Friday Faves (a day late)


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Happy Weekend from August and I

Here I am, writing my Friday favorites post on Saturday. I told you being consistent was not my shining star attribute, but I’m giving it my best anyhow. :-) We have a few interesting and fun things to share with you this Friday post. I hope they will pique your interest and help you feel a little creative. I am a sharer, so I always like talking about what I have found of started doing for our family, what has added to our lives lately.

An Artsy Celebration! Troy and I celebrated three years of marriage this week, and at first it wasn’t going to be anything to speak of. The guys were both sick with some gross virus thing and I was definitely down in the dumps. But we made a comeback and were able to enjoy ourselves this Friday night at the Third Degree Glass Factory. Troy had the idea because, as he recalled, the glass factory has a fun open house the third Friday of each month. We were in luck, and able to go along with half the city of St. Louis to enjoy the festivities. There were Mojitos, flame throwers, a band playing lots of Beatles songs, free henna tattoos, and glassmaking demos among other things. With a glass in my hand, it was so nice to relax and enjoy being together without our little dude there in the middle of the action. I felt creative and appreciative of the city life and all the diversity available therein. Our lives have also held a lot more stress than usual these past months, and our marriage and relationship needs these kinds of outings so that we can breathe and look one another in the eye with that spark of joy and excitement that we had often in the past. We were thankful my parents agreed to watch their cute little grandson. (We didn’t have to bribe them to do it, haha!)

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Farmer’s Market Fresh

The farmer’s market in our town is one of the small pleasures I cherish and look forward to in the area. I feel at home there. I am familiar with the vendors and always happy to know that many of the growers do uncertified organic. I got this awesome “chocolate mint” and proceeded to make a mint simple syrup from it. I also purchased a few yellow summer squash that were excellently flavored and tender when sautéed with coconut oil. We loved eating them!

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Gelatin?
So I read about making Sour Gummy Stars over at Mommypotamus (http://www.mommypotamus.com/homemade-gummy-stars/) and just fell in love with the idea of making my own healthy fun treats for the fam. Plus when you read about consuming gelatin, it can do loads of good for your body including helping to maintain hair and skin health. Count me in! I made this recipe and just used the normal ice cube trays we have, but next time I’d like to get some cute molds. This is the kind of gelatin I picked up from our health store.

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Water Kefir
My latest funky and entertaining crunchy project: making and perfecting water kefir! If you’ve never heard of it before, it’s a probiotic drink that’s great for your body.

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Similar to Kombucha in its properties, water kefir is made by using kefir grains (I ordered some organic grains on Amazon from Keysands Water Kefir and I am very pleased with the quality of these babies!) and feeding them sugar water. They then basically ferment the water (the grains are actually beneficial bacteria that digest sugar) and leave it full of good guy bacteria that we want to consume for a healthy gut. The first batch I made was alright–nothing special. The second was a bit better. Now after a little more research and watching some great videos from http://www.culturesforhealth.com I have finally achieved a really yummy, and even carbonated batch! I sweeten with either dried unsulphored Papaya or a little apple juice, and I’ve been adding mint sprigs. Quite refreshing, and a natural water soda. Yummy!!! This process is much faster (only two days to culture) than making a batch of Kombucha, and I would recommend starting with this and moving to Kombucha even. Hubby still prefers the flavor punch of the ‘Booch, and I think I do to some extent too.

Last but not least…

Simple Fruit/Veg Snack Tray

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So I washed and kept this tray that my parents brought to Augusts birthday party, and have filled it with fruits and veggies and dip in the middle section so that our fam has a variety of quick yummy things to snack on. It’s been helpful so I thought I’d share! I love just reaching into the fridge and having a nice big assortment in front of me.

There you have it! Enjoy the weekend.

All my love,

-M

Fight The System, Then Get Some Sleep.


