So.. i talked about the importance of shopping local a few weeks ago. Which is something that is important to me. Aside from shopping though, our little community is important to me. We aren't moving. The grass isn't going to be greener anywhere else. We embrace it. The pros, the cons.. There is no use in complaining about what we can't get, or can't do. Turn that around.. we are blessed in so many ways with what is available to us. I always tell my kids.. "It could always be worse. We have clean water, a roof over are heads, and plenty of food!" When is the last time that you really thought about that? I mean.. really thought about how blessed we are to be able to turn a faucet on and get clean water! How can you not be happy about that! So, no.. we don't have big box stores where you can get everything you need in one shot, but we do have a great support system of friendly people who all want to see this little town succeed.
For me there was a support system.
A few years ago about 12 families in our town got together to create what we called "Community Supportive Network" It was a diverse group of people who all wanted to help support others in the group and also learn some new things from different people. We had by weekly meetings (held at someones house) and monthly events. It was so great to be engaged in community with others. We made soap, created a weekly raw milk pick-up from a local dairy, had potlucks, made apple cider, held herbal workshops in medicine making and self care products. We canned food together. We made bagels together. It was great in so many ways. There were people available to help. People just a phone call away when a family had trees drop in their driveway. The guys were there to clean it up. It was the greatest support system. It was right for everyone at that point in their lives.
Since then though the group has not been as active. We have all remained friends. A few still get milk weekly, but at some point everyone's lives have gone a different direction. Which is not bad. Everyone needs to grow and change. Josh and I have been feeling that void though. The void of avid community building. We at times get pretty consumed with the restaurant and some days feel like they should have more hours. We still get home though and think.. how can we be living more in community. I feel like we can not be the only ones feeling this way. In fact I know we aren't.
I'm talking about community where you can ask a favor of your neighbor and they expect nothing in return, where there are so many people to help with a project that there are idle hands. It is achievable. The people are here. There are so many groups that anyone could get involved with. But that is what its going to take Involvement! People stepping outside of their comfort zones. People putting in the extra time and going to extra mile. I know that sounds exhausting, but there are already a few doing it. Trying their hardest to make this community great.
So then where do we start? How do we build community? Baby steps..
Get to know your neighbors. I mean really get to know them. It's a small town so I know we all say... oh yeah, I know that person. But do you really? Invite them over, talk to them, learn about their lives. Help them out if they need it.
Join a local club or group. Get involved in something new. Learn new things. Meet new people. Make new friends.
Get involved with the kids in the community. Invest your time with them. Coach a sport, volunteer at the school, help organize an event. The kids will appreciate it. The kids need it. They need to see adults working hard to make our community succeed. They need to learn to do acts of service and be involved. I feel like this could be one of the most important parts of community building. Kids learn by seeing, not by listening. Lead by example.
Start something. Put yourself out there. I know that isn't for everyone. Which is perfectly fine. But if you have an idea, let people know. See if there is interest. Everything has to start somewhere. Start small.
Go to local meetings and see what's happening around town. I'll be honest.There are a lot of things that I miss. I'll use the conservation district as an example. Until I started going to some of their events, I had no idea how much they do for the community. (Which is a LOT) That's just one organization. Those are just a few examples. There are numerous ways to live in community.
We have had 2 Simply Nourished Workshop series now. I know those people were probably feeling just as uncomfortable as they were excited about joining something new. I was nervous, that's for sure. Looking back though, that's the sense of community I feel like I've been missing. That comfort of seeing the same people every week. Standing back and listening to the buzz of excited conversation. Getting to know them. Laughing, being real, learning about their lives. Creating a connection. We are friends. They all signed up, not knowing what to expect.. I'm hoping they've all taken something wonderful away from it.
So, as your reading this, I know it sounds like a lot. I know. I get it. We are all busy. We all have lives, Many of us are already doing things and are involved in groups or organizations. I guess I'm just trying to say, don't be afraid. Try something new. It might be the best thing you've done in awhile!
So, I don't really have any big story this week. I'm feeling a bit dreary, I'm afraid.
Which is ridiculous because I’ve just returned from a memorable vacation to Costa Rica! I had the honor and privilege of serving as bridesmaid in the wedding of dear friends. My second born daughter, Amelia, was my travel companion, which made it extra special as she is in her first year at college... far enough from home that we don't get to see her very often. I tend to hold on to these prolonged visits as a toddler would hold on to the ankles of their mother while pitching a fit. Don't go!!
Side bar: For those of you who’ve sent your child off to college for the first time, you must know the heartache of not only missing them, but of all the life they take with them. The friends, the hoopla, the slamming doors, the demands, the animated stories, the laughter, the gossip, the overall energy they bring into the world. It all leaves the house and goes with them...to school. To their new community. It’s something to get used to, that’s for sure.
But this trip. It was unforgettable, really. Not only this special time with my daughter but also spending time with friends, old and new. Lisa, the bride, not only is a wonderful friend to me, but she has brought really special people into my life. Great friends I now travel and meet up with regularly. Time spent with them is full of fun and laughter, sometimes tears. In Costa Rica I was able to meet other friends of the wedding couple. Husbands and wives, mothers and daughters, mothers and sons, brothers and sisters, friends from high school, in-laws and outlaws... It was just a wonderful mix of people and I got to sit back and soak up the love among us all.
The Monkey Bar, photo credit Lisa Kronander (the bride!)
Then there was the food. I had been asked a few of times how I planned to stay plant-based on this trip. It was so easy! Seasonal and locally grown tropical fruits: watermelon, cantaloupe, honeydew melon, papaya, pineapple and bananas. They served a number of themed entrées, but I stuck to a daily variety of beans and rice dishes along with many selections of greens and vegetables from a gorgeous, fresh salad bar with all the toppings you could imagine.
Plus there was fresh guacamole- the biggest bowl you've ever seen. I knew it was freshly made because they'd left all the stones mixed in...a fun little trick for keeping it green through the course of the meal. I was in Heaven.
