Wednesday, November 30, 2011

SUPERFOOD: Mushrooms

We Americans are lagging behind Asia in our understanding and usage of mushrooms as a healing super food. Many people are turned off my them because they are a fungi, however due to the way that they function in the breakdown of organic matter, they actually absorb from the earth many different vitamins and minerals. In addition they contain many other phytonutrients (cancer fighting agents) and antioxidants. Mushrooms are now believed to help…

  • Support immune function
  • Promote normal cellular growth
  • Protect against environmental stressors
  • Support your body’s normal detoxification process
  • Preserve cellular structure
  • Support healthy gut flora
  • Promote optimal digestion (Source)

I am personally grossed out by them in their raw form because I don't really like the spongy dry texture, however when they are cooked they can transform into so many different dishes. I put them in:
  • Stir-fry Vegetables
  • Stuffing
  • Soups & Stews
  • Quiche
  • Creamy Pasta Sauces
  • Stuffed in Chicken
  • Rice Dishes
  • Stuffed Mushrooms
  • Grilled Portobello Sandwich
Here are some tips when cooking mushrooms: 
  • In most cooked recipes, different varieties of mushrooms may be used interchangeably.
  • To reconstitute dried mushrooms, cover with warm liquid (water, broth, wine, etc.) and let sit at least 30 minutes. Drain, rinse, and blot on paper towels.
  • The liquid used to reconstitute dried mushrooms makes a flavorful addition to soups, stews, and stocks. Strain the liquid through a double thickness of cheesecloth or a clean, un-printed paper towel before using.
  • For easy marinated mushrooms, cover cleaned button mushrooms with your favorite vinaigrette or sauce, cover and refrigerate for 2 days.
  • An egg-slicer makes quick work of slicing mushrooms into uniform pieces.
  • Cut edges of mushrooms will turn dark when exposed to air. When they will be served raw, cut just before serving or wipe the cut edges with lemon juice.
  • Mushroom powder can easily be made by grinding dried mushrooms in a spice or coffee grinder, food processor, or heavy-duty blender. Use to flavor soups, stews, stocks, dips, and sauces.
  • Avoid aluminum pans when cooking light-colored mushrooms. The aluminum will discolor the mushrooms.
  • Since mushrooms contain so much water, no additional liquid is needed when cooking them in a microwave. Do not cover.
  • Don't throw away mushroom stems. Trim and freeze them to use in soups and stocks. (Source)
Are you afraid of or grossed out by mushrooms? 

Word Up Wednesday Giveaway

Ok people. It's time to take it up a notch. It's been a few months since I started writing this blog and it is time to start giving free stuff away so that I can get you to post comments. And since Christmas is coming, I'm sure everyone would love to get something for free.

Just kidding, I'm not giving away soup.
SO starting today, each Wednesday in December I will be looking for my favorite comment. That means if you make a comment on any of my posts (new or old) you will be in the running for one of my free giveaways. The winning comment this week will be based on any of the following:
  • creativity
  • the use of thyme
  • makes me laugh
  • teaches me something
The first winner will be chosen next Tuesday 12/6 at 10pm. SO it give some thought and get a little creative with your words. Get it? GOOD! The first winner will receive...
$20 to Whole Foods

The FINE PRINT: Unless stated, I am paying for the giveaway prizes. The Word Up Wednesday Giveaway will run from 9am Wednesday to 10pm the following Tuesday in the month of December. Each winner will be announced Tuesday evenings around 10pm. The winner will be contacted via email. If you use "Anonymous" on the post I cannot award you the prize (for obvious reasons)- so use your name and make sure to leave  your email address somewhere in the post so I can contact you. Posts on Facebook & Twitter do not count. Good luck! 

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

WATCH OUT: "All Natural" Claims

"If they have to put the word 'natural' on a box to convince you, it probably isn't."                          -Eric Schlosser, author of Fast Food Nation

