Let it be easy

[What I had for breakfast today: Jasmine rice with curried green split peas, some leftover roast chicken, freshly-picked kale, the yogurt that Adam made last night, and a beautiful egg from Yellow Chicken, who has the distinction of being our only hen that goes broody and who is therefore the erstwhile mama of New Black Chicken, Grey Chicken and Brown Chicken.]

Kamal had to go to the dentist yesterday to get cavities filled. It was not fun. 

The dentist had let us know that he should only drink clear fluids and eat Jell-O for a few hours after the procedure. Kamal had never had Jell-O, but he was excited about it. I know that Kamal gets cranky and fatigued whenever he's eaten something with artificial colors in it, and so Adam and I decided we'd make Kamal some relatively healthful "Jell-O" from scratch. And then while I was getting Kamal ready for bed the night before his appointment, thinking I'd be up late boiling juice and making space in the freezer, Adam went right ahead and made Kamal four different flavors of jiggly, fruity, jewel-like treats, all using juices he'd pressed himself. 

The clear orange is apple cider, the more opaque orange is pear cider, the lovely burgundy is grape juice, and the bright bright yellow is orange juice with honey and vanilla. 

The thing about making gelatin treats from scratch is that--are you ready?--it's not any harder than making Jell-O out of a box. In both cases, you bring stuff to a boil, mix in other stuff, and then pour it in a tray that you chill for a few hours. (Also: did you know that consuming gelatin, especially gelatin from grass-fed cows, has remarkable benefits to your health? It makes your skin, hair and nails prettier, for sure, but there is also evidence that it may help with joint health and digestive challenges.)

Firming up overnight in the fridge  

And that's often the case when you make things from scratch. It's not necessarily easier, but it's usually not much more difficult. Cake mix from a box is not much easier to put together than cake from scratch. Same goes for cookies, soup, rice pilaf, mashed potatoes. And the stuff you make from real food always, always tastes a million times better than the boxed reconstructions of food do. It's maybe a bit more effort making things from scratch, but a huge improvement in flavor, texture, health, and environmental impact (all those cardboard boxes have to end up somewhere, right?). 

I had a terrific yoga teacher (Anna McLawhorn at three dog yoga, thank you!) say to the class I was taking one day several years ago, about a pose we were all struggling a little with: "Let it be easy." And that's always stayed with me--that you can just decide to allow ease into whatever you're doing. 

Sometimes we look at a project--whether it's cooking from scratch, or getting rid of our back pain, or giving up coffee, or going back to school--and we just decide it's too hard for us. Even if it's going to help us achieve goals that are important to us. Even if it's really harder to stay the way we are. Changing, learning that we can accomplish things we thought we couldn't, can feel like a scary and weighty responsibility. 

So what would happen if we just decided to let those things be easy? What if we just went to the grocery store and came back with flour and eggs and good butter and lots of vegetables and just said, I'm going to make a quiche, and then did it? Or what if we took ten minutes to send out a few emails to practitioners we thought might be able to help us with our back pain? Or friends who would support us as we decaffeinate ourselves? What if we called in whatever help and support we needed when we needed it? What if we really did let it all be easy? 

I tell you what: these gelatin treats are a great place to start. Cooking from scratch does more than make healthier food that tastes better--it limits our dependency on big corporations with whose ethics we may or may not agree. It decreases the amount of packaging that ends up in our landfills. It gives us a deeper, truer connection to our food, and a pretty incomparable sense of accomplishment. 

We just followed the directions on the gelatin packet, but there are lots of almost-identical recipes online. Click here for a really good one!