But see...Nothing starts to spoil a good vacation like, what my friend Chrissy likes to call, "Re-entry".
Re-entry is the time of transition that begins toward the end of your trip and can last up to a week after your return, minimum.
Re-entry, for me, usually begins 1-2 days before my return trip home. I start to think about re-packing, doing up the laundry so I have less to do when I get home, eating up the food, if that’s the case, checking my flight or gassing up the car, re-organizing my things in an effort to make packing easier on the last day, glancing at my calendar to see what my obligations are after I return home. Plus, I start to consider facing the fear of my imminent death by plane or car crash.
All of this starts to rob me of the last couple days of what is still considered my vacation.
And then I start to get sort of whiney, my alter ego surfaces, Debbie Downer, and I begin to have an overall sense of the blues.
I’ve been looking forward to this trip for so long. And now it’s here and now it’s gone. It’s over. And traveling back home doesn’t feel nearly as thrilling as it felt traveling TO my destination. Ever notice that? When I’m leaving for vacation I’d gladly get up at 2 am, take planes, trains and automobiles, gaily jumping through all the hoops, to get to where I’m going. But the trip home is so lackluster...I always feel as though I’m heading in the wrong direction. Like I'm going the wrong way. I have a very low tolerance for traffic, tight connections and people in general. Plus I'm usually out of money. Probably because I was so free with it in the beginning, during the honeymoon phase of my holiday.
I arrive home exhausted and annoyed that I have obligations the next day. That I didn’t allow myself some time to recuperate and rest. And frankly, this exhaustion is often tremendous. I’m not sure why...I was just on vacation! Shouldn’t I be refreshed and renewed with a new spring in my step?
Actually, I am remembering vacations when I did feel renewed and ready to come home. Times where I’ve been able to be away from home for 10 days or longer. As stay-at-home moms, my friend Wendy and I used to do this in the summer with our girls...a week or so at my house in PA and a week or so at her house in South Carolina. And there were summers when my in-laws would allow us extended stays at their condo on the beach, staying 2 weeks when we could and once we stayed THREE WEEKS! They were good to us.
Only after being away from home for 10 days or longer was I really able to feel like it had been a vacation. So maybe that’s it. Maybe our vacations just are not as long as they should be. We often short change ourselves in this country for what is a socially acceptable break from work and everyday life...7 days? But we have to remember to subtract for re-entry and subtract at least another day for travel on the front end...we are really only enjoying 3-4 days out of 7. I feel cheated.
I'm just saying.
So if it's impossible to take an extended vacation, what is the cure for suffering the effects of re-entry?
I have no idea.
The only thing I can think of that brings any relief at all is to start planning my next vacation.
Anxiety disorders and depression are reaching epidemic proportions. Surpassing depression, 40% of adults and 12% of adolescents and teens have diagnosed anxiety disorders! To those who are not suffering, it is very hard to comprehend the illogical fears of those with these anxiety disorders. Some try to rationalize the fears of others and sometimes add, “just stop thinking that way”. Unfortunately, it doesn't work that way for those who are suffering.
After having a baby, my hormones were all over the place! I never hated my life or my baby or myself, but I was scared...I was always fearing the worst. My thoughts would spiral out of control until I found a way to distract myself. My fears were mostly hormonal, but a little from experience, too. My father had a baby later in life with his third wife...when I was 16 years old, my half-brother went to sleep at 9 months old and never woke up. It tore at my heart then, but at 16, I couldn't possibly grasp the magnitude of the death of a new life, of what my father and step-mother have to bear. But now, as a mother, it tears at my soul. And it tore at my mind the first year of my baby's life. I feared leaving him alone...checking on him every few minutes. No one could convince me that he was fine or would be fine. Eventually things balanced out for me and I found relief from my spiraling thoughts, but for some it doesn't end so easily. As I see people suffering with these anxiety disorders, it breaks my heart; especially, children. I want to write this post hoping that it will help at least one person take a deeper look at what could be happening with their body.
Anxiety disorders can be linked to many things; hormones, chemical imbalances, past experiences, diseases, and many others. I wanted to give some insight into one significant factor because it is one that can be changed: your gut health. Do you know that you have two brains? Obviously, there is the brain that inside your head, but did you know there is one in your gut, too? It is called the enteric nervous system(ENS). The ENS is two thin layers of more than 100 million nerve cells lining your gastrointestinal tract from esophagus to rectum. “The enteric nervous system doesn’t seem capable of thought as we know it, but it communicates back and forth with our big brain—with profound results,” explains Jay Pasricha, M.D. A new study from John Hopkins Medical Center has reported these “profound results”:
----The ENS may trigger big emotional shifts experienced by people coping with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and functional bowel problems such as constipation, diarrhea, bloating, pain and stomach upset. “For decades, researchers and doctors thought that anxiety and depression contributed to these problems. But our studies and others show that it may also be the other way around,” Pasricha says. Researchers are finding evidence that irritation in the gastrointestinal system may send signals to the central nervous system (CNS) that trigger mood changes.
“These new findings may explain why a higher-than-normal percentage of people with IBS and functional bowel problems develop depression and anxiety,” Pasricha says. “That’s important, because up to 30 to 40 percent of the population has functional bowel problems at some point.”----
Wow! What an amazing discovery that gut problems are CAUSING anxiety and depression!! For each person, the gut is home to about 1,000 trillium bacteria with which we live in harmony. These bacteria perform a number of functions vital to health: They harvest energy from the diet, protect against infections and provide nutrition to cells in the gut. Any disruption can result in life-threatening conditions(McMaster's University). Let's take a look at some of the foods and chemicals that cause disruptions in the gut leading to physical and mental diseases.
The results of this study have prompted the British Food Standards Agency (FSA) to issue an immediate advisory to parents, warning them to limit their children's intake of additives if they notice an effect on behavior. They’re also advising the food industry to voluntarily remove the six food dyes named in the study by the end of 2009, and replace them with natural alternatives if possible.
