Archive for September, 2010

A Disappointing Update

I know it’s been a couple days since I’ve posted. My computer died again on Friday. I have been using my husband’s, just to check email mostly, but my first priority right now is getting my files off my hard drive before taking my computer in to be fixed. I’ll try to post something proper later this week, hopefully an overview of our Mabon feast from last week.



This post is part of Fight Back Friday at Food Renegade.

Every day is a feast in modern life, it seems. Every day we live our lives saturated and over-stimulated, with abundance at every turn.

It lessens the impact of the true meaning of the feast. When we can grab a super-sized double-cheese-double-burger with extra large fries and a grande iced latte at the drive through any day of the week, we lose sight of the fact that, for most of human existence, eating was something that could not be taken for granted.
Or clothing. Or shelter. All these things were products of hard work.
True, we work for our money. But how many of us actually craft anything by hand anymore? How many have made a garment, or even a loaf of bread?
When food is made by hand, we appreciate the meaning of a feast. The feast is abundant and varied, each dish taking time and care to make. This is why holidays were called feast days. Tonight, I prepare a harvest feast for myself and my husband, and we shall appreciate the meaning behind a feast because it all comes from us.

A Season of Gratitude

This post is part of Simple Lives Thursday at GNOWFGLINS.

Today is the first full day of Autumn, and the Equinox, when traditionally is celebrated the second of the three pagan harvest festivals, Mabon. It also happens to be the full moon, so the Harvest Moon actually falls on the Harvest Festival. Neat.

In honor of what is called pagan thanksgiving, I want to share some of the blessings that I’ve recognized in my life over the past year:
  1. About a year ago, I first discovered traditional, nourishing diets, and was able, by changing the way I eat, to go from at least one migraine per week to going over two months without a migraine. I now have one maybe once a month, usually when I’m stressed or the weather is strange.
  2. I’m so glad I’ve started researching herbal remedies in the Wise Woman tradition. Adding nourishing infusions to my lifestyle seems a gentler way of healing than just having remedies for acute symptoms.
  3. I’m thankful that I have a wonderful husband who supports all these changes I’ve made, and has even added his own.
  4. I’m thankful for the understanding and support of my family members, despite the fact that they don’t have the same philosophies.
  5. I’m glad that I’ve had a year full of learning and productivity, and I look forward to taking the next step with my degree and getting a new job.

Kale Vinegar and Poached Eggs in the Garden

One of Susun Weed’s recommendations for women at risk for osteoporosis is to make herbal vinegars with plants that have a high calcium content. Similar to the nourishing practice of adding a spoonful of vinegar to broth to help extract minerals, tincturing calcium-rich plants in vinegar helps to extract calcium into the vinegar. I made kale vinegar this summer by packing a jar with fresh kale and then filling it with apple cider vinegar.

This vinegar can then be used when cooking more greens to help release their calcium, as well as add more calcium to the dish. I use my vinegar to poach a combination of kale, mushrooms, garlic, and a couple eggs for a nourishing, grain-free breakfast that benefits from the wisdom of the herb woman.

Poached Eggs in the Garden
1/2 portabella mushroom, chopped into large pieces
1-2 Tbsp. butter or ghee
2 cloves garlic, chopped fine
2-3 cups chopped kale
2 eggs
1 Tbsp. kale vinegar
1 Tbsp. water
Saute the mushrooms in some butter or ghee over medium heat until cooked through. Reduce the heat and add garlic and more butter, and saute just until the garlic becomes fragrant, less than a minute. Add the greens and toss with the garlicky, mushroomy butter. Add the water and vinegar and immediately crack the eggs on top of the greens. Cover and steam for 4-6 minutes, or until eggs are done to your liking. You can add salt and pepper if you like. Makes one hearty serving.

Whole30 Final Recap

Well, yesterday was day 30 of my Whole30, and I finished strong. I learned some things, and saw some changes, but not as dramatic as some people seem to. I guess partly that’s validation that my diet is pretty healthy to begin with.

