The blueberries taste like blueberries…but the zucchini tastes like PIZZA!

Last weekend, I headed out to Kendall’s Blueberries to pick as many as I could! It is nearing the end of the season and I wanted to score some fresh, chemical-free, and affordable berries for the upcoming winter! This farm, a blueberry farm, located in Hastings, MI, offers $1/lb u-pick berries! So, of course, my roommates and I headed out there on a beautiful Michigan Saturday! It was a bit of a drive, just under an hour from our home, and well, it was mostly beautiful (once we got off I-94). Image

One of my roommates…he liked eating over picking…but I forgave him!ImageAnd a beautiful bush filled with the delectable fruit of the earth!ImageJust a few rules, about picking blueberries to freeze or can:

1. Take more time picking, less time prepping. Notice the little stems, well those don’t make good smoothie additions, so be mindful when picking, or your prepping takes a LOT longer.

2. You’ll learn to appreciate those blueberry pickers. This was not an easy taste. Despite eating a handful or two throughout the few hours we were there, I picked for just over 2 hours. Together, we picked about 12 pounds.

3. Processing blueberries isn’t easy either. Okay, well it is easy, but time consuming. I chose to freeze my berries…so after washing them, drying them, and spreading them out in one layer, on a baking sheet (with edges, always with edges), and waiting about 30 minutes per load to freeze…it took me 7 hours to process all of these babies!

4. Enjoy! The best part about processing the berries was eating them throughout the prepping stage. I may have ate close to a pound, but they were great!

5. Always look for local, chemical free. I’ve learned from research and first hand experience that organic isn’t always the best choice. USDA Organic certification is expensive. Supporting local, chemical-free farms is a better option. So support away!

Just a day later, my mom had me pick up her CSA share as my parents were heading out on vacation. Well, since it was a full share, I had about 12 zucchinis, 6 cloves of garlic, 10 hot peppers, 2 pints of blueberries (like I needed more, but oh, they were eaten!), 5 bundles of greens (kale, swiss chard, and collard), 6 heads of broccoli, and random other stuff I’m forgetting…well what do you do with ALL this food? Pinterest. Pinterest your heart out until you come up with enough ways to use it all before you waste any delicious produce. And what did we Pinterest – Zucchini Pizza. After reading several recipes, I decided to get going…and here’s what happened:

ImageI started with a sauté of garlic, onions, thyme, basil, and oregano in olive oil. After that became aromatic, I added in some red bell peppers and hot peppers. This would be really tasty with mushrooms and/or olives (according to my roommate, I don’t like either). ImageAnd then you add in some meat! If you eat meat, eat “organic“, grass-fed, local meat. We had a delicious sweet Italian sausage from Bear Foot Farms. I supposed you could use a meat substitute, but I don’t really believe in that (a topic for another day). ImageWhile the meat and veggies are cooking…cut your zucchini in half, scoop out the seeds, and microwave them for about 5 minutes at power level 5. So, for the past 4 years, I haven’t had a microwave…and I don’t really think you need one. However, this helped to soften the zucchini so it would cook quicker. I think steaming it could have worked too…but Pinterest said to microwave.

Oh yeah, and preheat that oven to BROIL!ImageAnd then, you start the filling process! I drizzled a little olive oil on the zucchini, then a little bit of tomato sauce…and then I stuffed them full of the meat and veggie goodness, added a little more tomato sauce, and then smothered in parmesan and mozzarella cheeses.

Toss this baking sheet into the oven, on the top rack (or bottom broiler), and keep your eye on it! You want that cheese to be perfectly browned and crispy, but not burnt.ImageMozzarella melts really well, so it is a good way to get that crispness. And who in their right mind doesn’t like crispy cheese???ImageAnd then dig in! Granted, this isn’t the most beautiful looking and easy to eat meal…but my God was it delicious! I think I’ve found a way to replace the pizza I crave. A pretty healthy alternative. And it is perfect to reheat! I wrapped up the leftover boats in tin foil, and brought them to work. Preheated the oven to 350 and let them bake until they were warm! Perfection! And everyone in the office was jealous.

