Feening For Fennel

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It is quite common for people with lupus to have digestive issues and  last  Wednesday was the beginning of a nasty bout for me.  The timing was pretty bad: I had scheduled an aquaponics training for the very next morning and I  had some very excited farmers looking forward to it.

There was no way to mask the pain so it was great that I was in the company of likeminded  ‘food as medicine’ people: High Garden Center farmer George,  Dr. David Epstein, and Lois Peterson; a PGG board member who is currently furthering her study in  nutrition.

Dr. Dave suggested that I consider adding digestive enzymes pre-biotics  and pro-biotics to my supplement regiment. I was experiencing a flare (an auto immune crisis) so that was sound advice. Fortunately I have all of that on hand… including kombucha of course.  🙂

Lois suggested I go gluten-free and dairy free completely until things calmed down.  She also reminded me of the importance of bone broths when trying to  heal the gut. I grabbed Nourishing Traditions out of my office for reference.  Good thing I did! I had never considered putting wine in my broth! While I didn’t go there this time (with the turmoil in my belly I’ve decided to stay away from alcohol for the moment), I have filed that away under things I will certainly do in the near future. I cooked an organic bird slowly over the course of two days.  In addition I added loads of extras: a cinnamon stick, several garlic bulbs, onion, about 2 inches of ginger,  2 inches of turmeric, carrots and celery.

George sent me into the garden.

Grinning and Bearing it.

Grinning and Bearing it.

He mentioned a few plants that I might want to steep and drink as tea but for some reason I went right to the fennel, popped a few sprigs into my mouth. I have had fennel before in salads but have always remained pretty neutral on it. On this day, however,   I was actually craving it.  And I’ve been noshing on it every day since. Fennel has a licorice like flavor so it taste like candy to me. Eating it, was soothing.

After several days of running into the garden for my fennel fix, I decided to see why my body was asking for it.  After researching it further, it turns out it makes perfect sense.  Here are some of the benefits of fennel listed on juicingforhealth.com:

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Anemia:  Since fennel is rich in iron and histidine, it serves as a good natural remedy for anemia. The production of hemoglobin is increased as a result of the consumption of food containing iron.

Breast milk, secretion:  Lactating mothers can consume fennel juice regularly to increase the secretion of nutritious milk for their infants.

Cancer:  The high content of vitamin C, flavonoids and essential oils in fennel bulb all provide synergistic healing properties for the prevention of cancer.

Colic:  Colic happens because of an imbalanced intestinal flora.  The essential oils found in fennel are useful for rebalancing the flora for remedy of renal colic.

Constipation:  The roughage in fennel seeds act as a stimulant in the clearance of bowels.  By taking fennel juice regularly, it helps to rebalance the digestive tract, thus promotes regular bowel movement.

Diarrhea:  The essential oils in fennel like Cineole and Anethole help to remedy diarrhea. By taking fennel juice regularly, it helps to rebalance the digestive tract, thus promotes a healthy bowel movement.

Diuretic:  The diuretic property of fennel helps in the removal of toxic substances from the body through frequent urination. Thus, it helps to reduce inflammation that causes rheumatism and swelling.

Flatulence:  Excessive flatulence happens due to the highly imbalanced intestinal flora in the digestive tract.  Fennel has the capability to reduce the bad bacteria while increasing the good bacteria that help rebalance the digestive flora.

Hair health:  The sulphur content together with all the right amino acids and essential oils in fennel help strengthen hair and reduce hair fall.

High blood pressure:  The high potassium content in fennel helps reduce high blood pressure and thus decreasing the risk for heart attack and stroke.

Indigestion:  The essential oils in fennel increases the secretion of digestive juices, helping in reduction of stomach inflammation and in the absorption of nutrients from the food eaten. Since fennel also has anti-acidic qualities, it is used widely also as an antacid.

Menstruation disorders:  As fennel is an emmenagogue, it helps regulate the hormonal action in the female body, easing menstruation flow.

Vision health:  Fennel has unique properties that can help protect from eyes inflammation, as well as with other eye disorders which are directly or indirectly connected to muscular degeneration and aging.  Due to the anti-oxidants and the necessary amino acids in fennel, they help rejuvenate and prevent aging. The juice of fennel leaves when externally applied on the eyes may help reduce eye irritations and fatigue.

