Stop defining who you are by what you eat

“Healthy eating, conscious eating, eating with respect for yourself and the environment and the other people is a very powerful act.”

vegetarian-heartCarnivore. Vegetarian. Pescatarian. Vegan. Gluten-Free. We tend to latch onto to labels when identifying our personal approach to food and for many, this identification can be somewhat of a religion for them. It’s easy for us to slip into a place of judgment and comparison and feel inadequate that we’re not committed enough or vegan enough for other people’s standards.

Confession time…I decided to turn to a vegetarian eating plan when I was pregnant with my daughter in 2010 and I was very strict about it for the past 3 years. When I had my son, I began craving meat so I added just a bit of organic free-range chicken back into my diet every once in a while. But I felt so guilty about it, like I was a vegetarian poser, a phony. Why am I beating myself up about this? I was only eating meat once or twice a month and I still let myself feel like a fraud and all this built-up guilt and stress doesn’t do anyone’s health any good.

Here’s the thing…how we eat has a direct impact on our health and our environment and we really need to be conscious of our decisions for what we put into our bodies. Going meatless has such an incredible impact on our environment and there are so many awesome health benefits to eating a plant-based diet. Making responsible, conscious choices about our foods can make such a large difference in a world of factory farming, animal cruelty and abuse, huge amounts of waste, and environmental destruction.

But I truly believe it’s about balance and being healthy. Every person’s body has a different chemical makeup and how we eat is so personal to our bodies. Our eating habits should be focused on being healthy and making conscious decisions, and I believe that comes from a plant-based diet filled with delicious vegetables and fruits, nuts and grains…and stop eating processed foods, sugars, and filling our temples with garbage. We need to quit judging ourselves and others and develop a habit of self-love and respect for our bodies.

So while I most closely identify with being a vegetarian, I’m not going to beat myself up if I have one piece this month of responsibly-grown, grass-fed, free-range organic meat from a local farmer who believes in sustainable farming techniques and has a passion for protecting the environment.

A Must-Watch…Former Vegan: “I Am Never Defining How I Eat Again.”

Advertisements

2 Easy (and Delicious) Recipes: Roasted Pumpkin Seeds

After carving pumpkins Sunday afternoon, we separated the seeds from the flesh, washed them thoroughly with water in a strainer and placed them on a towel to air dry. The key that I learned from last year for making nice crunchy seeds is to the let dry out completely or else their more chewy than anything so our seeds sat out for a few days before roasting them up last night.

My sister and I each chose a recipe to try other than the usual butter and salt and both of them turned out fantastic!

Sweet & Savory

pumpkin-03

Toss pumpkin seeds in 1-1/2 tbsp of melted butter and coat with a brown sugar-cinnamon combination. Place in a single layer on the foil-lined cookie sheet and bake for 15 minutes at 350 degrees. Flip and bake another 15 minutes or until golden brown.

Tip: Remove the roasted seeds immediately after baking to avoid the sugar mixture from hardening…ours was more like a pumpkin seed bark that we had to break pieces off of. Still so delicious but a bit more work!

Zesty Garlic

pumpkin-2

Mix 1-1/2 tbsp of melted butter with 3 tsp of Worcestershire sauce in a bowl. Add in pumpkin seeds and toss until all are coated. Place in a single layer on the foiled-lined cookie sheet. Bake for 15 minutes on 350 degrees. Flip and sprinkle with garlic powder. Cook another 15 minutes or until golden brown.

Tip: Don’t add the garlic before baking the first time – wait to add until you flip halfway through. I added it on from the beginning and the powder ended up cooking way faster than the seeds. By the time the seeds were golden brown, the powder was just a bit burnt.

Immunity Boost: All-Natural Flu Shot Smoothie

I recently posted my thoughts on why we don’t get the vaccination in our house and some ugly facts about the flu shot. Without the shot, you may wonder how to stay healthy and protect yourself against this nasty season of colds and stomach bugs. From taking a daily vitamin to getting plenty of sleep and vitamin C to eating the right types of fruits and vegetables every day, there are a number of natural ways to build up your immune system to fight against germs.

There are also many natural flu smoothies or blends that you can whip up as soon as you start to feel something creep up on you. Because most of these recipes have all-natural ingredients, you can take this as soon as you are feeling under the weather – no need to worry about overdosing on medicines or weakening your immune system with chemicals and drugs!

The Flu Shot Smoothie

cta-flu-smoothieThis particular recipe I found and have been using is jam packed with immunity-boosting, flu-fighting ingredients and is sure to get you back on your feet in no time. Having used this before, I can say that the flavor isn’t exactly exciting, but it’s definitely manageable enough to drink a cup or two when you need it most. It’s really the after-zing that gets me, so have something tasty ready to chase it down with.

And an added bonus: these ingredients are so cheap to buy and the powders and honey you can use with multiple batches throughout the season – much cheaper than doctor visits, prescriptions drugs and time off of work!

