Friday, December 31, 2010
I'm choosing a period of two weeks to start with, as I have about that much time left until I go back to teaching. So I plan on eating meat, eggs, dairy products, with liberal amounts of vegetables and some fruits, but no grains. If I want sweets, they will be minimal, without processed sugar or grains. So no wheat, corn, rice or any other grain to cross my lips. I'm hoping that after two weeks, I will feel the improvement, and reassess my situation.
This coming semester, I will be working 4 days a week instead of two, so I think that as long as I can cook myself breakfasts in the morning (instead of gluten free cereals), I will succeed. I just need to get myself back in the habit of doing that.
I think I can, I think I can, I think I can...
Wednesday, December 1, 2010
On to s510. There's been a lot in the blogosphere about this particular bill, and I know that I am not completely in lockstep with other Traditional Foodies on this issue, so I'm treading carefully here. Let me preface by saying a few things:
- I do think that big, industrial farms NEED to be regulated and inspected carefully, as I feel that we are falling into The Jungle territory.
- I don't think that small family farms should be completely absolved of all regulations, but they need not be onerous, including those for raw milk farms.
- I don't, however, completely trust the FDA to do a good job, but I certainly feel that we can't trust corporatons to do it either, though it seems these days that they might as well be one and the same.
So what do we do? Clearly, something needs to be done. Food products can and do become contaminated, and if stricter controls are in place, I'd feel better about the issue, quite honestly. But I don't want small family farms to be unfairly victimized, which has been the big fear. At least there is the Tester Amendment, which does make it a bit better.
Am I against the bill? I'm really of two minds about it.
Of course,the breaking news is that the bill had fees in it, which is not kosher for the Senate to do and therefore may be held up from becoming law: http://p2.to/14u2
Wednesday, October 27, 2010
Let me start off by saying that I am coming from a Pagan perspective. If that is not yours, that is fine; feel free to read this or not.
At any rate, I believe that Spirit/the Divine runs through all things. Nature is God/dess, all animals and plants are God/dess, and we are God/dess. We are all important in the ecosystem as we all have our roles that we play. As such, I've been thinking that we really need to start saying grace at the table, to give honor for the life and death of the animals and plants that give us nourishment, so that we may continue our lives. We also must give thanks to Mother Earth and Father Sky because without the Mother and Father, our ecosystem wouldn't exist at all; their Divinity permeates everything. We ingest the Divine with every bite. What a gift! We must give our thanks for the sacrifice.
Also, as my husband rightly pointed out, it's not just the animals and plants, but those farmers who work day and night, the butchers who must kill and carve the meat, those who grind the grains; the list goes on. And he also said, he should give thanks to me, or to whoever prepares the meal that goes on the table. I spend a lot of time prepping meals, so this was a nice extra, but really it goes for anyone who cooks.
In my quest for eating ethically and sustainably, I'm appreciating more what FOOD really is. Sacred, fecund and absolutely necessary for survival. FOOD is community as it connects us to everything. So beyond making sure our meat and vegetables are ethically and organically raised, let us continue with the simple act of saying grace.
We thank you for the gift of this food.
We send blessings of peace, love,and release to all whose bodies' energies brought us this nourishment.
We honor you in our enjoyment and utilization of this meal.
May it bring us health and joy, reminding us of our interconnections with all that is.
As we receive, so do we give thanks for this gift.
Taken from the October 7, 2008 post on InkBlot::sharpening my pen
Wednesday, October 20, 2010
On to the Bangers and Mash...I was inspired the other night as I was flipping through OnDemand. I took a look at a show called 5 Ingredient Fix. I figured either it would be promising or awful, but as it was only 23 minutes and FREE, it would be worth taking a look at least.
