I have this thing where I hate to do things that other people are doing. So, despite the fact that my body is made of of 95% avocado toast, it’s been years since I’ve done an avocado toast post on the blog! I realize that my hang up is just plain stubborn and it’s high time I shared some more buttery, crispy, colorful avo toasts with you guys. I could legitimately write an entire blog just on avocado toast variations, so it’s about damn time I shared this recipe!
I used sexy, thick, seedy bread from Marie Bette for my peach pico de gallo avo toasts. Marie Bette is a Charlottesville bakery cafe that makes loaves with local flour and slow-process sourdough fermentations. Yes, it’s good ol’ wheat toast!
But wait Renee, aren’t you gluten free???
I mentioned on Instagram a week or so ago that I have been able to tolerate wheat again. IT’S AWESOME. I’ve known for a while that I could tolerate einkorn wheat, an ancient Turkish variety of wheat that is low in gluten and high in protein and vitamins. But I have been hesitant to reach beyond einkorn wheat since my reaction to wheat used to be pretty painful and uncomfortable.
I stopped eating wheat after developing IBS symptoms back in 2012. At the time I was vegan and working crazy hours at Trader Joe’s as a deck-squab (we were officially called “the crew”… they’re very into nautical terminology). The physical demands of the job gave me tendonitis in my wrists after three months. It was so painful it kept me up at night. The late night and early morning shifts got my sleep cycles out of whack. I was constantly exhausted and running on coffee, vegan protein bars and the $2 packages of Thai vegetable curry Trader Joe’s sold in the frozen aisle.
I was working my ass off just to pay for food and gas for my commute. Then I would immediately be broke again. I couldn’t afford an apartment, so I lived with my parents (we all know that living with the ‘rents is stressful, c’mon). Needless to say, I stayed over at Logan’s apartment whenever I could. He literally lived in a barn. Chickens were his downstairs neighbors.
I may have been stressed, sleep-deprived and anxious about money. But ultimately none of that mattered because Logan and I got to be together. We spent all of our free-time together, doing a whole lot of blissful nothing. I would whip up some wild vegan ice cream concoction while he told me about the latest drama at one of his three jobs. It was a velvet rut: the despair of our dead-end jobs was gently softened by the hopeful bubble of our love. Those nights spent dreaming (and crying) in each others arms kept me from succumbing to a very dark time. I don’t think Logan came out of it as shiny as I did. He’s a more cynical person thanks to our dirt-poor years.
All of this added up to the manifestation of disease. My digestion was a nightmare, my stomach constantly gurgled and I would get sharp, knife-like pains after eating. I was losing weight rapidly. I should mention that I was a pretty healthy vegan eater (although not as healthy as I am now). I rarely ate chips or fried foods are sugary treats. I made most of my meals at home (mostly vegetable curries, stir-fries and tofu scrambles).
After going 100% gluten-free, my digestive pain slowly resolved. Not gonna lie, I had some inventive food-dreams about swimming in oceans of bagels, dancing with bagels and having candle-lit dinners with my boyfriend: Liam D. Bagel.
I really love bagels.
But other than that, giving up wheat was a huge relief for my body.
Being gluten free, vegan, refined-sugar-free and processed-foods-free may have resolved some physical issues. But I quickly discovered I was becoming so anxious and frustrated about all of the things that I “couldn’t” eat that food lost all of its joy. I felt trapped by my diet. Trapped by my vacuous life. I had dreams of getting an MFA in poetry or becoming a professor of religious studies or at least starting a blog. I wanted more nourishment on every level: body, mind and spirit.
Logan and I saved up enough money to do two things. 1. Take a trip to Costa Rica to volunteer at a cacao plantain, 2. Move to Charlottesville. Our exit from Virginia Beach is a testament to his money saving skills and my willingness to learn how to save (I’m a spender, naturally).
While in Costa Rica, I decided to finally listen to my body and start eating eggs, goat dairy and fish again. The three things I had been craving ever since going vegan. Suddenly, I was free. Free of my groundhog-day life. Free of the constraints of my food labels. And free to eat what I craved.
Fast forward to… now! I have dropped all labels and consider myself an “intuitive eater.” When I’m hungry I sit with myself and ask what I really want, what my body and spirit are deeply craving. It’s taken me many years to cultivate this awareness. Yoga and mindfulness practice helps me to connect in to my deeper needs, that’s for sure. It’s a very subtle art, because monkey-mind pretty much always wants treats (which for me is salty/crunchy things). But so far it seems to be working.
