Book Club: Healing with Whole Foods Ch. 2-7

The second book club session discussing Healing with Whole Foods met on February 9, 2021. We discussed Part 1: The Roots of Diagnosis and Treatment, and we read Chapter 7 covering Dietary Transition.

Recap and Qi

We recapped the Integrated Food Pyramid – discussing awareness, activity, and nutrition – in that order.

Then, we had a conversation about Qi, the concept of life force.

Six Divisions of Yin and Yang

We kicked off Yin and Yang by discussing the ways we can use the principles to describe a food, illness, or general constitution.

Thermal Nature

We discussed Heat and Cold, and how cooking food in different ways alters the thermal nature of the raw food.

Depth

We discussed Interior and Exterior – the factors of depth. We also talked about free radicals as they relate to overall Immunity.

Strength

We ended the Yin/Yang section discussing Strength – Excess and Deficiency. This marked the end of our discussion on The Roots of Diagnosis and Treatment.

Dietary Transition

Wear Only One Hat

We started the Dietary Transition section with discussion of the “Wear Only One Hat” principle. This conversation evolved into diets, corporations entering the plant-based food space, and more.

Healing Reactions

After this, we talked about the very important concept of Healing Reactions. We learned that dietary transition requires awareness to deal with these reactions in a healthy and positive manner.

Conclusion and Next Session!

We concluded with a final quote about resolve needed for dietary transition.

There were many many gems in this video, so I highly encourage you to watch the entire meeting when you get a chance! The next book club is meeting on 3/9 at 7 pm CT. Join us as we get into the Essentials of Nutrition in chapters 8-14!

Yellow Eye Pea Plant-Based Sausage?!

I made plant-based sausage for the first time this week!

I really had planned to make a burger, but two things shifted this week’s creation to a sausage.

First, I tasted the beans, I knew they would function incredibly well as a sausage. Paige tasted them and was excited about their smoky, caramely flavor right off of the stove – which was confirmation!

After that, we were watching Street Food Latin America, and I noticed how popular and simple the choripán was in Argentina. I started to think about other versions of this around the world, including the sausage stands I used to walk by during my time in Boston. The universe wanted a new plant-based version of this dish this week!

I cooked these beans with cabbage and romanesco because I had some extra in the fridge. They actually made a really nice gravy, and they added a TON of vegetable nutrients to this dish! I used fennel and fenugreek to get those smoky, caramely flavors, and I added some tomato paste for an umami note.

I am thankful for Hunter and James at Zero Point Organics for the fennel microgreens used in this dish. They provided bronze fennel and fennel florence microgreens that emphasized the base flavor of the fennel seed!

Check out the video for recipe instructions and let me know what you think!

Orca Bean Burger

This burger started when Lori sent me to Central Market to check out their bulk sale. I got to looking and quickly spotted some beautiful Dalmatian beans!

Thank you Sunridge Farms!

I was looking back at some photos, and this purple hull pea burger with a sunnyside egg made me want to bring back an old bean burger technique.

I cooked that batch of beans with a base of a ton of local vegetables. This technique takes longer, but flavor is imparted throughout the burger in ways that are only possible with a slow braise. This technique produces seasoned beans that are ready to eat throughout the week in burgers, nachos, bowls, and your other favorite dishes!

The orca beans spoke to me as versatile, small creamy beans that could take on a ton of flavors. I started with a base of onion, peppers, tomato paste, cumin, cinnamon, and a touch of garam masala. I also made sure to add lots of flavorful greens – Brussels sprouts greens, romanesco greens, and fresh basil, parsley, and cilantro.

Making this patty was simple. I added the beans with their gravy, some more local greens, rice flour and bit more base seasoning to form the patty mix.

I wanted these burger to cook faster and get crispier, so I made thin patties that would just fit on my buns. I put a slice of vegan cheese in between two smash burgers for an indescribable bite.

Dave’s Killer Bread burger buns are so good!

This week, I topped with verdegreens lettuce, tomato, sweet pickles, and Zero Point Organics sunflower sprouts. I made a spicy ketchup with chili powder and garam masala for the bottom bun, and I used classic yellow mustard on top.

The cheese pictured here is Daiya cheddar. I used Follow Your Heart American and both were great.

Anything is possible with real food.

These beans looked like cows and this creation looked like a beef cheeseburger. The flavor was similar, but with more depth and excitement. The sunflower sprouts were a great texture component for the top of the burger. They don’t make the bun slide like lettuce can, and they were crunchy and paired really well with the mustard.

This burger will be on the menu for a long time!