I am on the mend! Was it the broth? Kombucha?  Fennel?

I’d say all three.   I’d also say that I am healing my body with  comfort food, soda and candy.  Except it’s real food. And that just makes me giddy.

 

 

 

 

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Natural Breast Care: Putting Your Health in Your Hands

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When it comes to breast health, a lot of emphasis is put on cancer treatment. Words like ‘survivor’ and ‘early detection’          are common this time of year. What is discussed less frequently is prevention. We now know that certain behaviors and choices can contribute to healthy breast tissue, reducing the chances of disease. The World Cancer Research Fund estimates that 38% of breast cancer in the United States could be prevented with diet, physical exercise, and weight management. Why is it that this isn’t discussed as much as how to detect cancer?

Cancer has touched my family tremendously. I lost my young mother to endometrial cancer in 2008. After her death, it seemed as if every year brought with it a cancer diagnosis for a close family member. Grief stricken, I began to wonder if getting cancer was inevitable.  There came a point, however, in which I had to decide to not let fear consume me.  Educating myself on what I could do  (instead of focusing on things beyond my control) has been empowering.   Here is some scientific support  for breast cancer prevention  that I’ve discovered in my quest to take ownership of my health.

 

Diet and Nutrition

It is widely known that eating antioxidant-rich foods (mostly fruits and vegetables) reduces cancer risks. Research on cancerous breast tissue shows high levels of chemicals such as aluminum and parabens. Eating fresh, organic vegetables and fruits instead of commercially raised and packaged produce can greatly reduce exposure to chemicals. It will also limit exposure to estrogen-like compounds (said to be a possible contributor to cancer in high amounts) often found in food additives and plastics. Limiting processed foods is also important for reducing breast cancer risks and improving breast health.  cancer-fighting-foods

Two nutrients that have made names for themselves in breast health are vitamin D and omega -3 fatty acids. It is very important for women to get their vitamin D levels checked regularly through a simple blood test. Currently, normal range is considered 32-100 ng/ml. Women should inquire what their actual number is; falling in the range is great but having optimal levels is even better. A study by prominent vitamin D researchers indicates that women whose levels are above 52 ng/ml have half the risk of the general population of developing breast cancer. As for the omega-3s, researchers in China analyzed the results of 26 international studies involving nearly 900,000 women; 20,000 of whom had breast cancer. They concluded that the women who consumed the highest levels of omega-3 fatty acids from fish had a 14% reduction in breast cancer risk, compared to those who ate the least. Scientists found that for each 0.1 gram of fish oil women consumed daily, risk of breast cancer dropped by five percent. These findings support the World Health Organization’s recommendation to include at least two servings of oily fish per week in your diet.

Exercise

4450118_thumbnail_e32xIt is hard to talk about disease prevention without including the role of exercise. Breast health is no exception. In addition to helping one maintain a healthy weight–obesity is a contributing factor to many cancers–exercise improves circulation and lymphatic flow, helping remove toxins from the body. Movements like running and jumping rope are beneficial, because they increase the flow of lymph through the lymphatic system, aiding immune function. Yoga, Pilates, and other resistance workouts improve hormone responses and lower blood sugar levels. Exercise also reduces stress and balances moods by boosting serotonin. Like to exercise outdoors? You get an extra bang for your buck with sun exposure: vitamin D and an even bigger dose of serotonin!

 

 

 

While we can’t isolate all the variables that contribute to cancer risk, other lifestyle choices can also improve woman’s chances of maintaining optimal breast health. Here are some key factors in decreasing and increasing the risk of breast cancer. Some of them might surprise you!

Decreases Risk

Having more than one child

Having one child before age 20

Breast feeding each child for at least six months

Maintaining a healthy weight

Eating a diet rich in antioxidants and omega 3 fatty acids           

Having vitamin D levels over 52 ng/ml

Exercising regularly

Getting adequate sleep

Increases Risk

Not having children

Having first child over age 30

Not breast feeding

Being overweight/obese

Consuming excessive amounts of alcohol; smoking

Having low vitamin D levels

Being exposed to hormone-mimicking chemicals

Poor sleep habits

So, although breast cancer has sadly become all too familiar, arming yourself with this knowledge and taking preventive measures can help you maintain good health.

Here’s to doing what you can do… you have two hands and two tatas… take control ladies!

