Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Working From Home

So for the next month I am going to be mainly working from home (score!). This means mornings filled with rolling out of bed and onto my computer, utter disdain for the way that I look, and poorly planned meals for myself (fail).

I know this to be true because I have worked from home before and this is what happens. So...my goal for the next few weeks is to:
  1. Go food shopping at least every Sunday and do not put it off when produce runs low
  2. Shower every day (most people don't need to remind themselves of this but I find it necessary)
  3. Make 1 smoothie a day
  4. Cook at least 1 meal every day
  5. Workout for at least 1 hour 5 days a week
Wish me luck! I will be reporting on all of my dark-green-leafy-veggie-findings so don't you worry...

Monday, January 30, 2012

Has cold & flu season hit you yet?

I personally have not been sick in a while. Every so often when I don't get enough sleep I get that run down I'm-about-to-get-sick feeling. Usually I just whole up and sleep it off , but if that is not an option I have a solution that may possibly work for you. I became aware of Dr. John Douillard a few weeks ago when I listened to one of his lectures on Ayurveda. He is big into living in conjunction with nature and using everything that is available from nature to cure sickness.

Here is his explanation of why cold and flu season occurs during winter months:
"In the winter, temperatures drop and the air dries out. The further we go into winter, the drier the air becomes. Even the rain dries out and becomes snow. For ourselves, we further aggravate these dry conditions by pumping dry heat into our homes and offices to stay warm.

"In the case of the common cold, this dryness has become overwhelming to the body. When we become excessively dry, the dryness extends to the mucus membranes in the sinuses and gut. The respiratory tract is lined with ciliated epithelium, skin covered with sweepers called cilia that house part of the immune system. These cilia, much like the villi of the gut, sweep toxins, bacteria and viruses through respiratory mucus membranes into the Mucus Associated Lymphatic Tissue, or MALT, where they are neutralized by the white-blood-cell-rich lymph nodes.  

Nature’s prescription for all this dryness is the seasonal harvest. The winter harvest consists of high-fat, high-protein, insulating foods that antidote the harshness of winter. Think of squirrels eating nuts when the weather begins to cool. See my Winter Tips & Grocery List, which explains how to prevent systemic dehydration and other winter imbalances with seasonal foods. 

He is proposing that to stop a cold from fully forming, you can take a combination of

  • Trikatu: an Ayurvedic spice combination made from ginger, black pepper and long pepper that thins mucus, stimulates circulation to the respiratory tract and cervical lymph. 
  • Sitopladiis a traditional Ayurvedic combination of herbs that opens airways and heals and decongests mucus membranes of the sinuses, bronchioles and lungs. 
  • Turmeric: is an Indian spice that has many medicinal uses including thins mucus, moves lymph, boosts immunity and heals the mucus membranes.
I know. I was like "what they hell is trikatu, I can't even pronounce it, and where the hell do I get that? Well, Dr. Douillard conveniently sells this stuff on his website which you can find by clicking here. I am buying this stuff and am going to use it as a preventative measure as I'm sure taking a little bit of these spices everyday could not hurt (I will let you know if it does). 

SIDE TRACK: Some of you may have read my post on being anti-vitamin (which I still am) and are confused because these are clearly supplements. Let me explain. These are not individual vitamins that have been plucked from the original source (or synthesized). These are herbs and spices that in their whole form are medicinal to the body. There I said it. I am against taking individual vitamins and minerals, and a multi-vitamin in that case. We don't know what vitamins and minerals our bodies need. Scientists think they know, but we are learning more and more each day about the nutrients in food and I know scientists are not even close to having the complete picture. In my humble opinion it is best to just eat whole foods to get your nutrition. 

What is your view on vitamins & supplements? Yay or nay?

Friday, January 27, 2012

Being an on again off again meat eater

A while ago I was vegetarian, and after about a year I slowly started eating meat again. Then I felt bad about eating meat because I knew the meat I was eating was not the best quality. Now I can completely enjoy it because I know where it is coming from.

I have also found that I naturally want to eat more meat during the winter months. This seems like a natural thing. Up until very recently in the course of us (humans) fresh produce was not available all year round. 200 years ago where I live in New Jersey I could not get oranges and asparagus and lettuce in the middle of January. I would have had to live off the vegetables harvested in the fall (like root vegetables, winter squash, and onions), the fruits and vegetables I was able to can & jar from the summer months, the grains I had in stock, and whatever animals I could hunt or could afford to kill- like the family cow or pig :(

As some of you may know I started a garden last spring with my father. I noticed that I was more inclined to eat a lot of fruits and vegetables since we had them, and I grew them! Towards the end of last summer I had increased the amount of fruits and vegetables I was eating by a tremendous amount and I loved it. I felt great, and I was losing weight. And then it got cold, and so did I. I just couldn't eat raw fruits and vegetables all day. So I stopped. I switched to soups, stews & chili, a lot of cooked vegetables, and more meat.

Nature provides foods that are going to nourish you in that season. Spring is filled with berries, sprouts, lettuce and such which are all great to detoxify your body from all of the heavy foods that you eat in the winter. Summer foods are light and cooling- tomatoes, greens, cherries, watermelon, etc. Foods that are ready in the fall (winter squash, potatoes, onions, apples, cranberries) are able to be stored for several months to get you through the winter.

It makes sense that all I would want to eat right now are hot soups and oatmeal and meat and potatoes. Ask me if I want a big, hot, meaty meal in the middle of July when I'm a hot sweaty mess. No thank you! I want a salad and melon and fruit smoothies.

This is my goal, and the aim of the book that I am writing... to create a guide for all of us to easily eat in season. It is one thing to know what is in season, and it is a completely other thing to be able to actually come up with a month's worth of recipes involving mushrooms, cabbage, leeks, and cauliflower. I had originally wanted to just create a guide on how to de-junk your diet- some of which I will definitely be incorporating, but the more I learn in my classes, the more I realized that it is so important to eat with the season.

Mother Nature never steers you wrong- but she will school your ass if you don't listen to her.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

I knew I should have paid attention in high school

I never thought that I would ever use the public school education I received in high school. We read all this "classical" literature BS... which I never enjoyed. We had to interpret what authors meant by their Old English gibberish... over my head. I learned about shale... still have yet to use my knowledge about that particular rock. We dissected frogs... definitely NEVER going to use that!