I have to say, I was impressed. The gimmick of course is that these dishes all take 5 ingredients, without counting salt, pepper, and water. Claire Robinson is a pleasant Southern gal (just a hint of accent), and she truly seems to love food. So anyway, I was interested to see what her take was on the Gastropub scene. I do love comfort food, and being of (partially) English descent, I feel like this is a new take on what my heritage has to offer. So on that episode, she did her take on Bangers and Mash. For some reason, I had NEVER had it before, but I basically knew what it was. Her take was of course very simple. Here's the link to her recipe: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/claire-robinson/bangers-and-mash-recipe/index.html
I thought (and my husband agreed) how great would it be to try it! And the next day, when I picked up my last summer share CSA, I happened to have Savoy cabbage and potatoes. Hence, I went for it.
I did have to make the following changes, based on what I had available. I used Greek lamb sausage, yellow onions, and Grey Poupon (which is not a whole grain mustard). I also made the decision to add butter to the potatoes, but what can I say? I love butter.
I also decided to roast beets and carrots in the oven, with some olive oil, salt and pepper. I felt our dinner needed some color to it, and I had them also in my CSA box, so why not?
My final result is that picture up above. I don't usually make pretty food, but I think I did a good job this time. It sure did taste good, and I can't wait to have leftovers for dinner tonight.
Monday, October 18, 2010
I had posted a comment on their Facebook page that I love them, but that I wish they would stop carrying Coco-Cola products, especially their sodas, as that's not real food, full of HFCS, etc.
It took a couple of days, but they answered me. And it was such an honest answer, too. While I didn't save that answer, the point was that, essentially, they are too scared to alienate their customers. Customers want the Coke, so they carry it. When they feel confident enough to move away from Coke, they will. Apparently, the dd carry some Boylan's soda in their Cambridge store, but it wasn't really selling, so there is some precedent there, I guess.
I don't go there very often as of late because my train leaves too soon after my last class for me to really sit down and enjoy much. But occasionally I have a few minutes, so I like to get a chocolate shake when I have the chance. But I noticed that they make their shakes with skim milk, which I think is rather silly. If people are watching what they eat, they shouldn't be getting a chocolate shake because of the SUGAR. So I said this on their Facebook page: "I continue to love you guys...One suggestion, though, if you want even less processed food, skip the skim milk in the milkshakes! The fat helps us process the fat-soluble Vitamin D in the milk, and it's much closer to real whole food (except coming straight from a pastured cow, of course)."
If b.good is committed to real whole food, like they say they are, I think this is one small step in that direction! So this is how they replied:
"Good call, Heather. Our quest to make fast-food "real' is definitely an evolution and the more we learn, the more "real" we get. Whole milk has been added to our list of stuff to consider. If and when we add it, we'll have you to thank."
So obviously not a commitment to add whole milk, but at least they'll consider it. And them listening to their consumers like this is FANTASTIC! I hope they continue listening!
Wednesday, October 13, 2010
So this is what I did:
1 lb pastured ground beef.
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 torpedo onions, chopped finely
2 cloves of garlic, choped finely
1 tablespoon of Italian Herb Mix, from Penzey's Spices
2 tablespoons almond meal
2 tablespoons parmesan cheese
I mixed all of these ingredients up, formed it into balls, and cooked in olive oil and some tomato sauce. I could have browned them first, but I really wanted the tomato flavor to soak in. The almond meal kept the meatballs from being too sticky, so they kept their shape really nicely! I think it was in the pan for about 12 minutes total, plenty of time to get the pasta cooked!
I'd love to hear some feedback if you try the recipe!
Saturday, October 9, 2010
So the big question is, how did it taste?
The cream cheese was sweet and tangy at the same time with a very smooth texture. My husband declared it to be fantastic-he can be a tough cream cheese customer-so I think that's it. I'm going to make my cream cheese from now on, now that I know it's so easy. Aparently, it's supposed to be good for a month, but I highly doubt it'll last that long.
As for the whey, well, I'm making beet kvass, which is a medicinal drink from Russia. I figured since I had the beets, I might as well. I'm sure I'll find some other uses for the whey, but since that will last up to 6 months, I have time to figure out what I'll do with it.