The natural food label on processed food has no standard definition and really no meaning at all. The term is only regulated on meat and poultry, for which an item labeled natural may not contain any artificial flavors, colors or chemical preservatives. But in the processed food arena, a "natural" product can be virtually anything -- genetically modified, full of pesticides, made with corn syrup, additives, preservatives and artificial ingredients.
So if you've ever wondered how heavily processed foods like 7-Up, Cheetos, and potato chips can claim to be "natural," that's how.
The main point is that as it stands, in the United States a food can be labeled 100% natural even if it contains GM ingredients. 
The problem with GM ingredients infiltrating the food supply are two-fold. First are the manufacturers like ConAgra, who intentionally use GM corn, GM soy and other GM ingredients but "greenwash" their labels to keep it quiet. Then there is the problem of GM contamination, which is becoming progressively more difficult to control.
If you've followed the debate about genetically engineered crops for some time, you may remember that the USDA initially proposed that the organic rules should allow GM foods to be labeled organic. Fortunately, the public outcry stopped this atrocious proposal. In fact, it was the second largest citizen response up until that time for any proposed regulation. After several hearings around the United States, the final organic rule did not allow for GM ingredients. (Original Source)
Since the U.S. government prevents the labeling of GM foods, it's imperative to educate yourself on what they are, and to help spread awareness. First and foremost, avoid most processed foods, unless it's labeled USDA 100% Organic.  You can also avoid GM foods that are not found in processed foods, if you know what to look for. There are currently eight genetically modified food crops on the market:
  • Soy
  • Corn
  • Cottonseed Oil
  • Canola Oil
  • Sugar from sugar beets
  • Hawaiian  Papaya
  • Zucchini- some varieties
  • Crookneck squash
Independent third-party testing revealed that many trusted "natural" brands contain genetically modified (GM) corn and soybeans—including brands enrolled in the Non-GMO Project like:

  • Kashi
  • Mother's
  • Nutritious Living
  • General Mills Kix
  • Go Lean
  • Bumpers
  • Hi-Lo

We don't know how genetically modified foods will effect us in the long run, however, if you just consider who controls most of the genetically modified seeds and pesticides (Monsanto- just take a look at the results from Google searching their name) you could make the inference that they do not care about the results (despite the image they portray on their website). Monsanto has a monopoly which is aided by our government (USDA). I have said it before...I am not anti-big-business. I am anti-big-business-in-bed-with-government. This causes disastrous results. 

Cut out as many processed foods as you can, and if you have to buy processed foods buy organic. But don't forget that when you buy organic you still have to check labels!

Does this freak you out at all? or do you think we have nothing to worry about?

Monday, November 28, 2011

FACT: Eating Fat Does Not Translate Into Getting Fat

I wanted to write this as a follow-up to 'Tis the Season to Get Fat, because I know a lot of people have the misconception that you will loose weight by eating low-fat foods. This is a very complicated topic so I will boil it down for you as best I can.

Everything that you eat breaks down into 3 different components: protein, fat, and carbohydrates. (There are many other things like vitamins and minerals that we get from food, however for the sake of this discussion I will be focusing on these three.) Your body needs all three of these to function properly, and your body knows the difference between the good forms and the bad forms.

Let's talk specifically about fat. I grew up being told that fat was bad for you and anything fat-free was healthy. It all started long before I was born...
"The demonization of saturated fat began in 1953, when Dr. Ancel Keys published a paper comparing saturated fat intake and heart disease mortality. His theory turned out to be flimsy, to say the least, but the misguided ousting of saturated fat has continued unabated ever since. Fortunately, the truth is finally starting to come out, as medical scientists have begun to seriously question Keys' findings."
"Keys based his theory on a study of six countries, in which higher saturated fat intake equated to higher rates of heart disease. However, he conveniently ignored data from 16 other countries that did not fit his theory. Had he chosen a different set of countries, the data would have shown that increasing the percent of calories from fat reduces the number of deaths from coronary heart disease."
"And when you include all 22 countries for which data was available at the time of his study, you find that those who consume the highest percentage of saturated fat have the lowest risk of heart disease."
"Furthermore, many have now realized that it's the trans fat found in margarine, vegetable shortening, and partially hydrogenated vegetable oils that is the true villain, causing far more significant health problems than saturated fat ever could!"
"Still, despite the scientific evidence, the low-fat dogma remains a favorite among most government health authorities. Case in point: the most recent food chart issued by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) in December of last year, recommends reducing your saturated fat intake to a mere seven percent of caloric intake—down from its previously recommended 10 percent…" (Original Source)
I don't like citing studies to back up my opinions (mainly because I do not trust that the results are accurate due to biases), but I respect the information that Dr. Mercola puts out (excerpt from above). I am far more impressed with personal experiences, trials, and tribulations. So let me tell you about what I have been doing. I eat full fat everything, but I also eat mainly whole foods. I eat organic butter, organic dairy, I eat whole eggs, I eat avocados, I eat all nuts, and just about anything else you could think of that is considered "fattening". Moderation is key here. Since I started doing this about a year ago, I have lost about 10 lbs. I workout a few times a week, and I eat mainly whole foods- meaning I eat mostly un-processed foods- meaning I make most of my food from scratch and eat a lot of fruits and vegetables. I still use flour and eat pasta, but try to always eat whole wheat/grain if it is processed.