The one thing I just started researching that I know I definitely learned about in high school is pH balance and the acid/alkaline scale. Vinegar is acidic and milk is alkaline, but as it turns out it is far more complicated than that because a naturally acidic food can have an alkalizing effect in the body (i.e. citrus fruit). Apparently, this is pretty important when it comes to understanding how well your body can fight off infection/cancer/disease, etc, etc.

Here are the basics from The Body Ecology Diet :
  • Just as our normal body temperature is 98.6 degrees F, there are other measures of a normal condition or homeostasis within the body. The levels of sugar, oxygen, and carbon dioxide in the blood must all be stable; and the pH (the balance between acid and alkaline) of the body fluids, including the blood, should be 7.4, slightly alkaline.
  • An imbalance toward too much acidity allows yeast, viruses, rebellious (cancer) cells, and various other parasites to thrive. Acidity also leads to conditions such as chronic fatigue, arthritis, and allergies. 
  • If you have an acidic condition from eating an acid-forming diet, your body is constantly trying to return to a more balanced state by calling on your stored reserves of alkaline minerals: sodium, calcium, potassium, and magnesium. If you continue eating foods that are highly acid forming, over time it can create a mineral deficiency. 
  • The typical American diet is high in foods that cause our bodies to become acidic- sugar, candy, sodas, white flour products, beans, soybean products & tofu, wine, beer, saccharin, NutraSweet, alcohol, commercially refined vinegar, all processed foods containing preservatives and chemicals (ingredients you cannot pronounce)
  • There are acid forming foods that we should be eating- animal foods such as beef, poultry, eggs, fish, and shellfish, buckwheat, organic, unrefined oils, and Stevia. 
I bought some pH test strips a few months ago and I have been testing my urine (I know I'm weird, don't judge). I definitely noticed a pattern:
  • When I eat a mainly whole food diet (whole grains, vegetables, fruit, with a small amount of animal fat & protein) my urine is pretty alkaline.
  • When I feel stressed no matter what I eat I am acidic
  • When I drink coffee it immediately makes my pee acidic but then goes back up rather fast
  • When I go out and drink on the weekends, on Monday I will be almost off the charts acidic. It takes me about 2 full days to get back to alkaline. By Friday evening my pH is in the optimal range and I am ready to destroy it all over again- old habits are hard to break.
The moral of my story is that by monitoring your pH you can get a glimpse of what is going on inside your body. It is really amazing to monitor what goes in your mouth and what comes out the other end (#1 not #2). Your body is a machine far more complex and intelligent than any computer on the face of this Earth, and it responds 100% of the time to what you feed it. It is not necessary to know the ins and outs of all these complex processes that take place when you put food in your mouth. It is important thought to understand that the quality of the food you put in your mouth makes a measurable difference.

An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure!

Taking time to...

RELAX! I have been so exhausted for the past week. I haven't been able to catch up on my sleep, I've been working like crazy to finish work for the Christmas tree business, and I am anxious to start working on our new business. All of this makes for a stressed-out Jessie.

So, in spite of all of the millions of little things I have to do, I am taking the next two days off and doing nothing. Well, by nothing I mean laying in bed and reading or laying on the couch and watching television (something I rarely ever do). I've been reading The China Study by T.Colin Campbell now for a ridiculous amount of time because I read at night before bed and I usually only get about 10 pages in before I can't keep my eyes open. I am so close to finishing! So that is what I am going to do.

Ta ta for now kiddies! I'm getting back into bed...

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

All in the name of healthy eats

This morning I took my every-other-monthly trip down to the farm that I buy most of my meat and eggs from. It's about an hour drive south west to the other side of Jersey. I can take the interstate or back roads. I choose to take the back roads. Just as much a I enjoy knowing where my animal products come from, I also enjoy the trip. It forces me to get out of my daily grind and slow down, if only for a few hours. The drive is through barren woods and farm country where you get glimpses into a time when farming was something everyone did.

There are barns with old tractors, old pick-up trucks, silos and vast fields that, when harvested, provide food for many, many people. It is also refreshing to speak with Carla, the owner and operator of the farm. She is full of life and truly has an intimate knowledge of all the animals she cares for. I believe that if you are going to eat meat then you should take care to see how they live and how much work it takes to provide for that animal.

Some people ask me 'how can you eat meat after you meet the animals that you will eventually eat?' (tongue twister) I ask them, how can you eat meat that comes from god knows where, is fed who knows what, and is killed, processed, packaged, and shipped half way across the country (sometimes world) and then sits on a shelf waiting to be sold, then it sits in your refrigerator until you are ready to eat it? Gross!

I have done some research on the farming practices in this country. They are not farms, they are factories. I take pride in the fact that I don't feed myself meat that has been raised on antibiotics and corn or soy, or confined to a feed lot. So instead of traveling 3 blocks to my grocery store, I drive 1 hour each direction to get my meat and eggs directly from the source. And I feel good about my choice.

How far would you travel to buy superior food?

Monday, January 23, 2012

I haven't forgotten about you

I swear I haven't forgotten to write. I just couldn't get my ass to sit down in the chair and bang out a post at the end of last week. There has been a lot going on though. I just got my first delivery of raw milk and cheeses. I will be writing at length about this soon, but I have been trying them out (and loving it!). I am going on Wednesday to the farm to pick up some more meat & eggs (including beef liver- yum!). I am going to try out pate and some other recipes involving liver to see if I like it and if I can make it easy and palatable for you all. I also have some information about your body's pH balance that I will be schooling you on.

And on the work front I am starting a dark-green-leafy-vegetable-juice business with my father so you will be hearing all about my trials and tribulations involving getting a business up and running in about 30 days. In a nutshell, we juice the stuff and you get it delivered right to your door. Veggie juicing is a pain in the ass, it's messy' it's time consuming. But oh how healthy it is for you!

So, I have a deadline tomorrow night, and then I will be back to normal... see you on Wednesday my friends.

Who's excited for green juice?

Thursday, January 19, 2012

5 Ways: Oatmeal

There is nothing better on a cold morning than a warm bowl of oatmeal. Since I am naturally such a cold person (by cold I mean constantly freezing where my leg hairs grow back extra fast after I shave), it pains me to eat cold cereal during the winter. I don't eat the junky flavored kinds that are loaded with sugar and chemicals either...I make it myself with Irish or steel-cut oats which cook equally as fast.