The U.S., however, has not followed suit in issuing any similar warnings to American parents.”(Mercola)
If the government won't warn you, then, I will. So here is an annoyingly long list of things to avoid. You can scroll down past it, but I highly recommend you print it out and carry it with you when you are shopping to make things a little easier:
Food Additives to Avoid:
Sodium nitrate: Added to processed meats to stop bacterial growth. Linked to cancer in humans. (Worst Offender)
Sulfites: Used to keep prepared foods fresh. Can cause breathing difficulties in those sensitive to the ingredient.
Azodicarbonamide: Used in bagels and buns. Can cause asthma.
Potassium bromate: Added to breads to increase volume. Linked to cancer in humans.
Propyl gallate: Added to fat-containing products. Linked to cancer in humans
BHA/BHT: A fat preservative, used in foods to extend shelf life. Linked to cancerous tumor growth.
Propylene glycol: Better known as antifreeze. Thickens dairy products and salad dressing. Deemed ‘generally’ safe by FDA.
Butane: Put in chicken nuggets to keep them tasting fresh. A known carcinogen.
Monosodium glutamate (MSG): Flavor enhancer that can cause headaches. Linked in animal studies to nerve damage, heart problems and seizures.
Disodium inosinate: In snack foods. Contains MSG.
Disodium guanylate: Also used in snack foods, and contains MSG.
Enriched flour: Used in many snack foods. A refined starch that is made from toxic ingredients.
Recombinant Bovine Growth Hormone (rBGH): Geneticially-engineered version of natural growth hormone in cows. Boosts milk production in cows. Contains high levels of IGF-1, which is thought cause various types of cancer.
Refined vegetable oil: Includes soybean oil, corn oil, safflower oil, canola oil, and peanut oil. High in omega-6 fats, which are thought to cause heart disease and cancer.
Sodium benzoate: Used as a preservative in salad dressing and carbonated beverages. A known carcinogen and may cause damage our DNA.
Brominated vegetable oil: Keeps flavor oils in soft drinks suspended. Bromate is a poison and can cause organ damage and birth defects. Not required to be listed on food labels.
Propyl gallate: Found in meats, popcorn, soup mixes and frozen dinners. Shown to cause cancer in rats. Banned in some countries. Deemed safe by FDA.
Olestra: Fat-like substance that is unabsorbed by the body. Used in place of natural fats in some snack foods. Can cause digestive problems, and also not healthy for the heart.
Carrageenan: Stabilizer and thickening agent used in many prepared foods. Can cause ulcers and cancer.
Polysorbate 60: A thickener that is used in baked goods. Can cause cancer in laboratory animals.
Camauba wax: Used in chewing gums and to glaze certain foods. Can cause cancer and tumors.
Magnesium sulphate: Used in tofu, and can cause cancer in laboratory animals.
Chlorine dioxide: Used in bleaching flour. Can cause tumors and hyperactivity in children.
Paraben: Used to stop mold and yeast forming in foods. Can disrupt hormones in the body, and could be linked to breast cancer.
Sodium carboxymethyl cellulose: Used as a thickener in salad dressings. Could cause cancer in high quantities.
Aluminum: A preservative in some packaged foods that can cause cancer.
Artificial Sweeteners to Avoid:
Saccharin: Carcinogen found to cause bladder cancer in rats. (Worst Offender)
Aspartame: An excitotoxin and thought to be a carcinogen. Can cause dizziness, headaches, blurred vision and stomach problems.
High fructose corn syrup: Sweetener made from corn starch. Made from genetically-modified corn. Causes obesity, diabetes, heart problems, arthritis and insulin resistance.
Acesulfame potassium: Used with other artificial sweeteners in diet sodas and ice cream. Linked to lung and breast tumors in rats.
Sucralose: Splenda. Can cause swelling of liver and kidneys and a shrinkage of the thymus gland.
Agave nectar: Sweetener derived from a cactus. Contains high levels of fructose, which causes insulin resistance, liver disease and inflammation of body tissues.
Bleached starch: Can be used in many dairy products. Thought to be related to asthma and skin irritations.
Tert butylhydroquinone: Used to preserve fish products. Could cause stomach tumors at high doses.
Artificial Food Colorings to Avoid:
Red #40: Found in many foods to alter color. All modern food dyes are derived from petroleum. A carcinogen that is linked to cancer in some studies. Also can cause hyperactivity in children. Banned in some European countries. (Worst Offender)
Blue #1: Used in bakery products, candy and soft drinks. Can damage chromosomes and lead to cancer.
Blue #2: Used in candy and pet food beverages. Can cause brain tumors
Citrus red #1: Sprayed on oranges to make them look ripe. Can damage chromosomes and lead to cancer.
Citrus red #2: Used to color oranges. Can cause cancer if you eat the peel.
Green #3: Used in candy and beverages. May cause bladder tumors.
Yellow #5: Used in desserts, candy and baked goods.Thought to cause kidney tumors, according to some studies.
Yellow #6: A carcinogen used in sausage, beverages and baked goods. Thought to cause kidney tumors, according to some studies.
Red #2: A food coloring that may cause both asthma and cancer.
Red #3: A carcinogen. that is added to cherry pie filling, ice cream and baked goods. May cause nerve damage and thyroid cancer.
Caramel coloring: In soft drinks, sauces, pastries and breads. When made with ammonia, it can cause cancer in mice. Food companies not required to disclose if this ingredient is made with ammonia.
Brown HT: Used in many packaged foods. Can cause hyperactivity in children, asthma and cancer.
Orange B: A food dye that is used in hot dog and sausage casings. High doses are bad for the liver and bile duct.
Bixin: Food coloring that can cause hyperactivity in children and asthma.
Norbixin: Food coloring that can cause hyperactivity in children and asthma.
