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Wednesday, March 21, 2012

The Pantry Project

I really should have taken a "before" photo of my pantry -- but I'm just not that smart. But THIS is the finished project!

My pantry has been a major source of frustration since we moved in to this house 12 years ago. The builder chose to use closet shelving instead of pantry shelving. What this means is that there is not a solid place for items to sit. They are constantly tipping and getting caught in the cracks. Finally, I took some time to make it better.

I started a couple of weeks ago with a major kitchen cupboard overhaul! It was at that time that I decided to start keeping things in bins (I have bins in my fridge and freezer, too!) This way, instead of constantly moving items around to see what's behind them  - and causing a domino effect of items tumbling into the cracks of the non-solid shelving, I just pull a bin forward and I can see everything that is in it and quickly locate what I need. For my pantry project, I took it a step further. I have been buying a lot of bulk items lately. I decided to start scavenging for glass jars with tight fitting lids. (Trying to get away from chemically infused plastic containers) Just to make it cute (cause I DO like cute!), I decided to label my bulk jars and my bins with computer generated labels attached to fabric.

 Those cute jars are sitting on 2x4 pieces of wood. You've probably seen those little plastic stair step canned good organizers for $12. Well, not only are those too small for my jars - they are also too expensive! So I went to Home Depot and purchased two - 84 inch long 2x4's and had them cut in thirds, for a total of 6 pieces. When I got home, I stacked three on top of each other and nailed them together. I slid them to the back row. I then took two more and nailed them together and made them my middle row. Finally, I placed the single piece in the front. (The front piece is currently unoccupied, as I need to gather more jars!) The total cost for my personalized jar-stair was $3.98. Seriously! I'm still planning to decorate the fronts of them with a sassy ribbon. :)

Also, I added the extra shelf pieces, found at Home Depot. There was way too much wasted vertical space between the installed shelves. These little additions were intended for sweaters!   But the work great in my pantry!  I'm really pleased with how the project turned out!

On another happy note, I assembled my new juicer this evening and made my first wonderful glass of fresh, organic, vitamin and mineral rich juice. YUM! I wish I had taken a picture of that too! But again... not that smart. Juicing is the best way to quickly and effectively deliver nutrients to your cells. Juicing separates the bulky fiber, allowing the nutrients to rapidly get to your cells. Of course, we NEED fiber in our diets as well! So I don't personally subscribe to the idea that juicing alone is the best plan - unless you are battling cancer or other disease. In that circumstance, I recommend looking into "The Gerson Mirracle". Dr. Gerson developed a holistic therapy in the 40's that was, and continues to be, an amazingly effective treatment for cancer and a myriad of other ailments and disease. If you or someone you love is suffering, I beg you to look into Dr. Gerson's work. I'm attaching a link to a free 90 minute documentary. WORTH YOUR TIME!!

The Gerson Miracle

Because I am not suffering any type of disease (praise God!) I am using juicing as a preventative therapy! Sticking to a plant based diet, which is highly raw, will significantly reduce my chances of dealing with such things. As I type I'm sipping on my... 12th or so glass of water for the day - and nibbling on homemade organic red popcorn, popped in coconut oil and sprinkled with pink salt. Completely great for me and my all time favorite snack!! 


Tuesday, March 20, 2012

So much to learn, so little time!

I think that this Quest has become a full blown obsession! I just can't get enough! It seems like I'd be on information overload, but I'm truly not!

Sophie was picking on me tonight while I was whipping up a new curry dip, made with sprouted lentils. She said "you're cooking a lot these days!" Must seem so foreign to her! lol!

As I mentioned previously, I've made the decision to go to a plant based diet. Other than free range eggs and organic yogurt, I'm avoiding animal products. It seems that every where I look (even when I'm not looking!) I'm stumbling onto information about the benefits of a plant based diet. However, my family is not there yet. But as a result of our research, they (Ryan) has decided that even though they don't want to give up meat, they are willing to start purchasing our meat directly from farmers. Grass fed cows, free range chickens, etc... This past Saturday I made my first organic chicken purchase. It was SO liberating! I left with my purchase feeling giddy! How silly is that?! Especially considering that the cost is significantly more. SO worth it to me!