(Lately my cravings include: dark leafy greens, roasted garlic, smoked oysters, arugula, blueberries, pea shoots, peaches, watermelon, lime, olive oil, mint and cilantro. I most definitely do not want to eat: eggs, blue cheese, millet, garbanzo beans, mushrooms, cashews and… coconut! That one surprises me, because coconut is usually my jam.)
The most important discovery on my digestive health journey happened last Summer when I got an allergy / intolerance test done with Richmond Natural Medicine. I took the “Carroll Food Intolerance Assessment” which tests enzyme compatibility to a wide range of foods. According to my nutritionist & herbalist friend Lindsay Kluge (who has a gorgeous blog), we’re usually born with the intolerances that show up on this test. Whereas allergies can develop based on environmental factors and frequently change throughout life.
My test results told me two things.
One, I’m intolerant to potatoes and all potato-related foods. That includes sunchoke, jicama, sweet potato, red potato, potato starch, potato flour, potato-derived yeast, potato-derived b-12 supplements, “natural flavoring” in processed foods, MSG, Vitamin A Palmitate, hydrolyzed vegetable protein, modified food starch, enriched flour, iodized salt, maltodextrin/maltodextrose, dextrose/dextrin and ascorbyl palmitate. I was also told to avoid all gums: locust bean gum, gellan gum, xanthan gum and guar gum.
Two, I’m intolerant to consuming grains with dairy within a four hour period. That means I can consume grains solo, and dairy solo. But not together. And I’m talking all grains: wheat, corn, teff, amaranth, rice, etc. And all dairy, including goat dairy. I find this result pretty odd. And hard to believe. I’ve known for years that I have a bad response to cow and sheep dairy, so I generally don’t eat it at all. But I notice that my allergy to cow dairy is worse when I eat, say, ghee on toast. And my environmental allergies are worse generally when I eat any dairy with grains. Mostly I forget to follow this one. But I eat so little dairy anyway that there’s not much to notice.
As you can imagine, discovering you’re intolerant to something as common as potato requires a total mindset overhaul. I decided to dive in 100% and be very strict about it. It wasn’t difficult, seeing that I barely eat any of the processed foods in which potato and its derivatives live. The hardest things to avoid was baking powder cut with potato starch and foods flavored with nutritional yeast.
After 6 months of following this protocol something amazing happened.
Most of my food sensitivities went away! I could eat peanuts again. I could eat dairy with a much milder allergic reaction (sneezing/sniffling went away). And most importantly, I COULD EAT WHEAT AGAIN!
I don’t know about you, but I’m happy to trade potatoes for bread.
Since I am so sensitive to what I put in my body, I choose to eat only ancient wheat varieties and/or sourdough cultured bread. I avoid genetically modified wheat like the plague. I still only eat wheat things on occassion or rarely, for one simple reason: I’ve grown accustomed to living without it. I like getting my nourishment from a wide variety of foods and different grains. I’m not exactly diving into a pool of brioche french toast or anything (god that sounds good). But I’m having a slice of seedy sourdough on occasion. And it feels so good!
The best part, now can I try out making classic sourdough bread at home! Oh how I love to knead and punch dough. It’s better than therapy.
Ok, on to this toast!
This peach pico de gallo is a riff on an older recipe from my archives, my plum pico de gallo. It’s simple, quick and only gets better marinating in the fridge. I made up this recipe when Urban Outfitters contacted me about making a small-space-friendly recipe for their blog (see the post here). Whether you live in a dorm, galley, studio apartment, tiny house or what-have-you, it’s an ideal salad / avo toast combo for all of you small-space-inhabiting babes out there.
The pico is a combo of white peaches, red pepper, shallot, cumin, cilantro, fresh raw corn and lots of lime. It’s sweet, crunchy, spicy, pungent and aromatic all at once. Its one of my favorite Summer salads. I often eat a bowl of it topped with arugula, cooked chickpeas and a little goat feta. And of course it’s brilliant spooned over avocado toast.
p.s. For those of you following along, my bands Kickstarter just ended and we got fully funded! We made $7,618. That means we get to produce the EP, print beautiful sleeves for CDs, hire a visual artist to make it beautiful and buy a used PA system to play our album live the way it sounds on the album. Plus I think we have a little extra to put towards a music video. Thank you to everyone who contributed! You are rock n roll angels and I love you! If you didn’t get a chance to grab a copy of the EP, don’t worry. We’ll have some release shows and parties for the debut and the EP will be available on the internets soon.