Annatto: Food coloring that can cause hyperactivity in children and asthma.
3. ANIMAL PRODUCTS: Animal products contain Omega-6 fatty acids, also called arachidonic acids. Arachidonic acid is a non-essential fatty acid, which means our bodies make it themselves without needing it in our diets. When we eat foods rich in arachidonic acid like poultry, fish, dairy, and eggs our bodies have an excess. An excess of arachidonic acid produces inflammation in the digestive tract and the rest of the body; especially, the brain. “In the Journal of Lipid Research study, Dr. Green in collaboration with Dr Gal Yadid of Bar-Ilan University, Ramat Gan, used the Flinders Sensitive Line rats to investigate the link between omega-3 fatty acids and depression. They examined the brains of the depressed rats and compared them with brains from normal rats. Surprisingly, they found that the main difference between the two types of rats was in omega-6 fatty acid levels and not omega-3 fatty acid levels. Specifically, they discovered that brains from rats with depression had higher concentrations of arachidonic acid, a long-chain unsaturated metabolite of omega-6 fatty acid. (moodfoods)” Another study was done that removed poultry, fish, dairy, and eggs from the diets of participants and within 2 weeks they eliminated their symptoms of depression and anxiety!!
Medications are only treating the symptoms of disease. We need to be looking at the whole picture to fix the problem and not just mask the symptoms. 80% of our immune system is in our gut; therefore, good health starts in the digestive tract with nourishing foods. We can start by adding in the foods that bring health to our bodies like fruits, and vegetables, whole grains, nuts, seeds, legumes, and herbs!!! Then, as we add in all the body healing foods we will push out the bad that can lead to disease, depression, and anxiety.
You are probably feeling like I want to blame all of the world's problems on food...you are right, I do! But, I'm not saying these things without a ton of scientific evidence to back it up! When it comes to your health; especially, your child's health, you have to take a look at all of the evidence and information and make informed, intelligent choices. I'm not asking you to take my word for it...do the research yourself.
You have control over your health.
Peace, Love, Plants,
I get this question A LOT. It comes right after my refusal of the french fries or the dismissal of the house salad dressing when eating out with others and often after I’ve outed myself as eating a plant-based diet: no meat, no eggs, no dairy, no oil. The confusion comes primarily because oils are typically not derived from animals.
So what’s the problem?
Let me back up a sec. 7 years ago I began my plant-based journey first giving up meat, then eggs, then the dairy. I had read about the elimination of oils in many plant-based books, resources and documentaries. That is to say, the plant-based “diet” is stipulated by all the medical researchers and leading experts in the field to not include oils due to their direct correlation to the heart disease and obesity epidemics.
This, in part, is what separates the plant-based movement from the vegan community. By definition, being vegan is to not eat or use animal products. Period. It states nothing about health.
A plant-based diet is, by definition, a diet based on fruits, vegetables, tubers, whole grains and legumes; and it excludes or minimizes meat (including chicken and fish), dairy products and eggs, as well as highly refined foods like bleach, flour, refined sugar and oil.
So it can be said that someone who is following a plant-based diet is a vegan, but it doesn’t go the other way around. And, while we are at it, I could give you an endless list of "accidental" vegan foods, meaning foods that are not created to be or marketed as such, but are vegan such as Oreos, Ritz Crackers, Pillsbury Crescent Rolls, Duncan Hines Creamy Homestyle Frosting, Duncan Hines cake mixes, Jello Instant Pudding Mix, Betty Crocker’s Baco’s Bacon Flavor Bits and McCormick's Bacon Bits (cue vinyl scratch sound. Yeah, you read that right bacon bits are vegan)
mmhmm...and these "foods" are too
Wow. I totally got distracted by that. It seems like such good news, doesn’t it? But because we know this list of familiar foods is vegan, we also know they are NOT plant-based.
Ok. I think I beat that drum long enough.
It took me 2 years to get myself ready to give up the oils. The fact is that oil is in just about every grocery item that lives on the shelves in the interior of the store. Giving up oil meant I would have to eliminate even store-bought condiments like barbecue and teriyaki sauces, salad dressings, chips and crackers. But as far as weight loss and cholesterol levels go, my progress had slowed and even stopped a while after giving up meat and dairy. Even then my cholesterol was still over 200, just being vegan.
Full disclosure here: it’s hard to eliminate it completely. In fact, I have found it nearly impossible, even though I NEVER cook or bake with oil- not even for my family who primarily eats the Standard American Diet (SAD). It’s just not necessary and easy to cut out when cooking at home. You can sauté vegetables beautifully with water or vegetable broth. And applesauce, pureed pumpkin or mashed bananas make excellent substitutes for oil when baking. I have DIY recipes for the barbeque and teriyaki sauces, but have also found oil-free brands pretty easily in our local grocery stores. Salad dressings have been the hardest to transition from. I was married to bleu cheese dressing. But it’s not impossible and I’ve come to love new favorites using dates, tahini, lemon and lime juices, miso, Dijon mustard, vinegars, salsa, hummus, nut butters, avocado, Sriracha, vegan mayos and spices.
The truth of the matter is that it gets tricky when you’re eating out at restaurants or basically when you haven’t made the food yourself. I think it’s safe to say that I maintain an oil-free diet about 90% of the time, leaving a good 10% margin for error. Life. Stuff happens.
I know what you’re thinking. First I made you get rid of all your stuff, then had you cancel the cable, quit your job, revoked your Sam’s Club membership and now I’m asking you to ditch the oil: the olive oil, coconut oil, sunflower oil, avocado oil, walnut oil.
Maybe this will help! Here’s a recipe that’s adapted from the Whole Foods No-Oil Balsamic Dressing and happens to be my husband’s favorite. I start small with the Dijon mustard, working my way up because it’s strong for me. Here, the dates give the dressing a nice body and the quantity can be adjusted for a sweeter variation. This makes about 1 3/4 cups of salad dressing.
