Thursday, July 31, 2014

Tomatoes

Hello Readers!!!



It feels like it's been days and days since I last wrote. Splitting my time between the two restaurants makes my weeks seem a lot longer than they usually seem. 

Danielle has been posting some absolutely stunning pictures this week. If I had the time I would rush home right now and whip up that gazpacho. I am always looking for light summer recipes and there is nothing better than settling down with a glass of dry white wine and devouring a bowl of cold gazpacho on a toasty evening. It is funny how comfort food changes between seasons. I can't tell you how much I enjoy a piping hot cup of hot chocolate during those frigidly cold MN nights. But in the summer when the grass is green and the humidity is at 60% I want something refreshing and light.

Danielle has been talking a lot about Farmers Markets lately and if any of you have been visiting them lately you have seen that tomato season is in full bloom. I had mentioned in my last post that my mom grows 16 different types of tomatoes in her garden. Tomatoes have always been my parents favorite to grow and over the years have continued to learn new and exciting things about growing them.

Tomatoes are one of my favorite foods. They're sweet, juicy, delicious and contain lots of great vitamins and minerals that are crucially important in our bodies. Did you know that one serving of tomatoes is a great source of Vitamin A, C, K, folate and potassium. They also provide thiamin, niacin, vitamin B6, calcium, chromium, and copper.

 All the vitamin A found in the tomatoes makes them super good for your skin, hair and eyes because the beta-carotene helps against sun damage. Vitamin K and calcium help with strengthening bones and fighting against osteoporosis.  The Chromium helps balance your blood sugar by stabilizing the sugar response in the body.

Tomatoes can also help reduce chronic pain. Tomates are high in bioflavanoids and carotenoids which are known as anti-inflammatory agents. When the body is going through bouts of physical stress your body can become inflamed and it can cause uncomfortable chronic pain. The bioflavanoids and carotenoids attack the inflammation to keep it in a normal state and there for making the pain subside.

The carotenoid called lycopene is tomatoes true claim to fame. Lycopene is bright red carotenoid and phytochemical found in tomatoes. Lycopene is a non-essential nutrient for humans, but it is commonly found in the diet. When absorbed from the intestine, lycopene is transported in the blood by various lipoproteins and accumulates primality in the blood and adipose tissue- in men lycopene accumulates easily in the testes. Research shows that phytochemicals contain certain properties that can be cancer preventing. Because the lycopene can be stored in the testes there has been a lot of research showing that increased lycopene in the testes can be a major contributor in helping prevent testicular cancer. Unlike other fruits and vegetables, where nutritional content such as vitamin C is diminished upon cooking, processing of tomatoes increases the concentration of bioavailable lycopene. Lycopene found in tomato paste is four times more bioavailable than fresh tomatoes. Danielle is posting a great tomato sauce recipe tomorrow- just imagine all the lycopene found in that batch of pasta.

It is amazing how much nutrition can be found in such a small tasty package. Now that we all know that tomatoes can be extremely good for our bodies I wanted to give you a little overview about the differences in the tomatoes you see available at your local grocery store.

We all hear these descriptions when purchasing tomatoes- heirloom, hydroponic, imported, organic, etc... Where should we be spending out money? Do some taste better than others? Do some have more nutrients than other? These are all good questions to ask when purchasing products when you grocery shop.

I will start with the basics.

What is an heirloom tomato?

An heirloom is generally considered to be a variety that has been passed down, through several generations of a family because of it's valued characteristics. Since "heirloom varieties have become popular in the past few years there have been liberties taken with the use of this term for commercial purposes. There are four types of heirloom tomatoes- commercial heirlooms, family heirlooms, created heirlooms and mystery heirlooms. The type of heirlooms that tend to produce the best products are those who are truly family heirlooms. Tomatoes seeds that have been passed down generations and generations because they have produced such lovely fruitful plants. Most "heirloom" varieties found in grocery stores are not of the family type. The best way to find true heirlooms are to purchase and plant your own "heirloom" tomatoes. It can sometimes be hard to find heirloom seeds but farmers markets and natural food stores are probably your best bet. If you don't have time to grow your own plants finding farms and farmers markets that specialize in heirloom vegetables are also great places to find these tomatoes. I can definitely taste the difference between a summer heirloom tomato and a winter imported tomato. Tomatoes have to be picked before their peak ripeness to be transported across the country and even sometimes between continents. In doing this not only is the texture and taste different but the color is compromised and as we have learned earlier those really important carotenoids are found in those rich deep colors.

What is a hydroponic tomato?

Hydroponics is a method of growing plants using mineral nutrient solutions in water, without soil. In Minnesota our winters are so tough that we rely on other countries to provide us with a lot of our fruits and vegetables. That imported produce is compromised chemically to elongate its shelf life. This chemical change in its genetic code can make it almost impossible for our body to digest and keeps us from obtaining the nutrients we so desperately need for our bodies to function. Some of the local farmers here have taken it upon themselves to try and grow some foods hydroponically so that we can have local produce year round. The restaurant I work for works with a local farmer who delivers hydroponic tomatoes weekly. Meritage strives to get the best produce available year round and a lot of the time we won't chose produce that is our of season but these tomatoes are very high quality. Their process is clean of commercial pesticides or growth enhancers and are grown all naturally.  When selecting tomatoes in the winter months gravitate towards the locally grown hydroponic tomatoes. Don't get me wrong there is nothing like a summer heirloom tomato, picked directly from the vine in your back yard, but these tomatoes come close.