The theme that runs rampant in my life, like an overgrown invasive species (I envision Kudzu, because it’s everywhere all over Illinois and I know it takes over every living thing like crazy) branching out so effortlessly in many places, would have to be “Fighting The System.”  We question a lot of things in our household–I feel we are in an era where we must think for ourselves, discuss things, not let the media and popular belief choose for us what we will do with our lives.  There is a lot that you can lose by believing everything you see, or by being led astray by the notion that you can just trust corporations, brands, marketing, advertising, commercials, etc.  On the contrary, most of them are lying to your face as they smile a toothy, perfectly white, smile.  Greedily motivated by money, in many cases, these corporations are not trustworthy, (unfortunately, also including the medical profession in many cases) and you must do your own research and learn your own lessons if you are to be a wise consumer in any way.

So when it comes to life, we are conscientious, captive-minded consumers.  By captive-minded (hence the name of this blog), I mean we keep our minds keenly aware of our environments and we hold our mind’s captive to be educated and learn things worthwhile.  We try to sleep with one eye open and be wary of new trends or new ideas until we’ve thoroughly investigated them.  We listen to a sermon or sit in an audience with our eyes on the speaker, but our brains still working.  We don’t take their word as God’s word, we go weigh what was said against scripture.  Anyhow, we don’t want to be meanhearted, but we want to seek truth.  I have noticed lately that I can get really cynical, really upset about the state of our world.  I can feel so distraught that I cannot simply trust people with my child, trust what people will do for him and how he will be taken care of… and really angry that all food is not good food–not even most of it.  But you know what?  My hope isn’t here.  My hope is not in God’s Green Earth, as much as I do love it.  I love the earth, I want to recycle, and I want it to last for future generations.  But as much as I do, I also realize that humankind has a destructive, irrational gene in  its makeup: where we should be content, we try for just a bit more.  When we should be happy with one handful, we take two.  So I must know, as long as this world is a broken wreck that God has to restore, it will not be everything I hope for it to be.  Motivations will be twisted.  Ecosystems destroyed.  Lives lost to greedy wants and wishes.  I can try to save my son from every contaminant, poison, and cleaning supply that was invented… but he will be touched by some of it simply by living in this world.

My hope is not in fighting the system.  My hope is in the fact that it’s a broken one.  This is not, and never will be, how my life and this world were created.  I believe in a God who created a system that works together so beautifully, so symbiotically and systematically, that it can do nothing other than show us a peek at the Creator’s glory.  A speck of what is to be.  I await the day when creation and creator will be reconciled.  My hope is in the return of Christ, in His continual work within me, and His love for all humanity.  That deep within us, there is a story that speaks of more.  We are all trying to fill that void, and those who greedily stuff things deep into their pockets at the expense of others (or rainforests, or babies, or puppies..) are trying to do the same thing.  They want more, more, more, because they know in their heart of hearts that they were meant for more than this mere bleak existence that they may be experiencing.

So I will be an activist.  I will continue to speak for things that I believe in.  I will fight the system with gusto!  With fervor!  With passion!  I am a zealot for many topics, namely: real food, saving the lives of unborn babies, and issues of education & parenting.  But I have to realize at the end of the night, my hope and my soul rest in more than these things, and that I have done what I can.  Recently, I have really been wrestling with vaccines.  August is currently vaccinated, but the more I read, the more weary I feel.  The more I know, the more burdened I feel his tiny body is with the weight of the chemicals and nasty additives going into his system.  I know that I was vaccinated and I turned out okay.  I know that Troy was also.  But still there is a big, huge doubt.  It seems like a vicious cycle and evil necessity… Something I don’t want to do but feel pressure to.  I know that there are many diseases that would probably be killing mass portions of our populations these days if people were not vaccinated against them.  My counsin reminded me about Polio, and how so many probably wish a vaccination was invented when they were dealing with that crippling disease.  Without a vaccination, these may still be huge issues of our time.  But still, I see so much wrong with vaccinations.  Why do babies have to be injected with things that contain such nasty ingredients?  Mercury?  Aluminum?  I’m horrified.  Not to mention that we have no idea how Autism, Cancer, and Alzheimer’s Disease really come to be.  It scares me.  This is a place where I have to trust God.  This is a place where I have to do my best, do my part, and then shut off the lights and get some sleep.

