A Fresh Approach to Eyesight Preservation

Written By: Jeanne Aufmuth - Mar• 03•15

jma mex oneLiving with RP is a journey—a fact that is hammered home countless times a day and over the course of time.

The obstacles are familiar and legion – from a small barking of shins on an open dishwasher door to the larger more difficult loss of independence and a driver’s license.

Like all journeys, this one is a true expedition. I started mine by exploring the miraculous mysteries of traditional Chinese medicine in the form of acupuncture. Acupuncture specifically targeted for the eyes – twice a day, five days a week, for two weeks.

This phase of my adventure gave me a desperately needed boost; by jump-starting dormant cells I gained a positive outlook, fulfilling friendships with fellow RPers , and the will to continue to fight for my sight.

But as the physical results of dedicated acupuncture slowly faded, it dawned on me that a weekly regimen of needles couldn’t hurt. I researched acupuncturists and discovered something both timeless and new: acupuncture isn’t meant solely for eyes (or fertility or pain et al). Traditional Chinese medicine in the form of acupuncture is a whole body experience – and that whole body works in unison to learn to cure.

The weekly treatments – one hour a week – have made a marked difference in my sight. I can discern colors, I can recognize faces, I can see my food in a darkened restaurant. More importantly, by NOT focusing so intensely on my eyes, I feel more confidence in them as they should be – a natural and healthy measure of my being.

This relaxed and balanced approach is a personal choice. My gut says its right and it’s working.

In order to further understand the whole body approach to acupuncture, I enlisted the help of my friend Ingrid Ricks, who is exploring this symmetrical style of treatment along with me. We are embarking on a six-month investigation of weekly whole body treatments, about which we will chart our progress and post notes and observations. Stay tuned! – Jeanne Aufmuth



Ingrid blogLike Jeanne, I’ve benefitted greatly from the specialized eye acupuncture treatments I’ve received during my eyesight healing quest over the past two years. Along with regaining a little eyesight, I’ve regained confidence and hope. But the stress and juggle of leaving home every three or four months for a week of extensive acupuncture treatment has taken its toll on my home life.

I decided that this year is about balance. And like Jeanne, I’ve started thinking about the whole-body philosophy behind traditional Chinese medicine. So I was thrilled when she asked me to join her in this real world, balanced eyesight-preservation experiment.

I’ve found a local acupuncturist who comes highly recommended and works in my husband’s office building – which means I have to walk only one flight of steps to get to her office. I see her once a week and her treatment changes each time depending on what my body tells her. I can’t tell yet if it’s making a difference in my eyesight. But I know my weekly treatments are increasing blood flow and circulation because I can feel it throughout my body. And I know that’s a good thing.

Jeanne and I are taking a low-key, “unscientific” approach to our study. We’re not undergoing testing each time. In fact, rather than eye charts and visual field tests, we are using real-world measurements to determine what, if anything, changes in our eyesight over the next six months. I’m picking two key measures: how much of my daughters’ faces I can see when I look at them across our dining room table, and how many keys on my computer keyboard I can clearly see when I’m looking at it (currently I see two clearly – though I can see most of the keyboard in a blurry sort of way.)

Jeanne and I have also decided to ditch the cabinet full of herbs and supplements we’ve each amassed and replace it with Retina-Complex, an eye formula from Europe that my good friend and fellow RPer, Natalie Watkins, recommended. It costs $55 for a one-month supply – but seems to have all of the necessary eye nutrients and is less complicated and costly than all the other supplements we’ve been juggling.

I will also continue to eat healthy (except for on weekends), exercise and think positive thoughts. But most of all, I’m focusing on enjoying life and not being so obsessive about my eyesight. Like Jeanne says, it feels right,

We’ll keep you all posted. Ingrid Ricks



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Two Years Into My Eyesight Saving Quest: What I’ve Learned

Written By: ingridricks - Feb• 15•15

View More: http://heatherballisonphotography.pass.us/ingrid-2013I’m writing this from a ski resort in Northern Idaho—the same ski resort where I hit rock bottom two years ago and decided to do everything in my power to save my eyesight.

