Everything Under the Moon…the Amber Moon, October edition

Lots going on here – but most importantly, I’ll be on vacation from Sept 21-25. Expect crickets as I disconnect.

I’m also realizing that with this type of schedule, I’m gonna need quarterly vacations, so I’ve set Dec 24 (starting at 12n) to Jan 1 as “off” already. With being immunocompromised, I’m probably not doing any destination races any time soon, so I may go ahead & set the rest of 2021 before long.

scheduler update: if it uploads to your calendar – only puts in the correct link for the first session of the block… you’ll need to use the email reminder (30 min prior) to get into the correct virtual session, unless i’ve told you to do otherwise.

I’ve got a whole list of things for you, so let’s get this party started!

New classes & updated schedule

Sept has been a great month for experimenting, playing, and progressing! I’m finally seeing the background work I’ve been doing (“the long game”) playing out. And with it comes … new classes! 2 different series, in fact!

I had a great group of people beta testing my new class – “Everything Under the Moon” – this month, and it goes onto the schedule for October! If you sign up for this class, or any other, and aren’t able to make, let me know and I will send you a link (with an expiration date), or sign up for YouTube all access and you can access it any time you want. Contact me directly for this, please.

This class takes everything I know from 30 years’ of experience across many different modalities, and puts it into a unique class.  It’s got bodyweight strength, flexibility, balance, stability, and mobility. It includes full body integration movements, coordination, and will open up your joints making you feel less restricted – even though you thought you felt fine coming in! After class, you’ll feel much more open through your joints, less restricted – and you may have felt fine coming in!

What you will need for this class is:
– 36″ foam roller or cane/walking stick (rubber grip on end)
– yoga mat or something sticky to keep the end of your 36″ foam roller in place.
– Optional equipment: 4ft + resistance bands (start with light resistance), & other household objects.   

You can sign up NOW for October! If you plan on coming randomly, go ahead & sign up – if once or twice a week, there is a discount – email me & I’ll get you an invoice. Packages will be up & running for November classes.

The 5 min #computerdetox on FB & IG is still free, and moving to 10a Tu – Fri. I’m paying attention to insight data from each outlet, and have noted that most people catch it when they can. So we’re gonna try this for a month – early in the day, then you get it anytime after 10a.

Lunchtime Mind break & refresh; and a 30 min #computerdetox (all 30 min), consisting of 4 classes:

  • Tues 1215p: Mind Break & Refresh: Viniyoga in service of Meditation
  • Wed 1145a: DIY Reformer (existing class, need a set of bands – link in class description – and previous experience with Pilates is very helpful)
  • Thurs 1215p: Mind Break & Refresh: Everything Under the Moon (a gentler class than the 415p version). A 36″ foam roller or cane/walking stick required)
  • Fri 1145a: 30 min #computerdetox (tennis ball & foam roller required, other toys may be recommended & used along the way) (not yet in scheduler, coming at end of week)

At the end of work

Tu & Th 415p – Everything Under the Moon. (36″ foam roller or cane/walking stick required)

There is a discount on the drop in rate ($18 for 1 h classes; $12 for 30 min) if you pay up front for regularly attended classes. I’m going to post/email a special for the lunch & 415 p classes here when I get back from vacation (maybe during), so stay tuned. If you are interested, let me know ASAP!

There will also be new PACKAGES for classes coming thru my scheduler in November. I’ll be adding folks for October, after that, you’ll be able to mix & match more.

The Driveway Series, updated for Fall

I’ll be expanding into Wed afternoon and dropping Wed evening as we move into October. I’ve not edited it yet in the scheduler, but will get that done when I’m back on the computer.

Informal teaching of massage techniques

You’ve expressed interest in this session, and I’m still working out the details. You know there’s gonna be more than just techniques, as I don’t want anyone hurting anyone. I’m thinking i can cover neck & shoulders (which also includes the back) in about 4 weeks. Some of you work, so Wed at 530p starting October 7? These would be virtual sessions, maybe an hour? up to 90 if needed? 

You won’t need a guinea pig until the 2nd one. There will be some basic anatomy, and I’m also going to suggest you sign up for 1 (2?) driveway sessions (I’ll create a separate session booking option just for this), bring your guinea pig, and we’ll talk about your specific techniques & body mechanics. This will be swedish massage only. 

Topics covered: Anatomy as it pertains to massage; body mechanics; and massage techniques

Study materials: Sieg & Adams Illustrated anatomy cornstarch, bowl, watergolf ball, tennis ball, various pillows, cushions etc. It’d be nice if you have a massage table, but use a couch or a bed if you need. don’t go buy one just yet. You can find them used on Craigslist. 

