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.

 

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Chia seeds, back pain, & graduating

I am hurting today. Yesterday, around noon, I just got a horrible migraine and neck ache  I thought it could be from poor diet (a little too much sugar for the past week)…maybe not doing yoga (haven’t been in the studio in a week, but have been doing some at home)…or from staring at this computer screen too much? Not really sure…but I do know that I hurt, my eyes hurt…it hurts to move my eyes in any direction…so that isn’t cool. I was hoping to get a massage before I graduate tomorrow, but both massage therapists that I trust are out of town and my mom is too busy. I may just take an epsom salt bath, drink lots of water, and do some deep breathing and HOPE that it will go away later today or tomorrow morning – as I have a BUSY Saturday and want to enjoy it!

I’ve been trying to work on budgeting and this month, I have spent over $600 on food (half going out, and half on groceries)…so this week, I’ve been attempting to live modestly. My trail mix has been helping – and sales on greek yogurt made breakfast pretty cheap too. As I bought chia seeds and other bulk goodies – I made a yogurt parfait – which was sooo good. It also helps with sweet cravings (because it is sweet)…and also has inspired me to make my own yogurt (which I’ll be doing next week, so be on the look out for that post)!

IMG_6864Base is Chobani Blueberry Greek Yogurt. It was my first time having Chobani (they were on sale at the PFC for 85 cents…so I went for it)…I added some walnuts, slivered almonds, chia seeds, raisins, and granola (from my trail mix recipe in the post below) and then threw a few frozen strawberries (because I didn’t have any fresh fruit) and ate up! It was tasty and once I start making my own yogurt (my mom already does) – I’ll be eating this way more often. Yummm.

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Tomorrow is the day I finally graduate college. After 4 years at Western Michigan University, I’m happy to be a bronco graduating with a Bachelor’s of Arts in Sociology and Organizational Communication (double major), Magna Cum Laude, a member of two honors societies, and a member of a wonderful community. Kalamazoo, Michigan is home to this great university, Kalamazoo College, and KVCC – three great academic opportunities for all types of people (not to mention of Kalamazoo Center for the Healing Arts, and other trade schools). I am looking forward to my opportunities in graduate school and hope that, one day, I am able to teach at a university like WMU.

So needless to say, I’m slightly stressed out and going through some major life changes. I didn’t realize that I was this stressed about graduating – I mean, I’ve been working since I was 16…living alone for a while now, and take pretty good care of myself. But I also, for 4 years, have been writing papers, doing research, going to class, walking around on campus, and enjoying a distraction from the work day – but it is all ending right NOW. All of a sudden, it was April and it was time to complete a 35-page final program design, a final personal analysis, and a 23 minute group presentation. All this while trying to heal my body, focus on my own growth, start working full-time, and coming to terms with the years of relationship turmoil I put myself through.

As this weekend rolls around, I’m doing my best to stay stress free. Deep breathing, eating nutritious food, and laughter are the biggest stress relievers for me. I get stressed with time schedules and budgets – for I’m starting to make some major living decisions and need to budget and schedule showings, etc. On top of my desire to enjoy the beautiful mother nature – I am stuck behind a computer screen for 8 hours a day…and I need to find a way to ensure that it doesn’t drain my energy. But with all this said, I’ve got to head to my parents house for dinner with my grandparents (in town to celebrate me!) and I’m so excited to see them!

Until next time, love yourself & others <3

 

Juicing, Jogging, & Joyful Living

For the past month or so, I have been doing volunteer work at the People’s Food Coop. I attend their cooking classes, take pictures, and tweet about them to help spread the word of these awesome cooking classes and the Can-Do Kitchen. Last night was the Get Juiced! class – where we juiced it up. I had attended this class back in January, when my ex and I were thinking about incorporating a juice bar into his brewery (the juice isn’t happening, but the beer is, and I’m not involved anymore). So, I have memories of going to juice bars as a kid and ALWAYS ordering watermelon and cucumber juice – yum – but I learned that I could probably just make that in a blender…so until I invest in a juicer, I’ll be blending whatever I can.

