Tag Archives: Lifestyle Choices

you gotta work with what you got…

i’ve thought a lot about my last post and wondered how i ended up here. my best friend told me that few people could decide to {poof!} make all those changes at once and that i should, instead, pick one and then the rest would follow. so. i’ve decided to change my eating habits with a 10 day challenge from the self health revolution.

i know, i know…is this just another empty promise? who knows! but i’m going to try my darndest – i mean, 10 days should fly by, right? and given the fact that i work at whole foods, how hard can it be? that was really the sprout (haha) of this solution – i can’t change everything at once, so the best i can do is change what is within my reach. instead of longing for faraway goals, like the farm; i need to focus closer: my health, trying to find some balance, making time for joy…oh wait, the list is already getting long!

the way i figure it, if i’m eating better, i will have more energy. if i have more energy, i will get back to my punch bag. if i get back to my punch bag, i won’t be so stressed out. if i’m not so stressed out, i will have more mental space to be creative. makes total sense, no?

you would already be proud of me…we do something at whole foods that we call “team member appreciation”. the week is full of yummy free food and activities – yesterday was pizza day – but i was quite content with my organic salad (with sprouts, edamame and flax seeds)…go me!

i do have to say that just this shift in starting something doable completely changed my energy level. i walked a little straighter and with more purpose. my mind raced with dishes i could prepare to stay on track. sorry i missed my meatless monday post, but the next 10 days will probably be filled with salads and smoothies! makes for healthy eating, but maybe not the most engaging reading.

maybe i’ll just start a food journal to document my 10 day challenge…


  • bragg’s apple cider vinegar & honey water
  • matcha tea
  • banana & greek yogurt
  • wasa multigrain crackers for snacking
  • giant organic salad
  • bragg’s apple cider vinegar & honey water
  • brussel sprouts, tomato & garbanzo bean salad for dinner
  • probiotic & enzyme supplements
  • 3 joe-joes < okay, okay, i know, i know!


  • bragg’s apple cider & honey water
  • matcha tea
  • kale, strawberry, blueberry & vegan protein smoothie
  • giant salad for lunch
  • wasa cracker snacks
  • today, we get our CSA box, so i’ll juice some of the veggies and see what surprises/inspirations are inside
  • no more joe-joes left, so i don’t need to worry about that temptation…i heard frozen fruits make a yummy snack!

wish me luck!


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vision boards, intentions and walking on fire…

this is going to be a long post…so pick up your coffee, your tea or your cocktail and enjoy the ramblings of my mind!

no matter how many promises i make to myself (lose weight, blog regularly, reduce stress, go vegan), i always seem to slide back down the cheese-filled slope of disappointment. why is this? how can i look in my closet and see all the cute clothes that no longer fit and still stuff my face with salty snacks and ice cream? how can i buy all the gear for my punching bag and only do it for 3 days? why is it so hard to change my bad habits?

part of it is time management and work/life balance…i work a lot…i think about work a lot…part of it is cyclical…i work a lot and then i’m tired and by the time i get home, it’s all i can do to walk the dogs and make some food and then i just sit in front of the tv until i fall asleep (i’ve got a stack of unfinished books on my nightstand). because i’m not eating well (and i KNOW what foods i should be eating AND i work at whole foods – hello?), i don’t have the energy to get through the week. because i’m dragging my ass, i don’t have the inclination to go and hit the punching bag (although i must say, those 3 days were an amazing stress reliever).

i know all these things and yet, i can’t seem to shift my behavior. a good girlfriend of mine sent me an email (oh, that’s another one – not returning phone calls) about GNH (gross national happiness) vs. GNP (gross national product). you can watch videos here. i had heard a story ages ago about bhutan or another like-minded country whose government measured its success by GNH and i do think part of my malaise is cultural. we are a country of workaholics. this doesn’t mean we are more productive, just that we work too much and buy too much and have somewhat screwed up priorities. and now with the new economy, it’s even more intense – my friend who made a drastic career change was recently fired after spending the last year and a half training because he missed his state board exam by 1 point. 1 point! and did i mention? he’s in his 5os. i know a lot of my bad habits are rooted in this constant work work work and are paired with the american dream of owning my own business or breaking free of the grind…don’t even ask me about the farm fund…it’s become the emergency fund for paying unforeseen bills…yes, i’m talking about you, IRS!

so what to do? although things have started looking up for the irishman in terms of design gigs, we still don’t have the time or energy to spend real time together. i can’t even remember the last time we took a holiday. we don’t even think about getting away on a plane, now it’s just about finding the same days off to go to a museum or the beach. or recently, just asking for the same day off so we could go to a free baseball game where, of course, i spent the entire time eating cheese, crostini and olives…what is happening to me?

