Dissatisfied Health

Guess what, folks. I’m about to blow your mind with what you already may know or at the very least suspect somewhere down deep, but what I think is important to talk about. Especiallllyyy in the blog world, especiallllyyy in college, especiallllyyy in today’s culture.

We, as people, are masters of self deception. MASTERS, I say. At least up to a point. (At which point you say, get to the point Michaela. Patience, dear grasshopper.)

I want to talk to you about dieting. About exercise. About “lifestyle changes,” because we all know that dieting and exercise are out of vogue. Diets don’t work, the experts say, and rather than force ourselves to exercise we are encouraged to find fun physical activity and delicious healthy food so we don’t have to diet. And around this new trend, dozens and hundreds of blogs (and a whole web and non-web based health culture) have popped up, including my own. It’s called Pilgrimage of Health, for goodness sake. Health. With Healthy recipes and Healthy lifestyle tips and Healthy thought processes and Healthy healthy healthy. 

And I’m not out to bash any of that. We do need lifestyle changes. We do need to forego dieting, and find activities that we enjoy doing that make us feel good, because we’re facing a crisis situation. In my country of the United States and increasingly around the world, we’re facing an epidemic of unhealth in mind, body, and soul. We’re spending more and more time and money and energy on health, and yet collectively we’re still pretty sick. In response, we’re inundated with lifestyles and ideas and tips intended to transform us into healthy, happy, carefree health goddesses (and gods).

But I think, underneath a lot of the healthy language and healthy blog culture, we sometimes use health as a cover-up. As an excuse, to try and change ourselves into what we think we should be rather than accepting ourselves for who we are. Now, rather than esteeming thinness for thinness sake and dieting and weight loss, we’re instead consumed by this image of health that can lead us into unhealthy behaviors.

You following me here?

An obsession with health can be unhealthy. Part of the problem lies within the motivation behind strict workout plans and eating regimes, but part of the problem can come after. After we’re following the cleanest diet, practicing yoga six times a week, training for a marathon. We become dependent on these as something to define us. We become human doers instead of human beings, fixated on the high of pushing ourselves further and defined by what we don’t do, that is, consume ‘bad’ foods (which in our society can mean a million different foods). And if we’re embracing a “healthier lifestyle” out of a deep dissatisfaction with who we are, I think that’s problematic.

Because our bodies know, right? Our self knows. It knows when we act out of insecurity instead of satisfaction. We know, deep down, what actions come from abundance and deprivation. And that doesn’t come without consequences. Lying to ourselves and saying that we’re “just following this eating plan because I feel tired (or want to be healthier or save the planet or I think I’m allergic to . . .)” when we really are trying to follow a diet without calling it so because we are deeply dissatisfied with ourselves and desperately want change, our bodies and souls know. Don’t try to trick them.

I know this to be true, because I do it. Have done it. Mastered it, for the past five years. I’ve been vegetarian, vegan, dairy-free, nut-free. I’ve followed strict running plans and done juice cleansing. I’ve committed to abstaining from this or that because of that and this. And every time I eat a certain way or exercise out of a dissatisfaction, it backfires. Badly.

This is not to say that running or vegetarianism or veganism (or yoga or paleo or grain free or . . . you get the idea) are inherently bad within themselves. Nope, because those things can come from a place of true health. They can come from a place of wholeness, a clarity in communication with our deeper selves that says that running makes our bodies feel good or a certain type of food makes our bodies feel bad.

Check yourself before you wreck yourself. If you’re eagerly about to jump into another trend in the name of health, step back.  Why are you about to embark upon this plan? Is it from abundance, or deprivation? Joy, or insecurity?

 

Zucchini Muffins

We have an abundance of zucchini and summer squash in the VH garden right now. I wanted to make Zucchini bread, but . . . I couldn’t find any bread pans. I now know where they are for future endeavors (I actually made whole wheat bread yesterday!), but ended up making muffins instead. Cooking and baking with foods grown in our backyard=healthy, cheap, and seemingly part of a movement that makes us alternative and awesome.