9 Signs You Might Be a Homesteader in Disguise (like me!)

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“It’s not a single idea, but many ideas and attitudes, including a reverence for nature and a preference for country life; a desire for maximum personal self-reliance and creative leisure; a concern for family, nature and community cohesion; a certain hostility toward luxury; a belief that the primary reward of work should be well-being rather than money; a certain nostalgia for the supposed simplicities of the past and an anxiety about the technological bureaucratic complexities of the present and the future; and a taste for the plain and functional.”   JD Belanger, Countryside Magazine.

I’ve been practicing homesteading principles with my family for years (refer to my kombucha obsession as exhibit A). I’ve always known that I was a bit odd  but I always described myself as ‘practical’  ‘pragmatic’,  or ‘functional’.  Although I’ve been  following self-sufficiency pioneers like Kristen Michaelis (Food Renegade)  and Hannah Crum (Kombucha Kamp) for years, I didn’t fully identify with the movement until recently.  It wasn’t until I started hanging out with other homesteaders in my community did I realize that my lack of  livestock and green thumb didn’t exclude me.  As a matter of fact, there are plenty folks just like me!

Curious to know if you qualify? Here are a few signs that you might be a budding homesteader:

You have an urge to ‘grow’

My farmer friend George gave me mullein a few weeks ago. It is doing quite well.

My farmer friend George gave me mullein a few weeks ago. Time to re-pot!

A lot of people think that in order to be a homesteader you have to live on a farm, or at least have a garden and a few chickens. I live in a  suburban subdivision governed by a HOA that requires approval to change paint colors. But the urge to ‘grow’ is still there. I have a few medicinal plants and herbs growing around my house. How about you? Inside plants count too!

SN: Growing in your mindset also comes with the territory.

You find yourself gradually giving up on aesthetics

I used to wish I had more time fix myself (or my house) up… not so much any more. I have held on to some girlie behaviors (mani/pedis and tamed eyebrows specifically) but most days, I just go with the flow.   I will, however,  frantically throw things in closets if you say you are coming by.  Aside from that, I’ve willfully traded a clutter free home for scoby hotels and routine precise haircuts for weekly coconut oil treatments. Did any of that make sense? Yes?  Keep reading. 🙂

You are willing to embrace your own funk

This pairs nicely with letting go of appearances. Once I learned of the connections between the chemicals in most deodorants and disease, I decided I didn’t smell so bad after all. Ha!  Seriously, it is about much more than body odor.  Are you concerned about what you put on your body as much as what goes in your body? Do you find yourself wanting to find non toxic cleaning products to use in your home?  Pretty good chance you are one of us.

Check out our fancy dish ware.

Check out our fancy dish ware.

You recycle, reuse and up-cycle

Do you shop at (and donate to) thrift stores? Is your recycling bin in competition with your trash? In our household, very few things make it to the dumpster. We compost, drink out of reused jars, and can tell you the name of every resale shop within a 10 mile radius.

You appreciate animals 

There are homesteaders who don’t eat meat and those who raise animals for food.  Regardless of the perspective, homesteaders value and respect the role animals play in a healthy society.

You value and support local businesses

Homesteading is about building community. At its core is supporting your neighbors. Do you find yourself getting excited when a mom and pop opens up shop? Does a little piece of you die when you see trees being cleared for yet another strip mall?

My new work boots Brand new from a local thrift store Score!

My new work boots. Unused from a local thrift store. Score!

You don’t believe in throwing food away

Activities like canning and dehydrating are closely connected with homesteading because they are typically practiced by those who grow/process (or purchase) a lot of food at one time.  However,even  if you find yourself taking a leftover chicken and making salad and then using the carcass to make broth, you have homesteading tendencies.

Our family's  version of kick the can. Composting in the City.

Our family’s version of kick the can. Composting in the city.

It is important that you know your neighbors

While sustainable living involves self-sufficiency, it is best achieved in a community. Are you that neighbor that always has a few eggs to give in a cooking emergency? Do you lend tools or your abilities to those around you?