I started this quest hoping that if I fought hard enough, I could regain my eyesight and get back to a normal-sighted life. What I’ve learned is that this eyesight-saving fight is a slow, hard process—and that if I want to preserve the vision I have, it’s something I’m going to have to work for the rest of my life.

Today I have more eyesight in my outer periphery than I did two years ago. My central vision hasn’t changed: I still see life through a hole that amounts to the size of a letter slot at the post office. And when the light is dim, I have a hard time seeing at all. But the good news is that I still have a small opening of central vision that enables me to see my family, write on my computer, read, walk in the daylight unassisted, and go to the gym for regular workouts.

What I’ve learned is that preserving our eyesight is mainly up to us. It comes down to the following—and there’s plenty of research to back this up.

  • Healthy diet
  • Good base of vitamins & minerals
  • Lots of clean water
  • Regular, vigorous exercise
  • Healthy lifestyle: no smoking, moderate alcohol consumption, limited coffee, reduce stress
  • Positive attitude
  • Eye exercises
  • Other stimulation to keep the blood and oxygen flowing to the eyes: micro current stimulation, acupuncture, etc.


This year, I’m taking a more balanced approach to my eyesight saving quest. I’m putting emphasis on all the things I can do on my own—things that require time and commitment, but not a lot of money. I’ll touch base occasionally to update you all on my continuing eyesight saving quest. But as part of my more balanced approach to life, I’m also cutting back on my blog posts.

Thank you all for taking this journey with me. We CAN save our eyesight. It’s starts with believing. If you want to engage in regular dialogue, please join our Determined to See Facebook Group.

Here’s to our eyesight — and to all of us.



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An Interview with Eye Acupuncturist Lizbeth Ryan

Written By: ingridricks - Jan• 21•15

1469930_10202573960978607_901742538_nI’ve been hearing about Lizbeth Ryan, an eye acupuncturist in Bentonville, Arkansas, for a few months now. Several of her patients have contacted me to tell me about her; and speak highly of her comprehensive treatment and her affordable treatment prices. A couple have also shared with me eye image scans from their visual field tests in her office—which show clear improvements.

I recently talked with Lizbeth to learn more about her background, her practice and her Retinitis Pigmentosa treatment approach. Here’s what she had to say.

 IR: How long have you been treating patients with degenerative eye diseases? And why did you start?

 Lizbeth Ryan: In 2003, Per Otte (who developed the micro-acupuncture system for eye treatment that many eye acupuncturists incorporate) hired me to work with him at his Arkansas practice and trained me in his methodology. I worked with him on and off for six years. In 2008, he shut down his practice there—eventually reopening it in West Virginia, and I moved to northwest Arkansas to be closer to my family and opened up my own practice here.

IR: Tell me about your treatment protocol for RP.

 Lizbeth Ryan: I offer a comprehensive treatment that incorporates the micro acupuncture system I learned from Dr. Otte with the Acunova system that was developed by the Boel Clinic in Denmark. I’ve found that I have the best treatment success when I incorporate both of these methodologies. I usually do two Acunova treatments in the morning, followed by two micro acupuncture treatments in the afternoon, with a total of three treatments on Mondays and two treatments on Fridays.

IR: Why do you do so many treatments each day?

Lizbeth Ryan: Because I think it’s critical to the treatment’s success. The points we use are very precise and we are going deep into the network of a patient’s blood vessels. By hitting those areas again and again, it helps stimulate blood flow on a very deep level—which in turn helps stimulate the eyes.

IR: Pretend I’m a new patient; walk me through the treatment I can expect.