Zucchini Muffins
2 cups grated zucchini (two small zucchini or one large)
1 medium sized banana
1/4 cup water
3 tablespoons chia seeds (flax seed meal should work as well)
1 cup organic whole can sugar
1/2 cup honey
2 tsp vanilla extract

3 cups whole wheat flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp iodized sea salt
1 tsp allspice

1. Process zucchini in food processor, using grater attachment.

2. Preheat oven to 325; mash banana and combine with zucchini.

3. Make chia “egg” by combining the water and chia seeds. By the time you add them to the mixture, they’ll look like this:

4. To zucchini mixture add honey, sugar, and vanilla extract. Add chia egg.

5. Mix together dry ingredients. Fold wet into dry.

6. Spoon into muffin cups; bake for 26 minutes at 325.

You know what would be absolutely delicious mixed into this baby? Walnuts. Unfortunately . . .

And apparently there is a sale on Zyrtec for those of you who have allergies!

Have you made anything from your garden? 

This post is shared on Fight Back Friday over at Food Renegade!

Garden of Growth

Last week, Chad and I spent a few hours composting hundreds upon hundreds of seedlings. Now, I understand from a business perspective that, as a farmer, you have to overplant in case something happens. I also understand that it takes a scarce commodity, time, to find appropriate homes for them. Composting it is . . . unless you have an intern that feels almost more tenderly for abandoned plants than for abandoned puppies.

Here are just a few of the plants I filled my car with to bring home, and I barely rescued any:

There’s a nearby church that has garden plots for the community, and after planting some around the Vista House, I called up the pastor and procured a space!

I had to lay down newspaper and cardboard to kill the weeds . . .

. . . before I ran out. Then I poached some from a dumpster behind a shopping center 😉

Filled completely, sprinkled with fertilizer (and one happy gardener):

I then had to let it rest a week. According to the people in charge of the garden at the church, the soil they got needed added nitrogen. After talking to Roddy and Chad, however, I was skeptical about this addition and am hopeful that my plants don’t get burned by too much.

My little rescues went back in the car after a week of rest and water at the VH (ignore the dirty socks. Comes from working on a farm . . . at least, that’s what I tell myself)

And over to the church to be planted!

Isn’t it beautiful? I planted peppers (sweet and hot), tomatoes, okra, oregano, and watermelon. I’m so excited for my plants to start producing fruit, and to not be dependent on the dining hall this fall for all of my goodies. Speaking of school food, check this out over at Food Renegade (and watch the TED talk at the end!)

Do you have a garden? 

What is in season in your region? 

Vegan Stuffed Swiss Chard

I used to really almost loathe swiss chard, which is surprising because I’ll eat just about anything that grows from the ground. I found it too earthy and gritty, but since I’ve been working at Greenbrier and bringing home copious amounts of the colorful, beautiful leaf, I had to find a way to make it that was completely delicious.

Sauteing it with some olive oil, garlic, cumin, sriracha (who doesn’t love the red rooster sauce!), salt, and a hint of maple syrup sold me. But I wanted more–more variety, more flavor, and something that wouldn’t leave me hungry a half an hour later!

Cheezy, slightly spicy, with the flavor of sweet corn and sweet potatoes.

Vegan Stuffed Swiss Chard
10-15 Swiss Chard leaves
1 Medium size sweet potato
1/2 chopped white onion
1 15 oz can black beans (well rinsed)
1 cup sweet corn
2 cups cooked quinoa (I used red quinoa)
3/4 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp curry powder
1 tsp garlic powder
Sweet Potato Cheeze Sauce  

Sweet Potato Cheeze Sauce
1 cup cooked sweet potato (about half of the sweet potato listed above)
1/2 cup cashews
1/2 cup sunflower seeds
1/2 cup non-dairy milk
3/4 cup water
3/4 cup nutritional yeast
3/4 tsp onion powder
1 tsp dijon mustard
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp turmeric (for color)

1. Cut the sweet potato in half and chop coarsely. Cook on stove top over medium-high heat with olive oil. While this cooks, start the rest of your sauce.

