Imagine a place of quiet beauty. Of everyday splendor turned into something fantastical. Freshly baked lavender muffins peeking through fragrant pine, atop a log patiently awaiting a fey creature to come steal it away. Citrus rind alive with sunshine scattered across chipped paint creating a still life image that evokes emotions deep within. Megan Patiry of the Hinterland Blog is an artist of the rarest form. She takes Ayurvedic health and captures its exquisiteness all while making it whimsical and vibrant with life. Everything she photographs comes to life. Her recipes are incredibly nourishing and are filled with flavors that awaken every one of your senses. Megan healed many physical ailments by adopting a whole holistic diet that used Ayurvedic food combining techniques. Her body healed while her mind expanded with knowledge that all of us innately know. Knowledge that the earth provides all we need to balance and heal our bodies and minds. I have been enamored with Megan’s blog from the moment I laid eyes on it. For those who know me in person, or just through my writing, you are probably aware that I run on emotion, on feeling. I get up every morning because I want to feel everything this life has to offer. Megan’s photography and her recipes make me feel peace, excitement, curiosity, and just envelope me in desire to see and feel more and more! In a world where we are surrounded by pandemonium, it is such a joy to find a respite within the chaos. I am honored to share with you the lovely mind of this wondrous soul.
Hello Megan! It is so lovely to have you with us today. To start can you introduce us to Hinterland Blog? How did you get started and why?
Hi Michelle, it’s great to be here. Thank you so much for your breathtaking introduction - I am truly honored! I think you began to describe Hinterland perfectly with, “a respite within the chaos.” This is my ultimate goal as a blogger; to create a sanctuary within the often confusing and crazed world of dieting and nutrition where others can go and, ultimately, breathe a sigh of relief. Somewhere that not only provides deeply nourishing recipes straight from the Earth, but also an ephemeral atmosphere that includes a touch of magic (for me, magic and gluten-free desserts go hand-in-hand).
The decision to start Hinterland was also based on my experiences of healing with whole foods and herbal remedies. As a child, I was frequently plagued with ulcers, IBS, constipation, acne, depression, and asthma, ALL of which have virtually disappeared after adopting an ancestral diet. After spending so many years on expensive medications with no relief, it was truly a shock to discover I could heal from so-called “chronic” conditions that doctors told me would always plague me (for instance, at 15 years old, my exercise-induced asthma was supposed to remain with me for life: after two weeks on an ancestral/paleo-based diet, it vanished and hasn’t returned). I wanted a platform to share these experiences and hopefully inspire others to make a positive pivot toward nature when it comes to nutrition and lifestyle.
What is your take on nutrition? The food you capture is breathtaking, what are your favorite meals?
Thank you! Photography is an oh-so-sweet addiction of mine.
As far as nutrition goes, I follow an ancestral diet 90 percent of the time, but with the personal twist of also following the food combining principles of Ayurveda. By ancestral, I mean consuming foods my ancient ancestors would have had access to (I’m Greek and Dutch), so for me I’ve found that lots of cabbage, root veggies, leafy greens, apples, berries, chestnuts, raw cheese, and some Mediterranean fruits and vegetables like figs and asparagus work best for me. On the other hand, if I consume too many foods outside of my ancestral lineage, like potatoes or tropical fruit, I experience small breakouts or intestinal discomfort. This isn’t to say that I don’t indulge outside of this paradigm. I mean, you should see me during autumn - I can’t get enough pumpkin (originally from the Americas)!
Eating this way, plus utilizing the basic principles of food combining in Ayurveda (no concentrated proteins with starches/raw fruit alone first thing in the morning/etc…) has truly brought a whole new dimension to my life. I can walk around without being self-conscious of a bloated tummy, and my skin is finally completely clear for the first time in my life! Because of this, I’m a firm believer that our genes truly dictate which foods we respond best to, and that we should all consider lineage when we’re trying to diagnose food intolerances or sensitivities. I also urge anyone who is already eating “paleo” or ancestrally-based to try proper food combining. It can change your life.
Your take on our modern food system? How do you think we could change for the better?
Ah, one could write novels on this subject (and they have).
Along with the introduction and consumption of GMO (Genetically Modified) foods and the heavy consumption of wheat, corn, soy, and pasteurized dairy products (what I and prominent others feel is the underlying cause of nearly ALL of modern man’s ailments), I’d have to say the desire for convenience is also at the root of the problems in our food system.
After all (and many probably won’t like this statement), the desire for convenience has lead us to where we are today in terms of food: we’re a fast-food nation. This individual mindset fuels the creation of GMO foodstuffs, as they are largely produced in order to mass-market and sell as tons of pre-packaged, chemical-laden snacks and “dinners” that people reach for.
Supply runs off of demand, after all, and many people demand convenience. Which is understandable, to an extent. We are all busy and have jobs, kids, responsibilities and whatnot. However, it has become “normal” for people to complain that they have no time to prepare meals from simple ingredients at home, while also entirely “normal” to have to call off of work (often for days) because they’re sick and have to go to the doctor. That takes (in my experience) a LOT more time than, say, preparing a batch of overnight chia seed oatmeal for breakfast for the week.
I’m not sure about everyone else, but I’d rather put and hour or two into preparing healthy meals for the week (if you know you won’t have time to cook), than spend that time sitting in a doctor’s office.
