Wednesday, February 24, 2010

why am i excited today?

i'm excited today for a few reasons:
1. I'm starting a new contract with an old client
2. I'm loving the research for the GMO post that will be out before the end of the week
3. I found some great new whole grain mix type things that are totally easy for me to use and not very expensive.
4. I'm getting a box from Pure Cafe RAW food - can't wait to gobble it up and review...
reasons I'm not excited:
1. little man's eczema is getting worse
2. I'm about to have a ton of work on with no more hours in the day than I had before!
3. I have the challenge of making a gluten free, low calorie, sugar free yellow cake with chocolate icing.
One thing about whole grain - it means a LOT of chewing. This is great for kids who need practice with this, it doesn't go down in one big gulp like yogurt, gooey oatmeal, or other almost liquid breakfasts. It must be masticated. My 5 year old would make many Macrobiotics proud - he chews and chews and chews - the down side? It takes him forever to finish his breakfast.
Typically I'm a "from scratch" cook. But seeing as I love organic whole grain, I am very busy and I have an efficient rice cooker I decided to pick up these Heartland Harvest whole grain mixes at the weekly Farmer's Market. I like them. Actually, I love the breakfast cereal ones:
Sunburst Citrus Oats (uses whole oats not rolled)
Sunrise Almond Rice
Apple Millet Porridge

What's great to me is that I don't have to think about making up some new way to dress up grains. Of the breakfast cereals, the Millet and Apple was by far the favorite - I even used it to make cornbread muffins the next day! The muffins stayed moist and delicious for 5 days after - so good. We had the Sunburst Citrus Oats next and they ate that one without too many complaints - the toddler thought it was rice and good thing he likes rice. The 5 year old ate it up. The Sunrise Almond Rice was good, but not as good as the other two. I chopped up some fresh apple and added it for more taste. 
It was a very chewing experience.
I picked up two soups. I've only tried one:
Split Pea
Cuban Black Bean
Believe it or not, I'm a practiced split pea maker and have even won recipe contests for it. Their split pea did nothing for me - it was okay - but tasted like every other split pea I've had - better than canned but not better than what an exceptional split pea should taste like - however it was from a bag - so what can I say? i'd love to share that split pea recipe - but guess what? I can't find it...I will keep looking and will re-construct it if I have to...
I love black bean soup - even better black and white soup - and that's just what i'll do this weekend - but i'll have to figure out a way to do it dairy free - perhaps - cashew cream?
I'm going to share a cleaned up recipe for the BEST black and white soup ever - from Brigetown Grill - I used to eat this stuff weekly with my homies in ATL.

The original recipe calls for milk and Velveeta – sorry kids – could NOT do that!
Hands on time: 25 minutes Total time: 4 hours and 25 minutes  Serves: 6
For the soup
1 pound dry black beans, picked through and rinsed (you can soak them overnight if you wish it to cook faster)
1 small onion, chopped
1 small green pepper, chopped 
1 clove of garlic, smashed
2 carrots, chopped
2 celery stalks, chopped
½ tsp cumin
1 teaspoon salt 
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon granulated sugar
2 teaspoons oil
5 cups water 
For the cream
2 cups cashews (soaked overnight)
1/4 cup sliced jalapenos (drained if canned), or to taste 
2 teaspoons unpasteurized miso
1/8 cup lemon juice
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
2 roasted garlic bulbs (slice off top of garlic bulb, put on little bit of olive oil, wrap in foil – throw in 400 degree oven for about 25-30 minutes)
1/2 cup water, then add water as needed Instructions:
In a large stockpot, combine black beans, onion, green pepper, salt, onion powder, garlic powder, black pepper, sugar, oil and water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low, cover and simmer for 3 to 4 hours, or until beans are very tender. Check every hour to be sure water is not evaporating; if necessary, add water. Transfer soup to a food processor and puree until smooth. Adjust seasonings if necessary. 
In a food processor, puree jalapenos, cashews, water, and squeeze the roasted garlic in there – it should have the consistency of thick soup. Drizzle in the olive oil until it is emulsified.
Serve 2/3 cup of the soup and 1/3 cup of cream. Sprinkle with cilantro (coriander) – try some grilled bananas for dessert!

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

school lunch

In the seven minutes I have before my morning meeting I had to make an entry about school lunch. No my kids don't participate, but I'm still cringing at what people think is a healthy school lunch and what the Lunchbox "Healthy Tools for all Schools" a partner of the Slow Food organization is perpetrating to be a healthy lunch. 