Back to fat...I read an entire book dedicated to explaining fat that was written by Mary G. Enig, PhD. She is a nutritionist/biochemist who has spent her career studying and analyzing fat. My understanding of good and bad fats started when I read Mary's book, Know Your Fats.
"As we close the second millennium, the prevailing clinical approach from both the nutrition and medical communities in the United States is to condemn a high dietary intake of almost all fats. This emphasis on reducing dietary fat intake has developed from concerns about diet/serum cholesterol, coronary heart disease (CHD) and dietary fat/cancer relationships that have emanated from organizations such as the American Heart Association (AHA), the National Heart Lung and Blood Institute's National Cholesterol Education Program, and the US Department of Agriculture's Dietary Guidelines. Many official and quasi-official, articles and publications written for the public reflect this view. Unfortunately, for the consumer and the clinician, many of these articles have multiple misstatements about fats, oils, and cholesterol in general, and about the hydrogenated fats and oils in particular. The kindest thing that can be said about the authors of these misstatements is that they are misguided and not sufficiently knowledgeable about the chemistry of fats and oils and hydrogenation."
FYI...this is a technical definition of fat straight out of her book, "Fats and oils (technically called lipids) are basically made up of collections of molecules called triglycerides. If the collection is liquid at ambient (room) temperature, it is called an oil; if it is solid, it is called a fat." She gets way technical and I figured that I would lose the majority of you on this, but if you are really interested I suggest reading the book for yourself.

Below are some common misconceptions from Know Your Fats...

  • Calling animal fats "saturated" is not only misleading, it is just plain wrong. For example, beef fat is 54% unsaturated, lard is 60% unsaturated, and chicken fat is 70% unsaturated. 
  • None of the naturally occurring fats and oils is made up of only all saturated or all unsaturated fatty acids; rather they are mixtures of different amounts of various fatty acids. 
  • The food industry knows that cookies and crackers, as well as cakes, pastries, and donuts have to be made with a fat at least as firm as a soft fat like lard, so the industry changes the liquid oils, such as soybean, corn, canola, cottonseed, and sometimes peanut and safflower oils, into fats by a process called partial hydrogenation. 
  • Partial hydrogenation increases the degree of "saturation" of the fat and has created an entirely new class of fats called trans fats. Trans fats have a very, very long shelf life, unlike the original, highly unsaturated oils they were made from. The unsaturated oils become rancid (bad, spoiled, you wouldn't want to eat them) easily if they are not stored very carefully...a-hem...this is why your box of Ritz crackers can sit on a grocery store shelf for months and then in your cabinet for months!

  • The word Omega is used to designate unsaturated fatty acid families. Saturated fats (cocoa butter, dairy fats, nutmeg butter, palm oil, tallow) do not have an Omega designation. Omega 3's and 6's are considered "essential" because our bodies cannot make them. There are also Omega 9's, however our bodies can make them so they are  not considered "essential"
  • Saturated fatty acids are not all the same. They come in different lengths. The shorter ones of the type found in butter, coconut oil, and palm kernel oil, have much lower melting points than the more common longer chain saturated fatty acids ( ). 
  • When shorter chain fatty acids are used by the body for energy, they do not produce as many calories as the longer chain fatty acids. This is why there are fewer kilocalories in a pound of butter than a pound of margarine made with seed oils. While this difference in calories is small, it is still significant because most people have been lead to believe that butter has more calories than margarine. 

Here are just a handful of examples of what trans fats do to us when we eat them... (P.S. after I read this book I cut out all foods that have hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated oils in them)
  • When people eat fats containing trans fatty acids (hydrogenated oils), these fatty acids are deposited in varying amounts in some of the tissues, and they have an effect on the way the organs in the body function. 
  • Feeding trans fatty acids from partially hydrogenated vegetable oils to adult humans lowers HDL cholesterol (the good cholesterol).
  • HDL is significantly decreased, LDL is increased, and the more recent studies have shown that the heart disease marker called Lipoprotein [a] is increased, especially in people who already have high levels of this lipoprotein.
  • INTERESTING...saturated fatty acids lower Lipoprotein [a] levels, so an adequate amount of saturated fatty acids in the diet is a good thing to have.
  • Consuming trans fats raises the blood sugar levels and causes people to weigh several kilograms more than people consuming the same amount of fat that is not hydrogenated. 
  • When researchers have examined the fat in milk that mothers are producing, they have found up to 17% of the fatty acids as trans fatty acids. That is very high, but when they measured the levels in mothers who were not eating foods with trans fatty acids, the levels were so low that they found less than 1%. 
  • Feeding infants with milk containing trans fatty acids that came in through the mother's diet causes a significant decrease in visual acuity. 
The bottom line is that we eat a lot more unhealthy fats than we realize. It would be safe to say that anything fried at a restaurant has been fried in partially hydrogenated oil. It is also safe to say that the majority of the snack foods, deserts, and baked goods that you buy have partially hydrogenated oils in them. Even some "health" foods include this disaster of an ingredient in CHECK YOUR LABELS! Start incorporating more homemade meals with whole foods. If you are pregnant or breast feeding it is soooo important to eat foods without hydrogenated oils (or high fructose corn syrup) in them. It's one thing to knowingly do something to yourself (many of us do it everyday- we smoke, we drink, we eating garbage) but it is another to do it to your perfect baby. (I don't want to make you feel like I am talking down to you or making you feel guilty...but TOO BAD I AM! DON'T FEED YOUR CHILDREN TOXIC GARBAGE...THINK FOR YOURSELF...DO YOUR OWN DAMN RESEARCH...BE AWARE!)