This also winds back around to “time” and the subjectiveness of it. Priorities will always dictate where your time goes, and preventative health is still not seen as a priority as it relates to food. Many people just want to take a pill for symptoms (and not as a cure) and get upset when they have to continue to take more and more pills. But then they also get upset when they have to spend a little more time on, for instance, preparing meals that could result in not having to take pills. So as I said, it really is subjective.
I think moving back to the ancestral way of living and eating would do everyone a world of good. Taking time to appreciate the art of cooking with nature’s flavors, for instance, by using fresh tomatoes and Italian herbs to blend up a red sauce instead of a canned variety, or using orange juice blended with apple cider vinegar and olive oil as a salad dressing instead of a pre-packed chemical-laden variety, are truly simple ways to improve your health.
Do you have a favorite gluten free flour blend that you make?
My favorite at the moment is straight chestnut flour! It’s so versatile and the taste is richly sweet and nutty. Oh, and the aroma! It’s pretty much “chestnuts roasting over an open fire” every week in our house, just in “flour” form!
If you could go back to any time in history and wield your camera of today to capture a moment in time, when and where would you go back to and why?
Oh my. I’d have to bring a bucketload of memory cards and batteries! I’m a bit of a historical nerd (History and Travel channel are always on in our house!) so this is TOUGH! Believe it or not, I would love to go back to ancient Greece and visit the Oracle at Delphi. There is so much mystery in this and other legends of ancient Greece that are so deeply intriguing!
I would also love to visit Victorian London and delight in the romantic days of the old writers and poets (Bronte,Tennyson, and Dickens, oh my!)
Touch, smell, sight, hearing, taste, out of the five senses which would you say you adore most?
You know, I’ve thought about this question a lot and still have yet to come up with an answer! I will say that I’m like you in that I love to FEEL emotionally, so music (hearing) would be hard to give up. Taste would be unbearable to lose, along with sight and holiday scents!
You’ve got me here.
Your favorite season?
When it’s autumn, I always exclaim, “Fall!” while excitedly stringing up Halloween decor mid-to-late-August. Then winter sets in and I’m planning my move overseas to a small village that reminds me of Christmas year-round. So … fall and winter.
Flavors that you love to use?
The world of spices and natural flavors is truly a magical world! When baking, nothing beats traditional vanilla and cinnamon. For raw treats and smoothies, raw cacao and hazelnut are my go-to flavors.
What do you want others to take from your creations?
I’d love for others to see that eating fresh, healthy food doesn’t have to be boring or lackluster. In fact, I’ve had some of the most delicious, bursting-with-flavor foods using natural ingredients in the past few years than I have in my entire life! The key is appreciation: once you realize that nature has already provided every flavor for you to combine into whatever delicacy that you wish, you begin to humbly nod your head in her direction before sitting down to a plate full of delicious nourishment.
Top Five places you would like to visit in the world and why?
Greece and the Netherlands are at the top of my list, mostly due to my ancestry. Greece is so steeped in history and has had such a phenomenal influence on civilization that I can’t imagine not exploring it. Many places on the top of my list are also ancient sites, like the Pyramids and Stonehenge. We still have so much to learn about ancient cultures, and I’m deeply intrigued and curious about ancient mysticism, gnosticism and Egyptian and yogic healing traditions. The Christmas markets in Germany would also be amazing!
What is cooking for you? What does it make you feel?
As a teenager, cooking for me entailed gazing at a can of Campbell’s spinning slowly in the microwave. *Cringe*
Now, cooking has become an escape of sorts. Eating ancestrally allows me to connect to the past and the wisdom of my ancestors. Also, being an artist means (for me anyway) having a mind that is constantly “on.” I’m always seeing things in a creative way, and cooking is a fantastic outlet for this energy.
Also, sometimes it’s a fine lesson in patience, which is something I’m still working on!
You have a recipe for us!! Get ready, Megan is about to bring the magic!
I do! This recipe embodies my absolute love for chestnuts and the chestnut flour I spoke of earlier! An Italian cake hailing from the Liguria region termed “Castagnaccio,” (“Castagna” is chestnut in Italian), this delightful dessert (and snack) is traditionally made with raisins; however, since Fall is rapidly approaching (I warned you about my fall tendencies), I’ve decided to use cinnamon-glazed apples in their place (mwahaha).
This cake is also naturally gluten-free, egg-free, and dairy-free, and is about as simple as you can get for cake. It does have more of a brownie texture than a crumbly-cake texture though, and you may also want to add a decent amount of stevia to it if you want it very sweet.
3 cups chestnut flour
2 tablespoons maple syrup (traditionally plain sugar is used, but I subbed maple syrup)
2 cups water
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 cup finely-chopped apples
1/2 cup pine nuts
Sprig fresh rosemary
Sprinkle of cinnamon
Stevia to taste
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
In a large mixing bowl, sift the chestnut flour. Add the stevia and pinch of salt, mix well and then gently start adding the water to the mix.
Stir the mixture extremely well making sure to eliminate any lumps, then add 2 tablespoons olive oil, and half of the apples, maples syrup, and mix again.
Lightly oil an 11-inch pie plate with olive oil and pour in the batter. It should be no more than 1/3-inch thick. Sprinkle the cake with rosemary leaves, cinnamon, the remaining apples and pine nuts. Sprinkle with 1 tablespoon olive oil and bake for about 40 minutes.
*Note: This cake will NOT rise, as there is no yeast. As I said, it has more of a brownie consistency - a delicious fall Tuscan brownie, that is!