I’ve done a lot of research on juicers and as soon as I get my housing situation figured out (I’m hoping to own a home by mid-summer) I’m buying the best juicer that I can afford. I’m thinking of this Omega juicer – and maybe, with graduation gifts, I’ll be making that purchase soon! So anyways…here are the juice recipes we made last night:

JuicingRecipesThere were delicious! And they all turned out great – as expected. The class was a small one but had a lot of great energy! I love going in there and meeting new people, who all share something in common: supporting local, eating better, and living a holistic lifestyle. For me, I couldn’t ask for a better opportunity to serve the community. I’m going back tonight to help prep some food for the Annual Owner’s Meeting on Friday! It should be a good time. So, this is what I wore last night, as I thought it may be ironic:

IMG_3626So before this juicing class, but after work, I went on a nice 2 mile run with my best friend. I have been running alone, but it felt good to run with someone else. He definitely kept me motivated and pushed me to do a little sprinting. The teacher of the juicing class is starting to train for a half marathon so we may try to run together. It makes me nervous to think about running with someone that has so much experience but…I wouldn’t mind trying to run a half marathon next year – that would be an epic goal! Also…after the run yesterday, we did a good 1/2 mile walk cool down and a little stretching – but not as much as I usually do…and I can feel it today. I’m definitely going to have to do some nice yoga stretches throughout the day so I can get back out there tomorrow!

After our run, I heated up some of my chicken broth and some matzoh balls – yumm – and I could eat this every day. It is such a comfort food but also full of nutrients – just add a big salad and it is the perfect dinner! My soup was smiling at me, and I smiled right back at it, and smiled inward to my soul.

IMG_3619So cute :) and delicious – I think what made these matzoh balls to flavorful was that I used chicken fat as my oil, instead of olive oil. I also added some dried basic and thyme to the mixture – so those herbs help boost the flavor.

Let’s see…what else is going on in my life? I quit smoking cigarettes, after…wow…7 years of light/moderate smoking…I’ll share this story quickly. I tried my first cigarette as a freshman in high school. A friend told me that if I didn’t try it, she’d kick me out of her house…so I caved and tried it – and it was DISGUSTING. But a few months later, and after all my friends started smoking, I just picked up the habit. I was never really “addicted” – I never smoked at work, or at breaks from school (even once I got to college) – it was mostly just when I drove or when I was around my friends…but still, any smoking has consequences on the body. So, for years, I said that I was going to quit by the time I graduated college and I’ve lived up to the goal (and I’m early)! I quit smoking in February and, as of TODAY, haven’t smoked a cigarette in 8 weeks! I’m feeling great and don’t even crave them anymore. The first few weeks after quitting, I had a pretty bad cough and lots of phlegm  That has settled down, but since I was congested last week, I feel like this cleanse is pushing out the rest of those toxins from smoking – as I’m still having some phlegm (but now it is clear, instead of dark brown). Studies show that after 12 weeks, your lungs heal themselves and go back to the healthy tissue of a non-smoker – so I’m 4 weeks away, and maybe then I’ll be running like a pro…either way, I’m happy I quit, and I will NEVER again smoke a cigarette.

I’m on Day 19 of the Bepure Cleanse and I’m feeling pretty good! I could have used a lot more sleep last night, got about 7 1/2 hours – but I feel like I could sleep all day long. Maybe it is the rainy/dreary weather? Perhaps. I’ve got class after work, before more volunteering at the PFC…so I hope I can get some energy before the rest of my long day drags and after doing some cooking at the coop, I’ll be joining a few lovely ladies for some wine at my favorite Wednesday restaurant – Webster’s (they have a blog too!).

Until next time, stay pure, stay happy, and love everyone, especially yourself. <3

 

 

Chicken Stock, Chilly Days, & Cleansing

Well, today is Day 17 of my spring cleanse and I’m feeling much better! Last week, I had a case of the sniffles…and congestion, and well…it sucked. I don’t get sick often, but I also feel like the cleanse may have been pushing toxins out of my body – and they came out in the form of mucus and nasal congestion. I didn’t have a cough, fever, fatigue, or anything else that usually comes along with colds/flu. So, I took care of myself and made some homemade chicken stock (I’ll show you my recipe and a few photos further into this post).

I hate to admit this, but I’m going to…I haven’t been as dedicated to a strict cleansing diet, such as my diet last year, and I have a few reasons for this. Last year, when I did the Bepure cleanse, I made a HUGE diet change, but since then, my diet has kept pretty clean so I didn’t feel like I had major changes to make. Sure, I cut out caffeine, processed foods, most added sugar, and white bread – but it wasn’t that hard for me, because I try to keep those things out of my diet anyways. Sometimes I have a white bun on a cheeseburger, but I only eat at restaurants that use organic and/or local ingredients – so we’re talking high quality whole foods – which is my diet. However, I do think that I could have done a little more – perhaps go completely vegetarian during the cleanse – but in my little kitchen, with my busy schedule, I didn’t have as much time and space to prepare, as I wish I would have. So, even though my diet didn’t change a ton (okay, I’ve had a little dark chocolate…but it was fair trade and organic) I’m still feeling great about the cleansing experience and I hope you did too!

