Food, Food Medicine, Health, Herbal Medicine, Travel

Time for Food Blogging – Jackfruit

Time for Jackfruit

Jackfruit is like some weird alien, put on the earth to confound people, and to get your hands sticky. I am still waiting for one to possibly hatch. I don’t let that stop me – it’s really tasty!   It is this a humongous, amazing, weird, tasty fruit, which you’ve probably never seen. Unless you went to an Asian market…or apparently you local Meijer’s Store.

Used to be, we had to drive an hour and a half to Grand Rapids to find a jackfruit. Finding them was spotty, and still is.  However, my husband brought home a large jackfruit from our local Meijer’s store! This is a large box/grocery store chain in Michigan.

The fruit looks similar to a Durian, another fruit you are unlikely to see, unless you frequent Asian stores, which I admit to doing, obviously!  The durian’s outside is very sharp and very spiky. To be honest, I was rather intimidated by the durian’s sharp pokey outside. I would not want to have to pick one up – an obstacle for me trying them.  Since I’ve never eaten at durian, I can’t compare the taste of the two. However, one author called durian, ”the stinkiest, spikiest, weirdest fruit of them all” and said durian smell is like ”sweaty socks sitting in sewer water near a fishery,” and tasted like “a sweet almondine onion-sherry chocolate mousse with hints of garlic and farts. Delightful! And completely incomparable to jackfruit.”   Thank goodness!  Durian are seemingly easier to come by and crowd out our Asian markets for shelf space. Not sure why. Maybe as weapons of war! You’d understand if you’d seen those thorns!

But we are here to talk about Jackfruit: Jackfruit looks similar, but the scaly bits are soft, making it look like an alien egg pod, coated in dinosaur skin. Green, a foot and a half tall by 8+ inches wide, with a reptilian skin, it does look out of this world. Inside the outer dinosaur skin, are yellow-orange pods of delicious fruit, each with a large seed in the center. A bunch of latex fingers and tongues hold them securely in place. Our job is to wrestle these pods-of-goodness out of the latex alien egg, without getting stuck to the thing. Don’t despair – it’s a battle worth fighting!

I followed the directions taped onto the fruit – they were useless. The best way I‘ve found to get to the good fruit is to put on clean rubber dish gloves, cut the fruit in half, and go to it, grabbing the pods and twisting. They twist out readily.

The fruit that you’ll receive is sweet. I (force-fed) it to friends, who (still liked me afterwards, and) described as a cross between cantaloupe and pear, or a cross between bananas and mangoes. It does have a slightly musky odor, no one else mentioned it, but it tastes great.

Jackfruit is supposed to be good for your energy, and libido. I have to be honest and say I have never noticed any affect on my energy or libido. We like it because it’s weird! Also because it’s tastes wonderful.

We are an adventurous bunch of eaters.

I hope you are too.


Jackfruit Information

Jackfruit is related to mulberries – something I did not know, and never would have guessed. They grow on the trunks of trees rather than a fruit from the branch – a popular choice in the tropics. They’re used for juice and jams, fresh edibles, and it is gaining popularity as a meat substitute. Yes, a meat substitute. Weird. Love it! Unripe jackfruit, when cooked, makes a product resembling pulled pork. I’d even heard of this, although I didn’t put the two together – my luscious orange gigantic fruit, and a vegan meat substitute.

Once harvested the fruit only lasts a number of weeks, so has to be processed and eaten fairly quickly. The trees grow in tropical and subtropical in tropical areas. In many parts of the world they’re considered trash trees, and trash food that would “only be eaten by the poor.” Similar to another of my favorites – mulberries. This bias keeps large populations from utilizing this fruit, which grows naturally everywhere within its region, and has many benefits. It could provide much needed nutrition in areas where grows naturally.

The orange bark from the tree can be used to make a dye, the color of the traditional orange robes of monks in Asia. The latex can be used as a glue – no surprise. Wood is a very hard, suitable for many items, including musical instrument. Plus the wood has a neat yellow color.