Friday, October 8, 2010
But there are a few sectors of TF eating that I have yet to embrace. One of them is the world of lactofermentation. But why would I want to do this? We're coming into the colder season, and whey, the main agent here, is a preservative. It would be great to preserve the remaining harvested vegetables for the winter. Not only that, but lactofermentation encourages the growth of good bacteria and enzymes, as well as increases the sheer amounts of vitamins and minerals in the vegetables. This post from the Lost Arts Kitchen gives a fuller explanation that I can give: http://lostartskitchen.blogspot.com/2009/02/lacto-fermentation-ancient-process.html
So back to what I'm doing today. I'm starting with the frst step: making whey. The process I'm using is from Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon. I have two cups of whole plain yogurt (from Jersey cows, who produce a fattier milk, complete with more protein and calcium) being strained over a colander lined with cheesecloth. After a few hours, I'm going to tie up the cheesecloth in such a way that will drip into a glass bottle. Since I've just started it, I don't know how long this first batch will take, but it could take as long as a day or two. But I'll have whey, which will last up to 6 months in my refrigerator. I'll also have my own cream cheese! Who needs Philly cream cheese when I can make it so easily at home! I can't wait to try it!
Part 2 will come when I'm done making it. see you then!
Wednesday, October 6, 2010
When I was trying to go lower fat, I did buy margerine for awhile, though I went for either the Smart Balance or Earth Balance. I often was making vegan dishes, and these were the only alternatives that I knew about. Plus, they don't have hydrogenated oils, so I thought they were okay. And maybe they are...but I'd rather enjoy my butter. It has health benefits that the others just don't, unless these nutrients are added synthetically, which I don't think works as well, honestly.
Good pastured butter (I usually buy Kerrygold or Organic Valley pastured, though I wish I could get local raw butter, which would be even better) is yellow for a reason: Vitamin A. It also will have K2 in it, which helps us utilize vitamins A and D properly. It has CLA, an optimal ratio of Omega3s to Omega6s....it just goes on and on. Does it have saturated fat? Yes, but as I've said before, I'm convinced that saturated fat is not a demon. On the contrary, our bodies need it for so many functions, not least of which helping us metabolize fat-soluble vitamins like A and D.
I still cook vegan food from time to time, but instead of using margerine, I use coconut oil, grapeseed oil, or olive oil, though I'm not a fan of heating the latter that much. Being a monounsaturated fat, I don't want to destroy it by heating it too much, which would ruin the oil by turning it unwittingly into a trans fat. Coconut oil is much more stable and can take the heat, as it were.
So yes, I will continue to use butter in many of my foods. And not only will it taste really delicious, the butter is actually a health food, so it's not something to be feared or thought of as sinful. (Unless of course, you have dairy intolerances, in which case, ghee might work for you! But that's another post.)
I'm joining Kelly the Kitchen Kop's Real Food Wednesdays! You can see it here: http://kellythekitchenkop.com/2010/10/real-food-wednesday-10610.html
Thursday, September 9, 2010
But as I saw this ad again last night, I thought that I really needed to update on here.
It's a Stop N'Shop ad, featuring a woman who reminisces about growing up on a farm and getting all the fresh produce she could want. And she says she thinks about her childhood when she goes shopping in the produce aisle at Stop N' Shop, even continuing a tradition. I wish I had the exact quote, but I don't.
No doubt Stop N' Shop gets its produce from somewhere, presumably farms of a sort. Maybe some of it is even localish. But really, a woman who grew up on a farm thinks she's continuing the tradition of her childhood by going to a supermarket?!? Seriously? How about going to a farmstand or a Farmer's Market? Or, I don't know, growing her own produce in her backyard?
The commercial makes me want to throw things.
Speaking of Farmer's Markets...because my normal one is closed in lieu of Natick Day, I will be headed to the Hopkinton Farmer's Market tomorrow. I haven't been there yet, so I'm wondering who will be there. I'm pretty sure that at least some of the vendors will be familiar.