Oatmeal is also great because you can literally make it like 1000 different ways. These are some of my favorites:

  1. almonds & shredded coconut
  2. bananas & crushed walnuts
  3. garamasala spice & raisins (or just plain cinnamon)
  4. apples, brown sugar, & pecans
  5. pumpkin puree & chopped Medjool dates
A quick word about Medjool dates. I like regular dates (you can buy them at most food stores) but last night I tried a Medjool date at my father's house and it was like a completely different experience. Medjool dates are softer and have a smoother texture...it was like a flavor explosion in my mouth! I just don't know why people eat the regular kind.

Anyway, back to oatmeal. It is a whole grain. It's quick. It's cheap. Eat it!

Wednesday, January 18, 2012


I have been delinquent in my food shopping, therefore lunch today was constructed with what little options I had in my kitchen. Surprising what a little spice can do.

I found brown rice, beans, and a sweet potato. So I made rice and beans with a sweet potato, haha. Luckily for me I have a fully stocked spice cabinet. If there is one thing you should spend your money on it's spices (besides fruits & vegetables).

The Jamaican curry, paprika, and cayenne pepper went into the rice and beans, and I sprinkled the garamasala on the sweet potato and topped with a drizzle of honey. If you have never heard of garamasala it's an Indian spice. This was actually the first time I've used it. I found it all the way in the back of my spice cabinet, unopened. This is literally my new favorite spice. It's a mixture of coriander, cumin, cloves, black pepper, ginger, cinnamon, and anise. I fully plan on utilizing this for a batch of cookies, in my banana bread, and on every sweet potato I ever eat again for the rest of my life. It's that good.

This is a great way to serve rice and beans. If you are afraid of curry because you have bad memories of smelly Indian places (sorry India), or you think it is too strong of a flavor, or you've just never used it before I highly recommend using a Jamaican curry. It's usually some combination of salt, turmeric, curry powder, coriander, chilli powder, fennel, cumin, black pepper, and garlic.

This combo makes a regular appearance on my dinner table and goes with chicken, fish, and steak (especially a skirt steak). Oh and by the way... if beans give you gas...combine them with cumin- it will help with digestion.

I have to go grocery shopping so I can cook up something to write about. 

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

SHOCKING: Paula Deen Has Diabetes

I could have told you 10 years ago that Paula Deen was going to eventually get diabetes. You CANNOT eat the way she cooks and expect to stay healthy. Now I have no idea if she eats everything she makes on her show (and for her cookbooks) but I suspect she dabbles (a lot!).

My first exposure to Paula Deen was when I moved to Savannah, GA to go to college. Her restaurant, Lady & Sons, was the talk for a while. I never actually ate there mainly because I ate at another "Southern" home cooked barf fest of a restaurant and I couldn't stomach putting myself through that misery again. Especially considering Savannah's weather. You walk out of the restaurant- after eating macaroni & cheese, grits, potatoes au gratin, 4 types of meat, banana pudding, collard greens fried in lard (I think this is thrown in there just so they can make themselves feel better because it started out as a vegetable), and 2 gallons of sweet tea- and the humidity smacks you in the face like an abusive husband. All you want to do is lay down and sleep your over-stuffed guilt away.

A few things:
  • these are my humble opinions about this issue
  • she said that it took her 3 years to publicly admit she has diabetes because she didn't have all the information...it doesn't take a genius (or 3 years) to Google "causes of diabetes" and put two and two together to come up with the conclusion that the way she eats is effecting her health
  • she doesn't seem to be concerned that the empire she built on sugar, white flour, and deep frying is making her sick
  • she is now partnering with a company that makes diabetes meds...talk about taking the easy way out!
  • she could have tried to partner with Dole, Chiquita Banana, or Sunkist...at least she would've been eating more fruit & vegetables
Now, if instead of acting like a naive Southern lady, Paula Deen came out and announced publicly that she had diabetes and the reason was because she wasn't eating properly I would definitely have her back. It shows strong character to admit when you've been schooled by mother nature. She is big-time enough where she could have flipped it into a boost for herself and her brand. 


Maybe she needs to find another Marketing/PR team or maybe she needs to pull her head out of the pharmaceutical company's ass. 

oh Jesus
Type 2 diabetes is 100% reversible with a whole foods, plant-based diet. 100% It really boggles my mind that more people don't know this. Do yourself (and everyone you care about) a favor... if you are overweight or obese or have Type 2 diabetes...put down your giant Italian hoagie, your high fructose corn syrup-laden cereal, your Paula Deen cookies and go read up on eating whole foods (fruit, vegetables, whole grains like rice and quinoa, nuts and seeds) and the positive impact it will have on not only your diabetes, but cholesterol, high blood pressure, allergies, fatigue, depression, etc, etc. It won't take you that long to figure out.
my favorite by far
It is one thing to eat like this on special occasions, but it is entirely another to eat like this on a day to day basis. One last tidbit of info about Type 2 Diabetes...when you get diagnosed it takes 10-15 years off your life expectancy. 

Shocking, I know, and so simple to avoid.

UPDATE: So obviously after posting this a few minutes ago I found Paula's new website Diabetes In A New Light. Take a look a the video on the homepage. Let me know if you think this lady is ever going to beat it...this is 100% pro-pharmaceutical propaganda. Sorry Paula, you sold out. 

Monday, January 16, 2012

Continued...Workout Goals for 2012

Remember about 2 weeks ago I wrote about my workout goals for 2012? Well, since I made an unofficial commitment to run/walk 1000 miles in 2012 I have had this nagging thought..."maybe I should run the NYC marathon..."

Let me elaborate on my love/hate relationship with running. I signed up for the high school cross country team when I was in eighth grade. Before that, the only running I did was through backyards in our neighborhood when we would play manhunt. Cross country freshman year was uneventful....except for the fact that I hurt my knee and never properly took care of it, thus I still have a stabbing pain when I run more than 6 miles at a clip. I continued to do indoor track and outdoor track. Indoor was by far my favorite (when I say favorite I mean I didn't completely dread it) for the sole fact that I hated running around the outdoor track. I can't really explain why, but I just did. But when I think back to why I hated it, I think part of it was the competition. I hated competing. The stress just did not do anything for me. Also, I knew I was not going to be one of the top runners because I didn't have the drive to be.

