Friday, February 4, 2011

A healthy fry??

I'm going to try this recipe this weekend, minus the butter! My restaurant makes a similar appetizer using emmer grain as the base instead of polenta, but I found some polenta in the cupboard so that's what I will use. I'm excited to see how they turn out. I love the ones we serve and Emmer and Rye in Seattle, but of course a real chef is making those.

Conscious Eating

Earlier this week, The Oprah Show featured an episode where over 300 of Oprah's employees (including herself) went vegan for a whole week. As my quest for a healthy lifestyle and a nourishing diet is always in progress, I was excited to see the show and learn even more about this "non-animal" cuisine I've been delving into lately. Oprah's guests included notable author of best sellers including "The Omnivore's Dilemna" and "In Defense of Food", Michael Pollan as well as the newly coined "The Veganist", Kathy Freston who is the author of several cookbooks and a devote vegan herself. Oh, and she is slightly annoying and much too thin. :)

Oprah herself makes a point from the moment the camera started rolling that the show was, in no means, an anti-meat show (mostly out of fear of being sued again by the beef industry). Instead, it was a show dedicated to encouraging people to be "conscious eaters", a phrase that we are hearing more of in this country and especially in the beautiful Northwest where I live. What does "conscious eating" mean? Basically, it means knowing where your food comes from, how it is grown/raised, how it is brought to your table and what consequences it brings to our health, living things and our Earth. Pretty simple, right? Wrong.

I can honestly say that until about four or five years ago, I never once thought about where my food came from. I ate what was put in front of me or what I thought tasted good, but I never bothered to let my mind wander further than that. I became vegetarian for most of high school and college, but even then I didn't really care what produce I ate and I never once thought about the consequences of eating packaged food. A few years after college I started to pay attention to what I was buying in grocery stores and I became one of those people who thought buying "free range" chicken would somehow seal my spot in Heaven. My vegetarian status changed with the seasons and my love for animals kept me firmly ignorant about where the flank steak I was throwing on my BBQ really originated. Subconsciously, I don't think I wanted to know.

In reality, where our food comes from and how it is raised/grown effects everything in our modern world. Our health, our planet, our economy and the creatures of the world. I won't spout out statistics or include diagrams because frankly you can find all the information you want from books, the web and from simply people around you. Plus, I think deep down most of us know intuitively that its probably not good to eat things that can be microwaved in 60 seconds after adding water, most likely animals we are eating don't have the best life and fresh produce probably shouldn't have toxins and hormones in them. Common sense.

What I liked so much about the show was everyone, besides Kathy (who was wearing an amazing pair of leather boots....made out of ???) made a point to say that eating animal products is a personal choice. However, everyone should see and know the backgroud of where their food comes from and if they are still ok with eating those ingredients, more power to them. It, ironically, wasn't the filming inside the slaughter house that got to me. I grew up with my dad hunting elk and deer and I don't have a HUGE issue with the killing of animals to feed another. I don't want to see it or pull the triger myself, but I can understand parts of the practice. What got to me most was the fact that the cows and chickens live horrible lives, eat unnatural food for their bodies and endure a less than pleasant death. Nothing about it showed respect to the species.

So where do you draw the line and what is truly the best for your body and for our world? I'm not sure, but the restaurant where I work right now is a "farm to table" restaurant (another commonly used term these days) and I am starting to think that this movement is what I want to put my beliefs behind. Farm to table means that ingredients literally come from the farm to the table, or in our case, from the farm to our kitchen where we prepare the food and serve our customers. No toxins, no hormones, no disgusting conditions for our cows or our tomatoes and little to no impact on the environment because our ingredients are coming from local farmers. What a concept.

I've been trying to eat this way for the last few months with many days of cheating here and there because frankly it takes some planning and some hard work. After the Oprah show, I have been "vegan" for three days and I feel great, my "muffin top" is smaller (what a horrible term!!) and I feel like I'm nourishing my body from the inside out. So I challenge you.....find a local farmer's market, buy local, buy grass fed and natural meat if you choose to eat meat and eat what comes out of the ground and not out of a box.

My thoughts on beautiful leather boots? Undecided. :)

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Maybe karma is crap.