Tonight I had dinner at Food Dance, downtown Kalamazoo. It is a wonderful organic restaurant. I went with a group of girlfriends and it was!!
Again, I felt such a feeling of victory as I left. Not only did I have a fabulous meal, I managed to avoid the bread that was on the table, and the decadent chocolate dessert that the girls split. To be honest, it wasn't even an issue of "avoiding" those things... I truly hardly noticed they were there. I was super satisfied with my meal, and we were having so much fun laughing and visiting that those foods were simply not an issue.

MY NEW JUICER ARRIVED TODAY!! And it was FREE! We used our bank points and cashed them in for a lovely juicer! I can't wait to try it out. Unsure of the benefits of juicing? GOOGLE IT! You'll be amazed!

A few have you have asked me for a weight loss update... I am down 31 pounds since October. I feel great and I am SO HAPPY!!!

I have a few documentary & Book recommendations for you! I found these documentaries on Neflix and Amazon. The book I found at the wonderful Otsego Library! But it is so terrific, I'm ordering my very own copy!

1. Forks over Knives
2. Food Matters
3. Food Inc.
4. Fat, Sick & Nearly Dead

Cookbook - Moosewood Restaurant Cooking for Health. WONDERFUL!!

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Meet Your Meat

I'm so in shock at this moment that I have no words to write here. Just watch the video.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012


First, I must share with you my yummy food from today! My salad at lunch time was the bomb! (For some reason, my photo below keeps inserting sideways.  No idea why!  So tilt your head when you look at it!)  I ran out of fresh spinach (boo!), but I had Kale & Collard Greens.  These are very hearty greens, and a tad bitter eaten raw.  But it's what I had, so I went with it.  Instead of tearing the lettuce into bite size pieces, I stacked the leaves and rolled them up, then I sliced them - so I ended up with what looked like shredded greens.  Really liked it that way!  I added fresh tomatoes, red onion, green & orange pepper, shredded carrots and then my sprouts!  Mung bean, broccoli (harvested just today!), quinoa & garbanzo (also harvested today!).  I then drizzled my homemade olive oil- avocado dressing.  I loved it!  (See pix below).  For dinner I made stuffed acorn squash and brussel sprouts.  I made it for the whole family.  I don't think any of them LOVED it like I did, but they were very sweet and finished it :)  They're so supportive!
Stuffed Acorn Squash & Brussel Sprouts

My Yummy Kale/ Sprout salad and some of my leftover white chili.

Here's the thing, the more I learn, the more I want to change what they're eating too.  Cancer scares me - and I'm convinced that IT IS PREVENTABLE in most cases.  I have personal experience with a precious kiddo who couldn't have prevented it.  But research is clear that what we eat, and the way things are now processed and the chemicals used in our food is killing us! Heart disease is another scary but very real example!  But I have a 42 year old husband, 17 year old son, 15 year old daughter & 12 year old son.  I've participated in their addiction to SAD (standard american diet).  I can't MAKE THEM CHANGE at this stage of the game.  But in small doses, and through my example, hopefully some change will come.

So.. let's talk about discernment.  I need more of it!  And I'm praying daily for it.  I am not a scientist, or a dietitian, or nutrition coach!  So weeding through the many, many options, theories, and research (much of which is like a foreign language to me!) is tricky.  So I'm not making any solid judgements yet - but I want to recommend a movie to you.  Forks over Knives.  I found it on hulu and amazon.  It is a 90 minute documentary outlining some very significant studies on consuming animal products.  It looks closely at the effects of consuming animal products vs consuming plant based foods.  It was really good, and again, got me thinking and reeling!