You enjoy giving and/or receiving homemade gifts

Every year we make homemade sweets during the holidays. My kids also make jewelry, bath soaps, and furniture

A Christmas gift from my oldest to my youngest

A Christmas gift from my oldest to my youngest

throughout the year as gifts.  My best friend hand sews clothing and blankets for me and my kiddos and those are amongst our most prized possessions. Do you marvel at true craftsmanship? Do you spend more money and time then makes sense to give someone something you’ve made?  It’s okay. We all do it. 🙂

If I lived 1,000 years I would probably not catch up to the Kristens and  Hannahs of the world. It’s a good thing I am not trying! That is actually part the beauty of homesteading. It isn’t a competition. It is about supporting each other toward the common goal of self sufficiency.  We each have to define what that looks like to us.  For me, it looks like providing the best I can for my family and sharing all that I am with those around me… learning and growing every single day.  Oh and an occasional chai latte  with a bit of dark chocolate with sea salt.  Hey… it’s all about balance. 😉

Did you make it through the entire blog post?  I’m not an authority or anything, but I think you are in!

 

Farm Camp Memories

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Waiting patiently.

Waiting patiently

… I just wanted to take a moment to say thank you….

She really enjoyed her experience at the farm and is still talking about it everyday. She is now on a mission and is trying to get me to plant herbs and veggies as I have a pretty big backyard. I guess I will need to sign up for a camp at the farm as well so that I can learn all about planting stuff as I am clueless in that matter:):):)…….

Anyway once again big thanks to you.

Success.

When Project Generation Gap decided to sponsor campers at Rancho Alegre Farm’s camp (thanks again to all who donated and bought t-shirts!) we were both excited and a little anxious. Some of the parents expressed that their children had never been on a farm and weren’t the biggest fans of veggies. How would they respond to being in the hot sun all day with animals eating unfamiliar foods?

Well, they responded like kids do when given freedom to roam and venture into new territories.

They had a blast.

From the morning feedings, to making cheese, milking goats, and pony rides; the kids were not hesitant to take their turn.

They also picked and ate vegetables.

It has been proven that kids who garden have a  much greater appreciation for healthy food. They are more likely to try new things if they take part in the ‘growing’.

Here are a few tips to gardening with kids:

  • Start with vegetables they are already familiar with. Berries are a great springtime choice.
  • Grow food that they can pick and eat right from the vine… very few grape tomatoes get past my kids!
  • Choose seeds that are large and easy to sow.  Think squash.
  • Choose low maintenance crops. Ones that require very little outside of watering and harvesting.  Cucumbers are easy, big producers.
  • Plants that will continue cropping/producing. Beans are excellent at this!

Colorado State has detailed information here on gardening with children. Check it out!

Here are some more pictures of the seeds that were planted and the memories made during farm camp.

Each morning they fed the animals

Each morning they fed the animals

They were so kind to each other and the animals

They were so kind to each other and the animals

A few cowgirls getting unclose and personal

A few cowgirls getting up close and personal

Making cheese is a two day process. The finished product.

Making cheese is a two-day process. The finished product.

Every kiddo gets a sample. Yum!

Every kiddo gets a sample. Yum!

Have you ever eaten a flower?  Our kids have!

Have you ever eaten a flower? Our kids have!

Harvesting Veggies

Harvesting Veggies

She got to take this beauty home to share with her family!

She got to take this beauty home!

RAF staff, PGG volunteers Isabel and Skye, and a few of the kiddos from camp

RAF staff, PGG volunteers Isabel and Skye and a few of the kiddos from camp

All the Hotties Do Pilates (and drink carrot juice)

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Spring is here and like most I am more than happy to say goodbye to a really rude winter.  It definitely stayed beyond its welcome.  As I pack up my parka and pull out the flip-flops I’ve started examining the condition of my hibernating body.  I took a leave of absence from CrossFit and confined my running to a HIIT workout once a week on the treadmill. The bulk of my exercise the last few months came from a combination of yoga and Pilates.

While I’ve maintained a steady yoga practice for over a year now, Pilates is a new venture for me.  I’ve always incorporated Pilates exercises when working with my clients.  Exercises  like the hundred, and the double leg stretch were fixtures in core work.  However, until this year, I had not had any experience on a reformer. My client turned workout partner, Jan, has wanted to take a stab at reformer Pilates for a while but I was less than enthused. My (limited) thinking: I would be trading my intense WODS for a bunch of stretching.  (I know… I should be ashamed to tell you that. right?) After a few lengthy discussions with Emily (my instructor) I agreed to give it a month. But just a month.