Price: Still working on this. I’ve got a minimum I want to make, so it’ll depend on numbers. I’d like to keep it around $100 for the virtual sessions, driveway would be separate, since some of you might want/need it, others not.

If you’ve not already said you’re interested, please let me know asap. This is still in the planning stages.

Here’s the graphic representation of October schedule:

Homemade Goodness

Coming in October! Homemade products that are good for you. Currently working on making a variety of soaps, keeping ahead on the laundry soap, and making a good batch of the foaming hand soap. Got your own container? I can refill, help protect the environment, and decrease your price! Stay tuned for more!

  • Lotion (will be available on the scheduler shortly – you sign up for your pick up date!)
  • Laundry detergent
  • Foaming hand soap
  • Bar Soap

A September to Remember

I started this on social media at the start of the month, and after the first week my neck said “no more!”. Alas, I got 4 in. I had great plans for this series, and at some point, It’ll return. Until then, you can read them via FB, IG.

A September to Remember: Inspiration & Gratitude during these COVID times

In the midst of #TheseCOVIDtimes, I’ve got so much gratitude, so much inspiration…as we embark on this 7th month, I’m taking the time to reflect. Join me on my journey!

Day 4: Taking advice from #yourdailyPinto

I had grand ideas for a post today, but after the first three days, and realizing just how much it goes into getting a post ready to go out, my neck has said that I need a break. Yes, I could type another post like the last two, but there would be consequences. I know those consequences, they are familiar friends. At the moment, I choose to honor what the neck is asking, and stay off the computer. 

I am grateful for all of my injuries, all of my issues, because they are such great teachers, and I really have learned that it is necessary to listen to them. By this point I know the consequences of doing something inappropriate for my internal friends, so I can pick and choose. 

I choose to follow Pinto’s lead, and chill. I choose just stay off the computer today. To minimize my time on technology. To minimize my sitting time. This keeps my spine healthy and happy from coccyx to skull, and allows me to enjoy the rest of my day, and Labor Day weekend. 

I will be back on Tuesday to continue this journey. And I’m hoping that with three days lead time, I can get ahead of these posts. Thank you for tuning in, reading, and taking this September journey with me. 

#thoracicoutletsyndrome #sijointdysfunction #homebasedbusiness #healthylifestyle #healthyhabits #listening #takecareofyourself #itsacatslife #crazycatlady

A September to Remember: Inspiration & Gratitude during these COVID times

In the midst of #TheseCOVIDtimes, I’ve got so much gratitude, so much inspiration…as we embark on this 7th month, I’m taking the time to reflect. Join me on my journey!

Day 3: Crafty friends & the long game

It’s my birth month tradition. I plan new things to do with friends. That particular year, I wanted to learn to make bar soap. And then things got out of hand.

Several of my friends are quite crafty – Kim made soap, Gina made foaming hand soap, Karen wanted to try bath truffles (aka bath bombs), and Vicki made lotion. I started making my own laundry soap off a recipe from #cousinJim. That year, maybe 2015, started this.

Kim had mastered the art of soap making, and I had seen a post in Facebook somewhere for “Citrus Brine Soap” – that scent is right up my alley. Florals, not my thing, but citrus – it’s so…. Sunshine! It makes me happy. We made this first, and then decided we should make soaps as Christmas presents. We’d make a batch, and split the results. She’d make some one her own – scents I didn’t do well with – as would I. We’d trade. I gifted mine to regular clients, friends & family. Something homemade, from the heart, and little #AmberMoonMagic mixed in (I’m an energy worker, Reiki Master – I can do that).

Four of us braved the attempt at bath truffles, and, well, they… fizzled… and fizzed, but sank like a rock. Then Karen did more research, found a different recipe, and just she & I tried it. It worked. Lots of learning in that session as well, but we had room to play, explore & be more curious. Again, I gave these away, or at least the ones I didn’t use, as gifts. This tradition has continued, although it’s a little bit more time intensive than soap making.

The foaming hand soap came along somewhere after that. Very easy to make, very cost-effective, and again the scents that I want. As much as I wash my hands as a massage therapist, I was also able to make it much richer so it dried my hands out less. Oh, wait, it didn’t dry my hands. It even moisturized them. Thank you Gina!

Laundry soap happened about this time too. I got tired of paying almost $20 for your 96 load bottle, fragrance free. I figured if I can make all this other stuff, I can make this too! #cousinJim provided the recipe, it makes 5 gallons, unscented, and works. As much laundry as I do with massage therapy – it’s a BIG savings. And I feel good as I know what exactly goes inside.