Golden Beet Burger

If you’re like me and have explored the veggie burger scene in your city, you might have stumbled across a beet burger. I love them for their complex flavors, beautiful color, and nutritional density!

As a chef, there is one downside to making beet burgers – at the end of the dish, your entire kitchen and hands are stained red!

Golden beets to the rescue!

This week, I topped with chopped spinach, thick-cut tomato, and honey mustard.

I was going to pick up some red beets at the market to experiment with for this week’s burger, when I saw some golden beets next to the reds at the Gundermann Acres stand.

In my experience, these beet varieties basically taste the same, so I figured I would give the goldens a run in this week’s burger.

Herbs and grains as a sidekick.

I relied on rosemary from Blodgett Urban Gardens and lemon thyme from the Big Inspiration Garden in Kashmere Gardens to sneak some strong herb flavors into this patty.

For grains, I used quinoa and white beans as protein sources with subtle yet delicious flavors!

The zest and juice from a Meyer lemon paired very well with the lemon thyme. Parsley, garlic powder, and cayenne pepper took the final charge at balancing all of the flavors!

This golden burger patty was easy on the eyes and the taste buds.

Try it yourself!

As always, I’ve included my video and recipe for this week’s burger. Try it out, and explore new flavors with this stain-free recipe!

Golden Beet Burger

This week, I am back with the Golden Beet Burger! All of the beet burgers I have seen use red beets. I wanted to explore the flavor and color of the golden beet instead. The patty is vibrant, the flavors, are balanced, and my kitchen isn't stained red from the process!
Prep Time30 mins
Cook Time15 mins
Total Time45 mins
Servings: 4 burgers
Cost: $8

Equipment

  • Cheese grater

Ingredients

Golden Beet Patty

  • 2 cups white beans cooked
  • 1 cup quinoa cooked
  • 1 golden beet with greens
  • 1 bunch lemon thyme or dried thyme
  • 1 sprig fresh rosemary or dried rosemary
  • 1 green onion
  • 1 tbsp dried parsley
  • 1 tbsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 tbsp garlic powder
  • 1 tbsp black pepper
  • 1/2 tbsp unrefined salt
  • 1 Meyer lemon or lemon
  • 3/4 cup brown rice flour

Toppings

  • 1 cup spinach
  • 1 tomato
  • honey
  • dijon mustard
  • 4 burger buns

Instructions

  • Bake white beans at 400ºF for 15 minutes to dry them out a bit.
  • Grate golden beets using a cheese grater. Alternatively, dice or food process.
  • Finely chop golden beet greens, green onion, and fresh herbs.
  • Add white beans, quinoa, beets and greens, green onion, herbs, and seasonings.
  • Add zest and juice of a Meyer lemon. Mix everything by hand, and squeeze some of the beans by hand until the mixture is wet.
  • Add brown rice flour and mix. If mix is too dry, add splashes of water until patties are easily formed.
  • Form 4 patties. Heat skillet over medium heat, and heat oven to 400ºF.
  • Place grapeseed oil in warm skillet. Sear both sides of burger until golden brown, then cook burger in oven for 3 minutes on each side.

Assemble Your Burger

  • Toast burger buns.
    Finely chop spinach and coat with olive oil, salt, and pepper.
    Cut tomato into thick slices.
    Mix equal parts mustard and honey to make honey mustard.
    Dress burger overflowing with spinach and enjoy!

Fried Fava Falafel Burger!!

My week started with a trip to Zero Point Organics to check out the setup that produces some of the best microgreens in Houston!

I tasted about 20 different varieties of young sprouts. Some of the most interesting were the sage, chervil, radish (SPICY!!!), cabbage, and lemon balm micros. The ones that inspire this week’s burger are the micro leeks and micro fava!

Fava sprouts and fava beans taste quite different.

Cooked fava beans, also known as broad beans, tasted sweet and buttery. They reminded me of perfectly prepared mashed potatoes! The sprouts, on the other hand, were earthy and mildly bitter throughout their entire taste profile, with a soft hint of pungency towards the end. These flavors balanced really well to form the base of this week’s burger.

I love the pungent flavor of onions in my burgers, and this week the micro leeks did the job. The leek is in the allium family with garlic and onions, and micro leeks have an evenly pungent onion flavor that is not overpowering.

The black bulb must be there the leek starts to split when it gets bigger. Tons of flavor!

Greens and seasonings will make or break your falafel.

I constantly update my recipes until I am satisfied with them. Traditional falafel is packed with parsley, cilantro, and dill, which gives it the classic green color. I started this week’s falafel off with a blended pesto of sorts, made with the micro leeks and fava. This came out good, but I wanted more green balance. As the week went on, I added a rough chop of the micros, some Sustainable Vegetable Gardens red kale, and Armando’s cilantro and mint. This made my falafel look greener and taste more balanced.