They are also using the standard food pyramid and "stellar" representations of the SAD (Standard American Diet). Oh by the way - we're fat folks, yes, we are - I'm not judging you, and there's many reasons we're fat - but we don't have to be - no, we really don't. We choose to be what we are, we pass it down to our children and it is depressing. Our bodies need good nutritious food to get our brain to work properly, sending the messages to our nervous system that help us perform higher functions needed to be intelligent and informed beings. Did you know one of the factors that changed our early primate selves into who we are today? Yes, it is the foods they chose. And, dear readers, it was a mix of plants and animal choices that made us successful. in fact - MEAT was a turning point - at this time it was raw meat but i do think we learned how to create fire for a reason.
Back to the School food...
For instance they recommend the following:
Lean Protein: BBQ Chicken, BBQ Chicken Sandwich, Bolognaise Sauce (Turkey), Chicken and Cheese Quesadillas, Chicken and Vegetable Stir-fry, Chicken Barley Soup, Chicken Caesar Wrap, Chicken Fajitas, Chicken Pot Pie, Chicken Salad, Chicken Tacos, Ground Turkey, Cooked, Hard Cooked Egg, Boiled, Hard Cooked Egg, Steamed, Oven Fried Chicken, Oven Fried Fish, Pasta with Turkey Bolognaise Roasted Chicken, Spicy Chicken Drumsticks, Tandoori Chicken, Tuna Salad..
Excuse me - no freaking way is most of that healthy - especially created in the mass quantities it takes to feed the children in the lunch program. They use the Souffers, Taco Bell, (list any other packaged or fast food here) method of preparation - the only thing that looks at all lean is the Chicken Barely Soup (if the sodium content is LOW) - maybe the eggs....
And even better the calcium recommendation:
Cheeseburger, Chicken and Cheese Quesadillas, Grilled Cheese Sandwich, Macaroni and Cheese, Macaroni and Cheese Sauce, Veloute
For those who don't know what Veloute is: Flour, butter, 'chicken base', water and black pepper - WHAT?
Vegetatable listings (
bolding the things that are actually healthy vegetables): Bean Burrito, Boiled Potatoes, Bolognaise Sauce (Beef), Bolognaise Sauce (Turkey), Brown Rice, Uncle Ben's (Rice Cooker Method), Carrot Ginger Soup ,Chicken and Vegetable Stirfry ,Chicken Barley Soup, Cider Glazed SquashCorn and Summer Squash, Cuban Black Beans, Hummus, Marinara Sauce, Mashed Butternut Squash and Sweet Potato, Mashed Potatoes, Mashed Red Potatoes, Oven Home Fries, Pasta with Beef Bolognaise, Pasta with Turkey Bolognaise, Pinto Beans, Pizza Sauce, Uncooked, Refried Beans, Roasted BroccoliRoasted CarrotsRoasted CauliflowerRoasted PotatoesRoasted Sweet Potatoes, Shells with Marinara Sauce, Sloppy Joe Sandwich, Steamed BroccoliSteamed CauliflowerTomato Salsa
Last thing I'll mention, but certainly not least; Vegetarian: 
I'm no vegetarian - but this is sort of important. There are some kids who are bought into this and they need whole balanced choices - not a bean freaking burrito, cheese (which isn't really vegetarian anyways), "sauteed" veggies in oil, on a white flour tortilla = 1200 calories.
A word about dairy - cheese tastes good. Milk tastes good. Yogurt, kefir, cottage cheese, sour cream - yum, yum, yum. Alas - when you process it the nutritional value decreases. Please - why would they need to add vitamins BACK into the milk? why does yogurt need MORE sweeteners? i love the pro-biotic thing - so I'm not knocking it at all - i'm hitting vitamin fortified milk and over processed colored cheese!
Why in the WORLD is it that people insist on stuffing processed dairy down our kids gullets? Really? I am appalled. Here's a list of things that have high calcium + other things that are better for our kids to consume in large quantities:
Glass of milk: 1 cup, 300 mg calcium
Piece of Cheese: 1 oz., 270 mg calcium
Black Beans 1 cup, 120 mg calcium
Navy Beans 1 cup, 130 mg calcium
Spinach, cooked 1/2 cup, 130 mg calcium
Bok Choy 1/2 cup, 80 mg calcium
Kale, cooked 1/2 cup, 90 mg calcium
Corn Tortilla 1, 6 inch, 50 mg calcium
Greens, mustard 1/2 cup, 100 mg calcium
Canned Salmon w/bones 3 oz, 180 mg
Greens, mustard 1/2 cup, 100 mg
Almonds 2 oz., 150 mg
Oysters 3 oz., 80 mg
So if I had a cup of black beans with chopped spinach, almonds and a corn tortilla = 450mg
How about some oysters and braised greens = 450 mg
Let’s go with the black bean meal for the sake of argument - I’d be full, happy and get all of these other nutrients as well: Black beans - Magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, folate, vitamin A, various amount of other nutrients but suffice it to say the beans alone are a great whole food. Spinach has many of the same minerals as the black beans but also important Vitamins – Carotene, Vitamin A, Lutein + zeaxanthin, Vitamin K. And the almonds? Healthy lipids, a good dose of minerals and vitamins. What about the oh so misunderstood and abused corn tortilla? Low fat, dietary fiber, some iron, selenium, B vitamins, etc. 