This post was included in the September Just Posts:
Friday, August 20, 2010
Now I love Chipotle, and I'm so glad that they only serve organic milk, but why oh why does it have to be low-fat? This isn't necessarily Chipotle's fault, but Organic Valley who makes the shelf-stable milk boxes. My point is that if we're so afraid of our kids getting fat, why are we making pre-made chocolate milk? It's the added sugars that are tipping the scales, as it were, and not the milkfat. The milkfat is crucial for the proper absorbtion of the vitamins and minerals, and the brain, being made of mostly saturated fats, needs it to come from our dets, especially in these crucial developing years.
But my guess is that even Organic Valley, who brags about its cows eating fine grasses, listens to the low-fat hype by the USDA. Sigh.
Monday, August 16, 2010
The good parts:
I really appreciate their commitment to small farmers. Their potatoes come from Iowa, but their meat and vegetables are coming from New England. They grind the hamburg, cut the chicken breasts, and form their veggie patties in-house.
b.good has a low-carb option, wherein you can get extra vegetables (broccoli, carrots, and red peppers) instead of a bun for $1.29 extra. If I wanted to, I could get a gluten-free bun. I'm thinking of trying that next time.
The food is absolutely delicious. Evan thinks they use too much salt, but since I really like salt, this doesn't bother me.
The not-so-great parts:
I asked where they get their "local" ice cream, and the server didn't know. Why not proclaim where they get that from? MA has lots of great ice cream, so I was very puzzled as to why I couldn't get a simple answer to a simple question.
Their drinks are distributed by Coca-Cola. With all of their focus on healthy, local food, you'd think that they'd steer away from the normal soda fountain fare. There are so many kinds of sodas that don't have HFCS in them; why not choose some of them?
I do plan on sending my concerns to them, and hope that I can get a reasonable answer. Still, as far as fast food places go, this place isn't bad.
Wednesday, August 4, 2010
So is low-fat the way to go? For awhile there was a huge low-carb craze, with Dr. Atkins and South Beach. I admit to trying South Beach before my wedding, and I lost 9 lbs in two weeks, which was enough to look good in my wedding dress. But that seemed to fizzle out, and low-fat was back in, at least, so it has seemed to me. I couldn't do South Beach again, even though I tried that.
I've tried Weight Watchers, at least in principle, except I didn't go to meetings, and failed miserably. I was always starving. I did Slim-Fast, wherein I lost 60 lbs, but now I yo-yo around the bottom half of that, and could never commit to it again (I tried). What on earth was I doing wrong?
I've flirted with vegetarianism. I never got there completely, but I was eating vegetarian/veg*n about 50% of the time, sometimes more. I thought that maybe if I ate more vegetables and less meat, I would do better weight-wise and be a healthier person. When Evan and I went on vacation, we tried a week-long detox wherein we ate mostly vegan except for an omelet we made one day. Bsides the relaxation, you would have thought I would have lost weight and felt great. Hah! No.
Then I applied for life insurance. Rhea was about 6 months old, and we wanted to be responsible adults. So they sent the nurse to come weigh us and take some blood. But when I got my results, I was floored! My cholesterol was through the roof, and a whole bunch of other things were off too. What on earth was wrong with me? I had been eating healthy in preparation for Rhea's arrival, starting with when we were planning her up until that point. I went to my new PCP, who wanted to test my thyroid, which had been slightly wonky before, but not enough for red flags on the part of MDs. When those results came back, we knew why I was such a mess: my thyroid was failing. Not just a little, mind you. I truly think that if I had waited much longer, I would have gone into a coma from lack of thyroid hormones.
So what happened to me? I'm not entirely sure, but certainly a combo of things. Besides the added stresses to my body and soul in my personal and work life, pregnancy and nursing (the latter still ongoing) take a lot out of a person, and can leave a woman undernourished. And undernourishment can cause a whole host of problems, including a crashing thyroid, I believe. My cholesterol was high because of the crashing thyroid and to support the needs of my daughter during pregnancy and nursing.