 Lizbeth Ryan: The first day, patients are given a visual field scan and acuity testing for distance and near vision to see exactly where their eyesight is at.  I also do an individual consultation with them. Then we start the treatments. I do my treatments in group sessions so we can have a group discussion about eye health and overall health, and I can answer any questions that arise. Then, on the third day of treatment, I do another round of tests to see where patients are at. At that point, almost everyone can see some sort of improvement — which is important because positive attitude contributes to treatment success. And then we keep going with treatments.

IR: Why do you do the visual field scan on the third day vs. end of treatment?

Lizbeth RyanI repeat the visual field scan on the third day because by the end of the week, eyes can get blurry from all the treatment – which just means that the treatment is doing it’s job. But this way, both my patient and I get a sense for how the treatment is working for them.

IR: How often do you recommend that RP patients return for treatment?

Lizbeth Ryan: That’s a hard question because there are so many different types of RP and so many different patient attitudes –which all effect treatment. There is no real standard. For the first time, I recommend patients come for two weeks if they can so we can really hit it hard. After that, it all depends on the patients. Some patients return three times a year for a week of treatment. Others only come once a year and that’s enough for them. I usually tell them that if they notice that their improvements are slipping, they should come back for another round of treatment so we don’t have to start from scratch. What I’ve found is that if they stick with a protocol that works for them, they will see improvement over time.

IR: How much does your treatment cost?

 Lizabeth Ryan: I charge $55 per acupuncture treatment. I also charge $55 per visual field test, which includes the eye image scan for the patients to take home with them. If patients do the full treatment I recommend for a week (seventeen treatments along with the two visual field scans and acuity tests) the total cost for the week is $1,045.

IR: As you know, there are so many people struggling with RP and accessibility to this treatment is a huge issue for them. We need skilled eye acupuncturists who are willing to offer wide scale, comprehensive, affordable training for interested acupuncturists. Is this something you have considered offering?

 Lizbeth Ryan: Absolutely. In fact, it’s something that I’ve been thinking about for a while and have started outlining. I envision it being a comprehensive 15-hour online continuing education course that would feature videos with me demonstrating the points. This is important because the points are precise and it’s not enough to just tell people which points to hit. It requires training them on how to find those points, and how to go deep enough to really hit the network of vessels that will get the blood flowing. I also plan on spending a lot of time educating practitioners on how to do the visual field tests and read the scans because the testing is so key to objectively demonstrating the benefits of this treatment.

For more information, visit www.macupuncture.com or call 479-464-4000.



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Calling All Eye Acupuncturists

Written By: ingridricks - Jan• 11•15

Conceptional chalk drawing - Help needed

It’s my birthday. And of all the birthday wishes and gifts I’ve received, the best is that I have my health and that I can still see my daughters and my husband, and every other beautiful thing this world has to offer. I rarely allow myself to think about the challenges associated with a sight-stealing eye disease such as RP, but recently I was asked to share what it’s like to slowly lose your eyesight for an online magazine called Science of Us. And when I started talking about it, it really hurt. Here’s a link to the interview for those of you interested. I hope I captured it well for all of us. To read interview, click here.

That interview reiterated for me the importance of doing everything I can to continue to save my eyesight, which, along with diet and lifestyle changes, includes ongoing acupuncture treatment. But it also drove home for me the challenge those of us dealing with this eye disease face – the ability to access this potential sight-saving treatment.

Though my eyesight is a daily challenge for me, the acupuncture I’ve received by practitioners trained to treat degenerative eye disorders has helped me and I want everyone who is interested in giving it a try to be able to access it and at a price they can afford. So I’m making it my quest this year to raise awareness about any eye acupuncturists I come across (especially those recommended by other patients) and to spread the word about the need for widespread training in this area. With so many people suffering from RP and other devastating blinding diseases, it’s unconscionable to me that there are only a handful of practitioners in the world who can currently help us. This is an open call and bottom-of-my-heart request to all eye acupuncturists out there: please help us by sharing your expertise through affordable, comprehensive continuing education courses that can be accessed by every interested acupuncturist out there.

