When I was 15, my best friend and I decided that it would be super fun to trick one of our other friends into snorting fake cocaine just to see how she would react.
I’m telling you this NOT as a shining moment from my teenage years (shining moments were few and far between when I was that age). I’m telling you this to sketch a picture of the power of suggestion.
My best friend and I had our whole plan laid out. We would buy some NoDoz (white caffeine pills), crush them into powder, show our friend the goods and then ask if she wanted a line or two.
Now, my best friend and I had never done cocaine, and we didn’t want to put anything up our noses, so we decided to just act jittery and tell our friend that we already did a bunch of lines and that we were cool, but she could go ahead and help herself.
We dabbed some white NoDoz powder on our faces for added effect. The plan worked like a champ because before we knew it, we were sitting in our friend’s parent’s dark basement, and she was snorting lines of NoDoz.
As soon as she snorted her first line, she got a huge grin on her face, threw back her head full of blonde hair and told us that we had some good shit.
After she did another line, she got up from her chair and started dancing in the dark basement, filling the silence by humming Sweet Jane as she moved her hips in ecstasy. A smile on her face the whole time.
My best friend and I had to run out of the the room because we couldn’t contain our laughter. Our friend was too wrapped up in her dancing and her “high” to notice our departure. We ran outside and exploded in laughter until tears rolled down our cheeks, washing off any lingering traces of white powder.
The laughter somehow soothed the guilt that was oozing out of us at a fairly rapid rate.
Our embarrassment about the whole situation trumped our guilt, and as shitty as it was, we never did tell her the truth.
Would you say that our friend was a liar pretending to respond to the fake cocaine, or do you think her reality was manipulated in such a way that her core belief was strong enough to manifest a physical reaction to merely a suggestion?
Well, that particular friend did actually lie a lot, so it might have been a combination of the two.
Today’s fuckery is only partly about fake cocaine. The rest is about gluten.
Only I could tie these two together and make it work, so take my hand and follow me. I promise I won’t make you snort anything.
I’m a fan of not over complicating things, so my stance on gluten is identical to choosing between lunch with Vani Hari or lunch with Anthony Bourdain, simple. (Bring on Bourdain.)
My gluten sentiments are this (and if you name your new band The Gluten Sentiments, no need to give me credit – consider it a freebie).
If you have Celiac disease or are truly gluten intolerant, you should stay away from the stuff. But if you don’t have a sensitivity to gluten, put down the Kool-aid. Gluten isn’t hurting you. It’s a scapegoat for other crap food that is.
Let’s break this down.
Gluten is a group of proteins found in wheat, barley, rye, and all of their derivatives.
People who have Celiac disease (an autoimmune disorder) cannot, I repeat CANNOT have gluten because these proteins trigger an immune response which causes a range of symptoms.
These symptoms include chronic diarrhea, skin rashes, bloating, weight loss, joint pain, fatigue and anemia to name a few. The only way to alleviate these symptoms is to stop eating anything with gluten in it.
People who have a gluten sensitivity have similar symptoms as people with Celiac disease, but they don’t have the immune response, making it a less severe condition.
And unlike Celiac disease, there’s no lab test that can confirm a gluten sensitivity. The only way to diagnose it is through an elimination diet, eliminating all gluten for a month and then seeing how you feel when you reintroduce it.
So here’s the thing. Less than 1 % of Americans have Celiac disease. Approximately 6% of Americans are gluten intolerant and yet 30% of American adults steer clear of gluten because they say they feel better without it.
Is it just me or do these numbers sound like a drunk person came up with them? Why would 30% of Americans take action to help a condition that they technically don’t even have?
Here’s my take.
It’s not that 30% of the American population is lying about feeling better without gluten. It’s that the majority of gluten filled foods in this country are crappy processed foods in the form of refined carbohydrates.
That, paired with the $15 Billion dollar a year gluten free food industry with all its advertising and cheerleaders is enough to make most people (well, 30 % at least) pin their health issues on gluten and close the book.
I’ve experienced first hand manipulating someone’s reality in such a way that their beliefs became strong enough to manifest a misleading outcome. And I managed to do this with a $5 budget. I’m not proud of giving my friend fake cocaine, but it taught me a valuable lesson about the power of suggestion.
What I’m getting at is there’s waaaaaaay too much emphasis on eating gluten free when the conversation needs to be about eating whole, unprocessed foods – regardless of what gluten camp you’re in.
When we focus our attention on unprocessed foods, especially unprocessed plant foods, gluten isn’t all that prevalent, so it becomes a non-issue. Veggies, fruits, legumes, gluten-free whole grains, nuts and seeds are naturally gluten free.