I am giving you the Jess Face (with perfect hair)
Do you worry about eating too much fat?

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Does a bear S-H-I-T in the woods?

Yes. Do I have to S-H-I-T every time I am running in the woods? YES. What the hell? I mean, lately this has been happening quite a bit. Like every time I get a mile and a half from my car/house/gym I get the ' this really happening?' pains. My workouts lately (few-and-far-between) have been cut short and I have to walk all the way back.

Today, I got as far out as I possibly could and all of a pains, heavy breathing, bent over, racing thoughts. WTF? Why does this always happen to me? This time I made it all the way back to my car (running) before the really bad pains started. I chugged a water and raced back to my office.

Whew!! I missed a major malfunction by a few minutes.

I used to think that I was the only one that things like this happened to, but recently I came to the conclusion that there is no way that I am the only 29-year-old who sometimes comes close to crapping in her pants while working out. You know who you are! I actually haven't had an Oops-I-Crapped-My-Pants episode since I stopped taking Metamucil a couple of years ago.

Don't let it discourage you if this happens to you. If you have to crap in the woods, on the beach, or on the side of your house, just make sure no one is around, pop a squat, pull up your big girl panties, and afterwards run like hell to the closest bathroom. *Advice- do not wipe with leaves unless you are 100% positive you know what poison ivy, oak, and sumac look like.

These types of things will seriously teach you how to laugh at yourself. Does this ever happen to other people?

Can You HEAR ME?

I wrote a while back that I have had a problem with my ears for a while now. They constantly itch, feel clogged, and I thought I was having a problem hearing because I was always saying "WHAT?" Well I got my ears candled which took care of the congestion and hearing problem, but they were still super itchy. So, I found out from my brother that the thing to do is to use ear oil. Wally's (the one that I found that had all natural oils in it) contains Sweet Almond Oil, Eucalyptus, Echinacea, Mullein (see picture), Tea Tree Oil and Garlic Oil. 
this is Mullein
I put a couple drops on a Q-tip and swabbed the outside of my ear canal and then tilted my head to the side and dripped 3 drops in each ear. The goal is to get the oil to go into your ear canal so you may need to put cotton balls in each ear. 

Anyway, it almost immediately made them feel better and lasted for several days. I think I did this on Monday, and just this morning I felt the urge to itch. So ladies and gents....if you have itchy ears buy this stuff because it works. 

Does anyone else have any natural homeopathic remedies for ear problems?

Friday, November 25, 2011

'Tis the Season to Get Fat!

it was blueberry and cherry pie mania yesterday morning....
the most amazing tasting pies by my beautiful and talented sister
I am sure no one wants to talk about food today (including myself). Yesterday was a great day filled with lots of cheese, crackers, dips, veggies, champagne and pie! 

yummy apps
some of the deserts
my favorite part of the day!
the other app table...with my prized spinach & artichoke dip...
a huge favorite
Since yesterday marked the official start of the 2011 holiday season, I figured I should sit down with myself (and you) and hash out how I am going to not gain weight. I could twist myself into a guilt trip over every piece of cheese I inhale and every glass of wine I down, however I have been working on accepting things and not working myself up about what I can't control and what I shouldn't worry about. 

My health is definitely one of those things I was stressing about for a while. When I get an idea in my head (i.e. I can control my health by the way that I eat) I have the tendency to take it to extremes and then stress myself out because it is not working perfectly. Changing my eating habits is a perfect example of this. When I started learning about how the food that you eat affects you, I was like I NEED TO CUT EVERYTHING BAD OUT OF MY DIET RIGHT NOW! Which I did for the most part, but then I would go out to eat, and after the fact realize that I ate something "bad" and then I would feel guilty about it. 

It took me a while to get to the point where I realized that the stress of eating healthy all the time was probably worse for me than the actual unhealthy eating. I sort of eased into eating super healthy during the week and slacking off a little on the weekends. Holidays are no different for me- they are just another weekend. So, yesterday was a complete binge fest... and today I ate a little bit of the leftovers (including the giant make-your-own cannoli thing-AMAZING!), but tomorrow....back to normal! Green smoothies and salads, fish, eggs, fruits and vegetables. 

The 80–20 rule states that, for many events, roughly 80% of the effects come 
from 20% of the causes. 

Has anyone else found this rule to be true?