Skins have medicinal qualities – including reducing the heavy metal cadmium which damages are DNA and is a common heavy metal contaminant. The seeds are also edible, can be roasted with a little salt, and eaten. I will have to try that next time. Apparently the seeds are high enough in protein to “replace lentils in the diet.” Roasted seeds can also be ground and made into a gluten-free flour.

The jackfruit is high in antioxidants, phyto-nutrients, and vitamins including the vitamins and vitamin C. The fruit has a low glycemic index fruit, giving a slow releasing glucose – that would be a good option for diabetics. It’s also very high in fiber and helpful pre-biotic for our pro-biotics.

When jackfruit is cooked, the water is traditionally used as well. It’s particularly high in potassium and Omega-3 fatty acid’s.

In addition it’s high and all the trace minerals and vitamins, and almost anything else you think of. It is supposed to be soothing the G.I. tract, and good for G.I. ulcers.

It’s high in magnesium and so helps with insomnia.

Below are some internet references to studies, showing that Jackfruit may e helpful in people with cancer. I have yet to look up the original studies. However, in one study, women who a jackfruit regularly had reductions in multiple types of cancer, including endometrial cancer. It’s also under research or has been researched for colorectal cancer.


Website on Durian

Cover Photo by Chasmac on, other photos by Tama’s Kitchen3 (3)2 (4)1 (16)

Burnout and Stress, Travel, Yoga

Traveling Cross-Country

Traveling Cross-Country to Yoga Teacher Training  (#1- TriYoga)


I vow to be open to the spontaneity of life. I vow to let what happens happen. I vow to keep my heart and mind open on this trip.

I wish I’d thought about these vows eight hours ago, before my seven hour trip turned into a 9 hour trip, before my Airbnb accommodations for the night canceled on me, and no one respond to my Couchsurfing requests. I wish I had thought of these before I got frustrated by not being able to check for accommodations due to traveling through heavy traffic and construction.  That would’ve been a great time to start this practice. Regardless, I’m starting it now; on the small curvy Pennsylvania roads, leading to a very small town, with a very old-school, and a yoga teacher training which I have been looking forward to attending for several months.

When I signed up, it sounded like a great idea. As the time is gotten closer, I’ve doubted that initial enthusiasm. My mind argues: What the hell am I doing signing up for a yoga teacher training anyway?!  Whose bright idea was that? Plus, there’s just too much to do at home. I have a big trip coming up. I have a business to start. I just need some time to myself.

My response: I’m going anyway

I’m going to try to be present. To be here and now. To breathe. No matter how slow the practices. I hope it slow. I hope it’s boring. I hope I’m forced to let go of my crazy mind, with all it’s plan making and all the ways that I try to control my life, because my life is a full catastrophe on wheels.

This is what I wanted – after all. Isn’t it?

I’m rather nervous – but not really. I’ve done enough new and exciting bold and weird off-the-wall things, that I know how to do it. Inside I feel a small seed an ember of excitement. I’m going to found that ember. I’m going to keep it safe I’m going to blow on it and feed it and see what it grows into.


by Tama Cathers, DVM, MS, BA Biology and Sociology, 2nd Degree in ToShinDo, Elemental Self Defense,  Threshold Choir Director, TriYoga Teacher Training Student, Sex Coach Trainee, Mixed Media Artist – Ceramics, Fused Glass, & Wire Wrapping, 2000 miler Appalachian Trail hiker, Gardener, and Herbalist.


Burnout and Stress, Parenting, Personal Wisdom, Travel

The End of Our Trip

The End of Our Trip

It is our last day before heading home. Today we are sleeping in. This seems like the most important thing to do in London today. It won out over Windsor Palace, Harrod’s, Harry Potter, and the markets. It even beats going to Dover; the last stop on our tentative itinerary. Given the fact that we got up at 3 am yesterday, it makes sense. I think however, it is more than that.

