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Posts Tagged ‘organic’

I woke up with so many things on my mind today, things related to this blog and the reasons I started it, that I just had to share. 

On the food front, I am still very much guzzling the purple kool-aid of the organic “real food” movement.   There is a difference between organic and non-organic food, and I think it’s important to avoid chemicals, hormones and other awful things in food.   I think the thing that makes it hard for people to embrace the “bad food” idea is that nothing bad happens to you immediately when you eat bad food.  Any ill effects will be later in life, like cancers.  And since you can’t point to it and say “Oh, I got that pancreatic cancer from eating _______ for 10 years,” then it just goes on and on.   A friend of mine (to whom I’ve been talking about bad food for six months) said a couple of weeks ago (about some food evils), “This is really bad, these companies need to be held responsible, the government should be involved, people need to be told what’s going on!”  And then I told him, people ARE being told what’s going on.  But until having a healthy dinner becomes more important than getting to the kid’s soccer practice on time, no one will care.  And then he said “No, I mean they need to REALLY be told, it needs to be all over the evening news and in the papers.”  Well, guess what?  It is!   All of the bad meat stories, e-coli stories, food recalls, health issues, good documentaries, websites, groups — how many times and ways do people need to be told something before they HEAR the information?   So then we concluded it does come down to taking care of your own family and conscious purchases/lifestyle.  When enough people are doing that, then it becomes a real movement and creates real change.

So, I continue to beat my friends over the head on Facebook and Twitter, and use my dollars to vote at the checkout stand – my small way of trying to make change.  

A fun thing I’m getting to do this week is to revamp a friend’s pantry.  He’s finding it complicated to sort out his diet, and I’ve accepted the challenge.  So I first assessed what he normally buys for home, and I’m going to have him replace his unhealthy choices with healthy ones as he needs to restock.  I’m pretty excited about it for a couple of reasons:  I can blog about it and help others do the same thing with their food, and it helps me document exactly how I eat.  I’ll end up with a very good view of my exact food choices, something I’ve sort of internalized lately as it has become habit.

On the fitness front, I’ve joined a gym with a friend where I do stationary bike, rowing machine, a couple of arm machines, and a crunch machine that is KILLER.  It’s a pay-as-you-go place, perfect for me when I just don’t want to work out at home or outdoors.  I’m also still walking, my usual five mile walk a few times a week.  I bought a Jillian Michaels 30 Day Shred dvd and it punishes me regularly.

I have also signed up for a couple of challenges through Twitter this month, both for dieting and losing weight, to try to keep on track for a month at a time.  Here’s what I’ve learned from that:  if I think someone else is making me do something, or even paying attention to my success at all, I won’t do it.  It’s a personal flaw, seems like.  So, while I have slowly lost a few pounds, and while I am weighing on the scale more often which I think is a good thing, I think I am more successful when left to self-monitor and not report to anyone. 

Which leads me to my next idea:  I think I am reverting to only fruits and vegetables for the next seven days.  Those of you paying any attention to me at all will remember I’ve done this before.  My reasons are 1) it’s easy to remember what to eat and grab whatever I want, whenever   2) I get plenty of nutrition, while eating no wasteful calories  3) I LOVE fruits and vegetables, and I care less for grains and nuts and legumes.  I have always been a bit of a hobbyist dieter, and evidently if I’m not manipulating, restricting, or otherwise jumping through some kind of food hoops, I’m not happy.  This will keep me entertained for a while, and I hopefully will see some quicker weight loss.  I only want to lose around 10 to 15 pounds, and you would think that would be the easiest thing in the world to do, but as I add muscle (just go along with it) my weight has reached a true plateau.  So seven days of fruits and veggies it is!

And lastly, please friends, do everything you can to be more GREEN.  Cut back on packaged products, try to use recyclable packaging, no plastic, and use responsible home and body cleansers.  Bicycle and walk places with your friends and families.  Buy local food to save on the transportation energy usage.  Read, read, read online about being green and really implement the things you read about.   The environment is not outside of us, it IS us. 