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Saying Thanks

  1. That was not me who drank all of the gravy.
  2. I am thankful that I have an amazing enough relationship with my father that [usually] we can work together [everyday] without wanting to kill each other. It's been 2 years now... longest job occupation since college!!!!! Woohoo!!!
  3. Thanks mom for always listening to me when I need to vent... and cry... and curse. I love you!
  4. Julie, you are my best friend, and you are doing such a great job of not freaking out today! She and my future brother in-law are hosting 30 people for dinner in their new house...I'd be majorly stressed out :/
  5. Greg, I love you and miss you! I wish you were still living here with the kiddies- my favorite niece and nephew ever!
  6. Babe...I love you and am so happy about everything. You are my best friend, beach buddy, and my love.
  7. On to me! I am thankful that I have had the most productive year of my life. I finally feel like I am doing what I love and working towards something great. Next year is looking up too!
What are you thankful for?

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Thanksgiving Contributions

Thanksgiving is quite possibly my favorite holiday. I love cooking, getting dressed up, eating too much, and sleeping it off. My mother and I drove to my sister and future brother-in-law's house today to help with the cooking and other preparations.

My contributions are my soon-to-be world famous spinach & artichoke dip and blackberry bread pudding. I have written about my bread pudding before as a great use for left-over bread. This time however I bought really great whole wheat bread from a local market. I would have made from scratch only I definitely didn't have enough time. You can see the recipe here, but I took pictures of the process.

mash up 1 banana
break bread into small chunks
pour milk/egg mixture into bread and mix
mix in blackberries..YUM!
On to the next one...SPINACH & ARTICHOKE DIP (w/ goat cheese)

I used to use sour cream or cream cheese, but now I use organic Greek yogurt
chop up quartered artichokes and mix with sauteed spinach
(saute in garlic and butter or olive oil)
add in the best thing ever made!
I want to eat this right now.
We aren't going to bake this or the bread pudding until tomorrow so all of the flavors have plenty of time to develop.

On to dinner (pizza) and then cherry pies!!!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Lentil Soup- Warming You Up and Cleaning You Out

A beautiful illustration of the lentil plant.
I was finally able to get back in the kitchen Sunday night for a few hours. I attempted to make two new recipes. I say attempted because only one of them was a success...hence this post about lentil soup. The other was split pea soup (something my mother told me last night 'no one ever messes up'). Usually split pea soup is made with ham, but I wanted to try a vegetarian recipe so I used truffle oil and baby portabella mushrooms. No good. I'm not sure what went wrong, but it was totally inedible. I mean usually I can add some more spices and salvage something, but this was just plain GROSS!

Back to my lentil soup...

NOTE ABOUT GRAINS/SEEDS/LEGUMES: They should all be rinsed and soaked in warm water overnight. The rinsing gets rid of dirt/dust/dander, and the soaking releases phytic acid which causes malabsorbsion of the minerals in the grains/legumes/seeds. Soaking also makes them more easily digestible (so you won't get gas! always a plus)

This is super easy. In a soup pot, I sauteed in some onions, carrots, and celery in organic butter and canola oil for a few minutes. Add in 2 cups organic vegetable broth, and 4 more cups of water. Add in 2 cups of lentils, set heat to high and stir. Bring to a boil for about 5 minutes and then set heat to medium/low. Cover and let simmer for about an hour. Check periodically to make sure it doesn't dry out. Lentils absorb a lot of water. Season with sea salt, pepper, onion powder, sage, and thyme as desired.

The recipe above made 5 servings for me. I kept one in the refrigerator and froze the rest. This is a great way to have a quick meal. Make a large pot of soup or stew and freeze the leftovers right away. I usually do this with my chili, chicken soup, beef stew, and now lentil soup.

Some tidbits about lentils:

  • The plant likely originated in India and Pakistan, and lentils have been part of the human diet since Neolithic times, being one of the first crops domesticated in the Near East. Archeological evidence shows they were eaten 13,000 to 9,500 years ago.
  • Lentils are actually seeds.
  • With about 30% of their calories from protein, lentils, like other legumes, have the third-highest level of protein, by weight, of any plant-based food, after soybeans and hemp.
  • Lentils also contain dietary fiber, iron, folate, vitamin B1, and minerals. Red (or pink) lentils contain a lower concentration of fiber than green lentils (11% rather than 31%).
  • Lentils are often mixed with grains, such as rice, which results in a complete protein dish. If I had done this research before I would have added in some brown rice- but you can! (Original Source)
  • Since they are such a great source of fiber, if you are experiencing a backlog in the doodie department, just make some of this and it will fix you up in no time! Keep that colon clean!!!
Off to finish a mountain of things before I leave for my sister's for Thanksgiving! I'll be making my famous spinach and artichoke dip and blackberry bread pudding....tune in tomorrow for the details!

What is everyone making for Thanksgiving?