We spent yesterday doing laundry, and eating. That is really all we had on our plates.

That …. is unusual. What I notice is that my life no longer has these gaps of time in which ‘nothing’ is planned. The time in which one might grab a book and read, or rest.

At home, I get to get over jet lag. This time we won’t have done any work to avoid jet lag, as we did on the way over.  A day after I return, I am getting married. (Yay!)  Somehow, I must unpack, write vows, and stay awake past 5 pm! (That will be the hardest part.) I do need to spend some time with my new husband-to-be. Then it will be off on a honeymoon.

In that upcoming trip,  hiking along the Appalachian Trail with my newly wed husband, those down times are required. Of necessity, there are days that one has the important tasks of eating, laundry, and resting. How will it feel, to limit myself, to revisit these times of recharging. I realize I have lost those times. Will I rage against them when imposed upon me? Will they be temporary? Will I bring them back into my daily life?

Through the thin walls of our cottage, I can hear the family next door, with several little children. They have the opposite problem. Days upon days of nothing but eating, laundry and naps. That too is extremely challenging. What does life mean without some sense of ‘doing” something? The question is how do we find, and maintain, that balance point, even through our career development and family emergence? I know many of us struggle with this.

It is interesting for me to experience the extremes of this dichotomy, within such a short period of time. I have gone from not a moment unscheduled, to an extended break from paid work, as well as my hobbies and vocations. I can really feel the challenges in both sides of this: Too Busy/Not Enough challenge.

We have not even dived into the deeper questions of why we do this to ourselves, and why we feel what we do when in these times. Why is it hard to acknowledge that living a good life is no longer enough? Why is it not enough to make it through the day, or through our life, without becoming famous (or at least having someone outside ourselves acknowledged us/our work?)

We use busy-ness to keep us from feeling empty, to keep us distanced from others. The contact might make us feel. Or think. Why is that so uncomfortable? What happens in the stillness / what arises? What is so scary?

See I am doing it now. Here I am blogging on vacation.

In doing so, I am also experiencing, revisiting, some things that were lost and I miss. I am seeing some things that pinch and noting that I would like to change. Inside, I am changing. This is all what I wanted: to change my life, to slow down, to BE more.

It is uncomfortable. I think, however, I am on the right track. I will continue on.

Soon, I will write about food and herbs and yoga adventures. Who knows what else might happen before then! It’s so exciting!



by Tama Cathers

Note below:

img_5706.jpgThis is my favorite art detail.  I can feel the warm slow lick of the comforting dog on the foot of this child, I can hear the thoughts of the dog, and feel the sun, tongue and breeze on the foot.  It makes me laugh and feel warm all at the same time!Details of a Statue

Burnout and Stress, Parenting, Travel

The Near the End of Our Trip to England and Paris – I feel like a healthier person

The Near the End of Our Trip,  I must say, that the trip has not been without it’s good moments – and a few bad ones. I have loved holding my daughter’s hand while we traveled through the cities. I loved watching her be a child, and watching her practice being adult-ishness. She is still in charge of much of the navigation, but also the playing. Bubbles, straws and drinks or a few rocks still provide an hour of entertainment. I am in charge of…well, everything else, including seeing so many famous works of art, landmarks, and architecture. Seeing these things has changed our understanding of history.

Overseas travel has gotten easier in the last 10 years. There seems to be no need to change much money, debit cards work everywhere except for artists, tips, and alms. The internet helps to navigate your almost every step. I semi-successfully used Uber, as well as Airbnb and Couchsurfing. Oddly enough, the trip has gone entirely according to plan. Even the parts ‘without plans’ went according to plan: adventures were had!

Other than those difficult incidents (or 1 notable day), it has been a good trip. About a week too long, but good. The trip itself has been one of the hardest travel experiences I’ve had; from planning, to travel, driving on the other side of the road, traveling alone with a child, going so many placee – all were challenging.  I feel that I have worked out my leadership and responsibility muscles, more than I am used to in my previous day-to-day life. That is okay. I need to develop these qualities to tolerate more extended periods of leadership.