i remember when i started modernest. so filled with creative energy and vision and efficiency. of course, at the time i didn’t have a real job. my days were filled with what i wanted to do, when and how i wanted to do it. i was oh-so-productive! the weird thing is, i actually like my day job and i love the company i work for; but i’m unable to figure out how to get back to that free-wheeling creative girl i once was. i was talking to a friend of mine who is about to make a huge life change. she was talking about telling her friends to send good intentions to the universe for her to find a house, a job – all the things she will need. i have a lot of friends who are still on the vision board|everything happens for a reason|the law of attraction|the power of the universe life path. i must admit, i spent a lot of my adulthood in that oprah “follow your passion” neighborhood. she now says that “you become what you believe” and is working with tony robbins and other “lifemasters” to eliminate our fears and whatever other crap that’s holding us back from living our “best” life in her “lifeclass tour” (it’s free! and it’s online!). maybe i’m just not brave enough to live my life…maybe i just need to change my “lifestory” so i can live the life of my dreams…maybe i just need to buy more books (and not read them!)…

i still believe in collective energy (hell, look what happened when people got pissed off about pink slime – one of the major companies declared bankruptcy!), i think it’s more about doing rather than wishing it to be. but then i think, despite what has happened to this particular girlfriend (and it’s been a lot), she always manages to stay positive. to decide upon something and follow through with it – whether building a business or upending her life. so maybe the power of intention only works if you truly believe…or you invent “spanx”…or you walk through fire with tony robbins…or you win the lotto…who knows?

all i know is i want to change. i can see my life (land, dogs, farm, quiet…with access to a major city) and i know what i have to do (eat better, exercise, enjoy my friends). i just need to figure out how to get there and get those things done. so, in trying to get back on track, here’s your meatless monday recipe from sprouted kitchen. sara had posted a gooey and delicious grilled gruyère sandwich with sauteed chard, but the “new” me must avoid the seduction of cheese…and i have to admit, this garnet pilaf looks pretty tasty!

if you have any tips for me, i’d love it if you would share with the rest of the class!

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paula deen’s #diabetes: no one to blame butter self…

this video is from 2011. don’t be distracted by the fact that the fox people struggle reading the teleprompter, it’s more important to note that by this time, paula deen was well into her awareness of her diabetes diagnosis.

she seems completely baffled why, based on the foods she cooks, that anthony bourdain would call her “the most dangerous person in america”. she “aw shucks” and “y’alls” and continues to spin her well-worn tale that she just cooks the way her mama and her grandma cooked. she’s just a sweet, unassuming southern gal who has no idea why anthony bourdain would have such angry things to say about her…

…well, now we know. now we know that for the past three years, she has continued to peddle her fat filled, sugar saturated, butter bonanza recipes to the public while all the while knowing that she suffers from a food based disease. now we know that she wasn’t using the time to “digest” the diagnosis (as she claimed on “the chew“), but was more than likely seeking out the most lucrative pharmaceutical deal to once again peddle to the same public that she helped to make sick.

she could have spent that time writing a new cookbook – a healthier one, based on the palates of those faithful fans. one that lightened the southern diet (more greens, less fat, less oils). instead, her son is spinning off his own career based around “not my mama’s meals” < so she knows it’s wrong, but why not keep more money in the family? mom gets the drug deal, son gets to make his own money and career on a different network…it all works out quite well for the deen family…not so well for america.

anthony bourdain is right when he tweeted: “Thinking of getting into the leg-breaking business, so I can profitably sell crutches later.”

serious eats was running a series way back in 2008 called “paula deen is trying to kill us” – an artery blocking collection of recipes including this one for ham and banana casserole:

  • Butter
  • 12 slices white bread
  • 8 large slices deli ham
  • 4 bananas, sliced on the bias
  • 2 cups shredded Cheddar
  • 2 cups crushed potato chips
  • 6 slices cooked and crumbled bacon
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 cup cream
  • Pinch freshly grated nutmeg
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Butter a 9 by 13 glass baking dish. Butter both sides of the bread and layer 6 of them into the bottom of the baking dish, overlapping them as necessary but keep them even. Layer the slices of ham on top of the bread and then the bananas, 6 more slices of bread, then the cheese, potato chips, and bacon. In a separate bowl, beat together the eggs, milk, cream, nutmeg, salt, and pepper. Pour this over the casserole almost to the top. Bake for 45 minutes until brown and bubbly. Cut into squares and remove with a spatula, like lasagna

see? like a lasagna? my favorite ingredient is the unspecified amount of butter…but knowing paula deen, it’s measured in sticks and not tablespoons.