My first seasoning profile included thyme, garlic powder, cumin, and cayenne. I was craving more warmth and depth, so as I tested, I added smoked paprika and more cumin. This gave me sweet, smoky, and warming flavors that danced on my taste buds as I journeyed through this burger.

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Toppings are so important!

I already messed with a classic falafel recipe enough, so I wanted to stick with some classic toppings I like with my falafel. I went with Verdegreens lettuce, onions, tomato, jalapeño, and a vegan yogurt-dill sauce.

The bed of local red bibb lettuce was a nice touch!

Check out the recipe, make it your home, and make enough to share!

Fried Fava Falafel Burger

A falafel recipe using fava beans and a ton of greens. Use whatever herbs and greens you have on hand!
Prep Time15 mins
Cook Time15 mins
Total Time30 mins
Servings: 12 falafels
Cost: $10

Ingredients

  • 2 cups cooked fava beans
  • 1 cup microgreens or parsley, dill, or other greens you have
  • 1/2 bunch cilantro
  • 1/2 bunch mint
  • 1 Meyer lemon
  • 1 tbsp garlic powder
  • 1 tbsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 tbsp cumin
  • 1/2 tbsp smoked paprika
  • 1 tbsp fresh cracked black pepper
  • 1/2 tbsp unrefined salt
  • 1 cup brown rice flour
  • 1/2 cup grapeseed oil

Toppings

  • 4 burger buns or slider buns for fun!
  • 1 head bibb lettuce
  • 1 tomato
  • 1 red onion
  • 1/2 cup plain vegan yogurt like Forager
  • 1/2 tbsp fresh dill or same amount dried

Instructions

  • Finely chop greens and herbs. Add to fava beans.
  • Add zest and juice of lemon. Add seasonings to taste. Mix to combine.
  • Add rice flour. Do not add all at once. Once falafel holds together well, you can stop adding rice flour. Add water or lemon juice if mixture is too dry.
  • Add grapeseed oil to a pan at slightly less than half the height of your falafel. Heat the oil over medium heat to a temperature of 300-325ºF.
  • Shape falafels into 1 inch balls, and smash to your favorite falafel shape.
    Add to hot oil, and fry on each side for about 3 minutes. They should be a light golden brown! Be careful flipping them!

Building Burgers

  • Toast burger or slider buns.
    Mix yogurt, dill, and lemon juice to make sauce. Spread on top and bottom burger buns.
  • Slice onions and tomato. Add toppings and 2-3 falafels to each burger. Enjoy!!!

Book Club: Healing with Whole Foods Ch. 1

On Monday January 25th, a group of four plant-based truth-seekers set out to understand the teachings of Healing with Whole Foods (HWWF) by Paul Pitchford.

We begun the first book club hosted by Bloom Foods and Cranky Carrot Juice Co. by discussing Chapter 1 of HWWF, covering Origins and Access to Healing with Whole Foods.

We started with Introductions, then we jumped right into the Integrative Nutrition Pyramid.

Awareness and activity are shown as the foundation of nutrition, which requires finding a balance of whole grains, vegetables, fruits, protein, condiments, and fats.

We discussed Unrefined Foods

And we covered book examples on brown rice, homogenized cow’s milk, and the Calcium-Magnesium balance.

We acknowledged our excess of food choices…

…discussed local and organic foods, and reflected on the design of the grocery store.

Don’t push the river.

Finally, we left off with something to contemplate for the next book club on 2/9 at 7 pm, where we will cover “The Roots of Diagnosis” and “Treatment and Dietary Transition”.

Chana Masala Burger!!

My girlfriend was scrolling through her phone last week, and she stumbled upon a dish we made together one of the first times we cooked together – chana masala and rice!

The lighting in the picture was really bad so I won’t post it here, but we both remembered how delicious that dish tasted. I hadn’t made chana masala in about 2 years, but I remembered the process quite well. I also remembered that there were quite a few dishes to do at the end of that meal. I actually think this burger is less work and tastes just as good, if not better!

Chana Masala is all about the spices.

The bulk of this burger comes from the chana – chickpea. The chickpea is the oldest legume in the world, so this burger is packed with ancient healing DNA! I soaked dried chickpeas overnight and boiled them for about 90 minutes, but you can used canned if you want.

I love these toppings because they are crunchy and fresh.