And then there was The Lotion. A rich, creamy, preservative-free lotion. This came from my client-friend Vicki, who makes her own cuz of her really dry skin. I now travel with this lotion, and ran out on one vacation – my hands and feet were very very very unhappy with me. They just drink it in. Now, both #cousinAmy and I carry some with us on our travels. Lesson learned. 

Can I tell you how nice it is to make your own lotion, your own scent, and have it be so good that people ask for it? I have just made two batches as I’ve been working on this post. I have given away as samples the friends for feedback. Scent: Lemon Basil. Yep. It’s awesome.

“This product is AMAZING! It is like a hydrating treatment and super emollient. I give this lotion 5 stars.” – Melissa.

 “It’s so nice! I love that so little goes so far. I’m having to get used to that. And my skin feels wonderful after I apply it, and it stays feeling good all day! 😍 It really moisturizes.” – Gayle

Love it! Light crisp scent, very hydrating and emollient. My hands and feet are loving it. My hubby’s feet are loving it too!” – Valerie

So this brings me to the diversity of what I am able to bring an income during these challenging & invigorating times. Because I’ve been in fitness & wellness for almost 30 years now, and have diversified what I do, I’ve been able to stay open (virtually), and enabling myself to work the long game. What I do is very physically demanding, and we know that being on the computer is also not my thing. Blogging, writing, even this – it’s a challenge. I voice type as much as I can, but I still need to edit. 

So if I can start selling this stuff, this Homemade Goodness, it allows me a new income stream. If I didn’t have my friends that were already into making stuff at home, and been doing it for several years on my own now, I would not even have thought of this. Getting this up and running will take a little bit of time, but that’s what the long game is about.

Thank you, my friends & cousins, for your inspiration.

A September to Remember: Inspiration & Gratitude during these COVID times.

In the midst of #TheseCOVIDtimes, I’ve got so much gratitude, so much inspiration…as we embark on this 7th month, I’m taking the time to reflect. Join me on my journey!

Day 2: vCita, KGB Running and WayToWellness

I was a fitness presenter for 20 years. I retired. I’d had enough. 

And then vCita (my scheduler) invited me to be part of a webinar at the start of these COVID times. Now fitness, I can talk about that all day. But business, and how I was managing these first few months? That took me out of my comfort zone. I accepted the challenge.

In that webinar, I talked about being excited for what 2020 held. I still am. Yes, financially, it’s a challenge, but when you’re self-employed, that’s part of it.

I reached out to my friend Joanna, owner of KGB Running, to see if she wanted to do some educational promos together. My expertise, my run coaching experiences. “Tuesday Tips with Sharon” – now on IGTV!

And then Angela Schaak of Way To Wellness saw my #ComputerDetox (now on IGTV) email, and invited me to be part of her podcast series (August 2020: Body Movement – why it’s essential). You missed all the facial expressions & hand gestures, but there was still the enthusiasm in my voice.

These COVID times are more about than just fitness, business – it’s about evolving. It’s about the outlook you have. Several of my friends & clients commented recently that I’m the most positive person they know. That being around me is part of their wellness program.  vCita & Way To Wellness allowed me to share that part of me. The enthusiasm. The perseverance. “Good morning, Sunshine!

Thank you all for allowing me to share my experiences, to help me reach out of my comfort zone, and share my enthusiasm.

A September to Remember: Inspiration & Gratitude during these COVID times

In the midst of #TheseCOVIDtimes, I’ve got so much gratitude, so much inspiration…as we embark on this 7th month, I’m taking the time to reflect. Join me on my journey!

Day 1: @Organzing4Good

This time, it started with missing my thyroid med because I was sleeping soundly. Before starting my immunoglobulin replacement therapy almost a year ago, I had very broken sleep. It was easy to know that I would be awake at 2a & take my thyroid meds then. 

I’ve known Ryan for…ummm… over a decade now. We met through triathlon – a great thing the sport does, bringing people together. She’s been a client for several years, and her weekly Pilates session, now virtual, has become “BizLates”. She started her business several years ago, and I had the pleasure to be one of her guinea pigs. Yes, she’s an organizer, but so much more. Organizes so much more than “stuff”. She’s brought her passion to her biz even more with COVID – she has an Instagram LIVE featuring non-profits every Thursday. She’s all about the repurposing of stuff. 