Mothers are asked to be everything.  Waitress.  Chauffeur.  Counselor.  Referee.  Friend.  Nutritionist.  Comforter.  Jungle-Gym.  The list could go on forever and ever.  Quality time and quantity time are so different, and I am doing the best I can.  So I must fight the system in my ways, I must do what I feel is necessary to make informed decisions, but then I must put my hope in higher ground.  Not in others’ opinions, not in trends and tradition.  I cannot wear myself to the bone and then some.  My hope is in Christ.  And in Him I can let my hair down, cry my eyes out, or talk until I have nothing left to say, I can be everything I know I am and still be accepted.

All my love,

-M

Health Nut Mama


“But that’s the challenge — to change the system more than it changes you.” 
―    Michael Pollan,    The Omnivore’s Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals

There is something so fascinating to me about foods and supplements as the body’s natural source for replenishment. 

I am astounded by the bounty of resources that God’s provided to us for many purposes, and also equally surprised that so many people do not use or belive in this capability.  Not only that, but I am continually hearing about new ways of prepping, combining, growing, cooking or not cooking, fermenting, and harvesting food for its best fuel return.  It’s a true passion, and a hobby of science experiements for me.  Some turn out fabulously, others not so much.  The point, for me, is just to venture into the new in hopes of a discovery for our family.

I would love to do an actual life update for us soon, including some cute photos of our little six-month wonder, but that’ll have to wait for another day.  We’re going to visit a local dairy this evening in hopes of getting a jug of raw milk to try, so I’ve got a lot to do before then!  So, I’ll leave a little list here of things we’re trying to experiment with, and some interesting reading in book and website form.  Hope you enjoy as much as I have.

Nourishing Traditions: Against the grain of the “Diet Dictocrats,” Sally Fallon questions everything about the American way of eating, circa the industrial revolution.  She goes against the grain recommending real butter, NOT eating vegetable oils in large amounts (really gives me some food for thought), and many other habits which are not thought of as normal these days.  Truly interesting, and if I were to embrace it, a close-to-180 degree turnaround for our family ideology, especially when it comes to healthy oils.

Food Renegade: One of my favorite new blogs, this website is a complete treasure trove of foodie goodness!!!  This chick is one inspired lady, if you read her about section you’ll see how deep her love of food runs, and the purpose that fuels her.

Homemade Butter: How awesome is this?  It’s so much simpler than I ever imagined… I envisioned a woman in a bonnet dressed in old-timey pioneer day attire, churning away at a bucket or barrel for hours.  Ha!

Kombucha: I tried this wierdly fizzy and somewhat sour drink a few years ago, and have thought of it a few times since.  I didn’t particularly enjoy the flavor of the one I had, purchased from a health store.  After reading about the health properties, and particularly the historic background,  I think I want to try making my own at home.  If you get into the reading, you’ll start wondering if you’re learning about a health drink, or an alien life form… but I guess the nerdy gal in me loves that aspect of it!

Last, but certainly not least, the thought of Raw Milk.  The link begins to describe some of why this is important.  A part of me is scared to go unpasteurized, and I think up terrifying ideas of sickness and foodbourne ailments, but the arguments make a lot of sense.  I’m really excited to get to this local dairy and try some milk from their cows.  Unpasteurized, very fresh milk.  The thought that our nation takes all of the fats out of milk, heats it up, and then adds nutrients that are difficult for the body to digest… really grosses me out.  Another attempt of American food scientists at making a historic, almost unbelievable, shelf-life for foods that should be fresh.  I hope to learn more about this and share as I do.

What are you and your family trying, experimenting with, or loving?  Is there anything you’ve tried, and really hated?  Lemme know!

–M

“[Government] regulation is an imperfect substitute for the accountability, and trust, built into a market in which food producers meet the gaze of eaters and vice versa.” 
―    Michael Pollan,    In Defense of Food: An Eater’s Manifesto

Tiny Beans and Big Words


This evening, I was soaking some black beans to prep for the meals we could make with them throughout our work week.  After the soaking period was up, I cooked them and proceeded to put some rice in the cooker.  These ingredients are some of the basics for a variety of dishes that we have made in the past… sometimes we’ve used lentils, others times kidney beans, and also black beans.  Choose your flavor of the week, and you’re good to go!  I love making “Greek Salad” that’s got zucchini chunks, tomato, couscous, ground turkey, and a variety of spices mixed in a delicious blend of savory and nutritious goodness.  We could probably eat this for a week and not grow weary.  There… I’ve shared with you my amazing recipe!