Monday, November 21, 2011

Ready to go RAW...almost

Since I'm sure you are all aware now, I have been working like crazy.  SO...I enlisted my friend Lisa to prepare a bunch of raw foods for me so I could keep them at work. I told her what I don't like (beets) and gave her how much I wanted to spend a week, and VOILA! She appeared with tasty raw food. This has lifted such a burden. I was getting sick of eating the same things everyday.

A funny thing happened last week. I can laugh about it now because it is over, but at the time I was dying (not literally). The day after Lisa dropped off my food I got my lady episode. I call it an episode and not a period because I think if I were to be studied by doctors they would diagnose me with severe rage, emotional swings, and abnormal tolerance for loss of fluids (I'll spare you the details), or weathermen might compare it to an F-5 tornado that leaves very little standing. Anyway, I was caught off guard like I am every month, because for some reason I have not been capable of tracking my episode since it started 16 years ago. So, I took a lot of Tylenol.

AND...I ate all fruits and vegetables. I had a mini meltdown in the middle of the day for no reason other than I wanted to rip out my uterus and lower back (despite all of the Tylenol). I am hoping that with all these healthy foods I am eating this will eventually get better. Anyways...I overdid it with the Tylenol BIG TIME! I ended up with the awful urge to vomit all over everything for the rest of the night and the following day. If any of you know me I would rather die than throw up, so naturally I made myself miserable for several hours. I couldn't eat anything because all I had was raw vegetable dishes, and every time I thought of it my mouth started to water and a wave of nausea took over. I couldn't talk about it, I couldn't think about it, I couldn't look at it.

My dad brought up food a couple of times in our conversation before I went home. I immediately glazed over and tuned everything out so I could fight the wave of VOM that wanted to come out. I asked him if we could not speak about food. His response was, 'Sure, but if you throw up on yourself you can blog about it'. (or something along those lines) Thanks Dad :)

That was supposed to be my first "all raw" day. Suffice it to say, I became so hungry after not being able to eat anything I had that I had to stop and get McDonald's french fries. That was the only thing that I could think about that didn't make me want to puke. Sorry Lisa, I promise it wasn't your food. It was the damn Tylenol.

So that night and the next day I ate pasta with butter (my favorite comfort food) and my cauliflower and leek soup. By Friday night I felt all better, just in time for Mexican and wine!!!

What is the moral of the story? I need to buy Advil instead of Tylenol. Tylenol does nothing for me (except bother my stomach).

Does anyone know of any natural pain relievers I could take? 

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Bits & Pieces

I apologize in advance for the digression this blog has taken. I promise as soon as this CRAZYNESS is over I will go back to writing about cooking. I miss it!

As for today, I have no option but to post from my phone so the pictures are limited to what I have taken with my crappy DROID X, and things will probably not be formatted properly. I am about to take you down a random journey of being Jess.

1. My niece, Cecelia, and I when she was 1 (now 2 1/2). She looks alot different now.

2. My beach in the snow. I'm sure I'll be seeing you soon. Wah waahh wahhhh. (Like the doorbell in NL Christmas Vacation when the inlaws show up)

3. My dream bedroom from Ikea (minus the rug) day. I am actively designing the house I will have another architect build for me. It may seem nuts to you that I have my masters in architecture and I don't want to build my own house, but this is my short explanation of why. When I graduated and got a real job, reality struck. I hated managing all of the minute details of everything that goes into building a building. So there you have it. I am much happier focusing on how my grande profesh kitchen is going to look so I can cook up a storm and report back to my loyal followers. 

4. Cancun, I miss you right now. I am going to try to make a trip back to see you (or one of your distant cousins- Bahamas, Puerto Rico you are on the list too).

5. Dead Dog! Not really. That's Lucy, my Dad's dog, and that is her favorite nap spot- right in the middle of the doorway from our office to the rest of the office. 

6. I'm not sure what these things are (besides the mermaids purse), but they were all over the beach after the hurricane we got in September (or August, can't remember). I was afraid to take them home because all I could think of was the movie Critters where the cute furry ball things transformed into killing monsters. I didn't want these alien pods hatching in my bedroom. So I took a picture instead.

That's all the random thoughts I have for now ladies and gents. When my days are not consumed with sitting in parking lots I'm sure I will have more intellectual things to write about.

Love you all!

PS...the granola bars did not set from last night. They were gooey but not right. I also realized that after I ate them I was exhausted, and I think that is because we cannot digest grains in their raw form. So, my friends, you need to toast the oats, and you need to make a syrup out of butter and agave nectar, cook, and then cool in the refrigerator. Raw granola bars just don't work.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Is it really only Tuesday?