Here’s the list of eye acupuncturists (in no particular order) that I’ve compiled so far. This is in no way an endorsement of these practitioners. I’m just providing it as a resource for all of you. Along with different treatment methodologies, prices vary greatly.  Speak with the practitioner; speak with patients who’ve been treated by them, research pricing and treatment protocols, and then select the practitioner that best resonates with you.

Acupuncturists Specializing in RP Treatment (and Other Degenerative Eye Diseases)


And here are three practitioners who focus on natuorpathic medicine and alternative therapies to treat RP and other degenerative eye diseases



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Eye WILL Continue to See

Written By: ingridricks - Dec• 22•14


I received this early Christmas gift from my new friend Jeanne Aufmuth, a San Francisco film critic who also happens to be stuck with RP.

It’s already become one of my favorite possessions because every time I look at it, I’m reminded of my determination to see.

My pillow—called Snake Eye–is one of a series of unique Eye Will pillows designed by Jeanne as part of an RP fundraising effort. They sold out quickly but I’m hoping she’ll create more of them so the EYE Will message will make it’s way into homes across the globe.

Jeanne’s efforts to raise awareness and funding while doing everything in her power to save her eyesight has inspired to do more to raise awareness about the eyesight-saving benefits of specialized acupuncture and other integrated health approaches. I plan to start a movement in the acupuncture/naturopathic community that will lead to more trained practitioners and, in turn, make treatment more accessible and affordable for all of us.

That’s my Focus for 2015. Hope you’ll all join me.



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My Holiday RP Strategy

Written By: ingridricks - Dec• 09•14

greenjuiceI’ve been trying to find the energy to post about micro-current stimulation and fulvic acid for the past few days. But between Christmas tree hunting, holiday shopping, having fun with my family and …well…parties, it’s been pushed to the back of my mind.

What I know for sure at this point is that there is no quick fix to saving our eyesight. It’s a continuous journey with a constant focus on diet, lifestyle, emotional health, physical exercise, eye exercises, plenty of vitamins and minerals, and ongoing stimulation through alternative therapies such as micro-current stimulation and specialized acupuncture.

microstimFor this holiday season, I’m choosing to make emotional health and FUN my biggest priorities (while still trying to maintain some semblance of my eye health plan). So here’s my strategy for the next few weeks:

  • Green juicing every day
  • Daily morning eye exercises
  • A healthy, vegetable-filled lunch
  • Ongoing vitamin and mineral supplements
  • Regular cardio workouts
  • Twice daily microcurrent stimulation (that’s a pic of my microstim unit, which I purchased through www.bettereyehealth.com)

1C5277066-tdy-121221-holiday-wine-tz.blocks_desktop_largeAnd as much fun as I can manage –including occasional glasses of wine, coffee with Baileys, all my favorite foods and desserts, and lots of holiday music blaring from Pandora.

I’ll be back in January with more informative posts, including an interview with Dr. Marc Grossman, an optometrist-turned-natural eye health practitioner who is at the forefront at integrated, holistic eye health.

Until then — wishing all of you an amazing holiday season.

P.S. If you haven’t already joined and are interested, I’ve started a Determined to See Facebook group that features ongoing, interactive discussions on integrated eye health. To join, click here.



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Acupuncture Treatment Round 4

Written By: ingridricks - Nov• 22•14

family venice

I just wrapped up a week of treatment with Dr. Andy Rosenfarb, my fourth round since I started his acupuncture treatment a year ago.

What was most remarkable about this week is how it started. In the past, I’ve come every three- to three-and-a-half months and have always experienced a slide in my vision between treatments. This time, I stretched it out five months between visits and for the first time, I maintained ALL of the progress I’ve made during previous visits without any sort of setback.

I’m sure diet, lifestyle, eye exercises and positive attitude all play a part in this. But in addition, I’ve upped my use of the MicroStim unit (micro-current stimulation) to two times a day and have started taking folic acid thanks to my dad, who sells his own brand of vitamins and minerals and has been telling me repeatedly that I NEED fulvic acid and other minerals in my diet. I’m not sure if these two things were the tipping factors maintenance wise, but since something’s working, I’m going to keep at it (I’ll do posts on both micro-current stimulation and folic acid/minerals over the next couple of weeks.)

