And then, the Earth moved

Yeah, we had an earthquake yesterday.  Kind of scary, definitely unexpected.  I even entered it in my fertility chart in the “notes” area because there’s a specific example in TCoYF where a woman misses her ovulation because of an earthquake.  Funny that.

Since we’re all sharing them, my story:  I had just sat down and cracked open Boneshaker to read for a bit while my simulation finished, when I noticed the floor quivering.  Hmmm, that’s not right, I thought.  So I got up and started to go see if anyone else felt it.  Then, the whole building started shaking and rattling and I saw people fleeing my advisor’s office, so I figured, I’d better leave, too.  We all got outside and noticed lots of other people outside, so someone checked a smart phone.  Earthquake, cool.

And then we all went back inside and went about our days.  Yeah, we’re none too impressed with day-to-day catastrophe.  Maybe the hurricane this weekend will change that, but I doubt it.

Weekend Shenanigans

My coworker overuses the word “shenanigans,” so I’ve picked it up.  Here’s my brief recap of the weekend, mostly documented by the food I ate.

Started Saturday morning well, with a spiced oat porridge.  I added cardamom, cinnamon, nutmeg, almonds, and flax to it.  Delicious with some cream and honey.  And I had a raspberry-yogurt-cream smoothie on the side.  That was after a 5-mile run in beautiful sunny weather.  I went dancing and then got a book (Boneshaker) and a pot of tea (Dragon Well) downtown while waiting to meet my husband for a dinner date.

Post-run breakfast

We went to Nora’s in Dupont Circle, which was fun.  I like the idea of an all-organic, local restaurant, but I have to say that I was a little disappointed that their “Bellini” was made with pineapple juice, rather than peaches, which are a.) traditional, and 2.) in season locally.  Seriously, all you can get at the fruit stand is watermelon and peaches.  And you go and make a cocktail with pineapple?  But the dinner was delicious, despite the killer migraine I developed earlier in the day.  Pretty much the only effect of the migraine was that I only had a few bites of dessert and had peppermint tea with it instead of coffee.  I probably wouldn’t go back on my own dime (we had a gift certificate), but it was a nice dinner.

Sunday, I made more porridge, for me and my husband.  Almonds, coconut, Rapadura, and raspberries cooked into it, with butter on top.  Yum.  Went to the market, saw the new MOM’s Organic Market in College Park, fresh and renovated.  They’ve moved everything around, but it’s worth it because they’ve got so much more now.  I sampled some local cheeses, and even got a mini quiche off a farmer who made them with his fresh, local, pastured eggs.  Wow.

And I got a bottle of bitters, which I’ve discussed earlier.

Cucumber, ginger, and shallot salad (i.e., lunch)

Home again to make lunch, make almond power bars, and do my yoga.  I worked through the whole Primary series, which was fun.  Still not doing any jumping, since my wrist is healing, but there was no pain at least.  I have to say, I’m probably going to stop at Bhujapidasana for a while before trying to get through the whole series again, but it was nice to feel how it flows through to the end and into the finishing sequence.  And since it’s my first practice since finishing my moon time, I thoroughly enjoyed inverting once more.

Black bean burgers? Yum!

Dinner was black bean burgers with salad.  My husband even said “Ooh, black bean burgers?  Those are yummy!”  It’s nice to be with a guy who appreciates delicious, healthy food.  And then we ended the weekend on a sweet note with peanut butter chocolate chip cookies.  Yum.

This post is part of the Weekend Gourmet Blog Carnival at Hartke is Online.