And now I bid you adieu – I’ll be back in two weeks to pick up my regular blogging schedule.  I hope you and yours are well.  Big hugs to you all!

(Forgive any typos or nonsense, I’m on an 8″ netbook in a very cold coffee shop. )

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I played around on a web project too long today and found myself starving and shaky with no plans for dinner.   I was thinking about pasta, but when I saw a couple of different kinds already open in the kitchen, I didn’t want to open a new box.   So I threw some water on to boil, with plans to blend some shells and thin spaghetti, and top it with a concoction of leftovers.

I had on hand a half zucchini, a can of black beans, and a half jar of pasta sauce. I also had some apples from my friend Lise’s tree, which would make a perfect dessert.

While the water was boiling I peeled the apples, but left them on the core.   Then I put them into a bowl and drizzled vanilla extract over them, sprinkled nutmeg and cinnamon on them, then shook a couple of spoonsful of raw sugar over the bowl.   I popped those into the microwave for three minutes.

While the apples cooked, I sliced the half zucchini onto a plate, along with a couple cloves of prechopped garlic from a jar, dried oregano and basil, and some cracked pepper and sea salt.   I set that aside until the microwave was available again.

Once the water was boiling, I put both pastas into the water.   When the apples were done, I put the zucchini dish into the microwave for three minutes, too.   I opened a can of black beans and rinsed and drained it.   Once the pasta was done, it was drained and added back to the pan, along with some olive oil, which I then tossed it in.   I added one can of black beans, and 1/2 jar of pasta sauce to the noodles and tossed.   By then the zucchini was finished microwaving and I sat down to have my delicious hot meal that didn’t take more than 15 minutes to make!

Every thing I used in the meal was organic.   The noodles and beans were from Eden Organic, the spices, herbs and pasta sauce were Archer Farms.  You gotta love that. 

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Wow!  I can’t believe how busy I have been.  I’m working on a couple of other web projects and recipes and gardening — life just gets in the way sometimes, doesn’t it?

I cooked something new the other day: rice pasta.  This was the first time I had tried it;  I used the angel hair pasta and I like it!  It’s a bit tricky on the cooking time – my box said 5 to 7 minutes, and I went a bit longer, which made it too soft.  I cooked more later and stopped right at 8 minutes and it was just right.  The water turns opaque white, so don’t be alarmed.   The rice pasta doesn’t have the usual pasta flavors we are used to –  it doesn’t taste like a wheat noodle, maybe closer to the lack of flavor of a white flour pasta, but with it’s own rice flavor.  I like them — I’ll continue to buy them.  I’m still using up my farmer’s market veggie finds, too!  Here’s what I made:

Rice Pasta with Zucchini, Patty Squash & Kidney Beans

olive oil
1/2 zucchini
1/2 yellow patty squash
1/4 large white onion
1 clove garlic
cracked black pepper
1/2 can stewed tomatoes
1/2 cup organic pasta sauce
cinnamon
rice pasta – angel hair spaghetti
1/2 can kidney beans

Start your water boiling for the rice pasta.  Chop the onion and slice the squashes, then saute along with garlic and cracked pepper in olive oil until vegetables are browning slightly.  In the meantime, add pasta to water and cook the recommended time, rinse with cold water.  Return the pasta to the pan and add the kidney beans to it;  stir slightly to mix.   To the vegetable saute add 1/2 can stewed tomatoes, 1/2 cup pasta sauce, and a dash of cinnamon (or two).    Stir until heated through.  Put drained pasta with beans onto a plate and top with some of the cooked mixture.   It’s delicious! 

I always use organic ingredients, but the choice is yours. 

If you haven’t discovered glass storage containers yet, have a look at the small one in the photos below.  It measures about 3 x 4 x 4 inches and is so handy for storing canned foods when I only use a portion of the can’s contents.  These containers come in all sizes, but I have been using this small size every day to put stuff in my fridge. 