I was thinking about other things you could stuff in there to make it a few times a week…here is what comes to mind:

  • Mexican style – with more hot peppers, black beens, and wild rice – top with some yummy cheese and guacamole! Now that sounds amazing!
  • Greek style – orzo pasta, feta, olives, you get where I’m going…
  • American style – grains, veggies, something plain and simple (we’re boring, get over it).
  • Whatever the hell you want style – fill it with your favorite anything! The spicier the better, as the zucchini soaks up flavor and it is perfect!

I guess I’ve had a pretty good week, filled with yummy, local food. However, I did suffer from a migraine for three days and I’m finally feeling better (which is why this blog is slightly delayed). I’m getting back in to hot yoga and that makes me very happy. After work, I’m heading over to Barnes & Nobles to pick up a edible plant guide. What else, oh yes, I’m participating in a photo-shoot with weekend for a friend’s company, iWooLoo, to empower women of all shapes, sizes, and colors to love themselves and reach self-actualization. This will be interesting. I’ll be practicing posing all day tomorrow!

Coffee…pick me up? Or bad for your health?

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Over this past weekend I heard a “fact” that I just couldn’t believe… Apparently, 6 cups of coffee a day is healthy. I’ve heard that coffee can reduce depression and keep someone from committing suicide… That it can reduce stress… Help with weight loss… And the list goes on and on. Sure, coffee isn’t that bad! There are way worse things we can consume… But coffee may not be that great for your health. It can increase heart rate and anxiety. It does cause dependence… Caffeine is a drug and it is addictive.

However, in our society, coffee (and alcohol) are socially acceptable drugs (I won’t even bring up the prescription drug issue) and many people think that it is okay to consume a pot or two a day. I stick with one cup. I mix my beans – half caf, half decaf. I sometimes use organic half and half… But usually I stick with coconut oil and a splash of vanilla extract.

How do you like your coffee? Do you think it is good for you?

I do know, since I was a barista for a year, that many people order high fat, high carb “coffee” drinks – mochas, frapes, chai lattes, etc. These are NOT healthy! Lots of calories, lots of sugar, lots of unhealthy fats… Just don’t do it!

Just Write. Whatever You Do…Just Write. The Liebster Award.

Over the past few months, I’ve been told, time and time again, that I really need to get serious about my writing. No matter what I talk about, I apparently have a way with words, and have a lot of thoughts, so I gotta start sharing them with the world. Funny how things like this happen, and when you start to really make something a priority, the goodness just starts to rush into your life.

I want to thank one of my follower’s for awarding me with the Liebster Award – I guess it is an award for an up and coming blogger. I really appreciate it! Here’s a link to her blog: http://atspoonoflove.wordpress.com

So, part of this award is to answer 11 questions…here goes!

1 ) Favorite vacation spot of all time: Thus far, in my life, Sun Valley ID is my favorite vacation spot. Perhaps it is because I’ve been going there since I was 6 months old…but between the mountains, rivers, family, and food…I love it! 