Doesn't that look lovely? a little celery, a little butternut squash - maybe even mango salsa and homemade corn tortillas? WOW. Serve me that for lunch mum!

I'm not saying milk doesn’t have magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, folate and other vitamins, minerals, aminos, lipids etc – but I'm getting more variety and more dietary satisfaction for my body out of finding alternate sources for my calcium. Plus – my digestive system thanks me.
The government isn't ever going to support RAW milk products - why? Well it changes their subsidized methods. I'm not getting into it today but they are the root of many of our agricultural evils.
Speaking of - a friend of mine refused to eat half of an ear of fresh corn out of my garden. She said, "corn is what they feed cattle and pigs to fatten them up". Okay. Yes. But corn is only in season in my garden from May - July and that is when we eat it - maybe 1 ear a week per person. Cattle eat a mixture of corn, soy and other grains for 6-9 months on a feedlot and get little to no exercise when they are being commercially raised. Half a freaking piece of fresh corn isn't going to make you fat. If you don't like corn just say so, don't make up some excuse.
At our house we use the LapTop lunch system - I make lunch the night before or in the morning using a bento like box. My Child likes it and his lunches look something like this:

Interested in a laptoplunch?
I'm linking to another blog - something I'd never tell my clients to do but somebody did this work for are some photos of school lunches from around the world:

Saturday, February 13, 2010

back to the grocery list

Just a short entry this morning...I have to work the weekend...not happy about it, but in the economy we do what we need to when we need to do it.
I tried to do a comparison shop with the big guys and what I paid in Houston and the total came to $700.00 without tax. In all fairness though - I did say that the groceries in Houston are ~ half the price more or less, so the same groceries/house/body keeping items would have come to $1060.00 or so here in California.
The items they didn't have were:
Gluten Free oats
Wheat Free Tamari
raw goat cheese
raw cheddar
Rice tortillas
Aduki Beans
black soy beans

But - the equation goes deeper than that  when we consider most of the products I buy are produced in California and the carbon footprint is far less than buying the same from Houston. The injustice is that we pay way more for something grown in our own backyard than what we pay for it to be trucked to Houston, TX.

This morning we had a good breakfast:
Sauteed Spinach (drained)
Sauteed Mushrooms
Topped with fresh eggs over-easy

Have a nice one - later on - I'll be baking for Valentines!

Thursday, February 11, 2010

organic whole foods made in China

I just read through this and it may seem self-righteous - but at the same time - somebody needs to stand up and say what we are all thinking - and I guess today it is me.

So- a friend brought something I've been pondering to the forefront for in the world can a business like Whole Foods show their face when many of their 365 products are made in China?

I too was wondering this when I was looking to buy emergency apple juice sippers for the kids and they said CONC China or CONC Turkey - concentrate? really? um-okay take the oxygen out of my apple juice, add stuff and then sell it as HEALTHY??? Okay - I'll put those back. It isn't that I have anything against those places - China/Turkey - but how about - Made in USA? We grow apples, we can make juice, our country is hurting - how about you charge me a couple of dollars more and let's grow and manufacture our own stuff again? This is why I buy Martinelli's.

This brings up another argument I'm not going to get into - what we pay our people - because it is CERTAINLY more than the Chinese get paid. I guess Whole Foods figured out what many a technology consultancy has - if we farm out our production to a country where the costs are lower we'll make better margins. Is it really just about that? Come on!

One of the biggest issues I have is with regulation - it is difficult to correctly regulate anything within this country - think the e.coli scares of recent times or the salmonella scares with "scallions" etc. But what about regulating things that are grown, packaged, shipped from countries across oceans?

Speaking of shipping, REALLY? It is cheaper and more wholesome at the same time to grow, manufacture and ship goods to us? What is the impact on the planet? Would it kill us to just get used to having less?

Which is my point. We have really gotten used to having more and more right now. Our need for instant gratification drives situations like Whole Foods, Burt's Bees, and other companies to move their production overseas.

But it is our own superficial desires that drive and feed our own issues. We actually have a high dollar wage, but actually pay quite low taxes (in comparison to other countries that map to us in a socio-economic way). However, the more we make the more we want and the more we tend to buy. We want to make more money to have nicer things, more activities, more vacations, nicer cars, expensive bags, rare puppies, more pedicures, facials, diamonds - whatever. What would happen if we all had to give up a little of that lifestyle for a more WHOLE life?