I think my last season on the track team was spring of my junior year (can't remember if I did it senior year, but I'm leaning towards no) which consisted of me and a certain friend- who will remain nameless- hiding in the cafeteria until the track bus left. Then we would go back to her house, eat bagels and Oreos, and play softball in the back yard.

That was my illustrious high school running career.

Running has always been my go-to workout though. Before I started with my trainer, I didn't lift weights- EVER. I did yoga every once and a while, but I didn't consider that a workout (until I found hot yoga).

When my trainer asked if I wanted to do 1000 miles in 2012 I said yes right away. Something about it just felt right. For the past two weeks I have been mulling over signing up for the marathon in my head. I talked to everyone about it. I tried visualizing running 26.2 miles. I what-if'd myself. I told myself that if old people and fat people can do it...I certainly can. I just have to train properly so that I don't blow out my knee.

Today I signed up. My entry number is 906642 and I will be picking a charity to raise money for when they are all announced in March.

I am excited, and going to keep plugging away at my 1000 miles for this year. At the end of last week I had completed 32.25 which is about 30 miles more than I would have done had I not made this commitment to myself.

Anyone have any advice for training for a marathon?

Friday, January 13, 2012

5 Ways: Quiche

One of my goals this year is to complete my book. I started with the idea of writing a book a little over a year ago. Last year I spent a lot of time researching, cooking, and cleaning up what I ate. Throughout this process, the scope of what I want to turn into a book changed a few times because I wasn't satisfied. I always felt like my idea wasn't complete. Well nothing is ever really complete because everyday I learn something new, however, I feel now that I have a "mostly complete" idea.

In a nutshell, I am going to be putting together a step-by-step guide on how to de-junk your diet while still being able to eat very tasty, healthy, and seasonal food. It is about what to throw away, what to buy when, and how to make easy, relatively fast meals. Seasonal fruits and vegetables are the basis of this (and the newest addition) which is why I think it is so important to write a guide. How many of you can take butternut squash and turn it into 5 completely different tasting meals? How many of you know what to do with cranberries (besides cranberry sauce)? How many of you know why apples are so abundant in the fall? and why it is so important that we eat tons of them while they are ripe?

Working out weekly meal plans including mostly seasonal fruits and vegetables is what I am going to be working on, because fruits and vegetables are available at certain times of the year for a reason, and that is when we should be eating them- when they are in season. Plus it is cheaper to eat seasonally, and easier to eat locally because farmer's markets are becoming more and more popular.

So expect a lot of 5 Ways in the future.

This first one is quiche. This is just as easy as making an omelet, but tastier. The key is to either find a pie shell with healthy ingredients or make your own. Last weekend I had to make 3 of them for my BF's sister-in-law's baby shower so I bought some at Whole Foods.

Pre-made pie crusts should be made with real ingredients, unbleached flour (whole wheat would be best), and butter or palm shortening. If it is made with "vegetable shortening" it's no good- it's made with soy shortening.

Pie Crust (makes 2 shells or a shell w/ a top)

  • 2 c. unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 stick organic butter, room temp.
  • 1/2 cold water
  1. In food processor (or with a pastry blender or fork), put dry ingredients & butter.
  2. Slowly add in cold water until mix turns into a dough ball. Then stop even if you have water left over.
  3. TIP: wiping the counter top with a wet sponge will prevent the wax paper from slipping.
  4. Roll the dough in between flowered wax paper sheets. 
pastry blender
Making a quiche is simple...buy or make the shells, beat 8-9 eggs per shell, add the toppings to the eggs, fill shells, bake in 350 degree oven for 55 minutes. That's it!


Spinach & Feta

The BF's Sun-dried Tomato & Eggplant

Broccoli & Cheddar
Goat Cheese & Artichoke

What is your favorite quiche to make?

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Thyme, What is it good for?

I figured since I named my blog after this herb, I should give you all a brief education on why this herb is so great. In addition to having a versatile flavor that goes well with anything from breads to soups to salads, it also plays a role in protecting your health.  

Thyme is an herb rich in phenols, especially thymol and carvacrol, which display antimicrobial and antioxidant properties. As such, thyme is an herbal remedy commonly used for internal and topical infections. However, according to the book “Principles and Practice of Phytotherapy: Modern Herbal Medicine,“ carvacrol has stimulatory effects on the pancreas by increasing the secretions of digestive enzymes, which is of benefit for digestive disorders, but can further aggravate pancreatitis. Due to this stimulating effect, thyme is usually contraindicated for acute and chronic forms of pancreatitis, gastritis and enteritis. 
In addition to being a good antiseptic and able to fight disease-causing fungus and bacteria, thyme also aids in digestion because thymol and carvacol relax the smooth muscle tissue of the gastrointestinal tract, according to the “PDR for Herbal Medicine." Thyme is also used to help relieve menstrual cramps, reduce coughing, sooth sore throats and deter gingivitis. (Original Source)
I am a huge fan of using herbs. You can take a pretty simple meal and make it taste outstanding with the addition of a few herbs (and spices). So don't get hung up on not being a world renown chef. Just use more herbs and spices when you cook!

What is your favorite herb?

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

I'm Addicted to Chapstick

In the car, next to my bed, on my desk at work, upstairs, downstairs. Sooo not what you were thinking. Those are all of the places I keep chapstick so that I am never out of arms reach. Literally! I realized several years ago that I am addicted, but am unsure as to how to quit and if it is really necessary. I mean I am a woman, and if I am not putting on chapstick I am putting on lip gloss or lipstick. So my lips pretty much have no chance at going naked.

Up until about a month ago, my go-to lubricant of choice was Chapstick Brand Moisturizer w/ SPF. I use this and only this and have for years. A few years back on my birthday my aunt sent me a year's supply of this (such a great gift for a chapstick addict- btw...she is addicted too and to the same kind...must run in the family)

Anyway, I came across a brand on Etsy called Orange Thyme (no relation to my blog) that makes chapsticks, perfume oils, soaps and other beauty products out of real ingredients. By real I mean ingredients you can read and understand. These are the ingredients in the Vanilla Honey Chapstick: Avocado oil, cocoa butter, candelilla wax, shea butter , natural and essential oils.