My end-of-treatment test results pretty much mirrored my starting tests. I feel like I’m entering a maintenance phase with my eyesight—which I’m completely fine with if I can continue to hold onto the gains I’ve made and maintain my remaining vision from here on out. And I’m hopeful that if I keep doing everything I’m doing, I will.

Before I log off, I want to give a shout out to all of the amazing people I’ve met throughout my Determined to See quest, people I now feel fortunate to call my friends. It was wonderful to reconnect with a few of you this week, and to finally talk face to face with those of you I’ve only known through email or social media

Knowing that so many of us are fighting this fight together is empowering.

Wishing everyone a wonderful Thanksgiving next week. Here’s to our health, our family, our friends, and living fully in the Now.

P.S. I posted the picture of my family because I wanted you all to meet them…and because they are the biggest reason I am DETERMINED TO SEE.



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Acupressure and Eye Exercises

Written By: ingridricks - Nov• 15•14

I had the opportunity to share my eye health journey with a group of senior citizens at a local senior center this week and it reminded me just how much we can personally do to maintain our eyesight. I know I’ve said it lots of times on this blog — but it really does come down to an whole-body health approach that integrates diet, lifestyle, emotional health, eye exercises, acupressure and acupuncture.

I’ve become a big believer in my daily acupressure/eye exercise routine because I know it increases blood flow and circulation to my eyes–which supports the delivery of oxygen and essential nutrients that cells needs to survive. These exercises also help keep eye muscles strong.

Above is a short video I made last year of the base acupressure/eye exercise routine I use.  I also HIGHLY recommend clicking on this Natural Eye Care YouTube channel for Dr. Marc Grossman. He’s an ophthalmologist who specializes in preventive/natural eye health care and has posted several great eye exercise videos. (And he knows A LOT more than I do.). He has a Figure Eight I now incorporate daily and love it.



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A San Diego Acupuncturist You Should Meet: Gail Brent

Written By: ingridricks - Oct• 30•14

FullSizeRenderI’ve heard so many great things recently about Gail Brent, a San Diego-based acupuncturist who treats RP and other degenerative eye disorders, that I knew needed to learn more. Last week I reached out to her for an interview and instantly connected with her. She’s warm and genuine, and comes highly recommended by fellow eye acupuncturist Andy Rosenfarb and the RP patients who see her.

IR: How long have you been treating degenerative eye conditions?

Gail Brent: Since 2003.

IR What interested you in this particular field?

Gail Brent: When I was four, I had eye surgery on one of my eyes because it was crossed. It was a very traumatic experience. Today, that same surgery wouldn’t even require an overnight stay. But back then, I had to spend ten days in the hospital with both eyes bandaged. It was so traumatic for me that for years, I had nightmares that I would wake up and not able to see. It stuck with me throughout my life. So when I read a magazine article on Dr. Per Otte that focused on the micro-acupuncture procedures he had developed to treat blinding eye disorders, I thought, “I have to learn this.” I was already an acupuncturist so I understood the tremendous healing power of acupuncture. I called his office and asked if he would be teaching a seminar anytime soon. The woman at the desk said yes, to give her my name and number. I did and never heard from her. But I was determined and every few months, I called again and repeated my request. I did this for three and a half years. The last time I called, the woman said, ”Let me have him call you.” And he did. He told me he had two others who wanted to train with him and he offered to let me join. It turns out that one of the others being trained was Andy Rosenfarb, who I knew from acupuncture school.

 IRCan you tell me about your RP treatment protocol?