I feel like there is so much to learn about the produce that we ingest daily. I hope that you take some of this information to heart the next time you want to find the perfect tomato. I know that I will keep creating new and exciting recipes focused around tomatoes.

Don't forget to check out Danielle's post from Tuesday and check back tomorrow for a great tomato basil sauce.

Laura

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Farmer's Market Gazpacho



It's not very often that I am this excited about featuring a recipe. You see this recipe happens to be a favorite of mine for a few different reasons. The first is that all of the ingredients (minus a few of the spices) are in season now and bought from my local farmer's market. It just so happens that tomato season coincides with cucumber, onion, bell pepper, and jalapeño season which are the exact ingredients found in gazpacho. I love that I can utilize the gorgeous produce in season now for this delicious recipe. I also love that this recipe is all raw. Nothing in this recipe is cooked or heated, so that makes for an extra nutrient dense soup. Just as we discussed in our juicing posts, raw vegetables have live enzymes that help with digestion and provide our body with a host of nutrients. When foods are cooked, you inevitably loose some of those vital nutrients and trace minerals. I take digestive enzymes daily which ensure that I obtain enzymes for my digestive system, but I love the principle of food being my medicine first and foremost. I love when my food has all of those live digestive enzymes in them. Raw food is by far the best way to obtain those. This is a wonderful recipe to build up your immune system with all of the healing qualities of each of these vegetables and spices alone. This recipe mimics the medicinal elements of making your own chicken broth, but it is more suited for the hot summer months as it is served chilled. The other charming aspect of this gazpacho is that the only prep work involved is washing and chopping (and you could even do this beforehand) which is extra easy if you have a blender or food processor. All in all, this recipe combines a lot of my favorite components: easy to fix, very nutrient dense, and absolutely flavorful and delicious! I told Laura recently that I always like ordering gazpacho at restaurants, but I've yet to find a restaurant's gazpacho that I absolutely love. They tend to be too bland for my taste, and I inevitably end up snacking on the croutons on top more than I do the actual gazpacho, which isn't good. 
This recipe is bold in flavor and delicious! If any of you ladies are wondering... my husband loved this dish! Even though it's very nutritious and meatless, my husband kept getting seconds and thirds. You don't have to sacrifice taste for nutritious, and this gazpacho is proof. I know you will love it! 
This recipe is gluten free, vegan, and dairy free. This can also easily be candida friendly, if you use apple cider vinegar for the vinegar and leave out the worchestire. 
Bon appétit!

My Gazpacho Recipe: 


Ingredients: 
2 lbs Tomatoes with skin still on (about 3 tomatoes) cored I used Black Krim heirloom tomatoes which I have been in love with lately. I get them from our farmer's market and they have an amazing flavor. I let them sit on my counter until they're really ripe and juicy. 
1 cucumber chopped and seeded and rustically peeled (about 1 1/2 cups of cucumber) You don't have to peel the cucumbers. In fact there is more nutrition if you don't. If you don't love cucumbers as much you can peel part of the skin off. I never worry about wasting the peelings or seeds if I don't use them, since I just add them to our raw juices. 
1 cup of red bell pepper (or 1 red bell pepper) seeded and cored
1 jalapeno, seeded if you are a fan of heat and spice, you can definitely add some of the seeds depending on your heat tolerance
1 medium to large onion (1 cup of onion)
3-4 cloves of garlic
1/4 cup of good olive oil I use an organic olive oil I get from the farmer's market
5 tsp. of organic red wine vinegar I use an organic red wine vinegar I purchased from the Twin Oaks Organic Farm at the Seaside Farmer's Market. You can substitute with a mixture of balsamic vinegar and/or apple cider vinegar (or either one of those). 
3-4 Tbsp. cilantro finely chopped + more for garnishing If you do not have cilantro, you can definitely use basil. I have used both cilantro and basil and I prefer the cilantro, but either will do just fine. 
1/2- 1  tsp. of salt depending on salt preference. I use this salt.
2 tsp. worchestire This is an optional ingredient. I do think it adds flavor to the dish. I use an organic worchestire. You could also use Bragg's Aminos.
3 dashes of cayenne or more to taste 
A few pinches of smoked paprika This is optional as well. I love the smokiness of flavor that this adds and the dimension of it. It really pairs well with the black krim tomatoes. If you don't have this, no worries. A few dashes of cumin would be a lovely substitute that you may be more likely to have in your pantry. 

*Notes: I've made this recipe quite a few times now! In fact, it's pretty much  become a weekly staple that we eat for lunch, dinner, and even breakfast sometimes! I've made this recipe without the worchestire and smoked paprika and I love the taste just as much. The vegetables are quite flavorful on their own. Also, my husband is doing the candida cleanse and I've made this recipe using only apple cider vinegar instead of the Red Wine vinegar and it's lovely just as well. You can also add any vegetables that you choose. I've added a raw cubed yellow squash after it was made. You could also add some chopped celery. Have fun with it! 