Garam masala is the most delightful part of the spice blend I used in this burger. Garam masala is a spice blend in itself – the one I used has cardamon, cinnamon, cloves, cumin, black pepper, and coriander. It is warming, smells a bit sweet when it hits the pan, and it makes your entire home smell phenomenal!

I also added ginger, turmeric, and cayenne pepper to the burger. Classic curry flavors balanced this burger to the max!

Converting from stew to burger

When making chana masala, I like to add spinach and a squeeze of fresh lemon at the very end of cooking. The lightly cooked spinach provides beautiful green color and the accompanying nutrients, and fresh lemon adds that depth of flavor that only a hint of acid can provide.

I decided to incorporate these two ingredients directly into my patty. I love chopping greens and adding them directly to the patty mix – it is beautiful, and you won’t even know they are there. I used lemon juice as a final binder in this patty, and the brightness shined through to the max!

Tomato also provides a lot of the flavor in traditional chana masala, but I didn’t want to overpower the flavors of the burger with something like tomato paste or ketchup. I opted for a thick slice of tomato on top of the burger instead.

Less talking, more cooking!

This was easily a top 3 burger I have invented so far! The ingredients are readily available at your local grocer, and you likely have a lot of them in your fridge already.

Take inspiration from what I’ve done here and make it your own! I topped my burger with spinach, cucumber, tomato, onion, and a vibrant herb aioli.

However you cook this dish, make sure you prepare it with mindfulness and love!

Chana Masala Burger

I took chickpeas, garam masala, and other classics from chana masala, and made it into a delicious burger!
Prep Time15 mins
Cook Time15 mins
Total Time30 mins
Servings: 6 burgers
Cost: $10

Equipment

  • Cast iron skillet

Ingredients

  • 15 oz chickpeas rinsed
  • 1 onion small
  • 2 jalapeños
  • 1 tbsp cumin seed
  • 1 tbsp mustard seed
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 cup spinach finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp garam masala
  • 1 tbsp turmeric powder
  • 1 tbsp ginger powder
  • 1 tbsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 tbsp black pepper
  • 1/2 tbsp unrefined salt
  • 3/4 cup brown rice flour
  • 1 lemon Meyer if available

Toppings

  • 6 whole wheat burger buns
  • handful spinach
  • 1 tomato
  • handful slivered onions
  • 1/2 cucumber thick slices
  • Vegenaise dressed how you like it

Instructions

  • Heat cast iron skillet over medium heat. Add olive oil, mustard seed, and cumin seed. When mustard seed starts to pop, add onions and jalapeños. Cook for about 4 minutes, until onion begins to turn translucent.
  • Add chickpeas to a large bowl and mash with a fork. Leave about half of the chickpeas intact.
  • Add onion sauté, spinach, and seasonings to the chickpeas, and mix to combine.
  • Add brown rice flour and mix by hand. Mixture should be a bit dry.
    Squeeze half of lemon and mix by hand. If patties are not forming and holding together easily, add the other half of lemon juice.
  • Form four to six 1/3" patties. These will be about 1/2-3/4" tall, and as wide as your burger bun.
  • Heat cast iron over medium heat, and heat oven to 400ºF.
    Cook burgers on each side in cast iron until golden brown on outside, about 4 minutes on each side.
    Place entire skillet with burgers in oven, cooking the burgers for 4 minutes on each side.
  • Toast burger buns, add toppings of your choice, and enjoy!

Art of War and Food Startups

I read Art of War by Sun Tzu, with commentary by translator Lionel Giles. I sifted through the commentary, and I chose the passages that most applied to the idea of growing a small food business into a successful brand.

Running a start-up is a lot like war. There is the spiritual warfare of maintaining self-discipline, resolve, and optimism. There is a battle for the mouths of diners in your area, and for the eyes of viewers on the Internet. You must lead a team in unity. Most of the time, you are an underdog, competing against a larger, more well-known, better funded establishment.

You want your startup to grow, while protecting it from loss. You may feel the urge to grasp to what you have built, but you have to take calculated risks to get to where you want to go. You have to convince people that your brand is right for them right now, and not any of 10,000 other food choices they have at their fingertips.

From this reading, I’ve learned about the following important topics of growing a startup:

  • Planning for action
  • Entering battle
  • Leading people
  • Fighting as an underdog
  • Fighting without fear
  • General psychology

Planning for Action

  • 1.26 – Now the general who wins a battle makes many calculations in his temple ere the battle is fought. The general who loses a battle makes but few calculations beforehand. Thus do many calculations lead to victory, and few calculations to defeat: how much more no calculation at all! It is by attention to this point that I can foresee who is likely to win or lose.
  • 7.21 – Ponder and deliberate before you make a move.
  • 8.12 – Simply going to one’s death does not bring about victory.
  • 9.41 – He who exercises no forethought but makes light of his opponents is sure to be captured by them.