Fast forward some time. I'm on thyroid meds, but I'm still not quite there. I did start exploring the idea of Traditional Foods, through a forum on MotheringDotCommunity, the natural parenting website I've been a member of since way before Rhea was conceived. They have influenced quite a bit of my thinking on parenthood, and now diet, too. Anyway, one of the big deals with Traditional Foods is to no longer fear FAT*. I had been drinking skim milk, and using Smart Balance or Earth Balance instead of real butter, and not going too crazy wth the cheese and animal fat (I couldn't give up on chicken skin, though that was a rare indulgence), and I thought I was doing all the right things. Well, I don't think so anymore.
So since I've been embracing Traditional Foods, though I'm definitely still a novice, I've started to feel better. I've lost a little weight, too, though only about 7 lbs thus far, though I defnitely have to watch my grain intake also and keep that to a minimum (a discussion for another post). But here's the crazy part: I use tons of animal fat, and when I'm cooking vegetarian, I use coconut oil and full fat coconut milk. If fat was truly the problem, I should have ballooned by now. But I often have eggs and bacon for breakfast, or full fat Greek yogurt. Mayonnaise often makes appearances, and that's full fat, too. I always eat chicken skin, especially crispy.
Now mind you, I do try to get my meat, milk, and eggs from the best sources I can find. Unfortunately grain fed cows and chickens are not only not optimal from a nutriton standpoint, but their fat is more toxin-filled. I'd like to avoid toxins and support sustainable agriculture. How nice that it all works together so nicely.
The true test will be when I get my cholesterol looked at again. If it goes down, and I've continued to lose weight and feel better, then I will be absolutely thrilled.
*Future posts will cover what kinds of fat I mean. But for now, trans fat (except naturally occuring CLA) and polyunsaturated fats are still not good in my opinion. But saturated fat is not the demon it's made out to be in the media.
Friday, July 16, 2010
Now don't get me wrong, I love soda, though I make sure my sodas are free of high fructose corn syrup, but I have no illusions that even those are healthy for me. They are a treat, and that's that. And I won't deny that I've bought chips from a pharmacy before, as a quick snack when starving. But again, I know damn well they are not health food.
Why do pharmacies sell "food" in the first place? All of it is junky, heavily processed crap that will certainly send those who eat that often to the doctor for RXs for cholesterol, high blood pressure, etc.
Maybe that's the point. Sigh.
Sunday, July 11, 2010
But anyway, I went to the Natick Farmer's Market for a quick spin, and I picked up 2 smoked marinated chicken breasts (all I had to do was heat them, or not...they taste good cold), 1 lb ground grass fed beef, 4 ears of corn, 1 dozen duck eggs, 1 lb potatoes, 1/2 lb chive fromage blanc, 2 heads of broccoli, and a head of red leaf lettuce. Since my CSA pickup is tomorrow, I didn't want to go overboard. Next Saturday I can fill in the blanks easier.
I was amused by the cheese lady (from whom I got the fromage blanc). Apparently she loved my suggestion to her earlier this year that she try the chive fromage with scrambled eggs, and now tells everyone about it. And since we are experimenting with duck eggs this week, she wants to know how I feel about them next time I see her.
And duck eggs! Bigger, fattier, and with more omega-3s than chicken eggs, duck eggs are pretty darn tasty and give more bang for the buck, which is good because they are not cheap! Honestly, I can't tell the difference taste-wise between them and pastured chicken eggs, so I'm very pleased.
I'm updating while my little girl is sleeping off a tummy bug, poor girl, so I should go. Be back soon!
Friday, July 9, 2010
It's nice having a steady supply of vegetables already taken care of, and I appreciate that they are both local and organic. There's this supposed debate about local vs. organic, and every time see something about it, I keep thinking, why not both? I appreciate that food nutrition deteriorates over time, so the closer the better, but I'd still rather not have weird chemical sprays on my food, thank you very much.
But between my two sources, my food comes from closer by, the quality is far better, and I think my food expenses overall are lower. That may have to be a project, though, to track my food expenses and see how it compares to my usual shopping trip to Whole Foods/Trader Joe's. Hmmm, a subject for another post...
and if you're wondering how to find a CSA near you, check out www.localharvest.org
Thursday, July 8, 2010
So why am I an omnivore? If I hate factory-farming, then why do I not just become a vegetarian and be done with it already? For awhile, my husband and I were headed in that direction, although we never did complete the switch, and now we're headed back.