Directions: 
-Wash and dry all of your ingredients (if you haven't already washed them when you brought them home from the market, which I do highly recommend!)



-Prepare all vegetables according to directions above: core the tomatoes, seed the cucumbers, seed and core the bell pepper, peel the garlic, seed and core the jalapeño



-After all of your ingredients are prepped and ready begin by blending all of the tomatoes except for maybe 1/2 of one tomato. You want to blend it in a food processor or blender until it's liquid. Put all of the blended tomatoes in a big bowl. Then dice the last of the 1/2 of tomato that you saved and add the diced tomato into the big bowl of the blended tomatoes.



-Throw the rest of the vegetables in your blender/food processor. I do them in two different batches. The first batch I mince pretty finely. The second batch I just pretty much chop until they're in diced sizes. I do two different batches and sizes so that there will be a balance in textures. I like having some of them diced finely to contribute to the base of the gazpacho. I like some to be chopped in bite size pieces to have that texture in the gazpacho of chunky vegetables to where everything isn't blended to liquid. Add all of the vegetables to the big bowl with the tomatoes and stir. 



-Add the rest of the ingredients to the bowl and stir. Taste for seasoning and if you need more salt then you can add a bit and if you need more heat you can add more cayenne (which has wonderful health benefits as well). 



-After it is all assembled, chill in the fridge for at least 1 hour, preferably longer. The flavors will meld together as it chills and it's wonderful served extra cold especially on these hot summer days. 



-Garnish with your choice of fresh cilantro, basil, celery, or a drizzle of olive oil and vinegar. This can be stored in mason jars in the fridge for a few days, as the flavors only meld and get better each day. 


enjoy!