In fact, the majority of the plant-based recipes I create and most of the food that I eat is gluten free (Except of course when I cheat on plants and shove a piece of chocolate cake directly into my cake hole. Which I highly recommend doing from time to time)
I don’t create gluten free recipes and eat gluten free food because I have a gluten free or bust policy. I do this because the ingredients that I use most often just happen to be gluten free.
Let me ask you this. When someone stops eating gluten, what are a few of the first things to go?
Maybe that morning pastry for breakfast, the standard sandwich on white bread for lunch and the usual big plate of pasta for dinner?
Here’s the thing, anyone would feel better when those foods are removed from the diet. This is because these foods are nothing but sugary, nutrient void refined carbohydrates that make us feel like shit.
It’s not hard then to understand why the 30 % of people who stay away from gluten feel better. Anyone who swaps sugary pastries for fruit, white bread for salad greens, and refined white pasta for cucumber pasta will feel exponentially better, whether they’re sensitive to gluten or not.
Here’s what I’m suggesting. Maybe, just maybe, it’s more about the vessel in which the gluten is enclosed and less about the gluten itself.
If you don’t hear from me next week, it’s because the gluten free police have me locked up somewhere and are forcing me to read Wheat Belly and Grain Brain until I can recite them both.
Today’s recipe is naturally gluten free and will very likely become your new go to salad.
It’s exactly like having a crush – you will keep thinking about it long after your first encounter.
Toasted Coconut Kale Salad with Brown Rice and Lime
Toasted Coconut Kale Salad with Brown Rice and Lime
- Kale any type, chopped
- Lime juice
- Coconut aminos
- Brown rice heated
- Thinly sliced red onion
- Cherry tomatoes cut into quarters or halves
- Avocado cut into chunks and then slightly mashed
Pan sauted tofu
- Toasted coconut / sunflower seed mixture (see below)
- Pan Sautéed Tofu
- 1 block of firm or extra firm tofu
- 3 tablespoons soy sauce gluten free if need be
- 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
- 2 tablespoons water
- 5 garlic cloves minced
Chop the kale and place it into a large bowl.
Add some lime juice and coconut aminos, and then massage the kale with your hands until the kale shrinks in size and becomes softer than when you started.
Add some brown rice (I like to heat the rice, you can add it cold if you like), red onion, tomato, avocado, tofu and coconut / sunflower seed mixture.
Mix it all up and dig in.
Here’s how to make the tofu:
Take the tofu out of the package and extract as much liquid as you can. Some people use a tofu press, I use a pie plate and some regular plates to get the job done.
While you’re extracting the liquid from the tofu, make the marinade by mixing together the soy sauce, rice vinegar, water and garlic in a large container (large enough to hold the tofu) with a tight fitting lid .
When the tofu is as dry as you can get it, cut it into bite-sized pieces and add it to the marinade. Fasten the lid, and turn the container upside down so that the marinade coats all of the tofu. Let it marinate for at least 10 minutes, flipping the container upside down intermittently.
When you’re ready to cook it, heat a nonstick or cast iron pan over medium heat for a couple of minutes until the pan is hot. Add the tofu to the hot pan, along with whatever marinade is left, and cook until the tofu is cooked on all sides and slightly browned.
Be gentle when flipping the tofu, especially if you’re not using a non-stick pan because some of the tofu might stick to the pan and get crumbly. If this happens, don't worry about it. It will still taste damn good.
Here's how to make the coconut / sunflower seed mixture
If you toast one cup of shredded coconut and one cup of sunnies you'll have a big enough batch so you don't have to go through the toasting process every single time you want this salad.
This mixture works well on other things too. Add it to toast, top oatmeal with it, add it to sweet potatoes - so many possibilities.
Toast the coconut first and then the sunnies. If you toast them together the coconut will burn before the sunnies are thoroughly toasted.
Be sure to use raw sunflower seeds and dried coconut with no sugar added. I use the small shredded type, but the bigger type of dried coconut (like the kind in my coconut bacon recipe) would work too.
Okay let’s do this!
Heat a cast iron skillet over medium heat for about a minute and then turn the heat down to low.
Add the coconut and stir constantly until it’s evenly browned and smells like pure coconut heaven (it will only take a couple of minutes).
Place the coconut in a bowl and then add the sunnies to the pan.
Stir frequently until they smell fragrant and are evenly browned (they will take about 3-5 minutes).
Transfer the sunnies to the bowl with the coconut and mix them together.
Place in a container and store in the fridge.
I hope that you have a happy week. May it be filled with things that make you feel good.