Late last week, maybe Thursday, but maybe Friday, I talked to one of Universal Formulas’ customers about her cleansing diet. She was asking what I recommend, what I cut out, and how hard is it…so of course, I’m honest. It can be very hard to cut out things that we have been consuming for years and years. Soda, candy, white flour, and caffeine are the hardest. Not only are these so prevalent in our society, but they are also addictive. It is hard to avoid something that EVERYWHERE you go, you are surrounded by. I’ll share my personal story about this:

Saturday night, I stayed at my parents house. Now, my parents have always instilled in me the idea of holistic living, preventative health, and support local foods. You can read about that in my other blog posts…but Saturday was a different story. My parents got home late on Friday from a vacation and just planned on lounging around the house and watching the Michigan game on Saturday (Go BLUE!!!) so I decided to stay out there and hang out with them. My mom and I went to the local grocery store together and I had a hard time finding ANYTHING to eat. I settled on some sugar snap peas, a kiwi, a grapefruit, and some horseradish to go on matzoh. Nothing was available organic but I caved because I was hungry, and my mom wasn’t making anything more diet friendly. When we were checking out, my mom said she was so proud of me for not giving in to the aisles and aisles of crappy food that I could have chosen ..but I didn’t, because I feel better when I eat healthy – so healthy eating is my lifestyle…this isn’t a diet.

Which brings me back to my discussion with this customer…I reminded her that it isn’t about what CAN’T have, or DON’T need, it is about what you CAN have and what you DO need. Every person in this entire world NEEDS nutrients. So make cleansing about what you are adding into your diet, what you are getting more of, instead of focusing on what you can’t have – and I PROMISE that it will make life easier.

So, back to my chicken stock exploration. So I was reminded of my first error this morning – I forgot to add apple cider vinegar to the stock – which helps to leach out nutrients…so I’ll definitely be adding that next time. Here are my steps: buy a local, whole 2 1/2 lb chicken (I got Otto’s chicken at $1.49/lb from the People’s Food Coop) and cut it up – it doesn’t have to be super pretty, because, well it is getting cooked and only the meat is taken off the bone, so you aren’t actually serving the chicken on the bone or in certain cuts.

After you get it cut up, add all the chicken parts (especially the neck and feet, but mine didn’t come with the feet) into a stock pot and fill with water. I covered the chicken with water, and added about 4 cups more (okay, I didn’t measure, I just poured it in until I thought it was enough) and then I added some celery stocks and tops (the tops are the most important, so every time you get celery, keep the leaves for your next stock!), a red onion (I used red because I don’t really like onion, and thought it may help make the stock pretty), a few carrots, salt & pepper, and a sprig of parsley. I kept it pretty simple – as you can add a lot more of things, especially herbs, but for my first time, I thought simple was best. So here is what my stock pot was filled with:

IMG_6817Then, the next step is to bring the stock to a boil – which took about 35 minutes, and then skim off the foamy/frothy stuff on the topIMG_6823

…and then to turn back down to simmer for as long as you want – I did this for about 8 hours. So, quickly, let me explain what simmering is (because I just thought it meant a low heat) but it is about a gradual reduction in your burner heat, leaving a small, boiling stream in the center of the pan. So, after it is boiling, reduce the heat a little, and then a little more, and a little more, until you barely have a flame, but you still have those little boiling bubbles in the center (took me about 15 minutes of temperature adjusting to get to a simmer). So simmer away and start to notice the comforting aroma of chicken soup surround your kitchen (and my house, because my apartment is so tiny).

After you’ve let it cook however long you want, drain out the liquid into appropriate bowls/containers (glass for your fridge, good and BPA free plastic for the freezer). I actually made more than expected and had to run to the store to get more containers as my fridge is now overflowing with homemade chicken stock. I bought some Made in the USA, freezer safe, and BPA free large plastic storage containers – so I’ll be freezing a good amount, and keeping little jar full in my fridge (giving some to friends, some will be used for matzoh ball soup that I’m making after work today).

IMG_6836At the bottom of the stock pot, you’ll have all the non liquid ingredients left – so your cooked chicken, some mushy celery/carrots/onions. So, now it is time to save this chicken meat. Literally, it FALLS OFF THE BONE. And it is so juicy and tasty that I just wanted to eat it all right away. But, after discussion with my mom, I’m going to make some enchiladas and freeze them for quick meals (I’ll share when I get around to doing that) and freeze some shredded meat for anything in the future, as well as make some chicken noodle soup and freeze it. So I think my chicken meat will fill many empty stomachs in the near future, and remember this was all for $1.49/lb.