-Danielle

Monday, July 28, 2014

Our most favorite Saturday mornings~

Picture taken from Morningside Market

An ode to our Favorite Saturdays & Farmer's Markets~ 

Every Saturday morning Ben and I wake up usually very tired and heavy eyed, but with full determination. The anticipation for Saturday mornings start days before Saturday. You see, I start thinking and planning and wondering about what new harvest our farmer's will bring to the market that week. I usually check Morningside's website mid-week to see if they posted the list of the upcoming week's harvest. Will it be the first of the asparagus crop? Will it be the first of locally grown watermelon? This weekend it was the first of the ginger harvest! (Ben and I were the first ones to arrive at the market this week and I bought a large handful of this amazing ginger. I was so excited!) Ben's and my favorite thing to do is go to a farmer's market. It has become one of our favorite parts of our week and it really colors the rest of our week every time. I've found it to be just so peaceful, so centering, and so exciting to pick out the food for the week from the hands that actually grew it.  It feels so nostalgic to walk leisurely around the market looking at food that will make your body feel actually well, nostalgic in the best sense of the word that is-- it reminds you of the simple good 'ol days and also makes you excited for the future of picnics, late night summer gatherings, and watermelon on a hot summer day. A friend once asked me "do you actually have time to cook???" Yes. Of course I do. I make the time for it. I would not know what to do with myself if I didn't. I make the time to cook. I make the time to care for my body. I also make the time to stop and wonder and marvel and cook with people I love and leisure with them. If cooking is not your favorite and wouldn't be therapeutic for you then it's ok. The farmer's market also has nutritious already made foods that you can buy as well. The point is that we can buy our food straight from those that nurtured the soil with trace minerals and vital nutrients again and again while it grew. These people-- these farmers pick the produce we buy from the market, many times just days and hours before it arrives at the market for us to choose from. Have you been to a farmer's market these days? Have you seen the produce lately? In the past few weeks? The colors are literally other worldly. It is the season for some of the most gorgeous produce I've ever seen. 
Picture taken from Morningside Market
I am not just a biased farmer's market lover. This really is straight up beauty with a taste like no other. Right now, you can get beautiful tomatoes in so many different colors and shapes, beautiful whole bulbs of garlic freshly picked and dried, beautiful zucchini and squashes. I've gotten a spaghetti squash last week and some African squash which is pretty much the same as butternut squash as well. The cucumbers are the most crisp, juicy cucumbers I've ever tasted. And this weekend we even got freshly picked LOCAL ginger!! That is so rare and so amazing to even be able to get! I know all of my friends in CA & AZ probably have access to local ginger all of the time, but here in the South I've yet to see it prolifically. Going to the Farmer's Market each weekend really is probably the highlight of my husband's and my week. We love to stroll through with our woven basket and our boxer Lucy, enjoy a gorgeous freshly baked pastry, take our time, ask the farmers tons of questions about how they grew it and specific nutrient content, and really admire their hard work. I mean honestly, if it weren't for wonderful farmers none of us at all would have any access to vegetables or fruit (whether you eat organic or not!). This is hard work you guys and not for the faint of heart. I read a beautiful article this week about the toil of farmers and the beauty of it all. It takes a whole lot of faith each year as they plant their seeds (If you're an organic farmer it's often seeds that have been passed on from generation to generation) and wait to see what kind of weather God will send that year and what kind of crops will be yielded. Talk about stress! I know the beauty and peacefulness of it all is a wonderful reward. However, that does not discount how much faith it takes for farmers to plant and water a seed all year long not knowing what kind of variables they will
Picture taken from Morningside Market
encounter throughout that seed's growth that are completely out of their control. However, in their faithfulness they plant, water, and nurture all year long-- while praying I'm sure! I mean their livelihood depends on how well their crops do. We take all of that for granted when we go to the store quickly and hurriedly to "pick up a few things."  We will be fed no matter what, so it doesn't usually matter. However, if it weren't for these men and women and families who practice farming in faith, we wouldn't even have this wonderful food at our finger tips. I'm not casting a bitter look at Modern Americans, although some may have a right to. I, rather, am just expressing my gratitude and thankfulness which I love to do. We live in a rare day and age when the rest of us can have access to amazing nutrient-dense food without having to grow it ourselves. On top of that we can meet the people who dance and sing when the crops yield an abundant harvest, and we can ask them how to cook it when we get home-- because let's face it... many of them come from generations of long lines of farmers who have been doing this for many, many years and they really know how to cook the produce better than any of us. I can't tell you how many wonderful "recipes" (mostly just recounted stories of how they've cooked it for generations) Ben and I have enjoyed over the past few weeks. It's gotten to the point in our little household that we really only shop at the farmer's market. I even buy my coconut oil and olive oil from the market now and we surely buy all of our meats, eggs, fruits, and vegetables there. We also buy fermented sourdough bread and fermented vegetables as well. The interesting part of it all is that I rarely even spend over $100 at the market. You know that I'm always trying to find ways to save money while investing in my health by eating organic. This week I came close to spending $100, but that's because I had a list of things my grandmother wanted me to stock up on for me to buy for her.  It's become a love for our whole family at this point. Ben's and my most favorite Farmer's Market is Morningside in Atlanta. I've mentioned Morningside a few times on this blog already.  It is really rare that you have farmer's markets with such high standards such as this market. There is no lying with where their ingredients come from (it's sad, but some people will just re-sell produce for a higher price they got from regular convenience stores that were on sale). Ben said one time he saw the Dole stickers still on fruit sold at another farmer's market one time. We like to stay away from that, obviously. So, it's really amazing to us when we find a market like Morningside, who have standards for what kind of food they get and from where. They have high standards that farmers have to pass for what kind of farming practices were used in the growing of the food (no chemicals, no pesticides,
Picture taken from Morningside Market
all organic, no GMO's, and all local). Do you know what kind of soil your foods were grown in? Do you know if there are any chemicals and pesticides covering your bell peppers in your fridge? In many other countries they've found all sorts of disgusting substances (too icky to name here) in and on produce that was imported from other places.  That's sad and a waste of food to put into your bodies, if you ask me. Morningside Farmer's Market has standards against all of that. They only allow certain farms that have passed their standards to even sell at their market. We love going and getting our food for the week because we know the soil our food grew in was nourished over and over again and has vital nutrients and minerals our bodies thrive off of. I literally can tell a huge difference in how I feel when I eat food like this. Have you thought about what gmo's and pesticides are meant for: they're meant to literally attack a bug's immune system and kill them. If they're killing insects, I don't think it's good to have any of that inside of our immune system either. It's a gift and a privilege to be able to eat clean and without pesticides or gmo's-- it's a privilege that we do not take lightly! To be honest-- we drive 1 1/2 hours each weekend just to be able to buy such food. It's an investment in our bodies, our wellness, and our peace. The farmer's that we've seen week after week are hard workers. They have gentle, flexible temperaments, but are extremely smart and well-versed on the nutrients in their foods and on food in general. At Morningside they even do a wonderful little affair that I've heard other markets doing as well as a collaboration between farms and restaurants. Not only do you get to see the farmers, but this market actually has a local chef from well-known restaurants come in each week to do a demo. All of the viewers get to watch local chefs take the produce from the market and make it into a wonderful feast. We also get to taste the creation as well, as they pass off complimentary samples to each one of the viewers! It's a great way
Picture taken from Morningside Market
to be able to sample different foods from local chefs to taste their style of cooking and see what types of flavors and food would be offered at their eatery. So, not only do you get to buy produce for your week ahead, but you get a sample meal to taste as well. This week we had seared swordfish over a fluffy, creamy polenta made by the chef of Bistro Niko and his daughter. I can't get the swordfish out of my head! It's a good thing I have a lot of delicious food in my pantry and fridge now to keep me satisfied until next week. All I can say is this: if you've never been to your local farmer's market you're missing out. If the "heat" is the issue then be one of the first ones to get there! That morning light is gorgeous and it's usually 20 degrees cooler! This weekend when we arrived I was in my huge college hoodie it was so cool for me! By the time we left it was 97 degrees, so I had to take that off. I realize it may not be your weekly thing. I get that. There's a lot of things that are definitely not my weekly thing, that may be yours! Whether or not this becomes the favorite part of your week, like it has for us, I still can't suggest enough going at least once. See the connection between the food you eat and who grows it. Feel connected to the earth and to the people who till it, as cliche as that sounds! Just go once-- bring a cloth bag or a woven beach basket or don't-- they do have plastic bags! It is a pretty modern event these days! Walk hand in hand with your lover or your mom-- whichever! Bring your dog or your niece. Or just go by yourself and walk around admiring the colors, the sites, the tastes, and feel the beauty of the moment-- of being able to buy your own food and know exactly where it comes from and the hands that nourish the soil. 
Take time to marvel at how brilliant and wondrous God made the world. And buy whatever fits your fancy-- not worrying about recipes...  but just buying what catches your attention and makes you wonder at the marvel of the world. Be sure to wash your produce when you get home + store it properly and stay tuned for the recipes coming this week where I'll help you with what to do with your produce once you get home! P.S. This video is definitely a must watch and is one of the farms we get our produce from!