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THIS PAST WEEKEND HAS BEEN busy and has spilled over into this new week, starting with a trip to the nearby Moore’s Farmers Market on Thursday.  My friend Marcie lives up there and she took me around to introduce me to some of her new farmer friends.  I had a great time!  I also came away with some good zucchini, other types of squash, and onions.   I love the freshness of the food just brought in from someone’s farm!    Two of the farmers gave me info on their farms, which are open to the public — I can’t wait to go visit.  An Oklahoma winery was also set up there, and I grabbed their info on the way out, for yet another field trip. 

After some quick planning, I managed to get my act together for planting some vegetables and herbs.  I had my beds all prepared, but no plants.   I made a quick run to the local Lowe’s and grabbed a thyme plant, rosemary plant, and organic seeds for two types of tomatoes, two types of lettuce, bell peppers, and basil (omg I love basil).   Yesterday I got the plants into the beds, and all of the seed into trays.  (Side note:  Lowe’s also has a couple of different organic soils.)   The lettuce seed is unplanted as of yet, since it is sown directly outdoors and just sprinkled with soil.  We had a gully washer today, and I didn’t want my little babies washed away.   I’ll likely spread the lettuce seed tomorrow.    Once I get the plants hardy enough to move outdoors, I want to fill in spaces with plants that attract bees and butterflies.  I’ve posted a lot of good gardening links for homemade bug sprays and other things on my facebook page. I hope you can have a look and “Like” the page.

I took Sunday to begin planning a good schedule for this blog, and I am working on some ideas for a couple of new blogs (can’t wait!)  Tomorrow will be one more day of planning, and then food shopping, before I get back into the full swing of things. 

Tonight I threw together this soup for dinner:

Lisa’s Farmer’s Market Soup

32 oz. organic vegetable broth

1 cup broccoli heads

1 1/2 medium zucchini, sliced

2 carrots, sliced

1/4 white onion, chopped

1 cup cooked whole grain brown rice

Cracked black pepper & thyme to taste

Cook the rice ahead and put aside (check package, can take 45 minutes to an hour).  Into a saucepan or skillet, pour broth and add all  vegetables.  Add pepper and thyme,  and bring to boil until carrots are softened.    Stir in the cooked rice and serve hot.

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This is part of turning 50 - juggling glasses (AND I wear contacts)

I HAVE HAD A VERY INTERESTING 3 months.   What a ride!  I started out on a diet and exercise plan and have ended up mostly vegetarian, almost vegan and raw, and completely wrapped up in agriculture, organics and going green.  But like a friend said who was at my house for a viewing of Food, Inc., one thing leads to another and another and before long, here you are. 

I am so glad I started this “get healthy by 50” plan as early as I did.   A slow evolution takes place on the road to health.   I have so many aspects I want to control along the diet/exercise/healthy living spectrum.   Just the eating and food aspect has taken up most of my time so far.  Only in the last couple of weeks have I truly started to exercise regularly.  I’m still wondering where my diet will end up, as I work my way through foods that make me feel good and are beneficial. 

Right now I eat vegetables, fruits, beans, and nuts.    I don’t eat anything processed (if I do I guarantee it has few ingredients and only good stuff)  unless it’s a whole grain organic product, and grains are proving difficult for me, even though an occasional whole grain pasta is very satisfying.   I eat oatmeal with maples syrup and cinnamon.   And I eat eggs every morning.  That will never change – I love my eggs, they give me strength.  I don’t use any butter.  I eat vegetables plain and the flavors are so good!  I do eat organic chocolate occasionally, peanut butter, apple butter, and juices.    Lately I’ve tried some very high quality canned tuna and canned salmon.  When I eat out, I make concessions but I try very hard to be true to myself, knowing my body won’t react favorably to most restaurant processed foods. 

Lifestyle changes in the kitchen have been the result of reading about food contaminants such as plastics and BPA.  So I eliminated plastic from the kitchen, removing plastic cooking utensils and buying things in glass containers.  I stopped drinking water bottled in plastic and buy it bottled in glass.   We have high levels of arsenic in the water where I live, so the water is a concern.  

I stopped drinking diet coke, totally and permanently.  I still drink coffee in the morning, but not every morning.  I use evaporated cane sugar in my coffee and vanilla almond milk.  I also drink hot tea with honey or iced tea unsweetened.  I can’t give up caffeine — it’s my drug.  My brain goes crazy when I can’t have it. 