The need for us to get paid more drives up the cost of the goods we manufacture here. I don't mean what you take home either - insurance, 401k matching,pensions - etc - all of the things that a business has to worry about when they hire (and fire) you. Many companies just can't make a profit manufacturing here - plus there's the cost of raw materials. We have so many more environmental regulations that make it hard on companies who want to make things that might have an impact - so instead of going to the trouble of checking out whether they should be making it at all - they just off-shore it - because of course, we demand it.

Well, I've come off the rails a bit and need to get back to the food dilemma. I read packages, I have to, being gluten intolerant and having a peanut allergy makes one read. Being aware of what we put in our bodies (and our children's), where it came from, and who's economy we're actually supporting should be something we all think about - even though it means taking some extra time out of our days.

Have you ever thought - what is really making me busy? Is it contributing to my WHOLE being? Maybe if the answer is no - it needs to be re-thought.

Maybe you don't need that bag of frozen spinach, you can get a packet of seeds, a few nice pots (although I'm growing spinach in a bag of dirt just to see if I can), and grow your own, fresh - this way you know where it came from. The cool thing about plants is that they take care of themselves for the most part.

When I shop at Whole Foods - I don't buy many packaged goods...little to none - because I know about the manufacturing dilemma (thanks Dad). 
We have a few things in the pantry most are made in the USA:
Martinelli's Apple Juice (I should juice my own - BUT i haven't found a juicer i like and can afford) (california company)
Rice and rice pasta from Lundburg (California)
Gluten Free pretzels (Canada - the only pretzels the kids will eat)
Cascadian Farms Cereal (Washington)
Authentic Foods flours (California)
Canned beans and other Eden products (Eden Foods - Michigan)
Sauces and Condiments - all over the world due to the nature of their culture - but many - made in USA.

I'm very pro USA going back to manufacturing our own products. If I never see another plastic toy from overseas it will be too soon. We need a shot in the arm, and it will take a change in habit to do so. Nobody likes change except for very very unhappy people - I guess we'll all have to get very very unhappy for our Nation to heal.

Well - I'm going to leave you with a REALLY yummy recipe:

Here's raw hot chocolate recipe from Emrys Tetu:
For a rich raw chocolate treat you can enjoy any time, and especially for warming up on a cool day, try this deliciously easy hot chocolate recipe:
 1/2 cup hot water (just heated to hottest comfortable drinking temperature, not boiled)
 1 tablespoon raw coconut butter or oil
 1 tablespoon raw wild honey, preferably local
 1-2 tablespoons raw almond butter
 3 heaping tablespoons raw cacao powder
 1/2 teaspoon raw vanilla powder or 1 teaspoon other form of vanilla
 Pinch whole sea salt
In a blender, combine the above ingredients until smooth, adjusting all to your palette’s preference. This makes a concentrated chocolate sauce, which you may then dilute and enjoy with others (it would be quite a lot for one person all at once!) or save in the refrigerator for use as desired. Before serving, thin the sauce by at least half with more hot water. I usually drink this at about 1 part the above recipe to 3 or 4 parts additional hot water.
By only heating the water to hottest comfortable drinking temperature the recipe remains raw, but is still satisfyingly hot chocolatey. Enjoy this healthy treat with my best wishes for your health and happiness!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

the grocery list vs. the grocery list

first - I'm so proud of my 5 year old! last night's dinner was vegetarian - beans, rice, collards, butternut squash simmer - he ate it! he liked it! Mr. picky is growing up. The baby eats everything so he gobbled it up of course, but only off of my plate - not his own....
So - i'm going to divulge the stuff I put on my grocery list - I do live in California so things are very expensive there - as a matter of fact - I can go to the HEB (Central Market/Whole Foods cousin) in Texas and get twice as much as I do here for the same price. It used to be 3x as much - makes one's stomach churn - but ah well.
I do have one admission - I do menu planning...this means I have the meals for the week planned out before I go. I also use Everyday Food (EF) - the Martha Stewart mini-magazine that is chock full of spectacular recipes. I do edit them to suit my "diet" and tastes, but they are a great base - helps on those days when my mommy brain takes a hiatus.
What I do is - go through my cookbooks and EF and make a menu of breakfast, lunch and dinner. Snacks are something I throw together and are things like fruit with dips, veggies with dips, nuts or pretzels. Sometimes we'll even snack on a smoothie or a sweet I've made.
I would scan receipts, but they are typically very here goes:
This list if obviously the winter list. Starting in March I don't have to pick many of these items up at the store - they are in my backyard or at the Farmer's Market or even come in the CSA box.
Here's a photo of my CSA box:

Shopping at one of the big guys (Ralphs (mainly), Albertsons, Stater Brothers, Vons - rarely carry what I want) I cannot get my entire list and know with good faith where things have come from. I can get most things at Jimbo's (which is like Whole Foods only smaller), and can fill in with the Farmer's Market. When I find myself in the Ralphs I will fill in my list - but look for organic and local items.
Produce - depending on what the season/menu is but typically in fall/winter
Apples (which I do buy from the Farmer's Market or get some my CSA - but I will buy organic apples if I need them.)
Pears (same things as apples)
Greens (Collard, Mustard, etc)
Celery (have you ever tried to grow this? it is difficult for me)
Butternut Squash
lemons/limes (when trees aren't producing)
Mushrooms (I think I'm going to start growing these)
Wild Caught Fish 
Coconut Ice Cream
Baking (have many spices in my spice rack - so I don't typically have to re-stock but 6-12 months)
Flake salt
Fine Salt
Rough Salt
Turbinado sugar
raw agave nectar
brown rice syrup
bob's red mill gluten free flours
Gluten Free oats
Various nuts (no peanuts)
Organic Chocolate Chips
Raw cacao
poppy seed
sesame seeds

Safflower oil
Olive Oil
various vinegars - champagne, balsamic, white/red wine
Strained tomatoes
Wheat Free Tamari
organic ketchup

Sesame oil
Coconut oil
Organic gallon milk for the husband
plain yogurt
raw goat cheese
raw cheddar
mozzarella for the husband
If I'm busy/lazy - non dairy milks (rice or soy)
Rice tortillas
Cereal for husband
Brown Rice
Brown rice or quinoa pasta
Aduki Beans
black soy beans
garbanzo beans
Almond Butter
grass/finished filet, ground buffalo, and sometimes a roast...but very rare. i've been known to order a flank but it is way too much food for us.
Applegate Farms hot dogs - kids love these.,
(as mentioned above i do buy fish - fresh if i can - but sometimes frozen - but always wild caught and on the "okay" list)
Apple Juice
Everything here is Seventh Generation or Ms. Meyers - I love the baby scent laundry wash and have to go all the way to Whole Foods for it - so I buy tons when I get there. But i have window, surface, toilet, scrub, etc - now - if I could only find time to clean.
Husband loves dove 
I love Hugo Naturals - get this whenever I can
I always check for no SLS (sodium laurilsulfate) - I have skin issues I'm slowly correcting but don't need this substance making it harder.
sometimes toothpaste, toothbrushes, etc
Yummi Bears - every kind - this is what makes my bill astronomical!
CLO (cod liver oil)
Odds and Ends
organic soy pudding
So - when I went shopping in Houston I had to buy my house basically. Travelling is hard on the wallet but it is great to see family because they let me use their kitchen so we're not eating out all the time. There is the obligatory Mexican feast at Lupe Tortilla - but besides that - most of our meals are at "home" or packed lunches.
Which leads to my point - that list above ends up being about $530.00 all said (bought 2 dozen eggs because i was away from the chickens). That food would last me 2.5 weeks to a month depending on how creative I was. 
Typically i'm spending around $300.00 a week all up including the CSA.
If i bought conventional - I wonder if the price would come down? well - I'm going to figure that out! I can go online and find all of the conventional prices quite easily and that will be the entry tomorrow.
I must go feed the family.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Oh where oh were is the good food?

Like I mentioned in my previous post in this entry I'll go into further depth about each of the places I shop, my grocery list, how much the typical cost is of common items.

I'm going to plug LocalHarvest and subscribing to a CSA again - since this is a great way to get to support your local farmers and learn to prepare some things that you might not possibly ever get to try.

I have a couple of stories to share today's entry will be about my recent observations - and if I get time tomorrow I'll delve into shopping details....

The first one comes from my brother - he lives in Atlanta, GA. He was with his girlfriend's friend, she brought tarts from Whole Foods over to dinner. Granted they were yummy, but she tried to say they were "good" - in the sense of what? Good for the planet? Good for our bodies? Well - my brother went on to explain how he "popped" the "good" bubble by stating that - 1. Strawberries, Kiwi and Grapes were not possibly local, 2. They weren't even from Florida since the weather has really caused trouble for the crops 3. The tart itself is probably not a "whole food" since it has refined flours and sugars in it. Wow. I'll leave it there. Something to ponder next time we buy from the prepared foods counter.

The second comes from my own grocery experience. Yesterday I had the pleasure of going to one of the "big guys" - Ralphs to be exact - it is our version of Kroger. I have to go there - otherwise I wouldn't, and I typically have 20 minutes of time so I browse around.

This time I found about 10% more organic and gluten free stuff than before. this was kinda cool - my kids love these gluten free pretzels and I couldn't find them anywhere - they were right there at Ralphs - amazing. They also carry coconut ice cream - and since I have dairy issues - this is a grand thing. They also have the mouthwash I like that is sort of hard to find...typically only available at the "natural" stores. Plus Organic dairy free milk substitutes are always nice to see, but the additives make me suspicious. 