2. In a food processor, blend the cashews, sunflower seeds, garlic, non-dairy milk, and water until smooth. Add in the rest of the ingredients. When the sweet potato pieces are soft, add to the sauce and puree until creamy.

3. Make sure your swiss chard is thoroughly washed, and remove the stems by slicing them off of the leaf. Don’t discard them–chop them, the other half of the sweet potato, and your onion and saute in a pan with olive oil.

4. Cook until the sweet potatoes have begun to soften and add black beans, corn, and cooked quinoa. Sprinkle with salt, curry powder, and garlic powder.

5. Now it’s time to stuff the chard! Lay one row of leaves in a 9X13 glass pan. Spoon a generous amount of the sautéed mixture onto the leaves.

6. Add some cheeze sauce and roll the leaves. You will have to break the stalk as you roll it. Continue until you’ve stuffed all your chard (sounds like an insult, doesn’t it?)

7. Top all of the rolled chard leaves with the remaining sauce.

8. Bake in a 350 oven for 15 minutes.

 I enjoyed mine with some sriracha 🙂 You’ll need a fork and knife to dig into this baby . . .

How do you prepare swiss chard? 

This is shared on: Real Food Wednesday and Fight Back Friday.

Frugal Nut&Seed Crackers

So, after making Everything in the Pantry Milk, I had a bunch of this stuff left over:

The leftover meal from soaking, blending, and straining my nuts and seeds to get my milk. Because I didn’t want to waste it, I started googling “what to do with almond meal.” Turns out, there is an entire website devoted to the stuff! I found this recipe there, and wanted to modify it because it calls for a dehydrator and doesn’t use many spices. I knew that Angela over at Oh She Glows had some recipes for crackers, so I looked at this one and this one before coming up with the recipe below!

Frugal Nut & Seed Crackers
2 packed cups of leftover nut/seed pulp
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
2 tbsp chia seeds
1 tbsp flax seed
1 tsp sesame seeds
3/4 tsp onion powder
3/4 tsp garlic powder
2/4 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp sage
1/2 tsp dill
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 tbsp water

Preheat oven to 325.

1. Combine everything except the olive oil and the water, mix well.

2. Add olive oil and water, stir to combine. It should stick together fairly well–if the dough is crumbly, add more water.

 3. Spoon the dough onto parchment paper, spread evenly by patting it with your hands. You will have to use two sheets.

5. Place parchment paper on top of the dough and roll it very thinly with a rolling pin.

6. Take off the upper level of parchment paper and, using a sharp knife, cut out your crackers.
 7. Transfer to a baking sheet and bake at 325 for forty minutes. After forty minutes, I took the outer ones off that were browned already and let them cook for five more minutes.

What is your favorite use for dill? 

This post is shared on: Monday Mania, Scratch Cookin’ Tuesday, and Fight Back Friday.

Everything in the Pantry Milk

Since I’ve been interning on the farm and going to the farmer’s market every weekend, I think I’ve been to a grocery store . . . once? Maybe twice? I love cooking up all the goodies I bring home from work, and I desperately want to avoid the supermarket as long as I can. I ran out of almond milk last week, and my recent reticence to run to Publix (and the ingredients in my pantry) prompted this lovely, non-dairy milk.

I’ve made almond milk in the past, but don’t do it often because it’s cheaper (and easier) for me to simply buy it. I wondered though if I could get the same results with some of the other nuts and seeds in my pantry!

Everything In The Pantry Milk
1 cup almonds
1/2 cup cashews
1/4 cup pumpkin seeds
1/4 cup sunflower seeds
4 3/4 cup water
2 1/2 tbsp local honey
1/4 tsp iodized sea salt

1. Place the nuts and the seeds in a bowl and cover completely with water (not the water listed on the ingredients list )


2. Place a towel over the bowl and soak overnight.

3. The next day, drain off the water and rinse thoroughly. The cashews looked a bit discolored, so make sure to rinse well.