I have been using the Vanilla Honey lip balm and am in love! I think it is actually better than Chapstick brand. Plus it is slightly glossy so I don't have to use both. The perfume oil is awesome as well! Well done Orange Thyme! Well done!

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Eating Locally

locally grown produce at Whole Foods the end of last summer
I know it's the middle of winter and you are thinking...how can I eat locally? Nothing is growing (at least if you live in the north east). But there are other things you can eat locally besides fruits and vegetables.

I know I keep writing about Whole Foods, but I am fortunate enough to work close to one and they have been the best source of the unconventional sh** I have been looking for. There are many things Whole Foods sells that I do not agree with (like soy products), but there are a lot of things that I could not find any where else.
local cheese!
Whole Foods have locally sourced fruits and vegetables (when in season), local dairy, local eggs, and local meats. They, by far, have the best variety of organic dairy, eggs, and meat that I have seen in any large grocery chain. Too bad it is illegal to buy raw dairy in New Jersey (something that I hope will be overturned).

Another thing to start thinking about now is whether or not to join a CSA. (If you aren't aware....that stands for Community Supported Agriculture). When you join a CSA you basically buy a share of the crops that are produced by that farm. That means that you pay upfront for local to semi-local fresh produce. You get your fresh, seasonal fruits and veggies delivered to you every week. As with mother nature, there are no guarantees. Some years are better than others, but is great to know that your produce is coming to you straight from the farm. Who knows how long produce is sitting in the food store before you actually take it home (and who knows what has been sprayed on it at the farm AND when it comes into the country- yikes!).

Here are some sites to find a CSA near you:

Will I be joining a CSA? Probably not for the sole reason that I started a huge garden last year and it will be pumping out more than I could possibly eat. I am however going to make it a weekly thing to go to a farmers market once they start up in the spring. It's too early to talk about that, but I will be in a few months.

Here are some snippits from an article by Mark Bittman (one of my favorites!) about his experience talking and visiting with a CSA in Burlington, VT. Original Article
The Intervale, which is on the Winooski River, has been farmland for nearly the entire time humans have lived in this region, not only because land that floods is especially fertile (think of the Nile), but because it isn’t much good for anything else. “The Intervale was always a smart place to grow food,” says Will Raap, the founder of Gardener’s Supply, headquartered in the Intervale. “It’s fertile and flat, and there’s plenty of water. And as Burlington grew it didn’t get developed because it floods.” Twenty-five years ago, part of it was planted in corn and much of the rest had become an informal dump.
Raap happened upon the land back then, saw its potential and teamed with Burlington Mayor Bernie Sanders (the now-heroic Vermont senator, with whom I was touring the Intervale Center) to begin seeding and incubating small businesses and farms in the Intervale. The Center’s goals are familiar ones, but worth repeating: to use the land responsibly and sustainably, to help farmers make a living, and to make needed connections among people, farms and food.
Some of these farms have relied heavily upon the C.S.A. (community-supported agriculture) method of selling their crops. In a C.S.A., devoted consumers pre-pay the farmer for a percentage of the crop, usually stopping by the farm once a week to pick up a box of assorted produce. In theory, whatever is harvested that week is equally divided among shareholders. (In practice it’s more complicated than this, but let’s keep it simple.)
But C.S.A.’s have limitations for both consumers and farmers. To attract customers, farmers must diversify and plant 20, 30, even 40 crops annually, trying to grow each in quantities sufficient to satisfy all the shareholders. When it comes to kale, a prolific crop whose season begins early and ends late, this isn’t a problem. When it comes to eggplant, tomatoes, strawberries, peaches or any number of other foods whose abundance isn’t easily guaranteed … well, that’s serious work. (A common lament goes something like, “My basket had three strawberries and four pounds of kale!”) Then there are the inconveniences of picking up the box at the farm, usually at an assigned time. (This can also be a chance for community members to socialize and connect with farmers.)
For both farmers and consumers, there is also risk. When the floods associated with Hurricane Irene came this fall, some C.S.A.’s virtually ceased operations for the year. Bad for everyone.
Thus C.S.A.’s have limited impact in moving the food system forward, because most of the population prefers more traditional shopping.
And last but not least...local dairy. This is what I am most interested in now due to my recent enlightenment by Sally Fallon of The Weston A. Price Foundation. I am going to start sourcing raw milk, raw milk cheeses and butter made from raw milk that I can purchase. I want to determine a couple of things:

  • first I want to see if I can taste a difference
  • second I want to see if I can feel a difference
  • third I want to see what the cost difference is

Here is a great resource if you are interested in finding raw milk by you: RealMilk

Monday, January 9, 2012

Planting A Seed

Just Kidding!
It is the simplest thing that you can do to promote eating more fruits and vegetables in your life. It always bothered me when people used to harp on planting trees for Earth Day...Earth Day my ASS! It is just an excuse for environmentalists to bash industry, innovation, and everything else that makes their cushy lives possible.
Lucy supervised everything.
Planting a tree (unless it bears fruit) does close to nothing to enrich the lives of the people who plant them [opinion]. SIDE NOTE: When I was working on a project at my first job (at an architecture firm), we had to wait on an arborist to tell us which random trees he chose that we could not touch. I thought that was so backwards. Here we are going to build something on this peice of land that was pretty much a field with some random trees on it, and by the end of the process we would have planted more (nicer) trees on the property than were there in the first place. This was a major moral dilemma for me. I thought so 'We have to sit around and waste time and a lot of money designing and redesigning around 6 random trees?' That was one of the turning points for me where I realized that this would be my entire career. Waiting on a government bureaucrat to decide what we can and cannot do. I did not want to be in a field where the government regulates EVERYTHING!

we started a lot of the seeds inside
I miss the green-ness!

Planting a seed on the other hand is completely different. Take a tomato plant. One seed will grow into a plant that will provide food and a few plants will provide a lot of food. As we set into winter, I'm sure planting next year's garden is farthest from your mind. However, this is when I get started. Last year we started a rather large vegetable garden. It took about 2 months of researching and planning. We chopped down 3 trees (I know all of you tree huggers are cringing right now) so the space would have enough light. We tilled in mushroom compost to increase the nutrients of the soil. We weeded, picked, waited, weeded, waited, waited.  Some of our yeilds were good; some weren't. We learned a lot!