Prior to COVID, Ryan was just getting me going on Instagram. Not a big fan of being on the phone or the computer, courtesy of my thoracic outlet syndrome, I hadn’t gone there. With an in-person studio, I didn’t need to. I was working at capacity. Since I’ve had to pivot the Studio to be virtual, she’s been there pushing, nudging, and sharing.

As I have more time & energy to spend on non-work stuff, I’ve really started to manifest some of the things she’s been touting. 

Which brings us back to the thyroid meds. And getting organized  so I’d easily remember to take it. So, what else do I do first thing in the morning that would pair well with this? Coffee. I have 1 cup a day. That’s all I need. That’s all I want. It’s part of the wake up routine, along with fluffy time, meditation & journaling. So, put it where the coffee is. Take it as I start boiling water. All the coffee stuff in 1 spot so I have less to find/worry/do at the #crackofridiculous (I still get up early, but a much more reasonable 4 or 5a). I now have a Coffee Station.

What’s that envelope of receipts behind it? You mean all those that went onto my desk & got lost, created clutter, etc? I tried the envelope there, then realized THIS is where I sort papers. It goes here. 

These may seem trivial, but this is just the latest. Since COVID, I’ve posted several projects that help my flow – my organization. Ryan helped me shift my thinking, and bring in a new perspective. I’m deeply grateful for Ryan on so many levels, for our many conversations, for our idea sharing & brainstorming. 

Athlete Education: Endurance training for your fiber type, Part 1

There are two general categories of fiber types: slow-twitch (ST, Type I) and fast-twitch (FT, Type II). Don’t let slow-twitch fool you, it doesn’t mean they’re slow! Fiber type has to do with how energy is produced, what substrate (fuel) they prefer, how they recover, what type of rest & rest intervals they need. You can be a fast twitch, which a lot of people associate with muscularity and, for example, sprinters, but they can still be an endurance athlete. We can also go the other way and have a slow twitch person that is a sprinter (though rare). Muscle fiber types actually span on a continuum from that pure slow-twitch to the pure fast-twitch, and everything in between. The key is finding out what your tendencies are and how to best train for that. My best practical example that I came up with was when I was with my run coach: we did a 200 easy then a 200 hard. I did okay on that. But when he let me walk instead of jog, or do standing recovery and then run, that is where I shined. I’ve never really thought of myself as a fast-twitch type, but in terms of recovery, I most definitely am. Is it related to all my medical issues? We don’t know. Time will play out and we’ll find out.

But back to slow twitch and fast-twitch.

You can, with training, shift fiber types toward the others’ characteristics, however your foundational muscle fiber type plays a huge role. Individual characteristics that help identify where you are on the spectrum of fast and slow twitch includes: mitochondrial density, capillary density, oxidative and glycolytic enzyme activity, creatine phosphate stores, and contraction velocity. That was a lot of exercise science in one sentence, I realize.So let’s break it down into something easier to understand. With acute (short term) training we don’t change fiber types, but with chronic training load (8-10+ years), we can shift them. What are you willing to do to get yourself there?

Characteristics of Slow twitch muscle fibers

  • Slow to fatigue
  • Can utilize carbs, fat & protein as fuel
  • Can convert lactic acid back to a usable form of energy
  • Lower intensity, long duration capacity
  • Recruited first for exercise in most cases
  • Greater blood supply (high capillary density)
  • Creates muscle “tone” vs size when used (they do hypertrophy but not to the extent of Fast Twitch)

Characteristics of Fast twitch muscle fibers

  • Fast to fatigue
  • Uses Creatine phosphate and carbs as fuel
  • Produces lactic acid as a by-product (not converted to usable form of energy)
  • Poor blood supply (low capillary density)
  • Short duration, high intensity work
  • Recruited as the need for more work as it is created
  • Significant increase in muscle fiber size
  • Takes 3-5 minutes to completely recover the fuel sources & return to homeostasis

Characteristics of slow-twitch runners.

  • Have a limited use of the anaerobic system for end of race kicks.
  • Can handle faster easy runs for two reasons: 1) better fuel system so they burn fat at higher intensity and 2) they use slow-twitch fibers at higher intensities before having to recruit fast-twitch.
  • Their anaerobic capacity is naturally weak so they need regular injections of faster running to generate some lactic acid.
  • Performances are more consistent.
  • They can maintain Peak shape for longer.
  • They take fewer competitions to reach Peak shape.
  • They are better at jog recovery between workout reps than fast-twitchers because they are less reliant on phosphagen and anaerobic systems.