The Bitters Project

As anyone who spends time around me on a daily basis knows, I’ve been having some issues with acne and breakouts recently. After reading The Nourished Life’s post on the root causes of acne, I started thinking about adding supplements to improve my digestion and/or hormonal balance.  Now, I know I’m hormonally unbalanced, but the idea of hormonal supplements, even traditional things like Vitex.  So when I noticed a new display at the store, I made my choice.  I would add herbal bitters to my routine and see if a couple weeks on this would produce an improvement.

from the Urban Moonshine website

The display featured Urban Moonshine‘s three herbal bitters preparations.  They each come in three sizes.  I went with the original formula, in the smallest size, a 10mL spray bottle.  The directions say to spray directly on the tongue before or after meals.  I’ve started today by spritzing my tongue twice after lunch, though in the future, I’ll try to remember it before meals.  I’m going to take the bitters three times a day, before each of my three main meals.  The only changes to my skin care routine is that I’ve finally bought a cleanser to take to the gym so I can actually wash my face after I lift twice a week.  Other than that, I’m using the same Earth science clarifying cleanser, Thayer’s witch hazel, and Burt’s Bees moisture cream that I always use.

Having taken my first dose, I can give my opinion on the taste of the bitters.  Well, they’re really, really bitter (duh).  But it’s not a bad taste.  It’s not a “ack, that’s so bitter it must be poisonous” bitter, but more of an herbal bitter flavor.  I could definitely taste an anise flavor, probably from the fennel seed.  It’s not bad.  The recommended dose is 4 sprays before every meal, but I only did 2 this time.  I’ll try to work up to 4 sprays before every meal.

Salad and Fat

I had an interesting exchange with a coworker the other day.  He was complaining that he was starving because he just had salad for dinner the night before.  I made a joke about how salad isn’t a meal, which is funny because I bring a giant salad for lunch everyday.  The coworker pointed out this humor and then said “Well, I guess your salad is more filling because you eat, like, a half a stick of butter with it.”

Well, excuse me for liking butter with my bread.  And also, um, yeah.

That’s why fat-free salad dressings are pointless and adding cheese/eggs/olives/meat to your salad is such a good thing.  The fat helps, both in terms of satisfaction and in terms of nutrients absorbed.  Take my lunch salad today for example:

Delicious, right?

Looks super-healthy, what with that variety of veggies and heart-healthy salmon.  But that’s so not a full meal.  I’m going to add a generous helping of homemade, olive-oil-based dressing.  And, of course, my “half a stick of butter,” which is really just a homemade, soaked, whole-grain roll with a couple tablespoons of pastured butter.  Delicious, and very nourishing.

I’ve decided to participate in The Nourishing Gourmet’s “Protein and Produce” challenge, and challenge myself to eat 3 servings of quality protein (eggs, meat, fish, or raw cheese) and 4 cups of veggies, at least, every day.  My lunch salad goes a long way towards this, but it only counts if I eat it with plenty of fat to absorb those nutrients!

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

Leftover Hash and Frugal Tips from this Week

This week I made a meatloaf on Monday night, which left me with some nice leftovers last night.  Hash is one of my favorite ways to use leftover meat, especially the night before I run in the morning.  Potatoes fill out what may or may not be sparse amounts of meat, and you can throw the veggies right into the hash, or else serve the hash over steamed veggies.  It’s a great way to reheat foods without a microwave and get some nice browning on them.  I’m giving my recipe for hash using leftover meat loaf, but you could use hamburger patties, cubed meat, or just some fresh ground meat.  And feel free to use any substantial veggie for the bulk.

Now for some tips for keeping it frugal from this week:

1.) Make your own jewelry and investigate alternative ways to manage your health.

2.) Use bountiful veggies to make moist, healthy muffins.

3.) If you’ve been practicing for a while, try building a yoga home practice.  You’ll save on class fees and transportation, and you can move through your practice at your own pace with modifications if you need, without worrying about what anyone else thinks.

4.) Use your leftovers!  Use substantial veggies like potatoes, winter squash, sweet potatoes, etc. to fill out meals to stretch more expensive ingredients, like pastured meats.

Yeah, I forgot to take a picture before digging in.

Leftover Hash

Potatoes, cut into cubes about 1/3″ on a side

Meat, cut into similarly small cubes

Other veggies, if desired

Ghee

Heat a cast iron skillet over medium heat.  When it’s hot, add ghee to the pan and let it melt.  Add the potatoes and a pinch of salt.  Cook, tossing every 5-10 minutes until browned and cooked through (about 30 minutes).  Add the meat and let brown.  Flip/toss and let brown some more.  Add other veggies if you want and allow to warm/cook through.  Remove the hash to plate, serve it over steamed greens, and top with white gravy, if you have it.