  • We learned that you HAVE TO build a fence before a ground hog makes his home right in the middle of the garden.
  • We learned about tomato cones- the spokes go into the ground not sticking up into the air like giant metal eye-gaugers.
  • We learned that you should plant 1 tomato plant per cone- not 6.
  • We learned that you cannot transplant pumpkin vines after they grow way far out of your designated area. Pumpkin don't respect your designated areas.
  • We learned that we are going to need to build raised beds due to how compact our soil is.
  • Oh, and we "burned" our peas. Apparently peas do not do well in full sun, which is where I put them.

The moral of this story is that even if you only have a little bit of space, you can plant in containers. Herbs are a great start. Also, tomatoes, peppers, celery, and lettuce are great in pots. We also bought a dwarf Navel orange tree, a Meyer lemon tree, and an avocado tree. These will all stay small so we can bring them in for the winter. No avocados yet, but the orange tree is finally putting off some oranges, and the lemon tree is budding flowers so hopefully we will have the start of lemons soon!

Teeny tiny oranges! This was back in May.
My advice would actually be to start small. I have it in my genes to jump headfirst into the deep end and bite off way more than I can chew. If you need any advice, help, resources, email me at jessicageier@gmail.com. I am all for starting fruit/veggie/herb gardens at home. It can be cheap, the produce tastes amazing, and is way more convenient. Here's to springtime!

OMG I want to eat LIVER!

Well, I've gone and done it again. Just when I think I know enough to make informed decisions about what I am eating I learn something new that totally blows my mind and makes me rethink what I have been doing.

New year's night I ate dinner at my Aunt's house and liver and onions came up in conversation. We aren't weirdos...my grandmother used to eat it all the time. As soon as I heard that my face scrunched up and I got that feeling like "I could never eat organs!" Hahaha like it's any different than eating muscle (which is what meat is).

Anywho, I was just listening to a lecture by Sally Fallon of the Weston A Price Foundation on "what a healthy diet is". In a nutshell, Weston Price (who was a dentist) saw his patients coming in with awful teeth. He knew that diet had something to do with it so he set out to study a bunch of isolated "primitive" cultures around the world. They are referred to as primitive because they have no interaction with the "civilized world". His goal was to examine their teeth, their overall health, and the foods that they ate.

He went to each culture and did just that. He examined everyone from the elders down to the infants and found, to his astonishment, that the majority (99%) had perfect teeth and were generally of good health. Their babies were healthy, the old people were healthy. Then he recorded their diets. He set out thinking that their diets would be vegetarian. On the contrary they ate everything from raw milk to organ meats to fish heads (yum!).

What these "primitive" cultures ate depended on what they had available. There was a group of people in Switzerland that ate mainly raw milk products and a dense sour dough bread.

You ask...how is that possible? I thought carbs and dairy were bad?

Well the bread and cheese those people ate were completely different than the bread and cheese that we eat today. They did not pasteurize their milk which kills everything beneficial that raw milk has to offer, and the bread that they made was made in such a way that is easily digestible.

 There were a lot of similarities between how these "primitive" people ate but here are the few that intrigued me the most:
  • they ate what was available to them (whether it was dairy, or bugs, or fish, or grains) 
  • they ate entire animals/fish
  • they ate the fattiest parts of the animals
How does this relate to liver and onions? Well until just recently it was common to use most parts of an animal. Two generations ago, people ate liver. And this is in New Jersey, not some isolated valley in Switzerland.
liver & onions courtesy of The Food Network
Since then, the no-fat/low-fat health claims have twisted us into thinking that we are healthier without all the fat. But these isolated "primitive" cultures around the world have proven otherwise. These cultures have been eating traditionally for hundreds if not thousands of years (depending) because it has allowed them to thrive and survive in their particular surroundings. They do not need doctors and scientists to tell them what nutrients are in what. They ate liver not knowing it is very high in Vitamin A & D. They did not explicitly know that Vitamins A & D are fat soluable (which means they need fat present to be absorbed). The liver is a fatty organ. They did not explicitly know that Vitamins A & D are important in that they allow all of the rest of the vitamins and minerals to be absorbed and utilized properly, as well as play a huge role in the proper functioning of hormones. Their animals were raised on a pasture, which in turn produces meat that is high in Vitamin D.

They weren't screwed up about what they should eat. 

Why do we (Americans) think we know it all? Why in a relatively short period of time have we screwed it all up? Who do we think we are?

After listening to this lecture, I got the uncontrollable urge to try liver. I heard horror stories from my mom and aunt about liver and onions, but I have a feeling that if I use enough butter and make a pate it will be delicious. I mean if the French can eat it (and a lot of it) why can't I?

Coming Soon...liver pate... are you yay or nay?

*By the way... if you were like me and against liver (or other meat) you can take a cod liver oil supplement, but not without butter!!! Butter makes everything better.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Potato Salad Heaven

No matter the bad wrap that potatoes have gotten, they are still a whole food. Yes they are a high-carb food, but if you have taken nothing from reading my blog so far please take this:

  • your body needs carbs to function properly
  • there is a difference between good carbs (fruits, vegetables, and whole grains) and bad carbs (processed junk devoid of nutrition)
  • you can loose weight by eating nothing but carbs (the good ones)
Most of the dietary advice out there is totally F'd up. No fat, low-carb, no fruit, high protein- WRONG! In all the lectures I have listened to thus far from Integrated Nutrition and from my own research there is a common theme: to avoid chronic sickness eat mostly plant based foods. And the more the merrier. Now that doesn't mean that you can eat nothing but potatoes all day everyday (I wish), but it is important to eat a wide variety of fruits, vegetables, seeds, nuts, and whole grains. 

In my (humble) opinion, it doesn't even serve us to focus on getting enough of a certain vitamin or mineral, anti-oxidant or phytochemical. That is just confusing and cumbersome. Instead focus on eating real whole foods, real ingredients, and a wide variety of them. That is one simple way you can get the range of nutrients your body needs without counting calories, percent of Vitamin C, grams of fiber, etc.