I am pretty sure Emily saw my attitude in the beginning as challenge. Not sure if her plan was to win me over or teach me a lesson but she succeeded in doing both.  It took a solid month for me to ‘get it’ because uhhh… it is HARD.  There were many times that I considered that the waiver I signed was not just a formality.

 

So what about my results?

Well…

It’s been right at 2 months and I have noticed three major improvements:

1) I am better at yoga.

Many Pilates moves are similar to yoga. The difference is that there is very little instruction in yoga. The instructor leads you from one pose to another with guidance but the focus is on listening to your body on any given day. There is no wrong or right way in yoga. There definitely is in Pilates. When I do something wrong, Emily not only tells me, she will come over and physically shift my body until I am in the correct position. I have never had this level of attention to detail when exercising. Read that again and remember that I am a trained professional!  Now when I go to yoga, I move more effortlessly from one pose to the next without worrying that I am not getting the most out of my practice physically.  I am genuinely out of my head and listening to body completely.

2)My running has improved.

I recently started running 10 miles a week again. I ran my first in a year race yesterday: The Atlanta Women’s 5k.  I feel like my stride is more consistent. Even though my endurance has suffered from a lack of cardio, my core strength has improved tremendously.  Emily told me this is common with the runners she works with.

3)My  muscles are more defined.

Particularly my obliques; a tough area to strengthen.   My shoulders are also looking good; the highly coveted ‘teardrop’ is breaking through…yessssss!!!  Just in time for tank tops.  Happiness.

 

On to the carrot juice.  I was talking this morning to Jamie when I came across a sale at Publix on Bolt House Farms juices (BOGO). While I don’t typically buy it, She suggested I grab some carrot juice to mix with cocoa. Although it sounded disgusting (she promised it taste like chocolate milk), I decided to give it a shot.  I am not a huge carrot fan but I was dragging today and needed an energy boost. A cup of carrot juice gives you more than one-fourth of your daily requirement for vitamin C. It also gives you half the vitamin E you need daily, 2,256 micrograms of vitamin A (more than three times your recommended daily intake for that important antioxidant). It also packs a powerful punch of  those crucial B vitamins (39 percent of your recommended daily intake for vitamin B-6, 20 percent for thiamine and 12 percent for riboflavin), and vitamin K (good for proper blood clotting).

Minerals are also plentiful in carrot juice. Each cup of carrot juice contains about one-seventh of the potassium and phosphorus you should get daily, benefiting your nervous system and bone health. It also has one-tenth of your recommended daily intake for magnesium, a mineral that plays a role in muscle contraction, and 6 percent of the bone-strengthening calcium you need each day.

As for cocoa studies indicate that it provides it own lists of benefits. However, let’s not kid ourselves here. Chocolate just makes things taste better. Period. 🙂

 

Here is how I made it:

8 ounces of carrot juice (I lazily used Bolt House Farms but juicing organic carrots would be worlds better all the way around)

1 heaping tablespoon of unsweetened organic, fair trade cocoa. (Made by Lake Champlain; I can only find it consistently on Amazon)

Mixed in my blender bottle.

Total yumminess.  Surprised? Me too.

Jamie told me she was inspired to make this after having it at Arden’s Garden, a local juice bar here in Atlanta. Guess what? They ship!  In the future, I will probably juice a bunch of carrots at a time and have it on hand for a few days. But it’s good to know they have it in case I get lazy again. Which is likely. 🙂

 

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I heart this. Veggie love at its best.

 

 

 

Greater Is He that Is In Me

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It has been a little over a year since I committed to a 2/week yoga practice. Coming from marathon training and a steady CrossFit schedule, the transition was less than graceful. Thankfully my yoga instructor, Hope, was patient and loving every step of the way.

Physically, I am stronger on a much deeper level. True core strength is very hard to achieve and the ability to balance is a good indication of that strength. While I’ve been more muscular, I’ve never been this strong. My flexibility has also improved dramatically. I’ve never been particularly flexible but running has done a number on my hamstrings. When I started, touching my toes without bending my knees was not  an option. Now, I can wrap my fingers under my toes. There is a reason flexibility is considered one of the foundations of fitness. As we age that reason becomes much more clear.