Here are two of those reasons.
1. Animals can be herbivores, omnivores, and carnivores; their diet is based on their physiology and they eat what their instincts tell them to eat. Unless of course, stupid humans force them to eat things they shouldn't, and then their health suffers. So...to whit, human physiology is built to be omnivorous, and I personally believe it's better to eat accordingly on a physiological level.
2. Killing animals for food does not bother me, so much as how it's done. The path of least suffering is best. Not that animals even have those scruples. Ever watch a cat play with its prey before it kills and eats it? Besides, we have to essentially kill plants before we eat those, too. Why should plants be sacrificed before animals? In my personal cosmology, I think we're all the same, and when humans are killed by animals or poisonous plants, it's simply Nature doing Her thing.
So where do my ethics come in here? As I said, I don't want to eat factory-farmed grain-fed livestock slaughtered Goddess-knows-where. I make informed choices about where my meat, eggs, and dairy come from. I'm not perfect about it, but I'm working to get better. I want my chickens to be able to have a happy life, poking and scratching about for worms and grubs. I want cows to live out in the pasture, eating as much grass as they need. I don't want animals injected with growth hormones or antibiotics (unless they're sick and they need it therepeutically), nor do I want them force-fed corn and other grains they can't digest well, and DEFINITELY NOT weird animal by-products and waste. I truly believe that the meat, eggs, and dairy taste better when the animals were treated better in life, and they're better for us health-wise also.
Here are a few few websites I like in this vein:
This won't just be a recipe blog, though I'll have recipes on here. Nor will it be a restaurant blog, though I do enjoy eating out and I'll probably write about some of those experiences. I really want this blog to mostly be about mindful eating, and what issues are involved. I want this blog to invite debate because even if I hold a certain viewpoint, I want to be challenged if I don't have all the information! So please, disagree with me! But back up that dsagreement with information.
To start, I'd like to subdivide mindful eating into three categories: self-responsibility, social responsibility, and environmental responsiblity. They should be fairly self-explanatory, but just in case:
Self-Responsibility: I truly believe that the old adage "You are what you eat" is true. Our health depends on how we nourish our bodies, so clearly, if we don't eat well, our bodies suffer more for it. Now, of course, there are many conflicting ideas on how best to nourish the body, and I do believe that different people have different needs on a physiological level. But basically eating garbage doesn't do anyone any favors, so if we want want to take real control of our health, we need to cut out the garbage. I'll explore garbage vs. real food in later posts.
Social Responsbility: Farmers work hard, and should be compensated fairly in return. Large corporations that employ farmers, however, tend to bully farmers into lousy practices and pay them pittances. This kind of business model serves no one well except for the corporations, and buying from them only makes the situation worse. I hope to explore this topic further with alternatives.
Environmental Responsibility: What kinds of food sources are best for the environment? Local? organic? What is sustainable and what isn't? And why should we care?
Now, who am I to write about food, anyway? What is my background? I'm not a farmer; in fact, I'm lucky that I can keep my bamboo and aloe plants alive. I've been overweight for years and have been trying to figure out the best way to control it. I have hypothyroidism, diagnosed about 6 months after my beautiful daughter was born. But I want CHANGE. I love food, but I want my food to be good not only for me, but to have come through good sources. I want my body to become the healthiest it has ever been, but not through food gotten through ill sources. And I want to pass this legacy on to my daughter.
I will warn my readers that I consider myself an ethical omnivore. I eat meat. I love eating meat, and don't plan to stop any time soon. But I seek out meat that comes from well-treated animals that eat properly as often as I possibly can. Factory-farmed meat doesn't do anyone favors. But I honestly believe that we need animal protein and fats in our diets for optimal health; I know many will disagree with me, and I look forward to that debate! Don't worry, folks, I love my veggies too!
Okay, that's all for now. More posts to come soon. I hope you enjoy this blog, and I look forward to insightful commentary. Let the fun begin!