Alas, that is where it ends. the organic section is still about 5% of the produce area...okay maybe less - 1% - and everything looks tired. How sad, be cause the organic produce at the farmers market looks fabulous...why can't they do this? There were some other SHOCKERS in the produce department of course, produce from the parts of the world that are experiencing summer. Thinking about the transportation costs, whether or not any of it is fair trade, and when it was picked, how it was processed - enough to make one dizzy!

And the meat and seafood was depressing of course. A little soap-box here - we should care where our meat comes from, we should have reverence for the meat, this is an animal who gave its life for our sustenance - we need to respect life enough to care about our food's life-cycle. Salmon - farmed - or wild caught with color added - WHY??? 

As a family we're making a concerted effort to have more respect for the food chain. As a society we should really think about the big picture and stop wanting so much instant gratification. perhaps we need to slow down and spend more time as a family - one day - one hour - be together - without our "busy' nature.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Where Our Food Comes From: Introduction

This installment is the Introduction of "Where Our Food Comes From"...this will mainly introduce the experiment I've been conducting trying to eat from our "foodshed" and organic, grass fed/finished, biodynamic, sustainable goods. I do have detailed information about how commercial beef, chicken, pork, etc are raised and slaughtered AND how commercial fruits and veggies are grown and processed. But I'd rather not gross everybody out. This is more about finding resources to provide you and your family with the highest quality food you can find for a good price and help your local economy!
What is a foodshed you ask? (and I don't mean the globalized one - I mean the local one!)
A foodshed is a local bio-region that grows food for a specific population.
Find out more here:

My favorite food spot:
Whenever possible I love to bring food from my garden to the table. It is AWESOME to see the kid's eyes widen when we go pick fresh produce and bring it inside to eat...sometimes, especially in the case of asparagus, beans and peas - we eat it right there. A pack of organic seeds is 1.29 - 10.00 and basically allows you to grow 10x that or more worth of produce? No yard? Containers, window boxes, indoor setups, etc are possible!
My Garden:
I'll post pictures of it in March - right now it is raining and it basically looks very brown and wet.
We typically grow:
Peaches, Apricots, Plums, Apples, Grapes, Cane Berries, Potato, Tomato, Eggplant, Peppers, Carrots, Onions, Garlic, Artichoke, Olives, Corn, Lettuces, Spinach, Broccoli, Peas, Asparagus, Strawberries, Herbs, Blueberries, Beans, Pumpkins, Watermelons, Cucumber, Squash, Okra, and we've some additions for this year: Asian pears, Guava, Cherries, Almonds, Pomegranate, and Nectarines.
Fresh eggs.