4 Medjool dates, chopped and pitted (soaked in 2 cups boiling water for 15 minutes)
1 cup balsamic vinegar
3 Tbsp soy sauce or tamari (gluten free) or coconut aminos (soy free)
1 Tbsp Dijon mustard
3 Tbsp nutritional yeast
1 Tbsp onion powder
1 clove garlic, minced
Blend ¼ cup soaking water and all other ingredients until smooth.
A friend recommended a restaurant to me, “They have vegan options!” We didn't get a chance to check it out for a few months. We don't go out to dinner very often. Mostly, during the hockey season as we travel around for my son's games. I get really tired of black bean burgers and veggie wraps, but my friend promised this place had different options. Do you get a little nervous eating at new restaurants? I do! But isn't it amazing when you find a diamond in the rough?! If you live anywhere near Olean, NY you have to try this place out: Four Mile Brewing!! Not only is their food spectacular, the beer is delicious! I had a mango wheat Belgian white and it was so good. BUT not as good as the vegan philly cheese steak!! Oh my gosh, this wrap was spot on! They make their seitan (re: fake meat) in house and it is the BEST I have ever tasted! It came with a side of broccoli slaw that was equally as delicious! So GO, try this wrap and get a beer while you are there!
Of course, I wanted to try to recreate that amazing sandwich...my version didn't taste the same, but it was just as delicious and I wanted to share the recipe with you! It is a little time consuming; however, it is easy and so worth it! I've made it super easy to follow along with pictures so you can see exactly what each step should look like!
While the veggies are sauteing, work up the "cheese sauce". The Cheese Sauce is super easy and delicious:
1 Medium Sweet Potato (peel, dice-1/2 cubes, and saute in water for 15 minutes until softened)
-when the sweet potatoes are cool add to a blender with:
1/4 cup of non-dairy milk
3 Tablespoons of Nutritional Yeast
1 Tablespoon of Oil
2 Tablespoons of Soy Sauce
2 Tablespoons of Lemon Juice
1/2 Tablespoon of Sriracha
1/2 teaspoon of Garlic Powder
1/4 teaspoon of Sea Salt
-Blend until Smooth
I choose broccoli slaw as my side. This is one of my favorite sides; especially during the summer! Here is the dressing recipe:
You could choose any veggies you like, but I like this one with Broccoli, Cauliflower, and Shredded Carrots. I chopped the broccoli and cauliflower very small.
Stir it up! I served the Philly Cheese Steak on whole wheat tortillas, but you could choose any roll or wrap you like!
Seriously, make this!! It is so freaking delicious!!
Peace, Love, Plants,
Recipe Adapted from The Edgy Veg
Vegan Philly Cheese Steak
I was thinking about what to write this week.. I have had a lot going on. I had to give a fermentation presentation in our workshop series this week, and it felt so great to share my little hobby with everyone.
Now by NO means am I any kind of expert on fermentation. It's fun and of course the more you do something, the more you learn and get comfortable. So i'm just going to share of few things that helped me get started.
What Are Fermented Foods?
Fermented foods are foods that have been through a process of lactofermentation in which natural bacteria feed on the sugar and starch in the food creating lactic acid. This process preserves the food, and creates beneficial enzymes, b-vitamins, Omega-3 fatty acids, and various strains of probiotics.
Natural fermentation of foods has also been shown to preserve nutrients in food and break the food down to a more digestible form. This, along with the probiotics created during the fermentation process, could explain the link between consumption of fermented foods and improved digestion.
Cultures around the world have been eating fermented foods for years, from Sauerkraut in Germany to Kimichi in Korea and everywhere in between. Studies have even shown the link between probiotic rich foods and overall health. Sadly, with the advances in technology and food preparation, these traditional foods have been largely lost in our society.
Why Eat Fermented Foods?
Besides the fact that they taste great and really grow on you, there are several great reasons to start making and eating fermented foods:
8 Healthy Fermented Foods
So, that's it. That's what I know. Thanks for reading! I hope maybe there is something you can take away from this. I encourage you all to find a hobby. Find something that you are passionate about! Get out there and enjoy!
Much Love, Lindsey
I have always been a morning person. I attribute that to the fact that I am a light sleeper and my parents were morning people. I remember having sleepovers as a child and in the early morning hours I would lie staring at my guest's closed eyelids with laser focus, willing them to wake up so we could get on with the day. At 9 years old, I recall being awake, of my own accord, to witness the marriage between Prince Charles and Lady Diana, which must have aired in the U.S. between 5-6:00 am.
I do love the mornings. It’s that time that belongs to me, alone. Everyone is usually sleeping, it's quiet and no one is expecting much of me. I mean...there were those days when my kids were really young and I felt like my time began only after I put them to bed. In hindsight, those were unhealthy years...it just went against my nature, really...but I had to take what I could get.
A couple of years ago my friend, Trisha, referred a book called, The 5 am Miracle, by Jeff Sanders. Trisha is always challenging herself in the coolest ways. I never bought the book because it turns out Sanders does a free podcast by the same name; listening just felt easier.
The 5 AM Miracle is a weekly podcast dedicated to dominating your day before breakfast. The goal is to help you bounce out of bed with enthusiasm, create powerful lifelong habits, and tackle your grandest goals with extraordinary energy. Omigawwd, sign me up!
Here’s how my ideal morning would go for an optimal day:
5:00am Wake up. Prayer of gratitude for 5 minutes
5:10am Yoga or meditation followed by drinking 1 liter of water to re-hydrate
5:30am Personal development reading or podcast listening
5:45am Facetime my husband (he works away) and tidy kitchen for the day
6:00am Creative Writing
6:30am Get ready for the day, make bed, greet and feed the dog
7:00am I’m ready to take on the world and give it all I’ve got!