Simply showing up with passion to win is not enough (8.12). You may have resolve, but your enemy does as well, or they would not appear as your obstacle (9.41).

Ponder and deliberate (7.21). A leader should take plenty of personal time to meditate on their strategy alone. Ponder the information available, and form a succinct picture of why your strategy will work. Then, deliberate with those who you trust dearly. Get an outside perspective to uncover your biases, to see what you may have overlooked.

Entering Battle

  • 10.19 – Whenever there is fighting to be done, the keenest spirits should be appointed to serve in the front ranks, both in order to strengthen the resolution of our own men and to demoralize the enemy.
  • 7.8 – Don’t march a hundred li to gain a tactical advantage. Clever maneuvers should be confined to short distances.
  • The hardships of forced marches are often more painful that the dangers of battle.
  • 12.17 – Move not unless you see an advantage; use not your troops unless there is something to be gained; fight not unless the position is critical.
  • 12.19 – If it is to your advantage, make a forward move; if not, stay where you are.
  • 11.19 – Rapidity is the essence of war; take advantage of the enemy’s unreadiness, make your way by unexpected routes, and attack unguarded spots.
  • 11.68 – At first, exhibit the coyness of a maiden, until the enemy gives you an opening; afterwards emulate the rapidity of a running hare, and it will be too late for the enemy to oppose you.
  • 5.5 – In all fighting, the direct method may be used for joining battle, but indirect methods will be needed in order to secure victory.
  • In presence of the enemy, your troops should be arrayed in normal fashion, bur in order to secure victory abnormal maneuvers must be employed.
  • Steadily develop indirect tactics, either by pounding the enemy’s flanks or falling on his rear.

Entering battle for the start-up is presenting yourself to the customer. When doing so, make sure to highlight your best sales people and marketing materials (10.19), do not save them for later.

When choosing how to enter a market, do not stray too far from your expertise (7.8). Gauge the mental and physical strength of yourself and your team before making a complicated move. Furthermore, do not enter a market unless you see an advantage or there is something critical to be gained (12.17, 12.19). Don’t enter the fight unless you can win something or dominate.

When you are ready to enter a market, do so all at once. Do so unexpectedly (11.19). Communicate only with those who must be in the know. Do not allow larger players to guard against you until you have a footing (11.68).

Do not enter a market doing what everyone else is doing, especially the large incumbents (5.5). Find a niche. Serve someone whose needs aren’t being met. Make your expertise the incumbents’ weakness.

Leading People

  • 9.42-44 – If soldiers are punished before they have grown attached to you, they will not prove submissive; and, unless submissive, they will be practically useless. If, when the soldiers have become attached to you, punishments are not enforced, they will still be useless. Therefore soldiers must be treated in the first instance with humanity, but kept under control by means of iron discipline. This is a certain road to victory. If in training soldiers commands are habitually enforced, the army will be well-disciplined; if not, its discipline will be bad.
  • The ideal commander unites culture with a warlike temper; the profession of arms requires a combination of hardness and tenderness.
  • The Prince – Is it better to be loved than feared, or the reverse? The answer is that it is desirable to be both, but because it is difficult to join them together, it is much safer for a price to be feared than loved, if he is to fall in one of the two.
  • 10.25 – Regard your soldiers as your children, and they will follow you into the deepest valleys; look on them as your own beloved sons, and they will stand by you even unto death.
  • 8.12.(5) – Relief came through the very man who started out with the distinct resolve no longer to subordinate the interests of the whole to sentiment in favor of a part.
  • 11.32 – The principle on which to manage an army is to set up one standard of courage which all must reach.
  • 10.18 – The secret of getting successful work out of your trained men lies in one nutshell – in the clearness of the instructions they receive. The most fatal defect in a military leader is diffidence; the worst calamities that befall an army arise from hesitation.
  • 13.19 – Men should either be treated generously or destroyed, because they take revenge for slight injuries – for heavy ones, they cannot.

Dealing with your team as a leader is crucial and delicate. Start by showing your humanity and getting to know what drives each of them. When working, show discipline and hardness (9.42-44). Do not lose respect for your business for the sake of one of your team, they will see your determination and respond appropriately (8.12.(5)).

Management requires clear expectations, when hiring and choosing team members, and when giving orders. Understand what qualities you cannot work without (11.32). Ponder instructions before giving them so they are clear and concise (10.18). If someone breaks the rules, act quickly, whatever way you choose to teach (13.19).

