Goodies aren’t so good. Self control, have you heard of it?

Here, in the US, we are surrounded by junk food all the time. For office parties, cookies, candy, cakes, muffins, donuts, chips, all of those things are presented…and how do we say no? Well, we usually don’t. We usually make up an excuse to yourselves, something like, “well it IS a special occasion…”, or “I’ll only have a little piece”, or “I’ll eat a big salad for dinner and nothing for lunch except this yummy muffin”, or even “well if I have a bowl of fruit, the donut, and a cup of coffee, I’ll feel fine!” but yet, alas, none of these things are good enough.

When we consume sugar, anything over 4 TBLS at a time, we shock our system. Do you get that afternoon drowsiness if you eat a big salad and a cup of homemade soup? Probably not. We have gotten so used to that tired, sluggish feeling, that we’ve forgotten what it is like to NOT feel that way. What would it be like if every time you ate a snack at work it was a fruit or vegetable? Probably a whole lot better.

Now, treats are good. Every so often we should indulge. Shoot, indulge every day if you want to, but make the better choice in your indulgences. Choose the whole foods. Make your own baked goods. Go to a specialty chocolate shop and buy some rich, dark chocolate. Buy fair-trade organic chocolate. Make your own muffins. This way, you’ll know what you’re putting into your body.

Just an hour ago, I was starting to get hungry but wasn’t able to eat my lunch…so I cut myself a slice of a blueberry loaf. I didn’t look at the ingredients, I didn’t want to know. It was from Bob Evans, so I knew enough. I knew that I should have avoided it, made myself a cup of hot tea, and waited until I could sit down and enjoy a meal. But no, I ate it anyways…and the 5 seconds that it lasted, it tasted GOOD. But, well, moments later, I was tired. I started to feel mucus building up. I felt my lymph-nodes swell up. Man, do I want to go to sleep.

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Seems harmless, right? Now turn it around and look at the ingredient list.

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There is nothing wholesome about this treat. Notice the ridiculous amounts of ingredients, including those that I NEVER would use in my kitchen: soybean oil, margarine, mono & diglycerides, sodium benzoate, artificial flavor, modified corn starch, polysorbate 60, xanthan gum. AND I will tell you that my blueberries are just blueberries…not containing soybean oil (TRANS FAT, even though it says 0 grams), artificial flavor, beta carotene for color (orange? doesn’t make sense), soy lecithin, dimethylpolysiloxane (WHAT DID YOU SAY?), and TBHQ. Who in the hell makes this crap? Oh yeah, Bob Evans Farms, INC. I’d like to see this farm…where the blueberries come straight out of chemicals! 500 calories in two slices? Gross.

Why do we give in to temptation if we know the consequences are SO MUCH WORSE than the 5 seconds of yumminess? I don’t know. I do know, however, that if we eat high quality snacks, in between meals, we’ll be able to avoid the temptations of the sweets on the table. Try some of these: http://greatist.com/health/high-protein-snacks-portable/

Some of my favorites include trail mix, smoothies, nut butter boat (ants on a log), and an apple with almond butter. 100 calories of sweets is so small compared to 100 calories from veggies. Maybe I’m just a muncher, but I always want to feel like I’m eating more. So, compare…a plate full of veggies, or one Reese’s cup? I’ll choose the veggies. And who said you have to stop that at 100 calories?

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Yummy.

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Images from FitSugar

What do you do when the temptation is calling from the break room?

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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!

Farmer’s Market Goodies

Yesterday was the 100-Mile Market at the People’s Food Coop. One of my good friends was working her farm’s stand (Butternut Farm) and gave me a little stitched tomato. I also got some sweet corn, redskin potatoes, peaches, garlic, and a plate full of yummy food.

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And I also picked up this awesome book about healing through nutrition. Excited to start learning even more about my passion. Food can change your life. It is up to you to decide if you want health or harm.

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.

 

March Against Monsanto – The Freedom of Assembly

Yesterday marked the first global March Against Monsanto. I stand by our right, in the USA, for the 1st amendment; the freedom of assembly. It is so important that we exercise our rights as citizens in order to take part in our government, our society, our State.969475_10200160052224996_695034048_n

The freedoms which we sometimes take for granted, like the freedom of assembly, the freedom of press. We have the right to stand for what we believe in and to gather with the likeminded. We have the right to share our stories with the world and have mainstream media to portray our grassroots effort as more than just a bunch of tree-hugging health nuts. WE are the voice of the future.

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This group of little guys were just darling. They helped their parents design the signs but really stood by their words. They chanted, marched, and smiled as they carried on with their signs. Sometimes they got so excited and rushed ahead of their parents…but always found their way back.

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Although the above signs are a little radical, they are appropriate. We haven’t seen such extreme birth defects or developments, yet. However, sometimes radical images are a great way to grab people’s attention. I dug it. 946900_10200158495986091_1077501236_n

This is me ^^ hangin out, marching, and taking a turn in front of the camera. I wish I would have had time to make some bigger signs…but well, what can ya do! I’m just happy I was able to make it and experience my first protest. However, I feel that protests should be PRO something instead of ANTI. So I’m PRO-educated consumers…although I am still against Monsanto.983999_10200158492185996_1487102294_n

This is my little sister. I granted her the right to wear my spring into the freedom to farm headband. Yes, I named it…as I needed an excuse to buy it. She made this awesome, heartfelt signs for our march! Isn’t she fierce?970458_10200160049344924_281762322_nI was really excited when I saw the route we were taking – we walked a one-way street heading out towards 131 from 94-business. There were a lot of honks and hollers – but most important was the calming and community feel that this march had. This volunteer was happy to pose for a picture in front of a big GMO commercial “restaurant” – McDonald’s. Gross.

Please remember that your money talks. Spend your money at places and with people you support. Support your local farmers and artisans. Support global companies that are humanitarian, eco-friendly, and are transparent with the consumers. Let our freedom of assembly, our freedom of choice, and our free market determine the fate of Monsanto (and Big Food).