With that said...here is my fast, easy, and delicious potato salad:
  • 5-6 sml potatoes (baked)
  • 2 tbsp canola mayonnaise
  • 1 tbsp spicy brown mustard
  •  thyme, a bunch
  • salt & pepper to taste
You can also add hard boiled eggs, celery, rosemary, onion, turmeric, and you can use plain Greek yogurt instead of mayonnaise. 

Do you have a favorite ingredient to add to your potato salad?

Bad Breath

So recently my BF has told me that I always have bad breath. What? NO! How could that be? I thought it was because I wasn't flossing enough. Fixed that. I thought maybe I wasn't brushing enough. Fixed that. I thought it may be what I was eating. Fixed that.

Well, it wasn't any of those. Let me enlighten you on a little thing called cryptic tonsils. A little over a year ago I was just sitting down in my seat on a flight back from Vegas. I was severely hung over, and neurotically anxious. TIP: don't go to Vegas if you have chronic-high-level-anxiety. Anyway, I was reading my book before takeoff and I sneezed, spitting out this white ball. I was like "S-H-I-T that must have been a filling!" But I didn't think the force of a sneeze could dislodge a cavity filling. I couldn't examine it because there was a man sitting next to me. Haha could you imagine? So I brushed it to the floor and continued having a mini-anxiety meltdown.

A couple of weeks later, my sister and I took a weekend trip up to Newport, RI where I learned that the same thing happens to her (sorry Julie, couldn't omit this part). She can actually get them out though. I was like WAIT! Is this bad? Do I have to get surgery? A million questions. She had gone to the doctor about it, and apparently it is not bad unless you start having chronic sore throats (which I don't).

Flash forward one year. This morning, about 2 minutes after I woke up I sneezed dislodging one of those little white balls again. This time in the privacy of my bedroom I could examine it. Gross I know, but you know you do gross shit too when you are in private.

I Googled "coughing up little white balls" and this is what it says:
Cryptic tonsils are pockets in the tonsils that accumulate food and other debris, cause bad breath and occasionally sore throat. Cryptic tonsils are also called tonsil stones, tonsilloliths, fetid tonsils and chronic caseous tonsillitis.
You can get cryptic tonsils because you have naturally "wrinkly" tonsils, which are more prone to trap food. Other debris can accumulate in these holes in your tonsils as well, including pus and a bacteria that produces volatile sulfur compounds and creates halitosis (bad breath). Of all the causes of bad breath, cryptic tonsils only account or about 3% of cases, though.
There are a couple of options for treating cryptic tonsils, depending on the severity of the condition.
  • Some individuals use water picks to remove the debris, although there isn't much research on the safety of this practice. 
  • Another treatment for cryptic tonsils is CO(2) laser cryptolysis. This is an in-office procedure which uses a laser beam to ablate (get rid of) the pockets in the tonsils. The patient is given a local anesthetic to prevent pain and the procedure takes about 20 minutes. Cryptic tonsils and bad breath may be cured the first time this procedure is performed, but some individuals may need the procedure a second time.
  • The last option to treat cryptic tonsils is a tonsillectomy. Removing the tonsils is effective virtually 100 percent of the time, but the surgery has risks that must be considered. Tonsillectomy is usually only recommended if you have other problems related to your tonsils such as chronic strep throat or sleep apnea.
 (Original Source)
I was like EPIPHANY! THIS IS WHY I HAVE HAD BAD BREATH! So I choked myself for about 10 minutes trying to see if there were any more back there. No luck. But I am going to ask my BF if my breaf still stinks.

Haha, good morning! hope you have a lovely day!

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Oh the PAIN!

I don't know if you remember the story about the last time I took Tylenol to relieve my EPISODE cramps. Well, I took too much, destroyed my stomach, and haven't taken it since.

TYLENOL CONSUMPTION: 6 pills x 3/day x 1-2 days = recipe for serious disaster
ADVIL CONSUMPTION: 2 pills x 2/day x 1-2 days = I can deal with this

Ever since I "became a woman" at the age of 13 I have had debilitating cramps. They used to be so bad that I would be bed ridden for 2 whole days (either at home or in the nurses office at school). I think people thought I was exaggerating, but I assure you I was not. I remember my mom being like, "How are you going to go to work when you get older?" Trust me, that is not something you want to hear when you are 13 and have just been involuntarily thrown into bloody torture that will repeat itself EVERY MONTH FOR THE NEXT 40 YEARS!!!!!!

Anywho...I just came across this article from Dr. Mercola on natural pain killers and thought I would share it with you. I am going to start using some of this stuff and see if it works. These suggestions are more along the lines of prevention than band-aid (which is what Tylenol & Advil are).
  • Start taking a high-quality, animal-based omega-3 fat like krill oil. Omega-3 fats are precursors to mediators of inflammation called prostaglandins. (In fact, that is how anti-inflammatory painkillers work, they positively influence prostaglandins.) The omega-3 fats EPA and DHA contained in krill oil have also been found in many animal and clinical studies to have anti-inflammatory properties.
  • Eliminate or radically reduce most grains and sugars (including fructose) from your diet. Avoiding grains and sugars will lower your insulin and leptin levels. Elevated insulin and leptin levels are one of the most profound stimulators of inflammatory prostaglandin production. That is why eliminating sugar and grains is so important to controlling your pain and other types of chronic illnesses.
  • Optimize your production of vitamin D by getting regular, appropriate sun exposure, which will work through a variety of different mechanisms to reduce your pain.
  • In the meantime, you don't need to suffer unnecessarily. The following options provide excellent pain relief without any of the health hazards that acetaminophen and other pain relievers carry:
    • Astaxanthin: One of the most effective oil-soluble antioxidants known. It has very potent anti-inflammatory properties and in many cases works far more effectively than many NSAIDs. Higher doses are typically required and one may need 8 mg or more per day to achieve this benefit.
    • Ginger: This herb is anti-inflammatory and offers pain relief and stomach-settling properties. Fresh ginger works well steeped in boiling water as a tea or grated into vegetable juice.
    • Curcumin: Curcumin is the primary therapeutic compound identified in the spice turmeric. In a study of osteoarthritis patients, those who added 200 mg of curcumin a day to their treatment plan had reduced pain and increased mobility.  In fact, curcumin has been shown in over 50 clinical studies to have potent anti-inflammatory activity, as well as demonstrating the ability in four studies to reduce Tylenol-associated adverse health effects.  
    • Boswellia: Also known as boswellin or "Indian frankincense," this herb contains powerful anti-inflammatory properties which have been prized for thousands of years. This is one of my personal favorites as I have seen it work well with many rheumatoid arthritis patients.
    • Bromelain: This protein-digesting enzyme, found in pineapples, is a natural anti-inflammatory. It can be taken in supplement form, but eating fresh pineapple may also be helpful.
    • Cetyl Myristoleate (CMO): This oil, found in fish and dairy butter, acts as a "joint lubricant" and an anti-inflammatory. I have used this for myself to relieve ganglion cysts and a mild annoying carpal tunnel syndrome that pops up when I type too much on non-ergonomic keyboards. I used a topical preparation for this.
    • Evening Primrose, Black Currant and Borage Oils: These contain the fatty acid gamma linolenic acid (GLA), which is useful for treating arthritic pain.
    • Cayenne Cream: Also called capsaicin cream, this spice comes from dried hot peppers. It alleviates pain by depleting the body's supply of substance P, a chemical component of nerve cells that transmits pain signals to your brain.
    • Therapeutic modalities such as yoga, acupuncture, meditation, hot and cold packs, and even holding hands can also result in astonishing pain relief without any drugs. (Not sure if holding hands is really going to help my raging cramps)
I have incorporated some of these into my diet, but not consistently. I am going to work on being more consistent which includes getting back to hot yoga. I started doing hot yoga 2 years ago and love it! I can't do it more than once a week though without getting burnt out, but it is great cardio and stretching.  