Since daylight savings over a week ago and the start of Christmas-Tree-Crunch-Time I have been in the twilight zone. I don't really know what day it is, and it constantly feels about 5 hours later than it really is. As soon as the sun goes down I am like 'I NEED TO GO TO BED!!!!' I don't actually though, it is just me being mental. I have to admit that for a really long time I was chronically exhausted (severely deficient in vitamin B12), while at the same time suffering from chronic anxiety. So naturally I became neurotic about getting enough sleep. I still have a little bit of that left over, but honestly I really don't suffer from either anymore (fatigue and anxiety- not being neurotic). So I need to constantly tell myself...'you will be is ok if you do not get enough sleep every night...stop worrying about always getting enough can make it up tomorrow night'. 

Another part of the craziness is that I have literally been working and sleeping and working and sleeping and working. So I don't want to waste any time on extra cooking (because I need to shower and write). Today I tried to make raw granola bars. I basically did the exact same recipe as before (minus the butter). I just mixed everything in a big bowl, pressed it into a baking pan, and stuck it in the refrigerator (it took 3 minutes). I will let you know if it sets up right. I am thinking it might not because before I heated up butter with the syrup which I think is what makes it hard. TBD...

I am also pre-making my smoothies at night. I find that the last thing I have time for when I wake up at 5am is smoothies. One thing about the smoothies...the more I learn the more I think that it is much, much better to eat what is in season for your area. This brings up my smoothie selection. Until a few weeks ago I was pretty much buying everything that I like and smoothying. But I gave some thought as to what is in season right now. Pineapples certainly aren't, nor are mangoes- at least not in New Jersey. 

So I came up with two new smoothies that are fall-ish... 

  • collards or Swiss chard
  • spinach
  • 2 green apples
  • frozen green grapes (buy fresh and freeze)
  • 1 pear
  • 1 banana (I know this doesn't grow in NJ but it is the exception)
  • water (to desired consistency)
  • kale
  • spinach
  • 2 red apples
  • frozen cranberries (buy frozen)
  • carrots
  • strawberries, black berries, raspberries
  • frozen red grapes (buy fresh and freeze)
  • water (to desired consistency)
I highly suggest travel mugs if you are on-the-go. Even when I am not busy
I take use these to take my smoothies to work. (Unless you can drink
an entire blender-full in one sitting- I can't)

Monday, November 14, 2011

Mid-day Revelations

I think when my blog blows up I am going to hire Natalie Dee to illustrate one's just for me.
I think we are twins separated at birth. there something you aren't telling me?
As I sit in a random parking lot watching our Christmas tree stands being erected, all of these things are flowing through my head. First I would like to say that I left the house today without brushing my hair or looking in the mirror.  Umm... am I 29 or 10? How does that slip my mind? I did manage to brush my teeth though which is a plus I guess.

Secondly, I am in Christmas tree hell- and it is not glamorous (or warm). Also I need to learn Spanish because I would love to know what our laborers are saying.

I am super excited that the massive pinched nerve that conveniently shows up ever year right before setups start is finally going away. Thank you icy hot patches. And thank you Michelle from Massage Envy for the 1 1/2 hour massage you are going to give to me tonight.

I got over the fear of the engine light coming on in my car. That has been a major source of anxiety for me since I was 17 and driving Big Red (Ford F-350 extended cab- FLASHBACK!) I wish I had time to go through my pics from back in the day but unfortunately they are buried in a bin in my garage. One of these days when I am rich enough to hire a personal assistant she will be scanning in all of my old pics, and when that happens I will take a stroll down memory lane with you all.

Thank you also to Lisa for starting to prepare me fresh&raw food each week...I am so sick of what I have been eating (sweet potatoes , salmon salad, boring salads). I need some variety!

I miss cooking. I have been working everyday for the past 2 weeks (except the day I went to the NYC marathon) and aside from the soup I made the other night, I haven't cooked ANYTHING! Sorry folks this is going to be a "how to eat on the run" blog for the next few weeks.

My car is dirty,  my nails are AWFUL, I feel slightly strung out, but thankfully my aviators are covering my un-makeuped eyes...don't you wish you we're dating me? Haha

I can't wait until I can get dressed up again, drink copious amounts of wine, and dance until my beautiful shoes make me want to cut off my feet... definitely going to Atlantic City after Christmas is over. I need a Borgata night fo sho.

BTW...this was the sunset last night...AMAZING RIGHT?!? (And I didn't even Photoshop this)

Friday, November 11, 2011

LEEKS: I figured them out

I have had this thing in my head about making soup with leeks for weeks. I don't know what it is. Tonight, I was finally successful. I know it is a Friday night, and normally I would be 2 1/2 sheets to the wind right now, but I have to work tomorrow. For the next 2 months Christmas trees will be my life (so I apologize in advance if my posts are not consistent. I have plenty of ideas, but not enough hours in the day (as usual). Anyway, back to leeks.
Apparently, you only use the white part. I would have thought
differently had I not consulted with Google
I stopped at Whole Foods this evening after my monthly ass-raping at my car dealership (my car is starting to deteriorate faster and faster- needless to say I am getting a new one soon). I picked up some leeks, some wine, and some other really expensive things. I can't get out of there for under $50. **And by the way, if the powers-that-be at Whole Foods get wind of this I have some advice...if you would like us to recycle your paper bags, please make them sturdy enough to get my expensive shit from the checkout counter to my refrigerator without dumping out from the bottom of the bag. Thanks!