Can I just stop here and say how glad I am I’m back on butter? When I was cooking my eggs and greens this morning, I sliced a thin slice just to eat. Yum.
Anyway, I did find some things that I’m going to keep in my cooking rotation:
  1. Coconut curry veggies as a side dish.
  2. Egg-based stir-fries — don’t need no rice!
  3. Girl Gone Primal’s Pizza Cake. I make it with chopped broccoli instead of cauliflower and it’s so yummy, and pretty frugal, since it’s only 2 eggs per person.
  4. Grain-free breakfasts. Yes, I will eat oatmeal occasionally when the weather gets cold, but eggs and smoothies are great breakfasts for me.
  5. At least one grain-free dinner per week.
  6. Sweet potatoes. They are my friends.
I am, however, adding dairy back to my diet today, and grains tomorrow (although I might start tonight). I’m glad I’ve gotten past needing a sweet every day, so we’ll probably start treating dessert as a once-a-week thing, rather than a nightly thing, and I’m not even tempted by cookies at work anymore. But I’m glad I have my butter back.
One more thing: Pictures. I did look at my before and after photos, and, honestly, I didn’t notice that much difference. Yes, my tummy was a bit flatter, but I’ve also been increasing my running and exercise over the last month, so I’m going to take more pictures in another month to see how a month of WAPF-style eating, coupled with increased exercise, changes things.

Chicken Puttanesca

This post is part of Tuesday Twister at GNOWFGLINS.
I love Pasta Puttanesca. There’s something amazing about the combination of tomatoes and olives and capers. Of course, all that pasta is far from the most nourishing thing: If you get white pasta, it’s empty carbs, and if you get wheat pasta, you have to worry about anti-nutrients.
And anyway, I’ve been on a paleo diet for the last month, so pasta of any kind is out. Which is why I decided that sugo alla puttanesca would be amazing over chicken. But not just sliced, grilled, boneless skinless chicken breast (because, seriously, who actually likes that stuff?). Rather, I used it to braise a pot of bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs.
The result was delicious. A chicken-y, tomato-y, sharp broth and tender chicken. Yum. I made this for my lunches last week, and served it over roasted squash. The sweetness of the squash went really well with the acidity of the sauce, but I suppose you could serve it over any vegetable, or even a grain pilaf or polenta.

Chicken Puttanesca
8 chicken thighs
1-2 Tbsp. coconut oil
1-2 Tbsp. olive oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 small can of anchovy fillets, chopped fine.
2 Tbsp. capers, drained
about a cup of pitted olives (I used a combo of black and green olives that I had marinated for a party, but Kalamatas would probably be better)
2 cans diced tomatoes (I used Muir Glen No-Salt-Added Fire Roasted tomatoes)
heavy pinch of red pepper flakes
Heat coconut oil over medium-high heat in a large pot and brown the chicken thighs in the oil. I did this in two batches. Remove the chicken to a plate, reduce the heat, and wipe out some of the spent oil. Heat the olive oil, garlic, anchovy, and capers over medium-low heat until the garlic starts to sizzle. Add the olives, tomatoes, red pepper, and chicken. Simmer for 30-60 minutes, until the chicken is done and tender. Salt and pepper to taste. Makes 4 servings.

Whole30 Week 4 Recap

Well, I’m nearing the finish line. Inspired by Kara at Wilde About Health, I’ve decided that I don’t want to be paleo forever. Apart from anything else, I like to run. Long-ish distances (half marathon is my favorite race distance, so far). So I feel better when I have grains/potatoes/dairy in my diet, and I do the activity to merit them.
This weekend, I took body pictures to compare to my “before” pictures that I took four weeks ago (no, I’m probably not going to post them). It was the same time of day, and I’d had roughly the same number of meals, the difference being that four weeks ago, I had a bean-and-cheese burrito for lunch, while yesterday I had pulled pork and veggies.
Oh yeah, the Kensington Farmers Market yesterday — brilliant. I suggested it originally as a brunch outing with my mom because I figured we could pick up some local veggies, maybe some fruit, and some eggs, and go home and make a big, paleo-compliant veggie scramble for brunch. But mom wanted to try eating there. So I gave the barbecue stand guys the third degree and found out that they smoke their meat with just salt and pepper, add the sauce only if you want it, and they don’t put sugar/mayo/dairy in their cole slaw. So I munched on some of the best pulled pork and cole slaw I’ve had in a while, sans bun and sauce. Yum.
I’ve enjoyed my Whole30. Even through my period, I’ve had sweets cravings, but nothing unbearable, and I was able to hold onto the idea that hitting a reset button to kill my sugar cravings was worthless if the first thing I do after I’m “done” officially is to gorge on sweets. I’m not going to do that.
I do still have two more days left, so I’ll post a Whole30 full recap after that.