i’m all about personal responsibility. hell, my sister loves some of paula deen’s recipes. and i know for a fact that she doesn’t cook them every night. some have tried to (once again) make this discussion about class – what’s the difference between ina garten and paula deen? one is french based, the other working class. so let’s criticize the working class celebrity chef. but when you are “sending love and best dishes” with a deep fried cheesecake with added chocolate and powdered sugar and “tee hee” a vegetable (a sprig of mint), then somewhere down the line, you are responsible for your own actions:

i don’t wish illness on anyone. but paula deen had a real opportunity to educate her fans and help them change their diets and change their lives. but instead, she claims that she always preached moderation (i must have missed those episodes) and that now she will have to change her life – by cutting back on her sweet tea – because that’s what’s killing america…sweet tea.

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the day it all changed…

via treehugger

have you ever had a moment when everything changed? a moment of such clarity that it shook you to your core and upended your life path? well, i’m happy/grateful/excited to say that happened to me last friday. i went to a class for work. i felt i didn’t have time to devote a whole day to this class, little did i know the earthshaking lesson i would learn that day…

the chef who lead the class was an amazing man. with an amazing story. a story that was filled with the ups and downs many of us face (and one, that broke his heart and his spirit).  but with time and meditation, what he came away with was a realization that he was meant to be of service. and everything shifted for him. i sat there, mesmerized by his tale. and i started to wonder about my life. and the lives of my friends. all of us, working so hard. and for what? to pay the rent. to pay the mortgage. to dream of the day when we are retired (and old!) so that we can live some life of simplicity.

why not now?

why not sell everything? why not say, to hell with it and get off the grid? for the first time in a long time, life seemed full of possibilities. and these possibilities made total sense. i called the irishman to see if i was crazy. was this something we could do? could we grow our all own food? could we build our own tiny house? could we have a workshop where we could get serious about creating? could we have loads of dogs and toil over soil? he was all in. i started googling “homesteading” like a mad woman. there were many things to consider. as eco as i am, there are certain things i cannot live without:  a bathtub. wifi. a washer. i definitely could live smaller. but i need access to a city. museums. a job.

i started looking at all our possessions as assets to freedom. we’ve been collecting a lot of stuff for a lot of time. and now that stuff would help us get to a place where we could actually live our lives. i started calculating:  those sofas + that diner = a solar panel system. i opened closets, filled with clothes and shoes and more stuff. kitchen cabinets filled with plates and bowls and appliances. our garage…oh, our garage…

so. the plan is to plan an exit plan. to figure out how to get from here to there. the first step is to liberate ourselves from and with all this stuff. to pick maybe the top 5 places we would like to own land. maybe there’s an interim step where we are still city dwellers, but we reduce our environmental impact. we grow a serious garden. we start to barter more, and spend less…maybe we raise some chickens for eggs? i’m not going to overthink things. i have to remember that moment in that class where everything felt so clear…it wasn’t rational, it was emotional. i figure 2012 will be all about squirreling away money. about research and learning and meeting like-minded people.

but all of that could change in a moment. and we’re completely open to that change.

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the secret life of beef…

thanks to meatless monday and roots of change for giving the head’s up on this terrific little video that talks about the environmental impact of our beef consumption.

you all know i am a huge advocate of meatless mondays and if all americans would decide to forgo meat just once a week, it would be the equivalent of removing 8 million cars from the road. in baltimore city, they have launched meatless mondays in the elementary school – the kids love it (they thought it was going to be some crazy tofu menu) and even at their young age, they prefer to eat meals that are better for the environment.

americans love their hamburgers. they love their beef. but do they really know what it takes to make that one pound of ground beef?

  • seven pounds of grain
  • 2500 gallons of water
  • not to mention the methane and forests destroyed to create pasture land
  • is it really worth it for that quarter pounder with cheese?

livestock production is responsible for 20% of greenhouse emissions worldwide…more than all sources of transportation combined…do you want fries with that?

because the cows need to get fat faster, they are fed corn. because they can’t digest corn, they are given antibiotics. 70% of all antibiotics are given to livestock. 70%. seriously?

info about INFORM (who produced the piece) from the huffington post:

Founded back in 1973, INFORM was originally a research organization and produced 117 in-depth reports for government and business officials on a range of environmental challenges. When its founder stepped aside in 2006, INFORM re-envisioned itself for the 21st century — shifting both its target audience from thought leaders to the general public, and its medium from print to film.