4. Blend the nuts and water together.

5. Add the honey and sea salt, continue blending. Don’t be alarmed if it starts to froth out a bit!

6. Strain with a fine wire mesh strainer. If you want to ensure there is no pulp, strain with a cheese cloth.

Quick taste test:

And then I added some to my chai tea!

It definitely has an interesting taste I wasn’t expected–you can pick out notes of cashew and pumpkin which I really like! Next time, I may have to do a chocolate milk and add cocoa powder, some stevia, and some cinnamon.

Check back tomorrow to see what I made with the nut/seed pulp . . . I think I may like that even better than the milk!

Do you make your own “milk” or other items most people purchase in the store (bread, yogurt, cheese) ? 

This post is shared on Fight Back Friday at Food Renegade and the Homestead Barn Hop at The Prairie Homestead!

Flavorful Flourless Fiberful Chocolate Brownies!

Can you say yum? Because I can, and it sounds a lot like eating a gooey, warm, chocolatey brownie . . .

These special brownies have a secret ingredient (not that) that adds protein and fiber! When I served them to friends and asked them to guess, they speculated love and happiness. How sweet. Well, they have plenty of love, but the special secret is black beans! I’ve made these once before with my sister, but re-stumbled upon the recipe at Practical Stewardship. Though most of my recipes are vegan, this does use eggs. I used eggs from my internship at the farm, so they are from truly free-range, happy, heirloom chickens. Farm fresh eggs have less fat, less dietary cholesterol,  more vitamin A, more vitamin E, and more protein (source).

Per serving, these brownies have about 5 grams of dietary fiber,13 grams of sugar, and 7 grams of protein. Compare that to a Betty Crocker Brownie Mix Supreme with 1 gram of dietary fiber, 32 grams of sugar, and 1.5 grams of protein. Actually, they really don’t compare 😉 In other news, I’m still struggling with my alliteration problem . . .

Flavorful Flourless Fiberful Brownies
1 15 oz can black beans, rinsed
3 farm fresh eggs
2 Tbls Earth Balance
1/3 cup cocoa powder
1/4 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 1/2 Tbls vanilla extract
1/2 cup honey
1/4 cup raw sugar
1/4 cup dark chocolate chips

1. Blend all ingredients (except chocolate chips) in a blender or food processor.

2. Pour into a greased 9×9 pan.

3. Sprinkle with dark chocolate chips, or other desired toppings (I think walnuts or pecans would be simply divine).

4. Bake in a 350 oven for 30 minutes, until a toothpick comes out of the center clean. Mine were cooked thirty minutes and were still veryyy gooey, so if you’d like them a bit firmer I suggest cooking 32-35 minutes.

5. Let cool as long as you can before eating one (or two)!

Do you ever sneak “healthy” ingredients into indulgent foods? 

Fresh Fare From the Farm

I think I may have a problem with alliteration. . . using it in excess, that is 😉

These past two weeks, I have been bringing home a stunning amount of beautiful, nutritious, fresh-from-the-field food from my internship at Greenbrier Farms. They make sure that everyone working gets to partake in the bounty of the harvest, and it’s contributed to nearly all of my meals being at least 50% local (some of them 100%)! I love eating food that I know I had a hand in harvesting, washing, and packaging earlier that week or even that morning!

These were some of my goodies last week:

That loaf of bread? GARLIC ROSEMARY! DIVINE.

This week, Roddy, one of the owners, told me to just go out in the garden before you leave and pick some of what you want . . . you know what’s out there and ready, you’re in it everyday. Isn’t food the whole point?

Why thank you sir, I believe I will! And, I believe it is!

Farm fresh eggs and crunchy yet smooth and buttery lettuce? Yes please!

This lettuce reminds me of a buttercrunch, but better! It is called kwik, I think. I used it in southwestern style lettuce wraps, and the eggs in mini, personalized frittatas. YUM!

