

Another has diabetes. She is skinnier and younger than I am, rarely eats processed foods, eats lots of salads, exercises daily. Her doctor is stumped. She doesn’t fit the profile for the disease. I do, but I don’t have it.

Recently we were all on tsunami alert, awakened at 7 am by the blaring of the emergency warning sirens. The 8.8 earthquake in Chile meant a high risk of tsunami here in Hawaii. Yet nothing came.

What do we know?
Despite all the modern technology, all the science, all the drugs and surgery and diagnostic procedures and tests, we still know next to nothing. All we have are pieces of the larger puzzle, plus the finished picture, with no real idea how everything fits together.

People outlive their prognoses every day, seemingly because they have the will to live. Diabetes is rampant in our society, and despite what everyone says, they really don’t know why. Ditto for osteoporosis, cancer, and ADHD and autism. All the computer monitoring and calculating and predicting still can’t tell us if and when an earthquake, tsunami, or flood is coming.

We know there is still magic around us
In a way, it’s a good thing we don’t know all the answers. If everything were cut and dried, there would be no room for wonderment, creativity, and exploration.

This way, there’s room for hope, surprises, and good old-fashioned magic. And for those, like me, who respect the fact that Nature has healing power we can tap if we try.

Nature is amazing.
Plants and animals have the power to heal, kill, poison, hallucinate, attract, repel, destroy, remove pain, abort fetuses, strengthen entire bodily systems…all within them, naturally. We humans have been learning from them for eons.

We extract substances, dissect them, re-create them chemically and sell them as drugs and supplements. We are surprised when they don’t work as well as the original plants or hormones or chemicals. We forget that Nature has a world of infinite wisdom and complexity in a single, tiny strawberry.

Am I just plain old lucky?
Maybe. I’ve been a vegetarian for 26 years now. I’m mostly sedentary, overweight, and I don’t meditate. I eat white sugar and some eggs (from our spoiled brat chickens!) and dairy every now and then. I take a lot of supplements. I eat chocolate every day. Do NOT touch my stash!! I drink a lot of herbal teas, not for any specific properties per se, but a nice variety, because they taste good, and because I know each one has a bounty of good we don’t even know about, hidden inside it.

Unlike most everyone else my age, I don’t have high cholesterol, diabetes, or high blood pressure. So I must be doing something right. Yay!

Thank you, gods! Thank you, Nature! Because nobody else seems to have the answers.

Three Little-Known Diabetes Facts

March 10, 2010

It has been said that there are no coincidences. The fact that I just found out a friend has diabetes, and the fact that I ran across a diabetes article today, may seem like coincidences. But I learned some interesting facts as a result.

Fact #1: Diabetes can be eliminated with a vegan diet
I already knew about Dr. Terry Shintani’s results getting people off diabetes and cholesterol-lowering medication with a vegan diet. See this post for a video of Dr. Shintani’s lecture on these results.

Today I read this article:The Diabetes Cure: Forget counting carbs. Here’s the new way to reverse this disease.

It offers more proof that a vegan diet can reverse type 2 diabetes.

Fact #2: Eliminating starches from your diet isn’t the answer
The ADA, American Diabetes Association writes: “Foods that contain carbohydrate raise blood glucose. By keeping track of how many carbohydrates you eat and setting a limit for your maximum amount to eat, you can help to keep your blood glucose levels in your target range.”

Not all starches are created equal.
Some create quick spikes in blood sugar. This, according to current theory, means an extra load on the pancreas, which produces insulin, leading to reduced performance/failure. It also causes the body to become less efficient with the way it handles blood sugar.

But further studies have shown that not just starches per se, or sugars per se, are important. What is important is the rate at which these foods cause blood level changes.

Enter the glycemic index
Some foods, mostly those with lots of fiber, including most whole grains, vegetables, and fruits, do not cause a rapid spike. Those are lower on the glycemic index.

Other foods, mostly processed flour, sugar, and the foods made with them: white bread, crackers, pasta, pastries, do cause a spike and should be avoided.

Clearly we don’t know all the answers. Apples, Pears and bananas are low on the glycemic index. Watermelon, however, is also a fruit, but it’s high.

Barley, a whole grain, is low on the index. Millet, another whole grain, is high.

So the assumption that eliminating starches from your diet will cure diabetes is just plain wrong.

Fact #3: Asians and Polynesians have the lowest incidence of diabetes in the world
According to the 2010 statistics from the IDF (International Diabetes Federation), the US, Canada and Carribean region has an 11.7% prevalence of diabetes.

Most of Asia (including Japan, Thailand, Singapore, Indonesia, Malaysia, China) and the Pacific (Australia, New Zealand, Fiji, Tonga, Samoa, etc.) have only a 5% incidence, the second lowest in the world (Africa has the lowest.)

We’re talking rice and potatoes
What’s the backbone of the diet in Asia? Rice. And in a lot of places, white rice, as a matter of fact.

What about in Polynesia? Sweet potatoes and taro. More starch.

Why the discrepancy?
Plainly speaking, nobody knows! What we do know is that people who eat their culturally traditional diets have very low incidence of diabetes. Yet when they move to the U.S., their diet changes, and their incidence of diabetes skyrockets.

Traditional diets always rely on fresh, locally and seasonally available produce and proteins. That means an abundance of fresh fruits, vegetables, and grains.

It means little to no manufactured, processed foods like soft drinks, cereals for breakfasts, and any of the canned, packaged chemical stews for sale that people consume regularly.

So is it because of the high-fructose corn syrup?
Who knows? Science doesn’t have the answers. The food manufacturers want us to believe everything’s safe to eat. Of course they do; otherwise they couldn’t sell as much and make as much money.

Judging from the facts about who has diabetes and who doesn’t, is it a coincidence that vegans have a low incidence of diabetes? Definitely not. Science can’t explain it, and probably never will. But the facts speak for themselves.