Fighting as an Underdog

  • 3.17 – With a superior force, make for easy ground; with an inferior one, make for difficult ground.
  • 6.29-31 – Military tactics are like unto water; for water in its natural course runs away from high places and hastens downwards. So in war, the way is to avoid what is strong and to strike at what is weak. Water shapes its course according to the nature of the ground over which it flows; the soldier works out his victory in relation to the foe whom he is facing.
  • Like water, taking the line of least resistance.
  • 11.4 – For those who have to fight in the ratio of one to ten, there is nothing better than a narrow pass.

Your team, capital, infrastructure will be smaller than the incumbents. First-movers avoid difficult ground because it may appear un-lucrative, especially in comparison to a larger market. Because of this, their organizational structure is designed incorrectly to deal with difficult markets. This is where mastery will provide your advantage (3.17, 6.29-31).

In food and other perishable goods, there is nothing more important than location. If you can find a location that gives you an immense advantage, seize it (11.4).

Fighting without Fear

  • 11.14 – If you fight with all your might, there is a chance of life; whereas death is certain if you cling to your corner.
  • 11.23 – Throw your soldiers into positions whence there is no escape, and they will prefer death to flight. If they will face death, there is nothing they may not achieve. Officers and men alike will put forth their uttermost strength.
  • A desperado and a man who sets some value on his life do not meet on even terms.
  • 11.24 – Soldiers when in desperate straits lose the sense of fear. If there is no place of refuge, they will stand firm. Without asking, you will get.
  • 11.58 – Place your army in deadly peril, and it will survive; plunge it into desperate straits, and it will come off in safety.
  • Danger has a bracing effect.
  • 2.3 – …the bravest achievements were always accomplished in the non-age of a nation…The more men have to lose, the less willing they are to venture. The rich are in general slaves to fear, and submit to courtly power with the trembling duplicity of a spaniel. – Thomas Paine, Common Sense (1776)
  • 11.3 – When your army has crossed the border, you should burn your boats and bridges, in order to make it clear to everybody that you have no hankering after home.
  • 12.1 – Unless you enter the tiger’s lair, you cannot get hold of the tiger’s cubs.

The human spirit taps into its unconscious will to survive when placed against an unbeatable adversary. Put your team in situations where the only choice they have is to work off of their instincts. They will not lose (11.14, 11.23, 11.24, 11.58). This applies to the daily task of serving (food) and to short-, medium-, and long-term goal-setting.

Take into account the fact that incumbents have more, so they have more to lose. They will be more cautious. You must move quickly when there is a clear advantage while larger entities calculate (2.3).

At some point, you will come upon a critical point in growth. A new and expensive location, clear competition with a large player, etc. You must abandon previous, smaller strategies that were working in the past to focus your energy on the next stage of growth (11.3, 12.1). Enter the tiger’s lair with optimism and danger.

General Psychology

  • 4.11,12 – What the ancients called a clever fighter is one who not only wins, but excels in winning with ease. Hence his victories bring him neither reputation for wisdom not credit for courage.
  • He who only sees the obvious, wins his battles with difficulty; he who looks below the surface of things, wins with ease.
  • 7.27 – The spirit of the enemy’s soldiers will be keenest when they have newly arrived on the scene, and it is therefore our cue not to fight at once, but to wait until their ardor and enthusiasm have worn off, and then strike.
  • Attacking does not merely consist in assaulting walled cities or striking at an army in battle array; it must include the art of assailing the enemy’s mental equilibrium.
  • 8.3 – It is a great mistake to waste men in taking a town when the same expenditure of soldiers will gain a province.
  • 6.17 – If he sends reinforcements everywhere, he will everywhere be weak.
  • Those generals who have had but little experience attempt to protect every point, while those who are better acquainted with their profession, having only the capital object in view, guard against a decisive blow, and acquiesce in smaller misfortunes to avoid greater.
  • 8.12.(4) – The seeker after glory should be careless of public opinion.
  • 10.24 – The general who advances without coveting fame and retreats without fearing disgrace, whose only thought is to protect his country and do good service for his sovereign, is the jewel of the kingdom.
  • 6.28 – Do not repeat the tactics which have gained you one victory, but let your methods be regulated by the infinite variety of circumstances.
  • 11.29 – The skillful tactician may be likened to the shuai-jan. Now the shuai-jan is a snake that is found in the Ch’ang mountains. Strike at its head, and you will be attacked by its tail; strike at its tail, and you will be attacked by its head; strike at its middle, and you will be attacked by head and tail both.
  • 7.12 – We cannot enter into alliances until we are acquainted with the designs of our neighbors.