This post is part of Pennywise Platter at The Nourishing Gourmet.

On Jewelry and Pain Support

Earlier this week and last, The Nourishing Gourmet had a giveaway of two gift certificates to a store that sells hazelwood and amber jewelry for health purposes. The idea is that the hazelwood releases compounds that help cure skin disorders and amber jewelry can release compounds that help with pain relief.

Amber bracelets

Intrigued by this idea, I shopped around and found myself some Baltic amber chips to make my own jewelry. Since I started doing yoga more regularly, specifically Ashtanga, I’ve had some trouble with pain in my right wrist. I’ve been modifying my practice and taking other lifestyle steps to heal and support my aching wrist, and I thought amber bracelets would be a good addition to this.

I had my first practice with amber this morning, after sleeping in my new bracelets last night, and I have to say that I noticed a difference. Rather than feeling like an injury, my wrist pain felt like it was due to a healing injury.

As a runner, yogi, and martial artist, I’ve had my fair share of injuries, so I’ve noticed some interesting patterns to my healing process. First, I ache. I rarely back off at this point, so eventually I end up hurting, the pain so bad it forces me to make a change to my routine. When I start to rest and take healing steps, the pain lessens, but never quite goes away. In fact, the pain never completely goes away until I start using the muscle/joint again. I have to re-introduce the exercise that hurt it in the first place in order to strengthen my body and eliminate the pain. So when I think of the healing process, I think of it as pain support, rather than pain relief, as pain is an important part of healing.

As a natural wellness practitioner and herbalist, I appreciate the importance of a holistic view of pain and injury, as well as healing.  The idea that a simple piece of jewelry, which I can make myself, could help heal and prevent pain appeals to me.  Even if the effect is a placebo, some of my pain is mental, so placebo is legitimate medicine in those cases.

This post is part of Simple Lives Thursday at GNOWFGLINS.

Soaked, Gluten-free Zucchini-Walnut Muffins

I posted about the muffins I made this weekend on Twitter and got a request for the recipe.  While I got the basic structure of the recipe from Food Renegade, I made enough changes on my own that I’ll post my recipe.  It’s zucchini time, and I tend to go a little overboard buying them at the market.  Especially when the farmers have started selling them in bundles rather than individually.  And the little buggers last for a while in the fridge, so I felt like using up some week-or-more-old zucchini this weekend.

This is a recipe using gluten-free flours.  Since millet and sorghum are both whole grain flours, I soaked them in yogurt, water, and a splash of lime juice overnight.  Then, I added more sweet rice flour to the batter in the morning, which I did not soak, since it’s not a whole grain flour.  If you’re making this with wheat flour, you’ll probably want to soak all your wheat flour, which will make the soaked mixture thicker.  Also, moisture + time + room temperature soaking will activate gluten, so a soaked-wheat-flour version of these will have a stretchier batter.

Serve with lots of fresh butter

Zucchini-Walnut Muffins

65g sorghum flour

65g millet flour

15g ground flaxseeds

1 6-oz. container of whole-milk yogurt

2 oz. water with a splash of lime juice

2 Tbsp. ghee, at room temperature

40g honey

1 egg and 1 egg yolk

1/2 tsp. salt

cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger, to taste

1 tsp. baking soda

60g sweet rice flour

125g grated zucchini (about one small-to-medium)

handful of walnuts, soaked, dried, and chopped

Mix together the sorghum, millet, flax, yogurt, water, and lime juice in a container.  Allow to soak overnight.  Beat together the ghee, honey, egg, egg yolk, salt, and spices.  Add the soaked mixture, sweet rice flour, and baking soda.  Fold in zucchini and nuts.  Fill lined muffin tins with 1/3 cup of batter each and bake at 350 degrees for 30-45 minutes, until browned, springy, and a toothpick comes out clean.  Cool for 10-15 minutes before eating with lots of butter.  Makes 10 muffins.

This post is part of Real Food Wednesday at Kelly the Kitchen Kop.