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Vegetable beef barley soup

Imagine sitting down to a comforting nutritious bowl of soup

For the last week, I’ve been sick.  Coughing and sore throat sick.  Not wanting to cook sick.  The idea of eating isn’t really high on my list, even though I know I need to.

I remember when I was sick back in Los Angeles and married at the time, that my ex-husband (who didn’t really cook) would resort to bringing me Jack in the Box food. It didn’t taste very good and wasn’t really appetizing to me, but I had no energy to make anything myself so I ate it.  Later on, when I lived alone, those were the days I resorted to opening a can of Campbells soup.

So now, how do I deal with illness when I live alone and I’m gluten intolerant and I’m committed to eating real food that is local and traditional?  I plan ahead.

Even though I’m single, you wouldn’t know it from the way I cook.  I don’t cook for one serving.  I cook enough for 2 to 4 servings.  I freeze my leftover meals in single serving portions.  Those are for the nights that I’m either really busy, or sick. So I know that there is usually a variety  of foods in my freezer to keep me going.  Right now I have homemade chicken soup, beef soup, a sausage and collard soup as well as chili.  There is enough variety to keep me satisfied and its easy to defrost something in the microwave and finish heating it in a saucepan.  Little work, lots of benefit.

Its easy to do.  When I am making something, I just make sure that I make more than I need.  I eat what I want for the night, use those disposable Glad or Ziplock containers and freeze meal size portions.  Its also very economical. Much more so than buying frozen dinners or cans of stuff with ingredients I can’t pronounce. Continue Reading »

Getting Glutened

Eating is often a social occasion.

Eating is most often a social occasion. When you can't eat what everyone else eats, its a very lonely feeling.

A few weeks ago, I got glutened. It was my own fault, I wasn’t the advocate that I should have been when my boyfriend and I went out to a chain restaurant for a quick breakfast before we went camping. Once we were there, I mentioned to the waitress that I was gluten intolerant and asked that there be no bread on the plate. I ordered what I thought was a safe meal: two eggs over easy, bacon and hash browns. I was hungry, and ate it all. This restaurant specializes in pancakes and advertises that they use pancake batter in their omelets, so I made sure to not order an omelette.) I now think that I was a victim of cross contamination and that they cooked something (most likely the hash browns) on a part of the griddle that they did the pancakes or omelettes on (like I said, my own fault for not specifying a clean grill area). We then drove to the camp ground and set up our tent city (Large tent and a large pop up which acts as our kitchen). Set up takes about 3 hours, which is why we tend to go for longer trips (this one was 6 days).

The next day I woke up to mild stomach cramping. The entire day was spent running into the restroom and trying to convince myself that this was an abberation and that I hadn’t been glutened. By Friday, the stomach cramps were so bad that I had to admit it to myself. I was angry, but mostly at myself. I know that chain restaurants are absolutely the worst for cross contamination, and I still went. Continue Reading »

Raw Milk Fresh from the Farm

Image by Chiot's Run via Flickr

On November 1st, a group of mothers will drive from Maryland to Pennsylvania, where they will legally purchase raw milk from Dan Allgyer (the Amish farmer who was raided by the FDA last year for selling Raw Milk). They will then cross the Pennsylvania/Maryland border and will drive to the FDA headquarters in Silver Spring Maryland where they will then distribute the raw milk to their families and to others waiting there.

The Raw Milk Riders Freedom Rally is being done in response to the raids on Dan’s farm last year as well as the Rawesome raid in California. They have notified the FDA of their intent and it will be *interesting* to see what the FDA’s response will be.

Speakers at the event will include:

  • Joel Salatin – Poly Face Farm
  • Mark McAfee
  • David Gumphart
  • Max Kane
  • Michael Schmidt
  • Liz Reitzig – Raw Milk Activist – Food Freedom Coalition

You can join the Facebook page at: Raw Milk Freedom Riders – Mom Caravan and Rally for more information (including times and location).

I’ve asked for an interview from the Food Freedom Coalition, which is sponsoring the event. I’m hopeful that I’ll have another post this week with that interview and more information.