Fast twitch runners on the other hand…

  • Have a high anaerobic capacity to use a kick at the end of a race, if it is not used to stay on pace. If the athlete delves into an aerobic capacity to stay on pace too much they have no kick.
  • They need easier recovery runs (or skip recovery runs) to make sure they’re fast twitch fibers aren’t recruited.
  • They will burn more glycogen at slower paces then slow-twitch Runners, because the fuel system and fat burning is not as developed. They need lots of anaerobic intervals at faster or moderate speeds to increase the lactic threshold instead of threshold runs. For example: 400s at a 10K pace with very short active rest (walking, keep moving, but not jogging).
  • Active rest to prevent the anaerobic system from recovering and being used.
  • Performance is more irregular.
  • Maintain Peak shape for shorter periods of time.
  • They need more competition to reach peak shape.
  • Needs to be more careful with intensity selection when training aerobically. Much easier to go over the edge and miss your training stimulus.
  • Keep long runs very slow as it is very easy to go out quickly and produce lots of lactic acid.
  • Standing or walking recovery because it allows recovery of anaerobic and creatinine phosphagen systems. They can better handle short intervals than longer.
  • Poor lactic acid management and poor ability to use lactate as fuel.
  • They have to augment their Aerobic System with large amounts of energy from the anaerobic system, thus need to work to decrease the amount of augmentation needed so that we can use more of the anaerobic capacity to kick in at the end.
  • Will use fast-twitch fibers to help do the work at earlier intensities because they have less slow-twitch fibers.

So what does that mean for you as the athlete?

The long run.

A slow switch runner can handle a longer & faster paced run, as well as adding stuff into the runs – strides, surges, hills, etc. as previously mentioned. Fast twitch runners, however, shouldn’t go running for too long or too fast – the slow-twitch fibers will start to get recruited after a prolonged period of time, which is counterproductive. With the more inefficient fuel system, glycogen depletion happens sooner and can negatively impact subsequent training, or you will need to build in more recovery days. The bottom line is too long or too fast of a long run will negatively impact their anaerobic abilities to a large degree, which is what a fast which athlete thrives off of. So if you’re a fast-twitch athlete, do a long run every other week.

That was a lot to digest, eh? I’ll post the rest in the next Athlete Education post

Everything Under the Moon, 8/17/2020

Lots of brainstorming happening around here this month! Lots of new programs in the works. I’ll lay upcoming program out below, but will take a few weeks to divulge their content. If you want info before then, ask!

Amber Eats

Wow… it’s been a while since the last Everything!

Cassava flour Bread (8/1/2020) – and a recipe for banana – chocolate chip – figgy pancakes

the #9BananaChallenge (8/7/2020) – and a recipe for banana-carrot-coconut muffins

May I introduce… Cassava flour bread (8/16/2020) – and the actual bread recipe

5 min #ComputerDetox

This program continues. Can’t make it at the posted times? Check it out on IGTV or on the Studio’s facebook page. I just want you get it, do it, and feel better. My gift to you.

Schedule for this week
Tu & Th @ 3p
W & F @ 1245

A Mindful Movement Invitation

So what makes my viniyoga and Pilates classes different? With 30 years’ experience in teaching movement and deepening my understanding of how to move, my own injuries, and other great teachers, I would say a lot.
I invite you to join me for the month of September and see for yourself.

Program includes:

NOW– view, & maybe even do, my YouTube classes. Every instructor is different. Get a feel for how I teach, move, cue. Each and every class I teach takes in to account who is there, their needs, what they need to work on.

By the end of Augustsign up for your 30 min Zoom session where you get to ask me questions, we go over what YOU are looking for, helping me make these classes geared toward YOU as well.

September – All access code given so you can join in on ANY of the viniyoga and Pilates classes I’m offering online from 9/1-18/2020. I’m then on vacation until the 28th. During my vacation, you’ll have exclusive access to repeat any of the September classes (via YouTube). Repetition deepens your understanding.

This program is for new clients, past clients that haven’t tried my viniyoga and Pilates classes, and for any past class participants that haven’t been in class since the end of April 2020. Cost is $39, and limited to 8 people. Register early to get in, and to get going! Program fee is collected when you sign up for your Zoom session.

Coming soon

Amber Moon Studio Turkey 10 miler – Thanksgiving morning

Turkey10 miler training program

May I introduce… Cassava flour bread

Yes. It’s finally time.

A cassava flour bread that is… light…fluffy… crusted…moist.

Can you smell it? I can!