Several months ago a clerk at a gas station handed me a twenty dollar bill for change instead of the ten dollars he really owed me. I handed it back and told the truth. Last month my employer over paid me on my paycheck by quite a bit. I told my manager and had the difference taken out of my next check. I let people get ahead of me while merging in traffic. I send thank you and sympathy cards when appropriate. I help out friends when they need money or simply a shoulder to cry on. I try to avoid road rage, I've cut down on my anger, I tell the people I love that I love them and I always say please and thank you. Does any of this shit really add up? I'm not so sure.

I don't like to feel sorry for myself because all I have to do is watch the nightly news, look at a stranger on the street or read a book and I know that things could always be worse. However, for the sake of this post, I will list some of the things I have been through in the last few years.

My husband left and filed for divorce. I had to move out of the house I owned and loved. I sold my belongings and drove to Cali to be with friends. I love my best friend. I moved home to Seattle. My ex got his girlfriend pregnant and married her. I got laid of twice from two different jobs (one of which sucked and one that I really liked). I moved home, literally, with family to save money. My dad got diagnosed with cancer. And that brings us to present day.

When I type it all out it seems really silly that I think of these things as tragedies. Just watching the news tonight about the madness that is happening in Egypt makes me count my blessings. On the other hand, at about 2:30 today I wasn't thinking that at all. All I was thinking was"why me!!???" and "what have I done to deserve this??".

I will set the scene. I got up this morning and hit the track. I've been running with my dad on my nights off from work, but without knowing how far he will be able to make it since he is just getting in the game, I tend to workout the morning of as well. I jogged three miles followed by some stair running, sit-ups and push-ups. The sun was shining in Seattle and it felt great to be out in the nice weather treating my body well. Running is my yoga. Running is my knitting. Running is the thing that brings me peace and centers me. I don't do it to lose weight and I don't even run all the fast, but it makes me feel strong and I love it. I felt accomplished after my morning at the track and I planned to spend the rest of the day soaking up a gorgeous Seattle afternoon. Next on the agenda.....the dog park.

I take being a dog owner seriously and I believe that if you decide to have a pet, then you better be willing to put in the work. My little Lucy spends a lot of time with my parents when I'm at work, but on my days off I try to give her tons of attention. There is a new dog park just miles from my house with a huge open field of grass, tennis balls galore and fairly nice patrons. We've been there twice before and although Lucy is socially awkward and rarely actually "plays" with the other dogs, I think she likes it. We had only been there for about 20 minutes when the question about karma popped in my head.
A very sweet older woman was throwing a ball for her black lab (ironically named Lucy) with one of those "chuck-it" things that are designed for lazy people that don't want to bend over to pick up a ball and really can't throw one that far. We had been chatting and even I threw the ball a couple of times for Lucy (Lucy the lab, not my Lucy. My Lucy doesn't know what fetch means). A few minutes later, as I was looking off into the distance at the lovely blue sky, something hit me from behind and a white hot pain struck my knee. Lucy the lab had taken off to chase her ball and ran right into the back of my leg just under my knee cap. The sound of my knee buckeling/dislocating out of the socket/snapping and popping back in was loud enough for several people around us to hear. I swear that as I fell to the ground the only thought in my head was "shit! I can't run now".

Hyper-extending is the technical term and I did it to my other knee back in high school. It takes time to heal and for the swelling to subside, but running is not going to be happening this week for sure. I sobbed most of the drive home; partly from the pain, but mostly from the thought that nothing ever goes my way. I try hard to make good choices, do the right thing and show kindess to others, but something always sets me back several steps. Ugh.

After a several hour pity party for myself which included crying to my mother (that always seems to help no matter how old you are) I came to this conclusion. I have to just keep pushing ahead. I have to take every set back in stride and I have to believe with all my heart that good things are in my future. What else can people do? Giving up isn't an option. At least for me. Karma isn't about doing the right thing so that you can "get" something in return. Karma is just about doing the right thing. With my knee on ice and the hopes that I can at least go for a walk tomorrow to continue my weight loss and my hobby, I have faith that eventually I will take three steps forward without ANY steps back in life. :)

"Whatever we do lays a seed in our deepest consciousness, and one day that seed will grow." -Sakyong Mipham