Yoga is a gift from God. A year of hearing Hope remind me that no two days in yoga are the same (meaning some days I will be able balance on one leg while other days not so much) has been a gentle reminder to cut myself some slack. Living with a chronic illness means that life is even less predictable as it relates to the function of my body. This used to really make me angry. I would respond by pushing harder and then crashing big time. I’m moving away from that mindset. Now I desire to let my body simply BE. I am so grateful for the days when I feel like I can bend like a pretzel or kill a HIIT session. But I also honor the days my body says: “Not today.” Those days (I’ve decided) are days I should listen to what God is saying to me. I try to be more quiet in general and receive.

I know that there are those who stay away from yoga because of the spiritual connection. I have spoken to people who are uncomfortable with the fact that the origins of yoga are in Eastern philosophy and tradition.

I have not had that internal conflict. I was raised Pentecostal Holiness. As a child, I struggled with not being Baptist, Methodist or Episcopalian like my friends.  While I do not consider myself to be religious, I am eternally grateful that my family’s chosen structure of  Faith laid a firm foundation for my relationship with Christ. While many things have put my Faith to the test, I have never wavered in my trust in God. Not once.

“Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them: because greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world.” 1John 4:4

Yoga is an extension of my walk with Christ.

Additional scriptures that serve as a reminder of the nature of my relationship with God.

Luke 17:21 Neither shall they say, Lo here! or, lo there! for, behold, the kingdom of God is within you.

Matthew 6:33 Seek first the Kingdom of God.

Luke 11:52 Woe to you lawyers! For you have taken away the key of knowledge. You did not enter yourselves, and you hindered those who were entering.

Mark13:37 And what I say unto you I say unto all, Watch (Stay Alert)!

I do not debate matters of the spirit. I go where God leads me and I suggest others do the same.

Below is a pic of me and my good friend Gailde after yoga. What a blessing to grow in spirit with a friend.

Me and my good friend Gailde after yoga. What a blessing to grow in spirit with a friend.

Another thing: I’ve been pretty good about sharing a recipe a week. This one was suggested by my friend Sybil.  She got it from Stupid Easy Paleo.  Their exact recipe is below.  Not only was it stupid easy, it was crazy delicious. Lick the bowl yumminess.

Creamy Leek Soup (Dairy-Free)

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups of leeks, dark green ends removed, roughly chopped (~2 large leeks)
  • 1 medium-sized cauliflower, chopped (4-5 cups)
  • 1 cup onion (~1 medium)
  • 4 cups chicken broth
  • 1 cup coconut ghee
  • 1-2 Tablespoons ghee(clarified butter), optional
  • Salt and Pepper to taste

Directions:

  • Wash the leeks well. I usually cut off the root end then slice it down the middle lengthwise. Hold under running water and separate the leaves, rinsing well (especially the outermost leaves). Sandy soup is not delicious. I usually cut off the top 1/3 of the leek and save that for making stock. Chop the leeks roughly. Add to a large soup pot. Cut the tough, dark green leaves off (save for stock). Add to a large soup pot.
  • Cut the core out of the cauliflower and trim off any leaves. Roughly chop it. Add that to the pot.
  • Add the onions, chicken broth, coconut milk and ghee to the pot.
  • Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer for about 20 minutes or until all the veggies are tender.
  • Allow to cool, then puree until smooth using a blender (be careful…you may need to do two or more batches so the blender doesn’t overflow).
  • Season with salt and pepper to taste.

P.S. I finally got a chance to hold the drawing! I used randompicker.com this time.  Tearing little sheets of paper and having my daughter pull out of a bag was stressful! lol Here are the winners according to their random picker:

Prize ID Public Info Private Info Random Sorting ID Weight
1: t shirt Robin 157C7626-2456-4ACA-A53B-31732E3BCFAC 1
2: t shirt Veletta 3488072F-BA65-4B9D-8BF8-14CD60D48173 1

Yay!!! Email me your addresses and I will get them right out to you guys!

For the Love of Beets -part 2 (A CONTEST)

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Today is Valentine’s Day.

We’ve been snowed in with 2 of our kiddos for four days and the thrill is gone.  No longer feeling the love.

But somehow the hubster snuck out into the elements and got me roses.

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They were waiting for me when I woke up. And coffee.  He shows his love for me daily by making my coffee. So although today isn’t the ideal Valentine’s Day, feeling quite happy with the man I love.