Picture taken from Morningside Market

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Meet Jennifer Fountain / Real People Wednesday



Meet Jennifer Fountain / Real People Wednesday:

Hello lovely readers! Did you enjoy our posts on juicing yesterday and Monday? We have a wonderful interview for you today! I was so excited when Jennifer from Growing Up Triplets agreed to do an interview for our Real People Wednesday Series. I have followed her blog for a long time now and truthfully, her blog is hands down one of the best and most informative that I read in the natural health world. She used to work a full time job as an events coordinator for a huge church in Orlando and now she has transferred all of those skills to researching and writing about living a natural lifestyle for her, her husband, and their triplets! Yes, triplets! Whenever moms with kids ask me questions about natural living in regards to children, her blog is one of the first things I point them to.She really does the hard work of learning, reading, and researching that so many of us either do not have time to do or do not want to do. Do you have questions on vaccinating your kids? No problem-- she has done the research!! Do you wonder how to feed your kids and even babies nutritious food?? Well-- here ya go! Questions or setbacks breastfeeding? Well, she addresses a lot of those questions and also writes at the Breastfeeding Place where they address all sorts of baby, momma, and breastfeeding topics.  Not only is she an avid researcher, but she also lives the things she teaches about and writes about it all in a practical way. You know the bone broth I make? I first read about how easy and nutritious bone broth is on her blog before making it myself.  I also gained knowledge about raw milk, it's health benefits and where to buy it from on her blog. I've since only purchased raw milk and have made many yummy treats including my no-ice-cream-machine-needed-ice cream and cheese out of it. I still haven't tried her kombucha popsicles or fermented ketchup as you will read about below, but I can't wait to make those as well. I've been excited to feature her for a while because she is an amazing source and wealth of information. I know you will benefit and glean from her as much as I have-- and she is completely interesting and entertaining along the way! And-- if Jennifer, a mom of triplet toddlers can eat healthy, cook from scratch, write a successful blog and still take care of her own health, then that gives me great hope for all of us! 




Meet Jennifer~ 

Q: Tell us a little bit about yourself! Where you live / what you do / what your husband does / your triplets! / how many people and creatures live in your house / what you are passionate about / etc.

A: Well, I’m in my…early thirties…I think. I got married 4.5 years ago and became pregnant 13 months after we got married - with triplets! We recently moved to TN from FL (where I was born and raised!) and are currently working on plans to buy some land and create a little homestead - I’m planning for kitties, dogs, chickens, goats and a garden! Cows and horses will be icing on the cake. My hubby is in real estate and is super passionate about helping people find their dream home - I’m thinking this will come in handy when we look for our dream homestead. :)

There are currently just the five of us in our temporary town home. I have decided, though, that I shall not add inside animals to the mix until I’m not wiping triple the bums (we just potty-trained). I can make that decision, right?

I am passionate about being the primary caregiver of our kiddos and so blessed to be in a position to do so. It’s tough to be with them and sometimes I find myself talking in toddler-speak, but I also count it a high privilege. These years will be gone before I know it and I want to be confident that I won’t have any regrets in the way of time spent with them.

While this is a big goal, it makes it challenging to also run my website, Growing Up Triplets. My goal with this site is to inspire others with living the natural life and how easy so many aspects are. Many times people shake their heads: triples? blog? grow your food?? How do you do it all? Here’s the secret: lots of things are just em, easy, em. No, really, I promise. The hardest part? Researching what will work best for you and your family. So part of what I share on the blog is the easy-to-understand research I’ve done so that others don’t have to search and search.

I also write about raising our children - (higher-order) multiples is a unique situation but parenting any number and type of children is hard work. I want to encourage mothers on this journey with me.

And my faith is a huge part of our lives. It has changed the way I approach life - no guilt for what I can’t “get to” or didn’t “get done” or for what I did do. It’s integral and ultimate. I love being able to share this aspect with my readers because it’s so freeing.

Q: Tell us about your story and journey with being healthy and natural living. Has this always been important to you? When did it become so?

A: You know, I remember the first time I heard the term “organic.” I’d shopped for a friend and she commented that I’d gotten organic foods and did I know that. I didn’t. I didn’t know what “organic” meant! That was probably 7 or 8 years ago. Fast forward a couple years ago and I was in a car accident. I went to a fantastic chiropractor where I didn’t just get my “back cracked” but I was taught exercises that strengthened my core, spine, etc. While doing these exercises in-office, we saw documentaries. These changed my life. I quit drinking Diet Coke (about 48+ oz daily) cold turkey. I bought raw milk and cheese. I bought grassfed beef. But I didn’t really “know” what I believed.