Unlike the paleo-cassava bread, this really is like “real” bread. I remember “real” bread. I miss real bread. I really had to get to know my ingredeints to get this to come to fruition. I had to be patient. I had to keep trying. Pretty much since COVID-19 started, I’ve been doing a loaf every 1-2 weeks. Depends on the previous loaf went as to when I did the next. I’ve tried to keep the ingredients simple, but in the end, I did indeed have to add Xantham gum. I could get it to raise without, but it wouldn’t hold form. it collapsed.

After seeing how dense cassava flour can be, I tossed every leavening agent, except egg, in there – yeast, apple cider vinegar, baking powder. And it works.

Pampered Chef measure all spoons

I tend to use bulk yeast, cuz its cost effective when you #playwithyourfood a lot, so you’ll note I used a little bit more than 1 packet (2.25 tsp) for this recipe – 2.5 teaspoons. Partly cuz my fav measuring spoon is Pampered Chef’s measure all, and I only get 1 out to make this loaf. It does 2.5 tsp, but not 2.25. Fewer dishes to clean. It’s the small things.

I started out using the water temp that most bread recipes recommend (100-110F), and then I started reading up on yeast. It actually recommends 120-130F. I started having more luck when I upped the temps of my liquids. I’ve also only used rapid rise or instant yeast. As finicky as cassava flour is, I’m not sure I’d try regular yeast. (Note: Pampered Chef doesn’t make this thermometer anymore).

Recipe starts out at 2c flour blend – and you’ll need to add more than that for sure, but I’ve found it really varies based on my accuracy of liquid measure. I prep 3 c, and end up using about 2.5. Then I’ve got flour blend for other stuff. I’ve a friend that is corn sensitive, so my blend included arrowroot flour. Feel free to experiment with others, just keep the ratio 50/50 w cassava. Take it from me that other ratios lead to sadness, madness, and the compost bin.

partially seized dough.
the way it should be

Without the xanthan gum, the dough would seize, and with too much, it clogs up the mixer. I’d have to add water (or tea, whatever was handy – and i actually really like the tea flavor – FYI). Then I’d have to go back & forth. Xanthan took away the seizing, but too much, in combination with the already doughy nature, made the loaf fit only for the compost bin. When you get it right, it pulls away from the edges. It’s smoooooooth.

The hardest part of all this was the learning that I had to leave it alone overnight. A friend commented that you’re supposed to eat bread fresh out of the oven. Not this bread. I’m serious. Leave it. Let it cool, then I put mine in the frig. I’ve got 5 cats. If you leave it on the counter, let me know if it still sets up right. This past week, I’ve made 2 loaves – the one I tormented you with on a previous blog, and then one Friday.

Loaf 3972: soooo close

What a great experiment this has been. So this loaf had the least collapse, and it was along the sides instead of the top. I count that as success unto itself!

Loaf 3973: I did it!

This loaf – exactly the same. But baked 10 min longer. No collapse at all. I almost cried. I admit, I nibbled the edge of this one to see what the inside was like – yes, it still needed to rest. It may look like that top collapsed in a little, but that was my error, not the bread. I set the loaf in the garage to rise, and had to peel the ‘cover’ off to go in the oven. It pulled a little dough off, and i tried to put it back on. Learn from my mistake. Lightly grease the top, so it comes free easily.

Oh the crust!

And this loaf has a thick, french bread type crust. This comes from 1) stone loaf pan, and 2) preheating the oven to 425, then dropping it to 375 when the bread goes in.

I’ve mentioned the inside is a moist – its on the far FAR edge of doughy, but I think that’s how its gonna be with this loaf. I’m gonna keep practicing, and if you find any useful tips, please share! I do recommend, like all good gluten free recipes, heating before eating. If you’re gonna toast – I’d actually do it 2-3 times, but I know this is totally a personal preference.

Cassava flour bread recipe

1-2/3c water, 120-130 degrees F

1.5 c each Cassava flour & arrowroot flour

1 package rapid rise or instant yeast (if using bulk, 2.5 tsp)

1T + 1.5 tsp sugar of choice

1.5 tsp salt

1 T baking powder

1 tsp Xanthan gum

1 tsp apple cider vinegar

1 T + 1.5 tsp shortening or butter

Blend the 2 flours thoroughly, then put 2 c of the blend in your mixing bowl. Keep the remaining amount handy. Add all other ingredients, with water being last. With mixer set on low speed, blend for 30s or until all is moist & even consistency. Gradually add in, a heaping spoon at a time, the additional flour, until it is pulling away from the sides & up the beaters a little. Mix on high for 2 minutes, scraping sides.