Ingredients:

  • 2-3 cloves of garlic, minced or choppedstrengthens the immune system as well as helps to fight chest infections, coughs and congestion
  • 2 tbsp on ginger powder clears the ‘microcirculatory channels’ of the body, including the pesky sinuses; a great stomach calmer for flu or nausea
  • juice from 6 lemons has strong antibacterial, antiviral, and immune-boosting powers; reduces fevers; filled with immunity-boosting Vitamin C;  antiviral properties to fight off the virus on the mucous membranes in the nose and throat
  • 2 tbsp on honeyis anti-bacterial and anti-fungal; reduces cough and throat irritation
  • 1/4 tbsp of cayenne pepper is a well-known digestive aid; breaks up and moving congested mucus; is an anti- agent and helps relieve allergies; 
  • 3 cups of pineapple juice rich in vitamin C and can fight off viruses; has bromelain, which is effective in suppressing coughs and loosening mucus

Directions:

Blend everything together and drink 1 cup 3-4 times days until you are feeling better – or even beyond that to strengthen an already-weakened immune system and build up your defenses! Store extra juice in a glass jar and refrigerate.

** This article and the information presented in it are my own opinions and personal research and are not intended to be medical advice. Please consult a professional before making any medical decisions!

October: Let’s Rock the Veggies!

“Those who claim to care about the well-being of human beings and the preservation of our environment should become vegetarians for that reason alone.”
– Peter Singer, Animal Liberation (1990)

veggiesHappy Vegetarian Awareness Month! Being a vegetarian is one of the best health and environmental decisions I have made in recent years and I couldn’t be happier with this lifestyle shift. Even my husband has come around to my new recipes and really doesn’t even notice when I put a meatless meal in front of him.

There are all kinds of great reasons to embrace a meatless life! Eating meat is one of the most significant contributors to the most serious environmental problems, at every scale from local to global. In the United States alone, more than 260 million acres of forest have been clear-cut for animal agriculture – holy smokes. Over 7.3 million Americans are already vegetarians and the health benefits are proven and worthwhile: a vegetarian diet is associated with low blood pressure and cholesterol, better heart health and even lower rates of cancer. Who wouldn’t want these positive things for their body?!

So…in honor of the beginning of this great month and in hopes of sharing some of my personal knowledge and research, here are some of my favorite vegetarian articles, experiences and recipes!

Vegetarian Recipes:

A Bit from Me:

Vegetarian Online Resources:

Herbs & Farmer’s Market Delights

I went with my mom to an herb cooking class earlier this summer, which inspired me to give my herb garden a face lift this year. This bad boy sits right outside my kitchen door – so convenient! This year I went with 5 herbs: basil, parsley, sage, oregano and chives – which seem to be the most common ones I use for cooking. Just adding a dash of them here and there can make a huge difference in the flavor of a simple dish (potatoes, anyone). I almost have too many to keep up…I can’t cook fast enough to use them all!

With the summer holiday, I’ve been doing lots of home cooking this weekend. We went shopping at the local farmer’s market in Brownhelm on the 4th of July to make a huge, healthy dinner and got some red potatoes, squash, zucchini, corn on the cob and some delicious caramel corn. We also visit my grandma who has a 5-acre farm that has millions of raspberry bushes. We spent the morning in the fields and my daughter thought it was the coolest thing to be out there picking away. The smell of real, fresh raspberries is the absolute best!
herbs

please ignore the plastic - the containers came from my grandma's house!

please ignore the plastic – the containers came from my grandma’s house!

Rain Barrels and More

Yesterday evening I attended a program at our local Amherst Library called “Rain Barrels and More” about the benefits of using a rain barrel, how to build your own with a kit and maintenance and uses for the barrel water. Having been a rain barrel user for a couple of years now, it was a great refresher on all the great things about utilizing such a simple system in my own home and I’m already looking into adding multiple barrels to my already-existing connection.

Here are a couple of take-aways I learned last night!

  1.  A barrel of my size (60 gallons) can collect a full barrel of rain in just 15 minutes of down-pouring
  2. When creating your own barrel, always use a barrel that contained food matter and never chemicals – the plastic can absorbs those toxins and then leach them into your water
  3. Never use a white or clear barrel or lid – when light entered in the barrel, algae can begin to grow in your water
  4. It’s so easy to add multiple barrels to one connection with a simple hose at the base of each barrel
  5. You can make a compost tea  in your barrel that will act as a natural fertilizer when you use the water on your plants
  6. Rain water (as opposed to faucet water with chlorine) is extremely nutrient-rich and offers your plants & veggies so much more than hose water can
  7. You can use rain water to bathe your pets, wash your cars, do your laundry, water your garden and even your house plants
This year we decided to use our barrel lid as a planter and I'm loving the way it's filling in!

This year we decided to use our barrel lid as a planter and I’m loving the way it’s filling in!

Cook’s Herb Gardening

Yesterday evening, my mom, 2 of my sisters and I attended a cooking class at Laurel Run Cooking School and it was fantastic! My mom has taken others classes at this school and just raved about them, so she invited us to join her for this class called “Cook’s Herb Gardening” and it was a 2-1/2 hour overview of all your basic herbs and planting, harvesting and cooking with them.

As someone who has been growing herbs for 4 years now, I learned so many things I didn’t know about these wonderful plants, their maintenance and how to bring their vibrant flavors into my kitchen in simple ways. Each participant received an HERB NOTEBOOK filled with recipes, history and lore and growing tips. And we got to sample every dish they prepared using the different herbs – everything was so delicious and had such unique flavors.

Now I am inspired to take my herb garden to the next level and really infuse my fresh herbs into some great summer cuisines! And possibly take a stab at brewing my own herbal teas…ambitious, maybe.

class