Fast forward a couple more years and I now have 5 month old triplets. Who will probably be scrounging for food soon. What do I want to feed them? What is citric acid? Is meat ok in the first year? What about grains? All of these questions propelled me on a furious study of natural living. I felt like I was in a crash course of Ma Ingalls’ life! I learned so much in one year - mostly online while breastfeeding…breastfeeding triplets means ya sit down a lot.

A couple years later and things like soaking grains, fermenting foods, cooking from scratch and the *why* behind it all is, well, old hat. It fits like a comfortable glove, this natural living. Recently I shared on Facebook that I hadn’t gotten my post-move groove back till I was fermenting something!

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

The Lowdown on Juicing

Hey Everyone!




So I want to take a minute to really thank my partner in crime, Danielle. It's been really hard for me lately. During this BIG transition at work, there has been a lot to fix and a lot of this has been handed to me. She has kept up with the blog and continued to work very hard to make this as special as we intended it to be. I was personally asked last week by Danielle to do some research on juicing. As you learned yesterday this is a ritual at the Boyle household and has become a real passion of Danielle's.  She says that she is asked daily some of the fine details behind "juicing for health". A lot of the work her and her husband do have become routine and often she doesn't like to worry about the details because she just knows it makes her feel healthy and happy and she doesn't need more than that to convince her that it is helping her.

I absolutely wish that my life could be that way; wait let me rephrase, I wish my life was that way. I spend too much time worrying about the details and not focusing on what really makes me feel good. I have decided that in the next couple months I am going to live my life like Danielle and make myself happy by enjoying everything that I am given.

That being said I am going to take my first step in making myself happy and help my friend with some research she wanted to complete but hasn't had time because she is so busy making all of this happen.

Well let's start with the basics..

Danielle touched on some of the reasons why she juices which is really important but I will start by giving you an introduction on some of the things you should juice.

Fruits and vegetables are the most important part of juicing. When you shop for ingredients you'll need a base, these are some of the fruits and vegetables that produce more liquid and add volume. Carrots, green apples, cucumbers and celery make great bases. After you have that you can also add things that add a lot of vitamins like greens and beets. You might also want to add flavorful type substances like basil, mint or ginger. All of which possess health benefits along with a nice flavor.

We have mentioned the dirty dozen in early posts but this is when they really come into play. This to jog your memory is a list of the twelve most contaminated fruits and vegetables. Essentially a list of the fruits and vegetables that are better when consumed in their organic forms. Refer to our post of fruits and veg for some great information on the dirty dozen.

To really enhance the nutrition in your juices you really want to focus on green leafy vegetables. green juice can have an acquired taste so just as Danielle said ease your self into the green juices. Once you really start to enjoy the taste you can continue to add more and eventually drink juices completely made from leafy greens. Making juices from these will really increase your vitamin, mineral and protein intake when juicing and it also decreases your sugar intake because many fruits contain a lot of sugar.

One thing to remember is that it can sometimes takes a lot of ingredients to make one good glass of juice. It can be a bit discouraging sometimes. I sometimes get a bit hung up on finding the perfect recipes for the produce I buy because I tend to spend a bit more on my fruits and vegetables. But I have found if I obsess over this I tend to waste them because I let them sit in my fridge while trying to figure out the perfect recipe for them. I have learned to come to terms with the fact that juicing can sometimes provide me with not only sustenance but enough energy to skip that expensive coffee drink that I tend to splurge on from time to time ( which as we all know can  be almost just as expensive and not nearly as satisfying).

There are a few things to warn you before you start to juice. Danielle and Ben DO NOT supplement juicing for meals so if you are trying a juice cleanse there are some warnings that go along with consuming your own juice.

Start slowly. If you drink too much juice at once if could cause rapid bowel movements. Start in lower quantities, and slowly add more quantity. This helps get your system used to digesting the addition of fruits and vegetables and can also aid your digestion. I always tend to think about tempering eggs when adding new foods into your diet. Eggs are very fragile and when you introduce hot liquids can scramble very easily... to keep the egg from scrambling when cooking you add hot liquids in small quantities so the egg has time to reach the temperature needed without cooking the proteins in the egg. Our bodies work in a similar fashion. We need to prepare our bodies for change- if we introduce new items slowly our bodies get used to them and accept them without disturbing your normal body chemistry.

As Danielle said in her post yesterday drink juice in the first 20 minutes after juicing. You get the most nutrition from juice that is freshly pressed. This young juice contains all of the original enzymes and which help you digest not only the juice but all the other contents in your stomach.

One of the main questions Danielle says she gets the most is, "Can there be a point when I am juicing too much?". There are some things to watch out for when juicing. First as we have mentioned there is a lot of sugar in fruit so making sure you are combining fruits and vegetables can help counter balance the fructose found in the fruits. Second consuming large amounts of betacarotene rich vegetables like beets and carrots may alter your skin pigment and they also contain vitamin A which is a fat soluble vitamin which unlike water soluble vitamins can become toxic because they are stored in the body's fat. This is not a real serious warning because you would have to be taking in extremely large amounts of these for this to happen but you may want to make sure you are consuming a variety of fruits and vegetables while you juice. Lastly, making sure you are consuming whole foods along with your juicing regimen. Whole foods contain fiber that will help with your digestion. If you are just juicing transit time in your body speeds up and can cause digestive problems. Also, juicing can be great sources of a lot of vitamins and minerals but can lack in good fats and protein. Making sure you are consuming those as well is important when trying to balance your diet.