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So back to Beets. In the last ESWH Challenge, I shared with the participants my experience with beets. I wanted them to know that I could totally relate to their misgivings about certain foods. I also wanted them to understand that your conditioning is not a good enough reason to avoid foods that are actually good for you.  As a population we are so unfamiliar with how good food taste that we dismiss items that are not overly sweetened, deep fried or salty. Most processed foods do not start with quality ingredients. Therefore highly processed forms of salt, sugar and fat are added to trick our brains into thinking these foods taste good. They actually do not. They actually taste like chemicals.  When we actually taste real food it tastes foreign. My complaint about beets was that they taste like ‘dirt’. I realize now that it was the earthy taste and fibrous texture that I was unfamiliar with. Sad.  My experience with beets was my first step in loving real food.

So now I am on a food campaign. It is part of my Revolution. My Challenge peeps were a little skeptical at first but most followed my lead!  I walked them through introducing beets into their diet. To make it a little easier, I told them about Love Beets. I discovered them at Whole Foods some time ago and they made my transition easier.  Organic (they have organic and non organic varieties) and vacuum sealed, I could cut open the package and plop them in the Vitamix. Remember it took me a while to integrate the entire beet experience into my diet. Love Beets were a huge help! I suggested them to the ladies and they were on a mission to find them in their local store.  I learned from one lady that they are also available at Costco (GET OUT!).  I learned from another participant that Whole Foods has a try it policy. She was able to get a pack for free! The biggest score came when one  reached out to the folks at Love Beets directly. She was unable to locate them in her city and asked for assistance. She took the time to tell them about me and the Challenge. I told you these ladies are ROCK STARS!

Later in the Challenge, I charged them with a chance to win a prize. All they had to do was take a picture of all the fresh produce that had taken over their kitchen. I was thrilled with what I saw! Counters, tabletops  and refrigerators overflowing with REAL FOOD! What they didn’t know is that I, too, had reached out to the kind folks at Love Beets and asked for some free goodies. 🙂 Once Brandon heard my excitement about beets (and his product specifically) he was all over it! He sent me a t-shirt, recipe cards and some promotional  pins for our contest winner.  He also sent me a few others for my lovely blog followers.

So….

We have our very first blog contest!

What do you have to do?

1) “Follow” my blog AND like my Facebook page. Both can be done on this page. Easy peasy.

2) Like the Love Beets page. (By the way, they will give you a $1 coupon for the like!)

3) Submit your favorite beet recipe in the comment section below. You can a link to recipe you’ve tried and loved or you can type out the instructions for your original creation.  That’s it!

On Monday, I will choose three winners randomly from those who enter. You have all weekend to submit your recipe. 🙂

What will you win?

A really  cool t-shirt like this one. (great quality by the way). The hubster was kind enough to model it for me. Out of his comfort zone for sure! But he got a free shirt for his troubles. Happy Valentine’s Day hon!

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I will also throw a few extra goodies including a $5 coupon for Love Beets!  Cool huh?

Seem like a whole lot hoopla over a vegetable?  Well, to me it is that serious. Besides, I love to support companies who make quality products that make life easier.  I am also hoping to encourage those of you out there who are hesitant  to give beets (or kale, or parsnips, or turnips)  a try!

Here is recipe I found and made from the Love Beets Website. It is really, really good.

Tiffany Goodall’s Beet, Asparagus & Smoked Salmon Salad with a Yogurt and Pepper Dressing

Serves:
2
Preparation Time:
5 – 10 mins
Cooking Time:
5 mins

What you’ll need:

  • 1 pack (approx. 4.5 oz.) asparagus tips
  • 5 oz. watercress and lettuce
  • 3.5 oz. smoked salmon
  • 2 cooked beets dipped in vinegar (not pickled), cut into eighths

For the dressing:

  • 3 tbsp. horseradish cream
  • 2 tbsp. organic natural yogurt
  • 1 tsp. white wine vinegar
  • Fresh ground black pepper to season
  • Juice of one lemon

What to do:

  1. Place the asparagus tips into a pan of boiling water and cook for 3-4 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile assemble the lettuce and watercress onto 2 small plates and top with the smoked salmon.
  3. Add the beets. Then drain the asparagus tips and arrange on top of the salad.
  4. Finally, mix the dressing ingredients together and drizzle over the salad. Garnish with plenty of fresh ground black pepper and finish with the lemon juice.