Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Calling All Foodies.

I started writing this food blog: 'Food For Thought' just over a year ago. I had NO idea that this hobby would turn into such a passion and take on a life of it's own. Suddenly, I became a food stylist taking photos of every breakfast, lunch and dinner to share with all of you. (I even lost my iphone to a bowl of coconut curry soup while photographing it, for this blog three months ago. HA!) I bring my camera everywhere I go now: every restaurant, grocery store, farm and farmer's market may be a potential blogging opportunity. I buy things at the grocery store to review. I talk to my farmers, food vendors and artisan food producers to find out where my food comes from and encourage you to do the same. I  spend countless hours reading food science articles, cookbooks/cooking blogs and books to get you connected to the best information out there. Every single one of you out in the 'food blog-o-sphere' have inspired these changes. We talk all about food and the politics, beauty and freedom surrounding it. Every recipe you post, every dinner you make, every article you link, every product you review has inspired me more then you will ever know. We have become a tight knit community and food is our universal language. I have learned that there are many ways that we all translate the perfect diet: vegan, primal, paleo,vegetarian, and raw - but regardless of what lifestyle we follow, we have one thing in common at the end of the day- WE ALL LOVE FOOD. As we gear up for the holiday season, I would like to remind you how truly BLESSED we all are that we can take the time to "talk food". Many people out there don't have the options to eat as well, cook as well, or even have access to the beautiful nourishing foods that we talk about each day. We are so very fortunate. Which leads me to my "Foodie Call to Action," I challenge YOU to GIVE BACK to your community this holiday season. I want you to connect with your: local food bank,church, charity or your local homeless shelter and GIVE BACK. This can be done by donating time, resources or money. Get creative and have fun. We all love good food and we all have been so fortunate to have options, choices and opinions, lets pass on the blessing to those less fortunate. Rise up foodies, this is your call to action- let's BLESS those less fortunate with the gift of GOOD FOOD.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

My Quest For Epic Health: My Health Journey.

Two years ago I diagnosed myself with Celiac Disease after spending 3 years and $3000 on doctors office co-pays. That continues to be the best decision I have ever made( besides marrying my husband) and I am never looking back. Despite my doctors constant reassuring comments that "I was fine" and that "all of my labs checked out", I knew and my body knew, that I wasn't "fine". I was 27 years old at the time, spending days unable to get off the couch laid out in indescribable back and stomach pain. I was calling into work "sick indefinitely".How had this become my life?! Four years earlier, I was a vibrant adrenaline junkie: surfing, swimming, hiking, kayaking and spending 2 to 3 hours at the gym working out every night. Now here I was four years later, hardly able to get off the couch or stay awake for more then 6 hours each day. How did I get to this point? "No doc. sorry, but I am NOT ALL RIGHT." I remember distinctly a moment the day before I cut gluten and sugar out of my life, sitting in a doctor's gown on the cold table and the doctor asked me on a scale of 1- 10 what would I rate the quality of my life? My answer still haunts me to this day... in that moment, all things considered .....I replied," a 3." He sent me to the pharmacy with a slip for anti-depressants which I put in my glove box of my car and drove away and have yet to return to this day.

I cut gluten and sugar out of my life the very next day. I had trusted and had relied on my doctor to guide me to restore my health and vitality. I invested three years of my life having every scan, scope, lab and test imaginable and at the end of the day I had nothing more to show for my efforts then a medicine cabinet full of pain killers and a presciption for anti-dperessants in my glove box. I had a good friend who at the time was attending classes at the Nutritional Therapy Association that suggested to me to eliminate both sugar and gluten out of my diet for 30 days to see if that would help. I followed through with her advice and got INSTANT relief for my pain, mental clarity and lethargy. She became my guide helping me navigate holistic healthcare putting me on a strict healing diet, liver detox and adrenal restoration regiment. It was all fascinating and NOT EASY. ( To this day I think going on a liver detox may be one of the most challenging thing I have EVER done in my entire life and I am pretty fearless.;) Most noticeable for me right away was the mental clarity-- I could THINK! Next came the impressive weight loss, I lost 18 pounds in 2 months, without exercising! Boo-ya! This was followed by restored energy and pain free days turned into months which have now turned into two years!