Scrape into loaf pan, and set aside to rise in warm, draft free place. Here in Texas summer, I put it in my garage. you can also turn your oven on to 350F for 3 min, turn off, then place loaf pan inside to rise… if it’s not Texas summer. Keep an eye on the bread, and start peeking around 30 min. When it gets to the top of the loaf pan, preheat the oven to 425 F. Note: If bread is rising in the oven, please remove it first. When oven beeps preheated, place loaf pan in, and turn temp down to 375 F. Bake for 70 min. Bread should be pulling away from the sides.

You will need to play with your baking time based on the pan you use & your oven, and I suggest you think about OVERBAKING it slightly (hence 70 vs customary 60 min), due to the nature of cassava flour.

When done, remove from loaf pan and allow to cool in its side. Rotate sides on occasion. Let bread rest overnight, and enjoy your first slice with breakfast in the morning!

This can also be made into rolls. Bake for about 40 min.

Large bar pan from Pampered Chef pictured.

The #9BananaChallenge

Back in 2005,  I was at my yoga training here in Austin Texas (I lived in Memphis at the time), I was having a meal where they had very fresh pineapple. I ate a lot of it. I ended up with a very serious inflammatory reaction. And this was the first time I really connected that I was reacting to sugar. 

I’ve been having this reaction since I was an early teen. Over the years I minimized my sugar and my fruit, although I did find berries were OK – a different type of sugar. That is, berries were ok until that subluxed rib & torn erector in 2012, and subsequent system reactions that sent me on the spiral. Gradually, even berries had to go. No more fruit in my diet. It was a very sad day when the berries finally left. I loved berries.

I challenged myself to use the bananas in creative ways

So when I started my immunoglobulin replacement therapy back in the fall of 2019, I experimented with fruit. Not a lot, again taking my time to get back to eating more than air & water. But enough to realize I liked it. I missed it. But since I had all these other amazing vegetables I was adding back in, fruits got put off. 

Until Farmhouse Delivery gave me nine bananas in my produce box. Not being a huge banana fan even when I was a youngster, I challenged myself to get them all used within 9 days (Gone in 7, thank you!). And I prefer my bananas green. Let’s say that these bananas did not stay green. They went brown fast. Not a big smoothie person either. Banana bread is “eh”. 

So I did my thing. Let’s #playwithmyfood to keep it interesting!

  • Banana 1: Banana-Chocolate Chip-homemade-Fig-jam-on-top pancakes
  • Banana 2: ate it straight out of the skin (still green, that was good!)
  • Banana 3: Banana-Canary melon-Date-canned-coconut-milk smoothie
  • Banana 4: ate it straight out of the skin (it’s not green anymore)
  • Banana 5: Banana-Carrot-Coconut muffins
  • Banana 6  Banana-Date pancakes
  • Banana 7, 8 & 9: new & improved Banana-Carrot-Coconut muffins

As I’m researching, playing, testing, I’m noticing that everyone wants to add sugar. You’ve got all this fruit awesomeness, why do you need sugar? I leave it out. I added a little into the muffins as Banana #5 was a little… off. It needed just a touch to smooth it out. And my little 1 tsp of agave worked.

I’ve got the muffin recipe for you! Measurements and everything! Depending on how many bananas you have, it’s easy to break the recipe in thirds: 1 banana = 6 muffins, 2 = 12, 3 = 18. New math and all (hahahaha).

Banana-Carrot-Coconut muffins

18 muffins. Preheat: 350F.

Into your food processor goes: 

  • 3 bananas
  • 1.5 c shredded carrot
  • 1 c sliced dates
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 tsp Apple Cider Vinegar
  • 1/4 c oil of choice

Blend thoroughly, til the dates no longer make the processor bounce around on the counter. You think I jest. Try not cutting them & see what happens.

In a large bowl, combine:

  • 1 cup Cassava flour
  • 1 cup Arrowroot flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder (know your ingredients)
  • 1.5 c shredded coconut
  • 1 tsp agave (more or less to taste)

Add the food processor contents to dry ingredients, blending well. Bake at 350 for 25-30 min. Like previously mentioned in the Pizza post, let them sit til cool. Texture will be so much better. Enjoy. 

Banana #5… the precursor to 789

And now, on the my next fruit from Farmhouse Delivery…a Piel de Sapo melon. I’m gonna have to google it. No clue. Watch my journey with this melon on Facebook & Instagram, unless I come up with an interesting recipe, in which case, you’ll read about it here!