I had a head of cauliflower that I froze after a failed collard wrap attempt, because frankly I didn't know what I was going to do with a head of cauliflower since I have eaten in 1 in my life and I am not particularly fond of it. I used it as the base of the the blender it went with enough water to keep my (my roommate's) blender from exploding.

Then I Google'd what part of the leek to use since I have never actually eaten a leek. We planted them in our garden this past summer, and I assume they are still there. My dad kept asking me 'what the hell is a leek? and what are you going to do with it?' My answer was always 'they are really good in soup DAD!' Hahaahaha. I'm not sure if he knew I didn't know anything about leeks, but he does now!!!

So here is the recipe...

  • 1 head cauliflower (blended w/ water)
  • splish splash of white wine
  • 1 leek
  • 4 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 cup organic veggie broth
  • 1/2 stick organic butter (yum!)
  • 2 potatoes (optional)
  • salt
  • pepper
  • thyme
  • sage
  • allspice (2 cloves)
Bring to a boil for 10 minutes, bring down to simmer for about 20 minutes. This is a fast recipe. I smelled it a few times and thought it was missing something. I have to admit it smelled a little funky ("You F'ed up ANOTHER pot of soup' was running through my mind. But...low and behold I tasted it and it was FANTASTIC!!! I kept wishing that I hadn't let my egg noodle supply drop down to zero because they would be perfect with this. 

Wine for the soup.
Wine for me!
Slice the leeks
Add a little broth.
You don't have to add potatoes but I have a ton so I thought I would.
Throw everything in, mix, and set temp to med-high.
Anyway, I wish I could feed it to my dad to show him what leeks are used for and that they taste (great).....BUT! He is 100% raw and has been for a few weeks now. (Clapping) This is a huge improvement from his daily trips to McDonald's only a few months ago. Keep going Dad!

Anyway, I highly suggest you try this is creamy and hearty and healthy!!!!! Have some drinks for to sleep (and to try to ice this kink in my neck- STRESS!!!)

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Working Myself Up to Workout

As many of you may be aware, last weekend was the NYC Marathon. I had the opportunity to spectate and cheer on my friend (and fellow rhino) Colleen. I am no longer allowed to complain about my 1 hour workouts. It was really mind blowing and awe inspiring to see so many runners. We were posted up at 59th and 1st which was right were they came off the bridge and were back in Manhattan.
Run Colleen Run!!
To see many of the runners who were older than I was (some by at least 40 years) and fatter than I was accomplish this (and look damn good doing it- I only saw 1 man crying) made me realize that...I AM A BIG COMPLAINER AND I AM NOT ALLOWING MYSELF TO DO IT ANYMORE.

Some of the highlights that I saw (which I unfortunately did not get on camera) were a lady dribbling a basket ball, a guy juggling, a giant chicken costume, and a guy running past drinking a beer motioning for all of the ladies to "call him".

As I start another workout challenge this week, I am going to try to keep in mind all of the smiling faces that were whizzing past at mile 16. If they can do that then I can push myself to get to the gym more often and not complain about how I HATE to work out.

Working out is so good for you on so many levels. First, it is a better way to build strong bones than to drown yourself in milk. If you are worried about osteoporosis, start working out, lifting weights (with guidance if you are new to it) and eat more dark green leafy veggies. SIDE NOTE: there is more bio-available calcium in dark greens than there is in dairy products. You will also loose weight which is great for your physical health, but also for your mental health. It will help you sleep better, digest your food better, have more energy, and feel better about yourself.

Here is a link to an the 20 most common exercise myths 20 Fitness Myths Slideshow. I used to believe several of these.
I wish....I would need to run 4 miles for this to make sense for my body.
(substitute gin for wine & minus the bong hits)
BONUS: If your reasoning behind your lack of workouts is not enough time, I have the perfect solution for you. A friend just introduced me to this website called She said that she knew of a few people who had done it or were in the process of doing it and were getting AMAZING results. The best part about it is....the workouts are all designed to complete in about 15 minutes. So NO MORE EXCUSES ABOUT BEING TOO BUSY!

I am going to do this (modified because I am not going to buy the equipment right now) on the days that I am not in the gym (2-3 days a week). I'll let you know about my results. I started taking my measurements so I can track my progress.
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