Aren’t those just the cutest beans on the planet?!  ….As I was saying–before going on my Greek Salad rave–these little beans have me fascinated.  Their shiny black surfaces seem to beckon to me, “Look!  We have to be eaten.  We’re full of such great stuff!”  And I believe them instantaneously.  Even before I did a little research, my body told me (in the wise way that only it can) the story of black beans: “They make me feel satisfied, full, and healthy… How could you not want to consume them?  It’s biologically sound.”  Well, that could’ve settled it, but seeing as one of my top strengths (it’s a Gallup thing) is Input, I had to collect some data about this.  Lo and behold, there are hoards of information stored up about research on these tiny gems!

From my ever-helpful Google search, I have reaped these results, stick with me, I promise it’s worth reading!: (from whfoods.com)

“The seed coat of black beans (the outermost layer that we recognize as the bean’s surface) is an outstanding source of three anthocyanin flavonoids: delphinidin, petunidin, and malvidin. These three anthocyanins are primarily responsible for the rich black color that we see on the bean surface. Kaempferol and quercetin are additional flavonoids provided by this legume. All of these flavonoids have well-demonstrated antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Also contained in black beans are hydroxycinnamic acids including ferulic, sinapic, and chlorogenic acid, as well as numerous triterpenoids. These phytonutrients also function as antioxidants and, in some cases, as anti-inflammatory compounds as well. Antioxidant and anti-inflammatory protection is especially important for our cardiovascular system. When our blood vessels are exposed to chronic and excessive risk of oxidative stress (damage by overly reactive oxygen-containing molecules) or inflammation, they are at heightened risk for disease development.”

OK–what does this overly wordy paragraph say to me?  That black beans are a heck of a lot more complex and complicated than I ever imagined upon first glance.  Food is a heck of a lot more intricate.  We see this tiny bean, small and vulnerable to the world… perhaps uninteresting and undesirable to some…and we believe we know it all!  We have everything we need to make an assessment about it: It is black.  It will be slightly crunchy, yet give to a more chewy consistency when eaten.  It makes a good dip.  Yes, and yes.  Yet there is something wise to gain from this tiny bean.  God knows what he’s doing, and He did it for us.  Even here, even in this bean, and its amazing natural chemical composition.  Our bodies need so many things to function properly–hence the HUGE, enormous health epidemic we are facing in the U.S.  I have read that for the first time ever… obese individuals can actually be malnourished.  This means that they are getting calories, but they are empty calories that have nothing to offer in the way of body needs.  Astounding.  We consume something, get full, and think that means our bodies are nourished.  Wrong.

We have to appreciate the fact that we know very little, very minuscule amounts of what there is to find out about foods and their properties.  We have to realize that the natural foods God created, which come from the ground and not the candy land factories that pump fake things into our lunches… will give us a fulfilling and healthy balanced relationship with food!  It’s a beautiful thing, really, the synergy that is possible in ecosystems and in our body.

I think perhaps my little hats-off to the black bean is over with now.  : )  But I just had to go in depth a bit.  I love food, I love how it looks, feels, I love the textures when I feel them in my hands.  It’s fun for me to get into a bowl of rice with my hands and feel the grains.  But even more so, I love how food is something to be studied, and something that has puzzles to it–something we can’t quite get yet.  I love the mystery of food.  And I just relish the opportunities to learn more about what I can do to fuel my body–to experience more deeply the wealth of offerings our foods give.  So I don’t understand the big words yet.. the delphinidin, petunidin, and malvidin.  Heck, I’ve never heard of those things!  But I’m excited to learn more, and that’s compelling for me in this life.  The tiny black bean is spectacular–and even more so the fact that God figured out how to pack all of those little punches into it.  Wow!

If you want to read a really good book, check out ANYTHING by Michael Pollan.