Studying human (and therefore business entity) psychology is going to be crucial to winning battles in business (4.11,12). Find out what motivates people, what they protect with their life, what they undervalue, the state of their leadership and employees (7.27), and the main reasons why people go to them, and use the information appropriately.

I read it somewhere else, if you’re going to undertake a business, do it big (8.3), because it will be the same amount of work either way.

Do what is best for the business (6.17). Appeasing the ego will harm the bottom line. Take wins and losses with equanimity (8.12.(4), 10.24).

Food is wavy, one day you’re in and the next day you’re out; and balanced cash flow is lovely. Sales tactics must remain fluid (11.29), multiple (6.28), and based on circumstance.

Assess the mental state of potential partners carefully before working together (7.12).

Banana Flower Bah Mi

This Saturday at Urban Harvest, I started off my market haul by checking out what the Houston Regional Growers had on hand. They are independent farmers, and that tends to be the best place to stumble upon something special.

I got some beautiful, resilient chard from Ely, and Armando had a large purple flower on the table next door that I recognized as a banana blossom.

Banana blossom at Blodgett Urban Gardens pollinated by Houston bees

I had seen banana blossoms in my time volunteering at Blodgett Urban Gardens, but I had never cooked one. This is the first time I’ve seen one for sale, and there is a good reason why.

When the blossom is cut off the tree, it can no longer produce any more bananas. The blossom is typically cut at the end of the tree’s life, so that it can split and develop into a new tree for the next season.

Banana blossom anatomy

The petals that you see above are the flowers. When they are pollinated, they grow into bananas!

The large purple blossom is actually a lot of leaves formed tightly together. When each one is peeled back, a row of flowers is found below. The large leaves serve to protect the flowers until they are mature enough for pollination and banana production.

The heart is white and full of extremely young banana flowers!

Once you get to the center of the blossom, you will reach the banana blossom heart. This is what is often sold in stores as a brine. I’ve seen this portion battered and fried to resemble fish.

Side note: Excuse my dirty nails. This is in fact black sap that is produced in the banana blossom. It gets all over your hands and cutting board when deconstructing the blossom!

How it all came together

It would take quite some time for me to explain how to clean and prepare the flowers and heart of the banana blossom. Vegan Miam did a great job with beautiful pictures, so check out their page to overcome this step!

After doing some research on all of the parts of the banana blossom, I decided to fry the mature flowers and sauté the heart and super young flowers with oyster mushroom. I thought the fried flowers would provide a nice crunch on my soft bread, and the sauté would be meaty and carry a lot of flavor.

A great fry starts with a good batter!

Light, crunchy batter with a lot of flavor!

This batter was light and flavorful, and it coated my flowers really well! I used:

  • 1 part rice flour
  • 1 part all-purpose flour
  • 2 parts Perrier water
  • unrefined salt
  • black pepper
  • cayenne pepper
  • turmeric powder
  • ginger powder
  • garlic powder
  • garam masala powder

The brown rice flour is lighter than all-purpose. This results in a good balance of a batter that sticks to the flower and one that is light. The naturally-carbonated Perrier water also adds a bit of extra lightness, resulting in a delightful light fry.

I fried these in oil at 350ºF. I was surprised that they only took about 1-2 minutes to get golden-brown and crispy. And perfect!

Sweet and spicy peanut sauce tied everything together

The meaty mushroom/onion/banana flower combo carried a lot of flavor in this dish.

I chopped and sautéed my banana heart and baby flowers with some onion and Flying Saucer baby oyster mushroom. I seasoned with everything that went into the batter, except I substituted crushed red pepper for cayenne for a more indirect heat.

My flavors slowly seemed to be leaning towards thai, along with my fluffy bun reminded me of a bánh mì, so I figured a nice sweet and spicy peanut sauce would tie everything together.

I had made peanut sauce for some spring rolls a few days before, and I tweaked the recipe a bit to make it a bit spicier. I used:

  • 1/4 cup peanut butter
  • tbsp of soy sauce
  • 2-3 tbsp rice vinegar
  • 1/2″ chopped ginger
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 4 minced Thai chilis
  • garlic powder
  • black pepper
  • unrefined salt
  • splash of hot water to loosen

Now for the recipe!

I am sure by now you want to know the full recipe for putting together this sandwich/burger, so I will not keep you waiting any longer! Check out the recipe and video to learn how to re-purpose a banana blossom into something incredible!

P.S. – I called this a Bah Mi because that is how my friend says bánh mì. And I wanted to make up a name for the delicious bread I made!