With only 18% of Americans taking action in their daily lives to combat global warming. INFORM wants to use on- and off-line outreach to get its short films onto screens everywhere, including schools, hospitals, state and municipal governments, planes and taxicabs, movie theaters and faith-based communities. If you’d like to show The Secret Life of Beef to your group or organization, or if you have ideas on how to help get the word out, or would like to volunteer with INFORM, please contact ramsey@informinc.org

i hope you have the less than 7 minutes it takes to watch the piece – they are not telling you to stop eating meat (there are even meat producers and butchers in the video) – they are asking you to reduce your portion size; buy local and choose grassfed. it might cost more than a mc donald’s hamburger, but it is so worth it in the long run – for you, your family and our planet.

help spread the word!

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bacon tastes good. pork chops taste good…

video (obviously) from pulp fiction

i had to choose this clip because of the french subtitles…

according to “where’s the beet?” in time magazine, more and more people globally are participating in meatless mondays and/or calling themselves flexitarians (or part-time vegetarians). for you bacon lovers of the world, i understand. it’s hard to give up…sometimes the smell even makes me salivate. but this growing movement of part-time vegetarians includes graham hill, founder of treehugger.com, who cannot imagine life without sushi. so he calls himself a “weekday vegetarian” – one who chooses to reduce his meat consumption, but not necessarily on a monday.

growing up, we didn’t eat a lot of meat. japanese cuisine in general focuses on veggies that are basically flavored with meat. my irish father would get his meatloaf or steak and potatoes, but that was pretty much once a month or for a special occasion. now, as joel stein writes in the time article, meat is everywhere: on your salad, on the side of your french toast … there are meatlovers pizzas and sandwiches that seem to hold the entire farmyard … according to the u.s. department of agriculture, the average american will consume 21,000 animals in their lifetime … excuse me, while i dry heave.

the availability of cheap meat (the price of chicken hasn’t doubled in the past 50 years, due to factory farming) explains why we eat 150 times as many chickens per year than we did 80 years ago. often, buying vegetables are more expensive than meat that is on sale – what’s wrong with this picture?

as i wrote in a previous post, “go veggie once a week and help yourself and the planet” (and the reason why i post meatless monday recipes every sunday), the environmental impact of everyone going meatless once a week is nothing to sneeze at. sir paul mc cartney has started a u.k. version, meat free mondays – and some of our best chefs are introducing veggie-centric menu items to help ease people into realizing that a square meal does not require a big hunk of animal protein at its center.

all 15 of mario batali’s restaurants serve additional veggie dishes on meatless mondays and he has plans to open a vegetarian restaurant in manhattan…he’s hoping a seasonal celebration of vegetables will encourage his guests to be more excited about non-meat options.

chef josé andrés believes that the pure flavor sensation of vegetables is far more interesting than meat – and that this fact will help american palates mature. even wolfgang puck, when he eats at his restaurant CUT, splits an 8 oz. steak with his wife. the veggie appetizers do well at his steakhouse. so it seems the trend is, even when eating meat, guests are less interested in a fred flinstone-sized slab of meat and going for more balanced, plates celebrating nature’s bounty.

as chef john fraser of dovetail in nyc says about eating meat (he’s changing his menus on mondays that lets diners choose between a 4 course prix fixe menu of vegetarian or vegetable focused to see if the response is great enough to open a completely vegetarian restaurant), “you can relate it to sex – if you have it every day and it’s crazy and beautiful, it isn’t meaningful. but if you have it every once in awhile, it becomes meaningful.”

a bit awkward, chef, but more and more people are getting your message. and that’s some meaty news.

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meatless monday recipe: israeli couscous summer pilaf…

image from fatfreevegan.com

it is hot. it’s been over 100 degrees in the valley for the last couple days. that is hot. every year, i kvetch and complain and wonder how anyone in their right mind would choose to live in this kind of heat. every year, i seem to forget how hot it gets out here. maybe it’s some kind of survival amnesia.

the thought of cooking anything makes me want to keel over. seriously. so when i started poking around, looking for this week’s meatless monday recipe, i was thrilled to discover susan’s beautiful blog fat free vegan kitchen and her recipe for a fresh and colorful and chilled (hooray!) israeli couscous summer pilaf. this is a guest recipe from vegan cookbook author, nava atlasbut the rest of susan’s site is beautifully shot and chock full of terrific recipes, so i know i will be revisiting often…

we have everything on hand for the pilaf except for the israeli couscous (might have to substitute with quinoa) and the apricots (i usually don’t like fruit in my food, unless it’s an avocado, but many of the comments said that was what made this dish extra special). she also said i can up the lemon and reduce the olive oil, but since i’m not looking for a low fat dish, i will play it by ear/eye.

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