I previously recommended a book called "Why We're Fat & What to do About it".  This book concludes the opposite, in terms of fat and weight, stating that the fattiest meats will not make us fat - grains will.  I can say with certainty that cutting out most grains has made a big difference in how my gut feels and my weight loss.  So, maybe the meat won't make me fat - but could it still be increases my risk of serious disease?   I think in order to make an educated decision,  it's good and important to look at these issues from every angle, especially if I'm going to make life changes because of it!  This study made sense to me. If you can find 90 minutes, please watch it!  I'll look forward to hearing what your thoughts are!

Have a great day - Eat more veggies! :)

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Sprouting 101 - My video tutorial (plus a great salad recipe!)

I don't have time to blog everyday!  But I MUST share the delicious and SIMPLE salad that I made today.

I'm not sure if it was the avocado, or the avocado and dressing together, or the fact that I made it and drizzled the dressing at 7:00 am but didn't eat it until 1:00 (giving the flavors lots of time to blend)... but for me, it was a magical combination! In fact, it was sooooo good, that I came home from work and made another.  Isn't it pretty!

So.. here's the recipe:

Strawberry Spinach Salad (see... you just know by the title it's going to be easy!)

1 1/2 (or so) Cups fresh spinach leaves, torn (organic if possible!)
 1/2 cup fresh strawberries, halved (organic, if possible!)
2 or 3 T fresh red onion, diced
1/2 ripe avocado
scattering of freshly sprouted quinoa (don't quit because you don't have this!)

2-3 T olive oil
1 T apple cider vinegar
pinch of sea salt

Honestly, I'm making up these dressing quantities because I just grabbed bowl and dumped a little of each.  Shake or stir it vigorously.  Drizzle on your salad.

I really can't begin to tell you how delicious this was!

OK - regarding the quinoa... I used it because I had it - which is really how all salads are born!  This salad would not taste any different without the sprouted Quinoa.  But is was SUPER nutritious with it!

Did you know that Quinoa is one the best staple foods for weight loss? It is very low in fat calories and contains high levels of fiber and proteins. One cup of cooked quinoa is less than 200 calories with only 3 grams of fat. What’s better is that almost all of the fat in quinoa is unsaturated and is beneficial for your health.

Quinoa is less starchy than wheat or rice. Its carbohydrate content consists mostly of complex carbohydrates and dietary fiber. Each cup of cooked quinoa can deliver more than 1/5 of your daily fiber needs.

Quinoa beats most other grains in terms of protein concentration. One cup of cooked quinoa gives you about 8 grams of protein. The further advantage is that the proteins in quinoa are made up of all varieties of essential amino acids, including lysine, which is not found in wheat or rice.

If you've never seen it, it looks somewhat like couscous.  It has a very mild, if any flavor - which means you can put it in anything! If you choose to cook it, I've had the best success by boiling it for 20 minutes and letting it stand for another 5.  Use it in place of rice, or in soups, on salads, etc...  I've made many cold quinoa salads by adding peppers, tomatoes, onions....

In this recipe, I did not cook my quinoa - I sprouted it.  (As noted in yesterdays blog!)  Quinoa sprouts very quickly - about 48 hours.

Quinoa can be purchased anywhere these days, as it's quickly gaining notoriety!  I've seen it at Meijer near the rice. It can also be purchased at any natural food store.  It about triples in size when you sprout it.  So, if you start with 1 cup of quinoa seeds, you will end up with about 3 cups (maybe a little less) sprouted quinoa.  It doesn't get huge and fluffy..

Because so many people have private messaged me asking for more info about sprouting, I came home from work today and made my own little video tutorial. Please try not to get fixated on my muffin top, as I did when I previewed the video!  It'll be hard.. but please try to focus on the message! :)  There are two parts - because I ran out of storage midway through.  So watch them in order.

Enjoy the video and GET SPROUTING!!

Part 1

Part 2