 Gail Brent: I use micro-acupuncture and electrostim, a micro-current stimulation unit that patients can also purchase and continue to use at home.  I also incorporate energy work and do a lot with nutrition and supplements and Chinese herbal formulas. In addition, I’ve added some points to treat the constitution of the person. We know something’s going on with the eyes, but I also look at what else is going with the person that needs balancing. When it comes to RP, the most common issues I see deal with the kidney and liver. I also see a lot of emotional stress with RP patients. Stress plays such a huge part in eye disease—it affects the liver, and the liver affects eyes, so I have to work with all parts of that.

IR: How long are your treatment sessions?

Gail Brent: I usually offer them in one or two-week series. I treat three times a day, Monday to Friday, with a total of fifteen treatments each week. Each treatment is about thirty minutes in length . I also do energy work with each patient. I spend a lot of time with my patients because I want to get to know them to see what else might be gong on with them.

IR: How often do your RP patients return for treatment?

Gail Brent: For RP, I would definitely say it’s best to come two weeks for the first visit because RP patients really need the kick-start. Then I advise that they come for a week every three or four months for at least a year, and then we can see how it goes from there.

IR: What’s your success rate treating RP patients?

Gail Brent: I’ve never thought of it that way, but I would say about eighty percent of the RP patients I treat respond to the treatment. But the amount of improvement varies with each person, just like any other kind of treatment. Diet, nutrition, exercise, and the emotional state the person is in all plays into it, and then it depends on if their body responds to treatment. What I tell people with RP and Ushers is that, because there is nothing Western Medicine can do right now, they should at least give it a try. The wonderful thing about this treatment is that there are no negative side effects, no way it makes their condition worse. Either their vision improves, stabilizes or the treatment doesn’t work. You never know until you try and I’ve seen wonderful miracles happen.

IR: Tell me about the energy work you do.

Gail Brent: It’s called The Reconnection. Dr. Eric Pearl is the one who developed this particular form though I’ve been interested in energy work since I was little. About two years ago, something inside me said to incorporate this into my treatment, so now I do it on every patient. I don’t know how it’s directly affecting their eyes, but I see it helping their emotional state, which is so important to their overall eye health.

IR: How much does your treatment cost?

Gail Brent: I charge $1,200 for one week and $2,400 for two weeks. I keep it as affordable as I can because I know people struggle just to get here. I recently had a patient who came all the way from South Africa. I would love it if someone down there started treating degenerative eye disorders to make it more accessible. More trained acupuncturists need to enter this field and help people dealing with degenerative eye diseases.


For more information on Gail Brent, please visit her website: www.healthandvision.com.  If you’d like to talk with her or learn more about her treatment. call (619) 276-3661 or email her at gbrentlac@aol.com


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Quinoa Chop Chop Salad from Claire’s Kitchen

Written By: ingridricks - Oct• 26•14


My friend, Claire Thornburgh, is a fabulous cook who is living proof that life can still be enjoyed incorporating an anti-inflammatory diet. She’s generously agreed to share some of her favorite recipes with all of us on a regularly basis– starting with her Quinoa Chop Chop Salad.

This is a favorite in or household—lots of texture from quinoa, wild rice and all the crunchy vegetables, plus lots of flavor from the herbs (don’t skimp on these!), and the vinaigrette. We like to serve it with some avocado slices, some nuts and whatever extra protein we have on hand. We buy everything organic. I also cook a much larger amount of the legume/seed base and freeze portions to save time later. Notice that I don’t add peppers or tomatoes, because of their inflammatory properties, but I’m no expert on the best ingredients, health-wise.

All ingredients are optional and proportions completely changeable. Leave out, substitute, season to your taste. The base of the quinoa, lentils and wild rice is where we start, but you could easily put in chick peas, or another legume, leave out the expensive wild rice, put another “seed/grain” of your choosing. If you love raw onions or scallions chop some in, or you’ve got a crop of fennel you need to use up—in it goes. I try to add vegetables or fruits that won’t discolor too much since we munch on this for several days. My chopped vegetables generally exceed in bulk the amount of the cooked legumes and seeds, which I’ll call “grains” for simplicity.