See? This looks and sounds so lovely, doesn’t it? Doing all the things that really feed my soul BEFORE the rest of my day gets started. I’m just a better person throughout the day...operating from a really grounded place, on an even keel. I’m able to handle the spontaneity and challenge the rest of the day brings. Calmly putting out fires, talking my kids of the ledge, rollin’ with the punches.
But here’s what my mornings really look like :
5:22am Wake up and pray shit doesn’t go sideways
5:23am Go straight to the coffee pot and make myself a cup of BLACK joy-less coffee
5:25am Check my phone
5:30am Open the laptop and start to write, but end up checking my email
5:35am Nerved up because I’ve gotten distracted and begin to do some writing
5:45am Facetime my husband, Bless his heart, he’s looking at the toaster because I’m halfway into the fridge hurriedly finding something to pack for lunch or emptying the dishwasher
6:00am Go back to the laptop and stall for 5 full minutes trying to decide if I should write or edit or create posts or…
6:45am I get the writing in but am RACING up the stairs to get ready for the day.
6:50am Using my phone as a flashlight I creep through my bedroom trying to put together an outfit for work (my daughter is currently my bedmate), skip the shower and get ready for the day.
7:00am Leave for work, text the kids to feed and let the dog out (that I have once again, run out of time), eat my breakfast while recklessly driving with my knee.
So, clearly, this has just gotten all out-of-whack. I’m wanting to re-group so I can get back to feeling like a sane person again. It has dawned on me exactly what’s missing here.
A night-time routine.
It seems to me, when I back up from this whole picture, for all of these activities or blocks of designated time to happen, the preparation for them needs to begin the night before. Laying out the yoga clothes or meditation cushion, filling my water bottle and placing it beside the chair next to my book, pre-packing a healthy lunch, getting out my tea bags, mug and putting water in the kettle, organizing my work outfit, setting my alarm and turning all electronics off 30 minutes before I go to sleep.
Now, truthfully, I have to be careful to not wait until it’s too late in the evening to do these tasks, because getting up at 5am can make for a loooooong day. I start to fade around 7:00pm. (In other words, I don’t get many invites to a late night movie or dinner and dancing. I simply can no longer hang with my night owl friends).
If the very thought of 5am makes you cringe, I think the key here is to be very intentional about your time, productivity and your self care whether your 5 am Miracle happens at
5 am, 7 am, 10 pm or 1:00 in the morning. The point is to identify when you’re best energy of the day occurs, or where you could most easily carve out the time to do those things that ground you, feed your soul and allow you to become the eye of the storm.
Tip of the Day: Set the timer as you move through your morning routine. This allows you to fit it all in and avoid distractions. It may seem mechanical at first, but pretty quickly you will flow through it with ease.
What to Avoid: Checking your phone or email is an imminent rabbit hole...taking us on a wild ride through the internet far far away from our morning intentions. Try saving the activities that require reaction or response until after you’ve finished your morning routine.
Has your sneezing begun? It has in our house, which has led to a few sore throats. The trees are sporting buds and soon we will see dandelions. All that new life leads to pollen and allergies. Allergies aren't a huge issue with us, but as each new season blooms we feel it with some sniffles and sneezes. We've been blessed through the winter season with no illnesses so I will take the sneezing and sore throat without too much complaint!
I wanted to take this opportunity to share with you some of the wonderful healing gifts Mother Nature has to offer and for most of us they are growing in our backyards! There are so many wonderful things growing around us that we can harvest, for FREE!! Today, I'm going to share two of those that I harvest each year in my own backyard. I like to call myself a backyard apothecary because as the gifts of growth are given to me, I reap the rewards. And by reap, I mean hoard. I have been know to spend hours picking “weeds”.
Let's start with my favorite and not because it's fun to pick; in fact, it can be down right painful! Have you been walking through the woods when you just slightly rubbed against some green leafy vegetation and find your ankle burning and itching like you've been stung by 10 bees and bitten by 100 mosquitoes, all at the same time?!?! That jewel is called stinging nettle and you've probably heard of it if you are a hiker; it is one you are always trying to avoid! Take a look at all those little stinging hairs!! “The tiny sharp stinging hairs which densely cover the leaves and stems act as miniature syringes that inject a mixture of histamine, formic acid, and acetycholine into the skin; these irritating chemicals cause burning, itching, and even blistering to the skin.”*
Not pleasant, right?! Well, don't judge a book by its cover! This “weed” has been used for centuries for medicinal purposes. Greek physicians used nettle as a diuretic and laxative. “The Roman naturalist Pliny the Elder (ca. 23-79 A.D.) reported its use as a counter irritant and effective remedy for chronic rheumatic pain, muscle paralysis, and sciatica.”* Currently, it is being used in Germany where “clinical trials have demonstrated that dried stem and leaf nettle extract taken internally is effective in addressing pain associated with rheumatic complaints.”* In the United States, dried nettles are used as a component in formulating herbal supplements for addressing hay fever and allergies. And this is how we use them!! Studies have found that nettle tea can be as effective or even more effective than common over the counter allergy medicines like Benadryl, Claritin, Allegra, etc.
My son now asks for nettle tea when he feels the sneezes and sore throat coming on. He finds relief within 30 minutes and it lasts for about 6 hours. But the amazing thing is, for his mild allergies, he only needs to drink the tea a few times a day for a few days and the allergies seem to disappear for months! The BEST part of all is that there are NO bad side effects to nettles, only GOOD!! Nettles are packed full of antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds. I've found the easiest and most common way to consume them is through nettle tea. I usually make a big pot on the stove and store it in the refrigerator to have as iced tea. My recipe is 4 cups of water to 1 cup of dried nettles and a little honey for sweetness; boil for 20 minutes.