I began to think of food as medicine. Each day I would think about what NUTRIENTS I could fuel my body with to help HEAL. Nothing was off limits, every ounce of bone broth, kombucha, keifers, kavass, vegetable, fruit and meats made me feel STRONG and ALIVE! I cut out sugar and for the first time was able to be in tune with my body and LISTEN to what it was telling me. Before I would eat what I thought my brain wanted which usually justified my need for ice cream or chocolate.;) When I cut out sugar my body distinctly craved red meat and greens- all greens: sauteed spinach, brussels sprouts, broccoli. Real food that was full of life and nutrients became my medicine, every bite provided my body with energy, healing my body and restoring my health.

In the past couple years I have been "glutened" a number of times, each notable and each debilitating me for 3 days+ reuniting me with my former self and my couch. Those days are fewer and farther in between as I continue down this journey to reach epic health. This past year I completed the Nutritional Therapy training course at the Nutritional Therapy Association and my goal is to pay the blessing of my restored health forward. My story is rather extreme but I know I am not alone. I had a friend that suggested for me to eliminate an allergen and to heal my body with food I regained my life and my health. I know that there are many people out there that are being failed my western medicine, that have a similar story not so unlike mine of tests and co pays, unanswered questions and mounting frustrations. Its hard to advocate for your health when you don't feel well . I have been there. But I didn't accept " you're fine" as an answer. This is my story, my passion and my new path in life to be your advocate and guide to health and wellness so that is someone where to ask you to rate the quality of your life between 1-10 you could honestly say your life is an 11!

Cheers to epic health!

Monday, November 21, 2011

To Brine or Not to Brine? That is the Question.

Yesterday, while I was at the Whole Foods Market checkout I and saw a display of Turkey Brine Mix for $9.00!!?? I was shocked!! People actually PAY for a Turkey Brine MIX???!!! Brine mixes are SO INCREDIBLY EASY to make, please don't spend your hard earned money buying one.

What is a Brine?

A brine is a marinade comprised mostly of sugar, salt and water that you marinate your raw turkey in to seal in the flavors and to keep it from drying out while being cooked. Brined turkey's taste better and are more moist then non brined turkeys.

Here is how to make a brined tukey:

1 gallon of ice water
1 cup of salt
1/2 cup of brown sugar
1 cup of orange juice( or 4 cut oranges)
1/2 cup of lemon or apple juice
10-15 whole peppercorns
4 bay leaves
2 sprigs of rosemary
4 sage leaves

1. Add all ingredients into a stock pot.
2. Add raw and thawed turkey.
3. Refrigerate overnight, or up to 3 days.
4. Remove turkey from brine and pat dry.
5. Roast turkey to perfection.

Cranberry Sauce: Life Beyond The Can

Most of my childhood and into my early adult years I thought THIS was cranberry sauce. This cylinder shaped gelatinous goo that came right out of a can into a cut crystal serving bowl only at Thanksgiving dinner. The sad part is that I grew up in the Southern Oregon coast where I was surrounded by cranberry bogs! How had I never had actual homemade cranberry sauce? I guess in hindsight that if I were to really think about it , compared to all of the other Thanksgiving day contenders of: roast turkey, stuffing, gravy, and pie that cranberry sauce pales in comparison.It was about 5 years ago that I actually thought about this how overlooked cranberry sauce was. I LOVE the tart flavor of cranberry sauce and one of my absolute favorite sandwiches in the world was a left over Thanksgiving day turkey, cranberry and cream cheese sandwich. What could make this sandwich that much more dreamy- if the cranberry sauce was amazing and not just a " moist maker". Here is my recipe for show stopping cranberry sauce that holds its own in the Thanksgiving line up.