We also have 5 bantam Cochin hens for fresh eggs. Owning chickens isn't easy - they need food, shelter, protection, care, a place to safely peck around and they poop everywhere if allowed all over your yard. Which we give them pretty much free reign. They are the best insect control I've ever seen. They will also mow your grass and eat all of your seedlings - so they must be contained somewhat during the beginning of each growing season.
How do I get food if not from the garden?
Local shopping.
So my "local" (within 5 miles) shopping choices here in my little military beach town are:
·         The big guys: Ralphs, Vons, Albertsons, Stater Brothers (our WalMart now has food - but I don't shop there)
·         The "natural" stores: Henry's, Boney's, Cream of the Crop
·         The Mexican Marts: Rancho Marcado
·         Farmers Markets: Wednesday, Thursday, and Saturday
·         Food Delivery (they also delivery all over): Diamond Organics
·         CSAs available: (from
Seabreeze Organic Farm   (San Diego, CA) 
Seabreeze Organic Farm produces vegetables, herbs, edible flowers, flowers and fruit available to consumers through our CSA program or on-line ordering. Our farm is located in coastal San Diego, California between La Jolla and Del Mar in the Carmel Valley area. We offer a wide variety of products ranging from arugula to zinnias. Please visit our Web site, for additional information.
California Farms (Valley Center,CA) 
Gathered in a natural wicker basket is a collection of 10 to 12 different fruits and veggitables and flowers which are organic and transitional-organic.
Garden of Eden Organics (San Diego,CA) 
Fresh, seasonal vegetables, greens and fruit. Drop sites throughout southern California.
Tierra Miguel Foundation CSA (Pauma Valley,CA) 
We serve many sites in San Diego, Orange, Riverside and Los Angeles Counties and are growing everyday. Staff will be in touch with you about the delivery day for pickup. If we do not currently have a delivery site near you please contact the office and one may be developing.
Morning Song Farm (Rainbow,CA)
Temecula, Fallbrook, Cardiff, Ocean Beach/Point Loma area of San Diego, Carlsbad Inland, Rancho Santa Fe, Rainbow, Escondido, San Clemente, Costa Mesa, Irvine, Newport, and Santa Ana families since 2005. If you're lucky enough to live near our farm, we have a pick up site on-farm, in Rainbow (between Fallbrook and Temecula) We offer CCOF Certified Organic Macadamia nuts, subtropical fruit (ripe limes and avocados almost year round; grapefruit, oranges, fioja guavas, mexican guavas, kumquats, blackberries, mandarins and freshly harvested apples.
J.R. Organics (Escondido,CA) 
J.R. Organics is a real farm. The land was pioneered by the Rodriguez family in the early 1950's. It is an old fashion truck farm where at any given time of the year there are over 45 different vegetables being grown along with strawberries, melons and a wide variety of flowers. Our CSA box is plentiful and could provide fresh food for a family of two to four people weekly.
So where do I go?
·        Ralphs - well I find myself here because, thanks to the US Government and Anthem Blue Cross - I have to get my prescriptions here. I shop organic produce, organic milk and Bob's Red Mill  gluten free mixes. Sometimes they'll have some things like juice for the kids - but it is the same price as they "natural" stores
·        Henry's and Boney's - I do much of my staple shopping here - but truth be told - once a month I drive 15 miles to Jimbo's! I like their produce selection and they have grass finished beef. Every 3 months I'm lucky enough to be near a Whole Foods which is 18 miles away - and I do a nice shop.
·        Farmer's Market - it is less than a mile for me to walk to the Thursday morning market - if I'm missing something out of my garden I'll go down here to fill in the gaps. I like to pick up local honey as well. If I miss Thursday - I'll go to the next town over on Saturday.
·        My CSA is SeaBreeze...we love them. The variety is great and it is just perfect for about a week and a half. Plus, it feels good to support local small scale agriculture.
·         Diamond Organics - I do order from - but it is hit or miss...when I get on a huge raw kick in the summer - I can't get enough fruits and veggies and order them by the box. They also offer grass - finished beef and other "slow food" meats.
·        Retail mail-order - currently ordering from Euphoria loves RAWvolution to taste their recipes - but this will stop in two weeks - they are in Santa Monica - that's within the 100 mile radius of my home - within the slow food limits.
My children love to shop with me. They come home sticky and red faced from sampling all of the fresh fare, especially from the Farmer's Market.
We are VERY LUCKY to live in California - but you too can find many local places to buy from your Food Shed on:
In my next installment - I'll go into further depth about each of the places I shop, my grocery list, how much the typical cost is of common items, and in the third installment I'll get into what I do with all of this stuff....
Further items to come: the garden, the plants, and whole food recipes.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Euphoria Loves RAWvolution

Years ago I lived in Australia. I started changing my Standard American diet into something more beautiful - first by using Macrobiotics and then by incorporating more RAW food.

As I moved through life I found out I had Celiac Disease and dairy intolerance - coupled with egg sensitivity it was really time for me to change...

Now, a husband, house, garden and two children later I've started getting my diet back in order. Let me start by saying I don't use the term "diet" to by synonymous with weight loss - I don't need to lose weight - I mean - what and when I eat.

This RAW adventure started with a cooking class from Angelena Bosco - which was amazing (not to mention so nice to have somebody else cook for me). Continuing on...every time I was in Jimbo's buying groceries I picked up some RAW collard wraps or some RAW pizza - I just love all of the flavors combining like a symphony in my mouth!

So right now I can competently cook and serve Macrobiotics - but RAW is a completely different story. I'm no expert in this area so I decided to go to the experts and do some taste testing...

I've now had two weeks of "the box" form Euphoria loves RAWvolution. I can't go to their cafe so I've decided to order from them. This first entry is a review of the foods from my first two weeks.

My rating system:
Excellent: so delicious everybody wanted more
Good: good taste and texture
Average: edible, but an acquired taste
Poor: wrong ingredients, too strong, "off" taste

First week:
Tomato Basil Soup
Tomato, coconut water, celery, basil, lemon juice, tamari, olive oil, garlic, onion, sea salt.
Poor. Tomatoes are not in season during the winter - although we can grow them in hothouses and even outdoors - they are mealy - this was reflected in this too mealy too garlicy soup.

Thai Curry Soup
Coconut Water, basil, mint, cilantro, chives, shiitake mushrooms, garlic, lemon juice, tamari, olive oil, curry powder, ginger.
Good. This was a good lunch - I warmed it on the stove but not over 110 degrees - it was nice and fresh tasting - good balance

Cucumber Dill Salad
Cucumbers, onions, dill, olive oil, apple cider vinegar, lemon juice, garlic, sea salt.
Good. Another excellent lunch- I even put some on my husband's lamb sandwich - he liked it...

Mock Tuna Salad
Sunflower seeds, celery, onion, cashews, coconut water, mustard, garlic, lemon juice, dill, dulse, sea salt.
Good. I had a spoonful, then used it as dip, then I put this on some of my homemade gluten free bread (not RAW I know - but the point is to incorporate more into my diet).