2 )  Favorite book and why: That is a hard one…but I’m going to have to go with The Essence of the Bhagavad Gita because well, it changed my life just over 5 years ago. If it wasn’t for that book, I probably wouldn’t still be here today…and when I mean here, I mean alive…because well, it opened my eyes and my heart to feel things that I pushed back, so deep, and never thought I would feel again.
3 )Food tradition you love ? I love toasting to the first sip of your drink at dinner. Over the years, I’ve developed a few MUSTs when it comes to toasting, inspired by friends and travels. You must not toast with water. You must toast on your first sip. You must look each other in the eye when you sip. You both (or more) must sip…not toast and put the glass down. If you break these rules, it is bad luck. Haha. That’s my tradition.
4 ) If you could go to dinner with any 5 famous people (dead or alive) – who? I have to choose 5?? Holy moly…okay, Albert Einstein, Ivan Pavlov, Michael Pollen, Mahatma Gandhi, and Nelson Mandela. We could probably make sustainable living happen and bring peace to the world.
5 ) Favorite cuisine ? Asian fusion. I can’t wait to travel to Southeast Asia! One day!
6 ) House is on fire – family made it out – what is the one thing you grab? My computer. It has loads of documents, from photos over the past 5 years, to 30 page papers, to poetry…I couldn’t let that go. Especially if my family is already safe. 
7 ) Favorite type of chocolate ? Fair-trade, organic, dark chocolate with sea salt and almonds. Or ANY from Confections with Convictions. 
8 ) Favorite beverage ? Water. Iced Masala Chai. Whiskey w/ water and a slice of lemon. 
9 ) Movie you most relate to? Really? I’m supposed to choose one…wow…okay. An indie flick I just watched, TiMER. Because I want to meet my soul mate but it just isn’t my time. 
10 )If you can trade places with a famous person for 24 hours , whom would you pick? Barack Obama. I’d just some shit done in that office. And then I could try to understand why each president fails to live up to their campaign promises. 
11 ) A TV show you love to watch: The Newsroom. images
Thank you, again, for the award. I really appreciate it! Happy blogging, living, eating, and breathing.

Freedom, Farming, & Food.

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Between the ages of 5 and 10, I lived in Virginia. I learned a lot about the Revolutionary War time period and it has always fascinated me. Our founding father’s gave up a lot to give us the freedom that we, so dearly, love today. I remember sitting in history class, in 3rd grade, and hearing the quote, “give me liberty or give me death”, followed by a story about Patrick Henry and how, following this statement given at the Virginia Convention in 1775, was stoned to death. Since that day this quote has been my favorite…and when I was 17, I got it tattooed on me. See above photo for a slightly blurry look – across my shoulder blades. I get a lot of compliments on this tattoo, mostly from people who don’t seem like the “tattooed” type…which leads me into a discussion of freedoms.

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What would you say if I told you that this dessert was partially illegal? And when I mean illegal, I mean…regulatory officers breaking into your home/farm and taking away your supply of milk, your animals, and your livelihood. Lately, there has been a LOT of buzz about our freedoms being taken away, about the government becoming more and more authoritarian…etc. But, I want to ask a question to the audience…how many of you think you should have the right to collect your own rain water? How about drink raw milk? How about fishing for food? Shouldn’t these natural foraging techniques be a freedom, ingrained in our nature? But no…these things are ILLEGAL in most states (unless you have purchased a license, or a cow/goat)…and even then, especially with raw milk, you risk your livelihood to eat the way humans were intended to eat.480196_10200303763977700_1202123370_nThis past Sunday, my mother, sister, her boyfriend, and I went to a farm called the Eater’s Guild (where my mom and sister work, and my family has a CSA share). A beautiful spot to enjoy a Summer Solistice – Pieluck – Square dance. Surrounding yourself with likeminded people kind of lightens the burden of living a lifestyle that is “alternative” in our American society. Our SAD lifestyles has pushed farmers, artisans, pioneers, hunters/gatherers, and the like, to the sidelines…as we continue to build a monoculture of sugar, processed foods, and genetically modified foods.

I ask that we be patriots in our country and promote eating like our ancestors. Appreciate the beauty of the food you eat. Understand where you came from (10,000 years ago, life was worshipped and sacred, in all creatures across the world) and where your food comes from. Be an aware consumer. Support what you believe in. If you are what you eat, do you really want to be cheap, fast, and greasy? I don’t…neither should you.

On another note, I’m in the process of reading a great book: “Eating on the Wild Side” by Jo Robinson (just released in early June!) highlighting a diet that is full of phytonutrients, based upon what our ancestors ate, and avoiding our genetic modifications to make fruits and vegetables less nutritious and more “tasty”. I highly recommend! I will be doing a book report on this, once I finish…with some key points and a cooking/shopping guide to go along – so be on the look out for that.