Banana Flower Bah Mi

I used the flowers and heart from a mature banana blossom to create this dish. I battered and fried the flowers, and I sautéed the heart with some baby oyster mushroom and curry seasonings.
Prep Time1 hr
Cook Time15 mins
Total Time1 hr 15 mins
Servings: 4 bah mis
Cost: $12

Ingredients

  • 1 banana blossom mature flowers removed and cleaned. heart and baby flowers separated
  • 1/4 lb oyster mushroom
  • 1/2 red onion
  • 1/3 cup brown rice flour
  • 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2/3 cup Perrier water
  • 1 tbsp unrefined olive oil
  • 1 tsp mustard seeds
  • 4 curry leaves

Seasonings – half for batter, half for sauté

  • 1 tbsp unrefined salt
  • 1 tbsp black pepper
  • 1 tbsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 tbsp garlic powder
  • 1 tbsp ginger powder
  • 1 tbsp turmeric powder
  • 1 tbsp garam masala powder

Bun and Toppings

  • 4 soft buns or french baguette
  • 4 leaves kale
  • sweet and spicy peanut sauce recipe above
  • 10 chopped peanuts

Instructions

Fry Banana Flowers

  • Heat cooking oil to 350ºF
  • To make batter, combine flours, Perrier water, and seasonings
  • Dredge flowers in batter. When oil reaches temperature, drop flowers in hot oil. Try to keep them separate, but do not worry if flowers stick together. Do not overcrowd pot.
  • Remove after 1-2 minutes, when batter is golden-brown. Place on a plate lined with paper towels to catch excess oil.

Stir Fry Banana Heart

  • Heat a small pot of water to a boil. Add salt like you are making pasta.
  • Finely chop banana heart and baby flowers. Blanch in boiling water for about 30 seconds.
  • Heat a cast iron skillet over medium heat. Add mustard seeds and curry leaves.
    Dice onion, and dice oyster mushroom caps and stems separately.
  • When mustard seeds start to pop, add onion and mushroom stems. Remove curry leaves.
  • When onion starts to turn translucent, add mushroom caps and seasonings. Sauté for 3-4 minutes, until caps are meaty and flavorful.

Sandwich Assembly

  • Finely chop kale, and massage with a touch of olive oil and rice vinegar.
  • Cut open toasted bun and spread peanut sauce on the inside. Layer kale, banana flower fritters, banana heart sauté, and chopped peanuts to create 4 sandwiches.
  • Enjoy!!!!!

Farm Tour: Frutos del Guacabo

In September 2020, I spent some time in Puerto Rico to rejuvenate before starting on the journey to invent a burger a week using natural, local ingredients. I was going to relax on the beach and check out local restaurants for food inspiration, and when I shared my plans with some friends, they let me know of a co-op on the island that I may be interested in checking out.

Frutos del Guacabo is a vibrant business dedicated to the production and distribution of specialty agricultural products. On just a few acres, the farmers grow hundreds of varieties of fruits and vegetables, raise goats, chickens, and rabbits, teach the craft of local food, and sell the highest quality organic foods at their market.

Microclimate farming is really next level

Located close to the beach and on a mountainside, Frutos del Guacabo experiences a year-round natural microclimate. Temperatures do not vary as much as expected, so food can grow longer and stronger.

Founder Efrén David started FdG in his home using a hydroponic system like this one.

The farm focuses on specialty foods that are not available from larger companies. My favorites to learn about and taste were the blue thai pea and lemon drop.

Blue thai pea, or butterfly pea, can turn anything blue! Rice, pickled quail eggs, cocktails, and more. In a drink, when the pigment meets acid from citrus, the liquid turns pink. Bartenders in Puerto Rico use this for elegant demonstrations right at the table!

This tiny flower packed the biggest punch of anything I’ve tried in 2020!

Lemon drop, also known as buzz button flower, originated in Brazil. It produces a flavorful, then numbing, then more flavorful mouth experience – full of direct citrus and strong aromatics. It is used in martinis and other drinks, and before that, it was used as a topical anesthetic in dental procedures!

I really enjoyed learning about sustainable animal practices

The produce at Frutos del Guacabo is healthy and bountiful, and what is leftover gets fed to the animals. Chickens, rabbits, goats, and a horse thrive on the property.

The farm preserves rabbits with exceptional genetics for sale to other farms on the island.
The goats live on the mountainside for half the year, and they come in for daily milking the other half.

Check out the video tour for more information!

You’ll quickly realize it is incredible how everything on the farm works together. Amaranth plants serving as pest control, wind coverage, grain and garnish harvest, and beauty…chickens doing the housekeeping for goats and horses…goats climbing and hiding on the mountainside…it is truly amazing!!!