Nettles can be consumed like other green leafy vegetables like spinach and kale, cooked or raw; however, it takes some skill to eat them raw as you will have to learn some tricks to avoid those stinging hairs!! Speaking of those stinging hairs, if you want to harvest and dry your nettles you have to be prepared for picking. Wear gloves and pants! These plants usually grow together and get thick so you will need to wade through them. I use pruning shears and always wear gloves. I still get pricked from time to time as those little hairs are resilient and will poke through my gloves or find my exposed skin. They tend to grow in sunny places where there is rich, moist soil. You’ll find them growing along rivers, streams, lakes, ditches, fence-rows, and on the edges of cultivated farm fields. (you shouldn't have any trouble finding them; they are everywhere!). Avoid picking them along roadways and areas where you know pesticides are sprayed.
It's best to harvest nettles in the spring before they have flowered because they tend to become bitter after flowering. Not interested in picking your own? You can also buy them in bulk here. If you are on any medications, always consult your doctor before consuming medicinal herbs as there may be some interference. Nettles have a diuretic effect and will interact with diuretic medication. Nettles can also interfere with these medications: blood thinners (nettles contain a lot of Vitamin K which can help the blood's ability to clot), drugs for high blood pressure (nettles reduce blood pressure), NSAIDs (nettles are anti-inflammatory and will increase NSAIDs effects), and Lithium (nettles are a diuretic and may interfere with the body's ability to remove these drugs).
Have you heard of plantain? If you have, you are probably thinking of the things that look like bananas, but aren't bananas. I'm referring to the really cool “weed” that I'm willing to bet grows in everyone's yards. Look familiar?
As you can see there are two different looking plants, but they both have amazing medicinal properties! My favorite way to use this extraordinary plant is after a bug bite or bee sting! After you've been stung or bitten, rip off a leaf, chew it up a bit to release the compounds, and then apply it to the affected area. Allow it to sit on the area for 5-10 minutes and before you know it your bee sting no longer hurts or your bug bite no longer itches! It really is amazing!! It can also be applied to minor cuts and scrapes as plantain has anti-inflammatory effects, and it is also rich in tannin (which helps draw tissues together to stop bleeding) and allantoin (a compound that promotes healing of injured skin cells). The leaves of plantain as well as the juice have been widely used as topical substances in poultices and lotions for treating sunburns, stings, insect bites, snakebites, poison ivy breakouts, rashes, burns, blisters, and cuts. So cool, right?!
Not only can plantain be applied topically, it is more nutritious than most of the greens you are adding to your salad and is FREE!! They are tastiest when the plants are young because as they continue to grow, they become a little bitter and less tender (the larger ones become stringy and tough). The seeds can also be harvested and ground into a flour (I haven't tried this, yet). Interestingly enough, Plantain is a common folk remedy in many parts of Latin America for treating cancer. It has also been used for many centuries in treating sore throats, coughs, bronchitis, tuberculosis, and mouth sores. It is as close as your yard (or your neighbors).
Even if you have no intention of picking these wonderful plants in your backyard, I hope you have found some inspiration to look beyond your medicine cabinet. We can find relief through the use of plants with no bad side effects! The earth has provided us with everything we need to live a healthy life! Check back soon because I would love to share more of the plants that can heal our bodies!
Peace, Love, Plants,
*-See more at: http://drexel.edu/cnhp/news/current/archive/2012/August/2012-10-01-Stinging-Nettle/#sthash.kSv7oQbJ.dpuf
We live in a small town. It's a beautiful little treasure right in the heart of the Pennsylvania wilds. We have so much to offer. People come from all over to hike, fish,camp, see the elk herds. Fall in Emporium is amazing. The leaves are brilliant and the mountains are endless. The trails for hiking are limitless. The roads are windy and the motorcyclists are plenty. I'll sum it up... it's that place where every body knows your name. It's pretty much Cheers. In a little town.
There is a downfall to a small town. Shopping. It's not always easy to find what you need or get it at the "best" price. I would like to hope that people will soon start to realize the importance of shopping local though. It's so crucial to our local economy to keep the money in our town. Now I'm not just talking about Emporium, I'm talking about any small town. Any small business actually.
Before you think it's impossible though, you just have to do some digging around. It's doable. Maybe you just need to change your way of thinking. I know for me I had to just look around. I had to quit being so PICKY!!! The more I started shopping locally, the more I started finding.
Once I got over myself and started being more practical.. the grocery store had more to offer.. yes THE.. one and only grocery store.. (and the produce girl! She's the bomb!) I was able to find almost all of our plant based staples. I noticed myself getting excited when new products were coming in. I enjoy seeing the cashiers, who all know my name. Now, don't get me wrong. I still do go out of town to get some things sometime. A day trip to State College will almost always have a stop and Trader Joe's and Wegmans. That's not for the every day though. For sure.. We live in rural PA, I'm talking and hour and a half trip!
There is an amazing artisan center in the middle of Emporium. It's filled with local artists products from the surrounding areas. It's easy to go in and pick up something unique. A few of our friends also have little home businesses that also have the coolest things to give for gifts. You can find them on facebook @ Rich Valley Apiary and Black Dog Work Shoppe. Just keep your eyes open. Where ever you live I think you would be able to find small gifts in any town.
There are plenty of places to eat in Emporium. Obviously with our restaurant being one of them. We all eat at each others places though. The owners of the restaurant down the road came into our place for their anniversary dinner this afternoon. Sometimes you just need a change. We ordered from the pizza place tonight. They are great about keeping our plant based lifestyle even with pizza. Tonight we got veggie strombolis without cheese. YUM! To be honest I don't think that we feel the pressure of shopping local as a restaurant as some of the other businesses. People have to eat, and people enjoy eating out. Which is a huge blessing for us. It has also opened out eyes to the importance of shopping local though. A lot of the other business owners come in to support us, so we should return the favor.
I could go on. For a long time. But i'll keep it brief.
There are so many other services our town has to offer. We get our hair cut in town, our cars serviced in town, our insurances in town, our fixer up project supplies at one of our local hardware stores. Ect..ect.. The people are there. Seek them out. Give them another chance, I assure you they are trying their best. They are all trying to support themselves.