My next play thing

Cassava flour bread

Joy of Cooking. It was my favorite cookbook as I was growing up. And the one I brought with me when I left for college. While mine is certainly outdated by now (copyright 1975), I have learned – and continue to learn – lots of good things from it, and still serves as a basis as I explore new foods.  This book of knowledge has influenced all of my baking greatly as I create my #sharonfriendlyfoods. I know it’s easy to go look things up online today as you have done to get here, but it’s also nice to have a foundation in something. The jacket on this cookbook is well-worn. I love it the way it has stained. I have notes in the margins. I cross things out. I add my own ingredients.  I have a sticky back for my commonly used pages. Joy of Cooking laid the foundation for where I am right now. 

One of the features I’ve been using of late is “Know your ingredients.” 

Bread dough with Cassava flour – that doesn’t look quite right…

While my version of Joy of Cooking does not have a mention of cassava flour in the flour section (it is mentioned elsewhere), it does have some interesting information on other flours such as 

  • With whole wheat allergy substitutes sift together 6 x 1/2 cup cornstarch and 1/2 cup of the [gluten free flour]. 
  • Use 2 teaspoons of baking powder for each cup of flour mixture. 
  • If using cornstarch or rice flour, be sure to avoid the waxy types [of flour].

Interesting, huh? So good info even though it may not be completely up to date, and it gives me a basis for and the foundation for wanting to know more about my ingredients.

The first time I felt successful – making the smaller rolls

As I explore cassava flour, I’m finding out lots of interesting things in my efforts. It sometimes feels like expensive learning, especially during these lean COVID times. Keep in mind a 5 lb bag is about $18 from Amazon. Arrowroot flour – the other one I use – is $15 for 4 lb.

As I embark on this journey I’m sure I’ll be sharing more things with you, but today’s post is going to be about cassava flour bread – grain-free, gluten-free, corn-free. I admit I have been missing bread terribly. Every now and then I just want to cry but I’ve been craving of late is a cucumber sandwich. I have a friend that never heard of a cucumber sandwich and she’s my age. That boggles my mind. I digress. So as I’m exploring the use of cassava flour, I admit there have been several duds – and by this I mean only compost bin worthy. It’s like you’ve used too much gluten substitute. But I didn’t have any in there. The one where I did equal parts cassava flour and starch flour has been the best, but then it collapsed as it cooled. So I’m wondering again from Know your ingredients, if, like muffins,can you overmix or something, does it also collapse? Or is it just me? 

Tomato & provolone on Cassava flatbread

In order for your bread not to collapse after baking, you need to create a framework for it. In regular bread, the protein from gluten does that. So cassava flour has protein per 2g per 100g of flour (2%).  The common bread flour should have a protein level of 11%. “Strong” flour, 14% protein content. We don’t have that here. Cassava needs structure. So I’ve been playing with Xanthan gum.

Observations on Cassava flour:

  • It’s very dense. Which is OK for pancakes, not for bread.
  • It absorbs liquid like nobody’s business. Use more liquid, or less flour if you’ve no xanthan gum in there.
  • It CAN give you that nice “regular bread” texture and taste. I’ve been successful in getting that, albeit in a “flat bread”
  • It plays well with cornstarch or arrowroot powder. 
  • The extra baking powder makes a HUGE difference.

I’ve tried the “paleo cassava bread” – eh, not my cuppa tea. 4 eggs. Very dense.  I want light and fluffy. So I continue my journey. 

Paleo-Cassava bread – quite dense. I want fluffy.

I know you want a recipe for today – and I’ll give you one, but its not for bread. Yet. It’s for some amazing pancakes – with straight cassava flour, and a bit extra baking powder. Realize, I just toss everything into my magic bullet – no measuring. So I’m going to encourage you to do the same – play with your food! Or start with your favorite recipe, and go from there.

Banana – Chocolate Chip – Figgy Pancakes

Into your Magic Bullet (or blender type thing):

  • 1 egg
  • Milk of choice 
  • 1 banana, peel removed
  • Cassava flour – a few spoons
  • Baking powder
  • More baking powder (2x what you’d normally use)
  • Oil

Blend, adding more milk or flour as needed to get a consistency for the type of pancake you enjoy.

Heat your griddle, oil if needed, and then pour the pancake batter on. Add chocolate chips to each pancake – you decide how many. I use chocolate more as a seasoning, but you may want more. When your bubble appear & disappear, flip. Oooo and Ahhhh over how great they smell & look. Cook a few more minutes till done, then top with sliced figs, homemade fig jam, and anything else you choose. 

No, there’s no sugar – you’ve got the banana. You don’t need it. My fig jam in the pic is homemade (also no sugar).

I know, you want the bread recipe. It’s coming. I’m playing. Still.