IMG_6832Which brings me to my next point…I will, NEVER again, buy boneless, skinless chicken breasts. Yes, they are easy to prepare but they are EXPENSIVE. Clocking in around $6.50/lb for a good quality, local chicken breast – I just can’t do it. From now on, if I want chicken, I’ll be buying the whole chicken, cutting out the breasts to use for whatever reason, or just making this stock and keep the shredded chicken for whatever I want. Also, you can roast the whole chicken, eat it, and then use the bones and extras for making a stock (fewer nutrients, but still a great way to use as much of the chicken as you can)! So, in other words, if you are afraid of using a whole chicken, just do it! It is so worth it and I’m excited to make my matzoh ball soup tonight and give some stock to friends. Also, I will never buy canned soup or boxed broth again. Here is to eating healthy, supporting local, and being economical!

Now, as I finish up the last week of cleansing, I add in the Restore formula – and rebalance my digestive system. I’ll continue without caffeine, sugar, and processed foods (and will continue with that even after the cleanse). I hadn’t done yoga in the studio last week, as I don’t think it would be a pretty sight with a runny nose (or easy to do yoga breathing, using your nose for inhales and exhales) but I’m feeling better and will be attending tonight – I can’t wait! You know something is an important part of your daily routine if you really miss it when you aren’t practicing, and oh, I miss it. Running is going well – so I’m keeping up with that and hopefully will have some updates later on about races I ran, or major milestones I hit! Currently, I’m running just over a 10 minute mile – averaging about 2.5 miles per run – so a drastic increase is up and coming, I can feel it!

Until next time – stay pure <3

April, Adrenaline, & a Lovely Afternoon!

Today is Day 11 of the Bepure cleanse and I’m feeling pretty good! I was traveling this past weekend, to celebrate Passover with my family in Washington, D.C. Normally, I do really well with traveling, but I was a little more tired than usual and got a good 10 hours of sleep last night. I woke up this morning and started my day with some oatmeal and an apple…of course, after my Bepure morning formulation with a glass of water with lime juice.

I just finished my lunch – containing a delicious salad with mixed greens from a local farm, orange peppers, carrots, cucumbers, sunflower seeds, and Organic Goddess dressing, along with a tuna sandwich. I have never been a fan of mayo, so my tuna is plain – sometimes with a little lemon and pepper…but I really enjoy it on toasted bread (Ezekiel) with a little bit of butter. This lunch was delicious and filling! Yay!

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I’m feeling slightly under the weather, not sure if it is from traveling and not getting much sleep on Saturday (my cousins dragged me out to the bar, and I had one whiskey drink with water and lemon, and stayed up pretty late dancing with my cousins). I took some Vitamin D3, Quint-Essence, Mag/Cal, and Tracite with my breakfast – so hopefully that’ll boost my immune system and keep me from getting sick. I’ll have to pick up a bottle of Vitamin C, as I’m out but I’ll be making a green smoothie for an afternoon snack and hopefully that’ll help pack in some Vitamin C.

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So, aside from traveling, being a little tired, and welcoming April with a FREEZING cold day…my cleanse is going very well!  My skin is looking a lot better than it had in most of March. I had a pretty bad breakout the 2nd week of March and it is finally starting to clear up. I’m needing more sleep than usual, but am waking up bright-eyed and bushy-tailed – so that is good! I kept up with my workout routine while on vacation, with running and doing yoga at home, most days. I got back in the yoga studio last night and it kicked my butt! I was really hot, and combining that with being slightly under the weather, my body was feeling it!

 

After yoga, I went to my parent’s house to do some laundry and have dinner with my best friend and her son. We made some gluten-free pasta with olive oil and a little parmesan cheese, sautéed green beans, and broiled salmon. I love broiled salmon – last night I made it with rosemary, lemon juice, and olive oil. Over the past year, I have really cut down on my intake of fish and seafood, due to the issues with sustainability…but a local grocery store carries salmon from Scotland, that is environmentally friendly farmed salmon (a little pricier, but so worth it)!

While on vacation, I really enjoyed my jogs. It felt great to get outside, breathe in the fresh air, and feel that adrenaline rushing through my body after I did something I have NEVER done before – run for a long period of time! Okay, now long to me isn’t long to everyone, so I ran 4 miles in about 40 minutes – which I thought was great! I’m hoping to keep up this routine and run a 5K by the beginning of summer – wooo! Running in a pretty area (like Rock Creek Park in Washington, D.C.) makes it easier. I found an app that I really like – MapMyFitness – which uses GPS to track your route, your pace, and your distance, all while running – and then calculates your calories burned, etc…all stores into your phone for easy viewing, and sharing (if you want). I think it is a huge help!

Well that is my quick update as we head into the 2nd week of the cleanse. How are you feeling? Let me know if you have any questions, concerns, suggestions, or feedback – I’d love to hear from you!

Until next time, stay pure!