I understand that it's so so easy to go to a big store, like Walmart. But who's it benefiting? Some big corporate CEO. Not a family trying to raise their kids. I know everyone has a favorite place to shop. I'm not trying to say we "always " 100% of the time shop local. I'd be lying. I'm just asking that you give it a second thought. Just think about keeping your money in your town. Think of it as an investment in the future.
I love our little town. There are so many people working so hard to keep it alive and thriving. We have some great committees in place to work on keeping it beautiful. We also have a very active chamber of commerce always working on bringing in tourism, and planning events for people to enjoy. I feel though that shopping local is one of the best ways to keep the town going. Keep on digging. I'm sure you can find what you need!
I was recently asked for vegan makeup recommendations. I felt a bit guilty because, to tell the truth, I just haven’t gone there yet. I’ve been at this plant-based thing for going on 7 years now. First eliminating meats, then dairy, it took me 2 years to finally ditch the oil and get the scale and my cholesterol numbers moving again from their respective plateaus. I feel like I’ve changed so many things already...some of it feeling like a real sacrifice at times.
So, I didn’t have an answer for the person inquiring...which left me feeling like maybe I wasn’t being a “good vegan”, a word I really don’t identify with anyway, but I use it so people know what I’m talking about when it comes to the way I eat. By the way, I didn’t come to this lifestyle simply for the plight of the animals, but I can say, with certainty, that it’s a HUGE part of the reason I have stayed plant-based. And by using the word "lifestyle" (instead of diet-right?) I guess I need to take at look at how I’m consuming not only food but all the products in my life.
I wanted to respond quickly and give that person something they could run with. So what’s a girl to do? I took it to Facebook. I have found answers to almost everything via Facebook. Need some cornstalks for your Fall harvest decor? Just post it on Facebook. Need to know if the liquor store is open? Just ask your friends on Facebook. (Don't judge). And when it comes to wanting to be pointed in the right direction for vegan/cruelty-free cosmetics...just ask-a-way on Facebook. Honestly I think it’s the new google….and it beats Siri to the punch, hands-down. I’m finding her useless these days. (Maybe it’s just me, but Siri seemed so much smarter when she first came out 5 or 6 years ago).
So once the post ran its course, I took a good look. I discovered and was excited to find most of these brands I recognized and even use some of them already. Some of them just look absolutely so fun to try! Kat Von D...what a badass. And Jeffree Star? I heard the former friends have been feuding...beauty drama. Love. It. Maybe making the switch will be easier than I thought.
Anyway, I want to share them with you and maybe together we can have fun trying some different products and feel good knowing that nobody got hurt in the process. This list is not comprehensive, by any means, so if you have a product we could add, please leave in the comments below or feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.
And here’s a note worth mentioning. Vegan and cruelty-free are not one in the same. What does it mean to be vegan and cruelty-free you might ask? Here are the criteria:
1) They do not test their products and the ingredients in their elixirs on animals either themselves or by a third party, even when required by law.
2) They do not use any nonhuman animals in their ingredients.
3) They are not owned by a parent company that does either or both.
I hope you find this information helpful:
e.l.f.- Eyes, Lips, Face also known as e.l.f. Cosmetics, sells products largely at $1, $3, and $6 price points. Items are vegan friendly, inexpensive and cruelty-free.
Lush- Lush is a vegetarian company, but not completely vegan. "At present, around 80% of products are suitable for vegans, but there are a few ingredients like milk, honey, lanolin and eggs, which are beneficial for the skin or hair, and which we use in some of our products."
Juice Beauty- Gwenyth Paltrow-Creative Director, Check out their eco-values
The Body Shop- Lists vegan and cruelty-free products on their website, socially conscious, donates profits to charity
tarte High Performance Naturals- Read here why tarte is a leader in healthy, eco-chic beauty, offering cruelty-free cosmetics infused with ingredients like superfruit and plant extracts, vitamins, minerals, essential oils and other naturally-derived ingredients. lists their vegan friendly products on their site. I can personally vouch for their tarte Shape Tape Concealer...Ulta cannot keep it stocked in their stores. Excellent coverage!
BECCA Cosmetics- high end, cruelty free, U.S. brand
Obsessive Compulsive Cosmetics- 100% vegan/cruelty free since 2004- internationally certified by PETA
Kat Von D- A Mexican-American tattoo artist, model, musician and star of LA Ink launched her cosmetics line in 2008.
Jeffree Star Cosmetics- vegan and cruelty free
Aveda- All Aveda color, hair, skin and body care products are completely vegan with a few exceptions of products that list honey and beeswax in their ingredients. Recognized by VegNews Magazine and PETA as cruelty-free.
Pacifica- 100% vegan and cruelty-free
Petitvour- 100% vegan and cruelty-free; Subscription PV Beauty Box for $15/month samples of non toxic, vegan products to try you before you buy!
List of ingredients they don’t use!
Gabriel Cosmetics, Inc- gluten free, organic, vegan cosmetics and children’s skin care products
Arbonne- registered by The Vegan Society, cruelty free and vegan
Logical Harmony- This site lists vegan and cruelty-free brands and is updated weekly.
Sephora- This website offers many vegan brands, usually you can search for "vegan" on the website. Many of their "house" brands are vegan and not tested on animals.
Peta- People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) is the largest animal rights organization in the world, with more than 5 million members and supporters. This site has comprehensive lists of vegan and cruelty-free cosmetic brands at Peta.org.
Side note: As I kept digging through the research and talking to my own personal makeup guru, my 16 year old, it seems that more and more companies are jumping on this bandwagon. All the cool kids are doing it. Even if you are not plant-based, vegan or vegetarian, I think it’s safe to say we can all do better when it comes to protecting our animal friends...especially in the name of beauty!
Jeanmare and Cristy are creators and contributors of the Living Simply Nourished Blog. Grab a cup of tea (or coffee!), find a cozy spot, scroll around, read some stories, find some inspiration, and enjoy!
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