Well I can say after all my research I will definitely be splurging on a juicer in the near future. I feel like it will be a fantastic way to get my daily serving of fruits and vegetables. I also think it might be a bit fun to explore different flavor combinations to find my perfect blend.

Check back tomorrow for a great interview that Danielle has prepared!


Laura



Monday, July 21, 2014

Carrot + Celery + Ginger Raw Juice Recipe



Hi Readers! How was your weekend? Mine was great-- a lot of work mixed in with date nights and fun in Atlanta. I love this city. There is something about the community, the people, and creative culture of Atlanta that inspires me and is also comforting in an inviting-Southern-kind of way. It feels that same exhilarating way that any big city feels like; yet it also feels homey and small and inviting like you and what you have to give matters. It's basically a big city with small town feel and I couldn't love that any more than I do. #weloveatl. ;) 

I definitely have Atlanta on my mind, but today I want to talk about something that I love just as much: juicing. Juicing has become one of the bigger parts of my wellness and has many healing powers. When many people hear juicing they automatically associate that with a juice only cleanse. I wish that weren't the case, as there are many benefits of juicing along with your regular meals and not only while doing a cleanse. I don't skip any meals to juice. I don't do juice cleanses. I don't juice to loose weight. One can definitely do all of those things. I, however, juice frequently and often without skipping any of my regular meals or eating. I juice to get nutrients I wouldn't other wise get into my system in a fast and yummy way. Juicing gives me energy and helps me feel rejuvenated and focused. It helps my skin. It helps me to keep up a really good immune system where I rarely ever get sick (which is not at all how I used to be!). It helps me feel better
emotionally too as I find my emotions are more balanced when I'm getting enough nutrients-- which is clearly always a plus! I used to have really bad anxiety during certain times of the month and I've found that all of the nutrients in juicing really helps keep that at bay and levels my hormones. Some juice to level their blood pressure. Some juice to loose weight. Some juice to eradicate arthritis. Some juice to heal and get rid of cancer and leukemia. Some juice to fight constipation. I juice to prevent all of those things and to restore my body and it's nutrients. When my husband and I are in our normal routines (with little traveling) we juice often-- at least 3x a week but often even more than that. When we have been traveling and aren't in our normal routine, juicing is one of the first things we do once we get home and are getting back to taking care of ourselves. When I start to feel sick or that I may be coming down with something, I quickly take a mental inventory of three things: have I been drinking enough water, have I been taking my epsom salt baths, and have I juiced lately? Those are the things I go to even before thinking about whether or not I've been taking my supplements. Juicing is one of the first things I do (along with these other two) when I feel like I'm getting sick. It's a great way to get a ton of nutrients into my body in a fast way.  It would feel boring to me to eat two handfuls of raw vegetables. Juicing is a great way to get around that while still getting all the nutrients of all of those raw vegetables. I'm not sure I could even get all the nutrients and natural vitamins, enzymes and  minerals I get with juicing in any other way practically speaking.  It's also easier for my body to digest in it's liquid form. 


Something that many people are unaware of is that in raw juices (if consumed soon after made) there are live enzymes in the fruits and vegetables that help your body digest it and utilize it for optimum nutrition. Many people say that it's not good for your body to get so much sugar at one time. If you are the one making your juice or if your juice is made within five minutes of you consuming it, this shouldn't be a problem. The vegetables have live enzymes that are made just for the sole purpose of helping your body digest it and go to where your body most needs it. Amazing how God created the world that way! I've also heard many people say that drinking raw vegetable juice is yucky and doesn't taste good, and I can definitely understand the sentiment as I've had juice from other places that don't taste as delightful. However, making your own juice at home is a great way to make sure that you aren't drinking something yucky. You can taste it as you make it, and if it doesn't taste right you can add fruits or vegetables until it tastes pleasant to your taste. When I first started making juices I had to have apples in my juice or it tasted too bitter to me. As I got used to juicing, I can drink full green juices without any apples or fruit and I absolutely love the flavors. (Basil is great to add for flavor if you aren't used to juicing and it doesn't have any added sugar!) My husband and I start with a pretty common base recipe when we juice that we love and we add fruits and vegetables depending on the season, what we have, and what things in our body we are trying to strengthen. This base recipe below is one I would suggest for anyone just starting out with juicing. You can solely use the ingredients below and you will have a wonderfully flavored juice or you can add more vegetables to your liking. I've heard it said that the more colors of raw vegetables you consume through juicing, the more your skin will glow since the colors will come through in your complexion. I definitely find a difference in my skin and complexion with juicing. Cheers to nice complexions and healthy immune systems! 




Carrot + Celery + Apple + Ginger Juice Base Recipe: 

4-5 Carrots 
4 stalks of celery 
2-3 apples 
1 knob of ginger about the size of the tip of your thumb- this is optional to use when you are able and have access to USA grown ginger. Not only does the ginger give a wonderful flavor to the juice, but it is also so helpful for boosting the immune system with all of it's anti-viral properties and amazing for digestion and any stomach issues. It's also great for PMS and arthritis!