What are some of your favorite recipes with foods in season now? 

This post is shared on: Living Green Linkup at Like  A Mustard Seed.

Asian “Mac & Cheese”

This dish is DELICIOUS . . . but not perfect yet. I’m going to have to play around with it a bit to get the texture right on the cheezy sauce. But the taste is outta control delicious, which comes in part from Chinese and Indian influences!

After going to Indian food two weeks ago, I picked up some goodies at the attached Indian grocer. One of the ingredients I bought is called “simmer sauce,” and it looks absolutely divine. It’s ingredients include: cashews, onion, coriander, red chili, sea salt, coconut milk powder, garlic, turmeric, ginger, rice, green chili, green cardamom, safflower oil, pistachio, clove, bay leaf, black pepper, fennel, cumin, mace, and saffron.

I promised you  this recipe for today, so I’ll give it to you! Just realize that soon, I will redo it. And it will be even better!

 Asian “Mac & Cheese” 

1 package of your favorite macaroni pasta shape
1 cup raw cashews
1/2 cup sunflower seeds
3/4 cup nutritional yeast
1 1/2 oz tofu (about 1/4 of a block)
1 cup almond milk
2 garlic cloves
1 tbls earth balance
1 tsp dijon mustard
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
1 tsp turmeric (for color)
1 tsp miso
1 tsp simmer sauce (substitute any combination of the above list)

1. Cook pasta according to package instructions. I usually put some olive oil into my water to keep the pasta from sticking.

2. In a food processor, blend cashews, sunflowers, tofu, almond milk, nutritional yeast, and earth balance until smooth.

3. Combine the sauce and pasta. If you don’t want to do a baked dish, heat on the stove on medium heat until warmed throughout. Enjoy!

4. If, however, you want to bake it . . . preheat that oven to 375, place the macaroni in a dish, and top with Daiya Cheese and homemade croutons*!

5. Bake at 375 for twenty minutes.

6. Devour quickly.

Homemade croutons:
Cube 2 slices whole wheat bread.
Spray with olive oil.
Sprinkle with salt, garlic powder, and dill.
Broil in oven on high until toasted.

I’m excited to remake this soon! I have some ideas to make it even more creamy and delicious, and to make those flavors really pop! And, even though it isn’t perfect in my mind, I did have a friend tell me at the meal yesterday, “It isn’t mac and cheese, but I think I like it better than mac and cheese!”

Mission, accomplished.

What is your favorite pasta dish?

 

Chocolate Coconut Power Orbs

Have I got a yummy treat for you this morning! Remember how I said that I‘d be doing a lot more creating in the kitchen since I’m living in the Vista House? Well, having access to a fully equipped kitchen + a lot of people to eat whatever yummy creation I make is definitely already prompting me to cook a lot more!

This recipe is adapted from the lovely Angela at Oh She Glows. I constantly drew upon Angela’s story and wisdom for hope within my own healing process. Her’s was the first blog that I ever ‘followed,’ and I still have it bookmarked and check it daily! Her food is inspired, delicious, and super feel-good healthy.

I enjoyed some of these tasty little guys this morning with breakfast this morning!

Chocolate Coconut Power Orbs

1/2 cup raw cashews
3/4 cup pitted dates
1/4 cup prunes
2 1/2 tablespoons cocoa powder
1/4 cup unsweetened coconut (plus more for rolling)
1/4 cup almonds
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp sea salt
3 tbsp maple syrup
1 tbsp chunky natural peanut butter
1/2 tsp vanilla

Process the cashews in a food processor until crumbly. Don’t leave them in too long–we don’t want cashew butter!

Add the pitted dates and prunes. Process until combined and sticky. Add in the rest of the ingredients, minus the almonds, and process until all the ingredients come together.

Pulse in the almonds to your level of desired nut-texture.

Form into balls and roll in coconut. Store in freezer or fridge.

Do you like coconut? What is your favorite recipe that uses it? 


This recipe is shared on Fat Tuesday over at Real Food Forager.