Does anyone have any other natural pain remedies?

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

REVIEW: Suki Face Wash

About a month or two back, I started to think about all of the beauty products I use (not many compared to most women I'm sure) and how they are probably not safe. I thought about all of the chemicals and preservatives that are put into processed food, and figured it is probably 100 times worse with stuff that just goes on your skin. I was right.

Your skin is an organ too, and the amount of heavy duty (cheap) moisturizer I have used in my lifetime is ridiculous...and gave me cause for concern.

I found a website Saffron Rouge that actually does all of the research for you. They review products' ingredients and if they don't pass...they don't sell!
Why settle for beauty products that don’t live up to their labels? At Saffron Rouge, we evaluate every ingredient so you don’t have to. All the products you see here are made without the plastics, silicones, petroleum, artificial fragrances, dyes, and other unsafe ingredients found in most beauty products, and are guaranteed to give you results. - Saffron Rouge
I thought this was great because I had originally bought a book of cosmetic ingredients (it's like a dictionary) and had planned on doing this myself with all of the products that I use. I started and stopped almost immediately because in any given bottle there was literally dozens of chemicals listed.

But before I had gotten into reading the ingredients of my beauty products, I switched from my globs of cheap, thick moisturizer to using coconut oil (and just recently sesame oil). I like the thought of being able to eat what goes on my body. That is how nature intended. I'm sure people in coconut growing regions use coconut oil for their skin and hair.

Back to the rest of my beauty regimen. I had found a brand on Saffron Rouge called Suki. I was looking for new face wash and found Suki's Exfoliate Foaming Cleanser. The reason I picked this product is because I checked out all of the reviews and majority of them were raving (especially the people with sensitive skin). Saffron rouge was generous enough to send me the product to try (Thank you!)

First of all let me tell you that I am relentless about using products that make my skin feel good. Over the past few years I have developed adult acne (AWESOME) and have always had EXTREMELY dry skin especially during the winter months. While I am trying to correct this through my diet, I need some quick relief in the meantime. If something doesn't make my skin feel good or cause me to break out (pretty easy) I stop using it.

So I have been using the Suki Exfoliate Foaming Cleanser for the past two weeks and I love, love, love it! It starts out really grainy (I scoop out a little on one finger) and then you wet it and lather in your hands to moisten it up...then scrub your face. As you scrub the granules dissolve and it turns into a lovely face wash. When you rinse it off your face feels clean without feeling stripped. Also, the smell is AMAZING! It's like sniffing a sugary lemon. Very refreshing first thing in the morning. Two thumbs up!

that amount is all you need for your entire face and neck
(unless you have a really long neck- haha)
I also got a chance to try out a few other samples of products by Suki Skincare. The Suki Butter Cream Healing Salve was my favorite by far. It is sooooo thick and the type of thing that you put on your really dry spots like elbows, knees, ankles, and heels.

*BONUS- I put it on my face because I was at the BF's house and forgot my face cream and this was the only thing available. At first it was a little greasy, but as it absorbed in it made my face feel super moisturized...AND! It made all of my tiny wrinkles go away! I'm not exaggerating. I have 2 spots, one on my forehead and the other under my eyes, where if I am really dry they are really obvious (Damn sun damage from life guarding for 5 years w/o caring about sunscreen!). Anyway I would not recommend this for everyday use, but it works in a pinch or if you are really, really dry.

Thanks again Saffron Rouge and Suki!

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

My workout GOALS for 2012

someecards.com - Why do I sign up for all these damn workout challenges?

Well I did it again...signed myself up for another workout challenge. Except instead of only lasting 5 weeks, this one is a year long. A few weeks ago I had made one of my goals to workout 5 days a week (M-F). I figured the best possible way to achieve this is to put it in my calendar and to go immediately after work. Last year I had made it my goal to workout twice a week with my trainer, which I accomplished (for the most part). Time to up the ante. 

This is what I had planned before I got wind of the challenge:
  • M- 1 hr lifting and 20 min cardio
  • T- 1 hour cardio
  • W- 1 hour lifting and 20 min cardio
  • Th- 1 hour hot yoga
  • F- 1 hour cardio
The challenge I just signed up for is to run/walk 1000 miles in 2012. That rounds out to 2.75 miles per day (or 20 miles per week). So I am going to have to run/walk at least 5 days a week. This is what it is going to take:
  • M- 1 hr lifting & 2 mile run
  • T-  2 mile run & 3 mile walk
  • W- 1 hour lifting & 2 mile run
  • Th- 1 hour hot yoga
  • F- 2 mile run & 3 mile walk
  • S- 6 mile walk
Does this sound too ambitious??? Do you have workout goals for 2012?
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