You can add anything to this base. We absolutely love adding fresh herbs!! I've been utilizing my basil plant in my backyard to add to our fresh juices and it's been my favorite! We also most often add kale or greens. Sometimes we have even added sweet potatoes, cabbage, cucumbers, beets, turmeric, tomatoes, etc. We also do wheatgrass shots of just wheatgrass when we haven't killed our wheatgrass plants that we (try to) grow. As you will notice we don't often do just fruit based juices, and we don't even usually add much fruit to begin with. If we do an all fruit juice it's usually as a treat using fruits of the season: i.e. watermelon and strawberries

*Juicing Tip: You want to start by juicing the ginger, any greens, and any herbs first. It's best to do those things first, because the more firm vegetables will help the smaller and leafy vegetables to go down. 

It's also  important to note that I take great care in where I buy my fruits and vegetables from. We mostly only buy organic, if not the very least of adhering to the Clean15/Dirty Dozen list. We buy most of our vegetables for juicing at the local farmer's market and that definitely affects the quality of nutrition and the overall taste. I definitely wouldn't want to be juicing pesticides to drink! 

Cheers! 

Danielle 

P.S. Thank you to Ben, my husband, who is the one who actually makes our juices! I don't feel like I can write this post without giving him credit. I will sometimes wash and get the vegetables ready, but he is the juicer of our household who actually makes all of our wonderful juices and comes up with a lot of the combinations and recipes. He is also the one who did all of the research to figure out which juicer was the right one for us (those types of processes are always slightly boring for me as they involve a little too much research for my liking!) and brought back and returned one or two that ended up not being the right ones.  Love you babe & thank you for contributing to my immune system. ;)   


Friday, July 18, 2014

Verdant Tea Tasting Room

Happy Friday All!


Verdant Tea Tasting Room 

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Rhubarb Upside Down Cake



Rhubarb Upside Down Cake 

Monday, July 14, 2014

True Food Kitchen + Atlanta


Happy Monday! 

Did you have a good weekend? Did you eat good food, enjoy good company, dance at any fun parties, take time to sit on your porch? I did some of these and the weekend proved to be fantastic. I of course made time for our beloved Farmers Markets. We also went to eat at True Food Kitchen for about the 5th time in two weeks. We can't get enough of that place it seems. True Food Kitchen just got to Atlanta a few weeks ago.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Happy Birthday, Gram!


Today is my amazing Grandmother's 80th birthday!

Monday, July 7, 2014

Summer Lovin'

Picture Via Etsy~

Hello Summer Lovers! 

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Pineapple + Basil Ice Cream




Hi Happy Readers! 


I was out of town for a little retreat this week and I was completely out of service. My husband Ben had to post my Mango & Lime Margarita recipe for me. I am just getting back home and back to the swing of things around here. Do you have big plans for the 4th? Ben and I usually take advantage of his time off this weekend and go on some little Southern adventure, but this weekend we are just spending some time with my lovely grandmother for her birthday and making sure to eat some yummy food (maybe even this ice cream below). I'm sure there will be some random adventures no matter what.




So, today I wanted to post my little ice cream recipe. I am highlighting pineapple and basil, because it's such a yummy combination using seasonal ingredients. However, I make this same recipe with just about any fruit. Of course this comes from the whole banana ice cream idea. A while ago I started making the ice cream out of frozen bananas, but once I started using other fruits instead, I started to like the others more. Use whatever fruit you have on hand or your favorite fruits. Some of my favorite combinations are frozen pineapple and frozen raspberries, frozen peaches, frozen strawberries, and of course today's recipe of pineapple and basil. This is a perfect summer treat! I know I am always craving cold things in the summer, and instead of pulling into Sonic's parking lot during happy hour this is a perfect recipe which allows you to get some extra fruit and while still being so delicious! Perfect for kids too!

Pineapple + Basil Ice Cream 




Ingredients: 
1 Fresh Pineapple Chopped and frozen solid
Fresh basil leaves chiffonaded (I would use 3 basil leaves per cup of pineapple)
(Optional: 1 tbsp. of honey) 




First begin by chopping the pineapple. Take the outside of the pineapple off and then cut into chunks. Put them in a ziploc bag and freeze for at least an hour. This is very important to freeze it up to an hour at least. If you don't freeze it long enough it will not blend right, so make sure it's frozen solid.





Take the frozen pineapple and basil and place in a food processor or blender. Also add in your honey if you want it to be a little sweeter. I like to use my big 10 quart food processor best, but a smaller food processor will work just fine and so will a blender. Begin to blend a few times. You will start to see the pineapple turn into small chunks, and sometimes even into tiny balls. Keep chopping and blending until it forms into an ice cream.



After it forms into an ice cream texture, scoop into a bowl. You can drizzle with honey or any toppings you would wish. As I said, you can play with using different fruits and combinations that suit your taste preference. A frozen strawberry + frozen blueberry combinations would be perfect for the 4th! Any would be perfect, really. Have fun and enjoy! 


Even Lucy likes it! 

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