12 oz of fresh whole cranberries.
1 cup of water
1/2 cup of orange juice
1/2 cup of sugar or (3 T Agave or Stevia)
1 Orange -Zested
1 sprig of fresh mint leaves.
1/2 t. cinnamon- or 1 cinnamon stick
1/4 t. fresh grated nutmeg
* Options add ins: 1 apple diced, dried cherries and currants.

Directions: Add all ingredients in a saucepan and cook on medium heat for 15 minutes until cranberries *pop*. Serve immediately or chill if preferred.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

SlimFast, Powerbars and Protein Shakes

In the late 90's I took part in the 'SlimFast Craze'. My personal favorite was to add a banana, some ice, and cinnamon to the vanilla shake for what I thought was a healthy breakfast. I was charged up and ready to take on my day until 2 hours later when the sugar/chemical high wore off and I was left STARVING. No worries, I was prepared, I had a Diet Coke to come to my rescue. Wheee!! Hooray for more chemicals! And off I went until I could have another SlimFast shake for lunch.....followed of course, by a sensible dinner.;-)

Oh man, looking back on those days I get chills. My poor body! I had NO idea what I was doing to it. I honestly thought I was being healthy.
Let's lay it out on the table and look at the ingredients in a SlimFast Shake:

Fat Free Milk, Calcium Caseinate, Milk Protein Concentrate,
Maltodextrin( SORRY, NOT GLUTEN FREE), Cocoa processed with alkali, Canola Oil, Gum Arabic, Cellulose Gel,Sugar, Mono and Diglyceride Fructose,Potassium Phosphate, Soybean Lecethin, Cellulose Gum,Carageenan, Artifical Flavors, Isolated Soy Protein, Sucralose and acesulfame, Potassium (non nutrative sweetners), dextrose, * VITAMINS AND MINERALS, Maganesium Phosphate,Calcium Phosphate,Sodium Ascorbate,Vitamin E Acetate, Zinc Glucanate,Ferric Orthosphate,Niacinamide,Calcium Panthonate,Magnesium Sulfate,Pyridoxide Hydrochlorine, Riboflavin,Thiamin Monoitrate, Folic Acid,Chromium Chloride, Biotin, Sodium Molybdate,Potassium Iodine,PhylloQuinone,Sodium Selenite,Cyancobalamin. Sweetened with Nutrative and Non Nutrative Sweeteners. C0ntains MILK AND SOY.

* Sugars in Bold

Hello, SUGAR AND CHEMICALS! Lets say that you wanted to make a similar healthy shake at home how many of you have Pyridoxide Hydrochlorine hanging out in your pantry? Thiamin Monoitrate? Isolated Soy Protein? Yeah, that's what I thought, nobody.
Seriously though, how is this a HEALTH FOOD? There is NOTHING HEALTHY about SlimFast. Even the listed vitamins and minerals are NOT your 'One-A-Day Multivitamin'. These are processed chemicals that are being labeled as vitamins. They are not regulated, they are not naturally derived, they are often times NOT even healthy. SlimFast is NOT a health food.

On a sidenote: Healthy or not, I will aknowledge that whoever came up with the concept for SlimFast is pretty brilliant. Who would have ever thought of marketing a chocolate milkshake as a diet food?! The concept was simple:get people drinking milkshakes twice a day, throw in some 'vitamins' for good measure and thus the $limfast empire was built. No one felt deprived, they got to satiate their sweet tooth and drink dessert all day long while claiming to be on a diet. BRILLIANT!

You may scoff at SlimFast thinking "that was so 1990's" and that you would NEVER fall for that today. Oh yeah? You think so, huh?
The only difference is MARKETING.
It's time to wake up America.
This is NOT health food.
This is NOT diet food.
This is not a HEALTHY snack or a Meal REPLACEMENT.
This is Nasty Processed Chemical FOOD-LIKE SUBSTANCES.