While I feel tired (my feet hurt from so much travel by foot), and fatigued (from not enough sleep), and drained (from being the tour guide, decision maker, cook, laundress, chauffeur, cheerleader, counselor, parent and disciplinarian), I do not feel anxious in the way I did before I left. I no longer feel my worth is tied to other specific people’s opinion of me. I am getting a slightly tougher parental and personal skin (I hope.) I am not so scared of what comes next in my life, and who I will be, and if I will like myself in my next portion of life.

I feel like I have really had a break from my old life. I no longer feel like a XYorZ Professional. I feel like a person. I feel calmer. I feel healthier, in my soul. I think that is a great spot from which to start the next stage of my life.

Burnout and Stress, Parenting, Personal Wisdom, Travel




After 3 to 5 hours of hiking, baskets full of silence fill to space between us. Silence filles the sweeping landscape, as well.  I love this time in the hike.   We walk, breathe, appreciate, are together – in silence.  The silences that come before are of different quality. Sometimes they are angry at the hills going up and down.  Sometimes they are filled with daydreams.  Admittedly, sometimes they are filled with panting. However, this time of silence comes with contentment and togetherness.  No just together with each other, but together with everything, the wind, the hills, the grass… All of it.


I am fortunate to have a child that I weaned on grassy silences and miles under her feet.  She will hike 6 hours for the price of a couple of shared scones and a package of blueberries.  Even better, whenever I ask if she wants to go to the road, she asks if that is how the trail goes, and if it doesn’t go to the road, neither does she want to.  I am lucky that way, as sometimes I would definitely go to the road myself, missing some of the beautiful sites!  She amazes me, tolerating hours of rain, hours away from Percy Jackson books. I don’t know why, sometimes. However, I am always grateful.


As we hopped down the rocks of Hadrian’s Wall Trail, I realized that I have an opportunity. Like my daughter, I have the opportunity to create who I am in my next tomorrow.  I was thinking about my foot, the plantar fasciitis I acquired the last year. Stress related. Standing long hours on a hard floor. The running, I believe, was just ancillary.  Today, it is bothering me a bit, but yoga, physical therapy, and destressing have changed it substantially.  Today, I am hopping down rocks, flying towards my next future, just as she is flying towards her first future.  I can choose something thoughtfully, something that allows me health, that is lower in stress.  What a wonderful gift!


Before we set out on this trip, I told my fiance that I was happier, that I could finally feel the lessening of stress.  That is wonderful.  As it this.  This is different.  It’s like the idea is really viscerally dawning on me. I have a new start!


We both have the opportunity to choose a future. I am hopeful for both of us.


Today’s Favorite Food: Sticky Toffee Pudding





Yoga In the Airport

Yoga In the Airport


We got to the airport for the beginning of Our Adventure.  4 hours before our flight.  After a 4 hour drive. After getting up at 3 am.  After working hard in the heat to finish up my bookings.  Our A/C is out. The upstairs was 85 degrees in the breezy hallway.  It was at least 90 in the small office where I was diligently trying to book my flights.

After sitting on hard steel for an hour, under the giant and awesomely cool dinosaur replica,  and walking extensively on hard floors, I decided it was time to do some yoga.

I expected this to be embarrassing, to my daughter, and was rather disappointed that it wasn’t.

I pulled out my slllloooow TriYoga practice and did about 30 minutes of really easy flows.  I wasn’t really stretching the things that hurt.

But when I got done – I felt WONDERFUL!!!

My back didn’t hurt. The sciatica was gone. Even my foot was good. My energy was better and I felt – happy!  Oh joy of the day!

I was not embarrassing (it must’ve been a good part of the book) and I felt better.