Autumn brings out the pumpkin lover in me.  Pumpkin is such a versatile vegetable, it’s able to work within both sweet and savory dishes.  Truth be told I had never liked canned pumpkin, but finally gathered up my courage to bring home a fresh pumpkin last year. It was an amazing revelation. If you’ve never worked with fresh pumpkin before, I recommend you try it, its not that hard.

Pumpkins are full of beta-carotene, a pigment found in foods that can be converted to Vitamin A.  There are also some studies that show that beta-carotene helps with some eye diseases as well. Pumpkins are high in fiber as well magnesium, potassium and zinc. Pumpkin seeds are high in protein and are a good source of essential fatty acids which help with high blood pressure, arthritis as well as healthy skin.  Continue Reading »

Preserved food in Mason jars

I’m a freely admitted control freak. Not in every way, but in a very important way.  I want to know and control where my food comes from.  The more I learn about the food industry and what they actually sell as “food”, the less and less I choose to spend my food dollars there.

About 3 years ago, I decided to embark on an experiment, to see how well I could do buying and eating foods that were local and seasonal.  I decided this in the winter, after reading Animal, Vegetable, Miracle.  I knew that in order to conduct this experiment, I would have to preserve foods during the summer for winter as well.  I wasn’t going to go as whole hog as the people who wrote the 100-Mile Diet.  I wasn’t going to give up coffee or chocolate and if I couldn’t buy locally, I would try buying seasonally (which meant that winter, I ate a lot of turnips, rutabagas and chard).  I found farms where I could buy grass fed meats, chickens and eggs as well.  I also signed up for a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture).  Most of this however wouldn’t happen in the spring. Continue Reading »

My Gluten Free Adventure

In August of 2010, I was at a house party in Upstate New York when I realized that I was most likely gluten intolerant (if not celiac).

For the last 10 years, I had followed a mostly low carb diet. It worked and I considered it a very healthy diet for me. Meats, full fat dairy, lots of fresh vegetables, very few starches and no grains were the basis of my eating plan. I felt good on it. I followed this whenever I could, but when I couldn’t (traveling or eating at someone’s home), I didn’t worry too much about it. During the summer of 2010 though, I was traveling much more than I usually did. And I didn’t have control of my food.

I went to Wisconsin for training. The company that provided the training provided breakfast and lunch. You guessed it, bagels, breads, cereals and pizza. Since it wasn’t politic for me to go out on my own, I ate them. Within 2 days, I was leaving the training room every half hour to deal with stomach issues. I just thought I was coming down with something. But, strangely enough the same thing kept happening every time I traveled.

In August, my boyfriend and I were at a house party in upstate New York. Breakfast was breads and jams, lunch was pizza, dinner was okay. By Saturday morning, I again was spending most of my time in a restroom. As I was dealing with some of the worst cramping I ever experienced, I started thinking about how much I had been sick this summer and started putting two and two together. “I’m most likely gluten intolerant”.

Continue Reading »

milk bottle showing cream at the top

Raw Milk in a recyclable glass bottle.

For most of my life, I hated milk. I stopped drinking it at a very young age (basically as soon as I could be stubborn enough that my mother realized that it was a lost battle). As I grew older, I realized that I’m lactose intolerant. How did I figure this out if I stopped drinking milk? Mainly because like all kids, I liked ice cream. I didn’t realize until I was an adult that ice cream gave me tummy issues. Fermented dairy seemed to be fine for me though (as did heavy cream). As I embarked on my low carb diet, cheese took the place of sweets.

As I’ve embarked on adding more local and seasonal foods to my diet, I searched and searched for a source for raw milk. Despite data from the government (CDC) detailing the fact that drinking raw milk or eating raw milk cheeses is safe, neither the CDC or the FDA will admit that raw milk is safe. Consequently, trying to find a source for raw milk is difficult. Luckily for me, raw milk is legal to sell in Pennsylvania and I’m about 35 miles from the border. So yes, its a haul to get it, but its worth it.

There is a petition up on the WhiteHouse Web Site that is asking the Federal Government to legalize the sale of raw milk.  Whether you choose to drink raw milk or not, after reading this post, please consider signing it so that those of us who do choose to do so, can do so. The petition needs 5000 votes to go forward.  Thank you.

Continue Reading »