Big Matt with Cheese
Flax seeds, walnuts, sunflower seeds, mushrooms, lettuce, onion, tomato, celery, parsley, olive oil, mustard, pickles, rosemary, cumin, garlic, tamari, lemon juice.
Good. This could be great if there was more of a "burger" instead of walnut spread...But the flavors were great - plenty of veggies and their "matt bread" is truly yummy.

Nut Loaf with BBQ Sauce
Flax seeds, walnuts, sunflower seeds, mushrooms, onion, celery, tomato, parsley, olive oil, apple cider vinegar, rosemary, cumin, garlic, tamari, chili powder.
Good. The loaf was great, nice texture, could have added some sea vegetable - it was filling enough for breakfast. The sauce was indistinguishable - needed something to make it more tangy-sweet (recommendations to come later).

Pizza Italiano
Collard green, onion, flax seeds, sunflower seeds, tamari, olive oil, tomato, lemon juice sea salt, garlic, mushrooms, bell pepper, oregano, basil, olives.
Excellent. Although it sort of fell apart as I ate it - the taste was amazing - love the taste of fresh pizza coming together in my mouth without cheese and grease.

Nut & Veggie Pate Wrap
Collard green, flax seeds, walnuts, sunflower seeds, mushrooms, onion, celery, parsley, avocado, clover sprouts, dulse, tomato, onion, olives, basil, cilantro, garlic, olive oil, tamari, rosemary, cumin.
Excellent. collard wraps are my favorite - they are so perfect for holding a myriad of ingredients and don't over-power the combinations.

Pecan Crumble

Pecans, almonds, raisins, coconut water.

Poor. Too liquid. Used it was a dip for apples - the kids weren't impressed - I'd use soaked dates, keep the raisins whole, and a combo of soaked pecans and raw.

Chocolate Coconut Haysatacks

Coconut, coconut oil, agave nectar, cacao.

Excellent. So delicious everybody wanted more. Of course, cacao is a hit at our house.

Second week:
Hearty Lentil Chili
Tomato, celery, dulse, cucumber, chili powder, garlic, lemon juice, olive oil, sea salt, tamari, cilantro, cumin.
Good. I had this for breakfast this morning. It IS hearty - enough for two - dulse makes it so. Again a little mealy due to the tomato - but much better than the tomato-basil soup.

No-Bean Hummus
Zucchini, tahini, sesame seeds, lemon juice, olive oil, garlic, cumin, sea salt.
Good. Makes a good dip for veggies - nice to use in sushi rolls with avocado and ume plum.

Mediterranean Tabouli
Parsley, onion, hemp seeds, olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, sea salt.
Good. I missed Tabouli since typically it calls for couscous. This was a close second - although - I think I'd use some nuts for more texture and possibly cilantro to kick it up a bit.

Mock Chicken Salad
Sunflower seeds, celery, onion, cashews, coconut water, mustard, garlic, lemon juice, sage, oregano, thyme, sea salt.
Average. the mock tuna is way better...this was sort of "off" but edible. Maybe no coconut water?

Broccolini Salad
Broccoli, olive oil, sea salt.

Excellent. Even the kids and husband ate this one - the ingredients say it all.

Soft Tacos with Salsa Fresca

Collard green, walnuts, lettuce, tomato, cilantro, onion, lemon juice, olive oil, tamari, garlic, cayenne pepper, cumin, coriander, chili powder, sea salt.

Excellent. Even the toddler liked this one - again - the collard green wrap wins again.

Marinated Shiitake Sandwich
Shiitake mushroom, lettuce, tomato, onion, clover sprouts, sunflower seeds, flax seeds, olive oil, tamari, mustard.
Good. Nice taste - fell apart a little with the "matt" - but I'm not the biggest mushroom fan - shiitakes are my fave though.

Spinach & Cheese Quiche
Cashews, spinach, onion, bell pepper, flax seeds, sunflower seeds, garlic, lemon juice, tamari, olive oil.
Good. Had this one for breakfast Thursday. Too much garlic kids! But still tasty. The "matt" fell apart so I put the entire thing in a bowl...

Greek Pizza
Collard green, onion, flax seeds, sunflower seeds, tamari, olive oil, tomato, lemon juice sea salt, garlic, oregano, bell pepper, olives.
Good. Again, funky tomato and too much onion - but it did taste like Greek pizza.

Strawberry Cream Parfait
Strawberries, almonds, cashews, coconut water, agave nectar.
Good. The sitter liked it, toddler liked it, 5 year old - not so much - I ate it for breakfast and thought - wait - it is the start of strawberry season - if I made this fresh in the end of March it would be excellent.

Chocolate Coconut Fudge
Walnuts, coconut, cacao, agave nectar.

Excellent. This was the best thing so far.

Stay tuned.