Parenting, Travel





And so it begins…


Not really. It’s been going on for quite a while already. Days. Maybe months.


But we are on the plane!


My fiancé was given a family trip to Alaska, that my daughter and I could not attend. I lightheartedly said, “Fine, then I am returning my computer, and taking my daughter Pony Hacking across England.”

That’s how it started.




Well, we are not Pony Hacking across England, but we are going to England. The Pony Hacking got cancelled when I thought about days 2, 3 and 3 of a 5-7-day ride.

I thoughtfully decide against a long Pony Trek.   I did return my Apple.  I got a PC for <1/4th the cost. Ad this niffy blue laptop for 200 bucks!  (Well – not THIs one – I poured water on the first one.  This is the second one, as they laptops are quite allergic to water.  That was when the Pony trek went out the window. The trip got a facelift:  A tourist trip of England (enough said right there, but wait there’s more) on a budget – so I would do the planning and booking. Yay! How hard could that be?

We raised a thousand dollars with garage sales! We couldn’t believe it.

After some point in time, however, the trip became “The Planning NightMare.”   It’s been torture. I have never had a more difficult planning of a trip.  The whole thing got bogged down.  Life happened.  Stress happened. Someone wouldn’t give me my daughter’s passport. Held hostage, after 7 requests, and months of delays.  Ugh- So ugly.  Influenza happened.  Not sleeping.  Getting engaged. Planning for a wedding, planning for a celebration. Planning to start a new business.  Planning time off for a honeymoon. Planning this trip – all of which was at odds with my work.  My work, which was at odds with my Self,  My life,  My Being.   Then there was quitting… you know. It’s been a little busy.

I had an idea of what I wanted to do in the north of England, but just couldn’t put it together. Over and over – it was a nut I couldn’t crack. For example –  If I did the hike I wanted, I ended up in a small town without bus service on a Sunday and couldn’t get out of.  I couldn’t for the life of me manage to understand the online booking system for the trains.  I finally gave up and booked a car. Gasp of horror! Yes – driving on the left side.  I am visualizing, turning left and into the left lane, stay to the left, go left….

It was the flight to Paris, that I really had a difficult time doing.  I delayed booking my trip to Paris, because I heard it was better to buy tickets over there, but that has not turned out so well.  I tried for the last 2 weeks, just to make a booking and could not do it.  My opinion is that EasyJet is really Drive You Crazy/Difficult Jet. I mean – Grrr! Just. Don’t GO there!  No matter what airline, I would find a slightly acceptable flight, finally, and when I clicked to purchase the site would time out and the fare was gone.

I spent hours on this one task.  Finally, the night before our trip, I tried one more time. I found a flight AND booked it!  WaLa! We were going to England and Paris. No Ponies. No PC’s.


Then there is my daughter. She is 13. Did I mention that?

She has still been wonderful, delightful, fun. Most of the time.

She came home and unpacked a full-on teen attitude.

She also came on Seattle time. 8 hours behind Seattle.

She has resisted everything so far.  Adjusting her sleep schedule.   Doing any thing except reading.  Even repacking into a bigger bag which – to her delight – she discovered she has better access to her activities and media. She rolls her eyes. The worst thing is that she just looks at me like her face is dead.  It’s hard enough when I am gross or stupid, but that dead look really gets me.

I guess I am going to have to get used to that. It will put my self-esteem on the chopping block. It used to be so easy to be …esteemed.  Now – I just have to Esteem Myself…. Be myself. Otherwise – everything I do is just too embarrassing to do, and I can be me at all.  That won’t happen! But – it is still hard!


So here we go.

On our trip.

We’re going to drive all over the country on the wrong side of the road. I am going to be embarrassing.  While doing this, I will be working on my self-worth.  At the end of 10 years or so, I should be bomb proof!


All this being said, there will be a lack of recipes for a few weeks. I hope you can tolerate it.  So, hang on, we’re going to go for a ride. I should be back to herbs in a few weeks.