I love the flavor of the “italian” version with olives, zucchini, basil, oregano and garlic (along with the basic ingredients that I always put in: celery, kale, parsley, chives). I sprinkle pine nuts on it before serving. A quinoa tabouleh is pretty common these days, with mint and cucumber. I once added some Vegenaise mixed with curry powder in a version with grapes. That was good. I’m planning to try a “Thai” version with cilantro, basil, cucumbers and chopped peanuts. The vinaigrette will need some white kind of vinegar, fish sauce and lime instead of lemon.

This recipe is a sample to get you started.
Quinoa Chop Chop Salad


1 cup quinoa
! cup lentils—I prefer the french green or the “caviar” for being little
and less mushy
1/4 cup wild rice
1/2 cup chopped broccoli stems (These keep better than broccoli flowers in the salad and add a nice crunch. Remove fibrous peel. We use the flowers in stir-fry or juice.)
1/2 cup chopped celery
1/2 cup chopped cucumber
1 cup chopped kale, collard or other greens (I like the greens chopped pretty fine. About 1/2 inch)
1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
1/4 cup chopped fresh chives
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro, and/or tarragon, and/or basil, and/or oregano and/or 1/4 cup mint
1 cup halved kalamata olives, or 1 cup halved red grapes
2 zucchini, (quarter lengthwise, toss with avocado oil or olive oil and roast under the broiler for a few minutes until they just begin to brown), cut into 1/2” slices
2 cloves garlic—I prefer mine lightly cooked, so peel them and throw in with the cooking lentils for a few minutes, then chop


1/2 cup avocado oil or olive oil
juice of two lemons
1 tablespoon good mustard (dijon, or, my favorite, with tarragon, available at some markets)
1 tablespoon honey, a bit of stevia or other natural sweetener (again, optional)
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar.
Salt and pepper

Optional ingredients to add before serving:

pine nuts
pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds
feta, parmesan, mozzarella or other cheese
cooked meat

Since you’ll want the “grains” cold, cooking them is easy, like pasta—no measuring, just put each in a pan with plenty of water and simmer on med/low heat, stirring occasionally. Note, however, that dry food like this sometimes is not perfectly sorted before going to market. I have had the occasional gritty bit. So rinsing and sorting is usually recommended. Eliminate this step at your own risk—I at least do a cursory visual sorting as I add the ingredient to the water.

The wild rice is hard to overcook—it’ll take over 30 minutes to get done enough. When the white insides start to show, I let it cook about 15 more minutes.

Cold lentils, on the other hand, taste best if they’re just cooked enough, and they don’t take as long as you’d think—as little as 15 minutes depending on the size. Keep tasting until they are tender enough—not crunchy, but not mushy. If I overcook the lentils, they go into the next batch of soup, not in salad.

The quinoa is also quick to cook. To save on pans, I cook the wild rice in a larger pan with extra water. When the white begins to show I add the quinoa. In 12-15 minutes they both are ready. The quinoa has little white “tails” that separate when it is nearly done.

Cooking the base ingredients is all about tasting (and not boiling over).

Drain the “grain” in a sieve and run cold water over it until it isn’t hot anymore. Drain well.

Place the vinaigrette ingredients in a large bowl and mix.
Add the “grains” and all the other ingredients and mix thoroughly.

If there is not enough dressing for your taste, just mix a little more and stir it in. If you are experimenting with new flavors, just put in a little at a time. Keep tasting.

Serve heaped on an avocado half, or as a side dish to a more traditional meal. Sprinkle with nuts or cheese, a swirl of balsamic glaze or more herbs. Throw on some chunks of tofu or chicken or smoked salmon. If you had the salad for lunch yesterday and want a different flavor, mix up a little mayo, sour cream or Vegenaise with a bit of curry and stir it in your portion today. Let your taste buds and dietary needs guide you.

Keep tightly covered in the refrigerator. Stir to distribute dressing before serving.



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