Exercise:  I walk an hour every two days.  I plan on increasing that to an hour every day (starting today? lol).   I want to get back to biking by the end of the year – love it.  Can’t wait to go on some long rides.  I used to do around 18 miles a trip, three times a week.  And that wasn’t even really pushing myself too much.  I look forward to being back at that level and maybe beyond.    I also found a good gym to go to, and that’s next on the list.  I think it’s important to keep the options open for variety.  I get bored soooo easily.  I hate routine.

This summer I want to grow food on my patio.  In fact, I need to get that going this weekend.  I’m going to go visit some gardens of friends and family for inspiration.  Naturally, I’ll share with you what I find.  I’m already behind for gardening here in Oklahoma, but it IS only April, for Pete’s sake.  I think I can still grow a tomato by October. 

I guess that’s about it on the update.  Not much to talk about — just living.  It takes a lot of planning and a lot of thought in the beginning,  but I enjoy making these changes.  I do feel better, I sleep better and I have more energy.   So, the odds are good for me reaching a great level of health by 50, but I do have 11 whole months to go . . . I could snap any minute.  We’ll see.

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UNTIL A FEW MINUTES AGO, kale was totally alien to me.   I’ve been wanting to try it, but wasn’t sure what to do with it.  But my Aunt Karen has sent me down the right path — I copied the way she and my Uncle Bob prepare their kale and it’s great!   

Now that I’ve eaten it, I really like the flavor of kale, to me it tastes a lot like a broccoli/cabbage combo.   The leaves are firm when you chew them, like cabbage, maybe a bit more firm.    So here’s your Meatless Monday recipe from me (and Karen and Bob):

Boil the leaves of the kale in shallow water, until they are bright green.  I only made one serving and I used about six leaves.  Since I used purple kale it was hard to cook by color, so I went by smell.  When I started smelling the kale and it was softer to a fork pierce, I drained the water off.  In the meantime, I was sauteing red and green bell peppers in some olive oil.  Once the kale was ready, I cut the leaves into smaller pieces and tossed them into the bell peppers, still on the stove.    I know I won’t have any problems just eating kale steamed or boiled, on its own.  And I’m glad I finally tried it!!   

(Oh!  Forgot to say, Karen drizzles hers with vinegar — I had mine without and it was just great)

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I ALSO COOKED JAMIE OLIVER’S Creamy Asparagus Soup today.  My house smells so onion-y and asparagus-y.  

My favorite cooking aroma, always, is the smell of onions, celery, and pepper sauteing in a pan.  That’s how this recipe starts, so right away you know it’s good.  Here’s what you need to get started:

Two bunches of asparagus

1 large white onion

3 stalks of celery (I added one to Jamie’s recipe)

2 leeks

Vegetable stock or broth

Chop the celery (I remove the threads), leeks and onion, put into a large skillet, drizzle with olive oil and saute until soft but not browning.  I cooked mine on very low heat to prevent carmelization.  In the meantime, cut the tips off of your asparagus stalks and cut up the stalks.  I only use a little less than the top half of the stalk, you do what you want.  My rule is if the knife meets resistance when cutting the asparagus, I’ve gone too far.  

I ended up with about three cups of stalk, and one cup of asparagus tips.   After the onions have cooked about 10 minutes, add the asparagus stalks to the pan and pour vegetable broth over to cover.  I used a 32 ounce box of broth.  Cover and simmer 20 minutes with the lid on to soften the asparagus.  Spoon the mixture into a blender and puree.  Season lightly with salt and pepper to taste.  I always salt and pepper my onions when they are cooking, so I didn’t add any addition salt or pepper at this point. 

Return the puree to the pan, add in the asparagus tips and boil 10 minutes until the tips are soft.  I covered the pan and let it simmer 10 minutes before the tips were soft enough.   Serve hot – Jamie serves his with toast and poached eggs.   This is a delicious soup.  I know I’ll make it time and time again.

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