Weeds glorious weeds!

lovely weeds, wonderful weeds! (to the tune of  "lovely spam, wonderful spam")

My neighbours and landlords usually watch my gardening with  a suspicious eye….maybe it's because i might dig holes in the back lawn to put compost in….maybe its because i rejoice to see a field of dandelions to put that sunshine yellow in my salads and pancakes! 

I skulk around neighbours yards looking jealously at their chickweed and lambs quarters, wondering if they know what nutritional powerpunches they have right under their noses.
When taking care of my mom's garden, i am careful to grab all the weeds and take them home with me to put on my balcony…
They grow well!  They are super tasty, Pretty, and Good for you!

here are my favorites, as a lazy yet opportunist gardener:

  • chickweed (needs wet cool, light sun)
  • violets (same)-tiny wild pansy
  • purslane, i've only found in my garden once, in Hamilton, where it was very fertile but very HOT, interestingly sour and crunchy.
  • lamb's quarters (seems to just grow….you can see it in empty lots, abandoned ground…spinach like in its culinary actions)
  • dandelion, do i really need to describe? mmm, liver bitter….
  • plantain (city sidewalks, with grass, wherever people walk)
  • wild lettuce, grows all over the city with little spiky spines on it…but don't eat much, its a strong relaxant)
  • nettles, if you are lucky enough to live by a fertile creek or park where they hide under the big trees to enjoy the damp…you can identify by the invigorating sting.
  • i also really like aloe, which does grow as a weed in some places! (namely those places where i tend to get sunburned)

I know i have seen at least one example of each this summer, next year i promise to bring the camera with me… but the best thing to do is find someone (the local herbalist) to take you on a weed walk in your particular zone.
 

a beautiful head of baking soda

In the Beginning, there was Baking Soda..

Well, it has now been even longer (7months?) with the no-shampoo washing, and I am still a happy camper!  It does get knotty pretty fast, but with long curly hair that is a never-ending hassle and tussle with me anyway. 

One of my favorite side effects is that my brush has never been cleaner!  You know that wierd waxy, dirt buildup that tends to get in the bottom of combs and brushes if you use them alot? (really hard to clean, and kinda gross)  Gone, gone, gone!  (girls you know what i mean right??)  It took a few months but now my natural wood bristle brush stays nice and woody no matter how much i use it..

I think I have more split ends then before, so I might try putting a little oil on the ends once in a while, or brushing more often to distribute the natural oils.  But it remains nice and curly, bouncy after wetting, and very product free.  I still have some natural spray in conditioner, left-over from the old days, that i use for special occassions, less than once a month.  To be honest, I barely wash it at all anymore, even with baking soda…1-2 times a month —pure laziness!  I love it!

Sake on a Flower

tastes fruity & flowery & fresh

               I love eating flowers.  Picking petals seems so delicate, and eating them seems very divine or decadent. (or crass from the flower's point of view, i suppose)  The trick is to find flavours that are subtle enough to not overpower your flower.  Make sure you get the right species of flower (the Latin name to be safe)– growing your own is fun, or farmer's markets sometimes have options, possibly gourmet stores. 

Viola Tricolour (Heartsease, Johnny Jump Up, Wild Pansy) are those tiny flowers that look like little sisters to the violets bred large for modern gardens. (viola tricolour pictures).  They are good for the brain and the heart and the adrenal glands and more!  Plus they taste like a mild spearmint with fun overtones…..And purple basil is just one of many varieties of basil, I just think it goes best in this drink… after all, how often does one get to eat purple anything??  Sake is a sweetish Japanese wine that has a light flavour when mixed with other things, and no, i didn't choose it for the vitamin content. 

If you are lucky enough to have a strawberry patch, here is a wonderful way to celebrate any excess you can muster:—freeze strawberries whole and separate (on a cookie sheet), after they are hard you can jumble them in a container.

Sake-on-a-Flower

makes two drinks (you need a blender that can handle ice crushing.)

  • 5 or 7 frozen strawberries (med. size)
  • 6 viola tricolour flowers
  • 4 purple basil leaves
  • 2 ice cubes
  • sake (use as half the liquid)
  • soda water to cover stuff in blender
  • glug of maple syrup

whizz, pour into pretty glasses and garnish with extra flowers

(and i suppose for drink mixing, counting flowers can be considered a measurement of sorts..)

waldorf gone sesame!

My own version of a Waldorf salad comes directly from Faulty Towers, episode:  Walfdorf Salad.  Basically celery, walnuts, apples and mayonnaise are my favorite parts….and those of you who saw my last post will be happy to know i purchased some organic mayonnaise in a jar for now.

Now, for some reason unfathomable to me, I can't seem to find anyone in Vancouver who likes the mayo!  Is it just me?  Has that beautiful white creamy dressing gone so far out of fashion that dry salad is actually preferable?  Will i Really have to dip my pizza crusts in marinara sauce? 

So in an effort to not force my mayonnaise fetish on others, and while surprise entertaining, i was sprung into new-salad concocting mode. 

what i had: (so i thought)

  • shredded cabbage
  • mayonnaise
  • walnuts
  • apple
  • salt/pepper
  • lemon

Now i think that would have been a very reasonable approximation of a good salad, However, "add yer own mayo" seems odd to me.  Now comes the good part:  My friend Monica (a definite Non-Mayo enthusiast!) suggested sesame oil, which led to sesame seeds (toasted)  and created a scenario where (gosh darn it!) i didn't even need to add Mr. Mayo!! 

 

SO, the final version being:

Sesame Waldorf

  • shredded cabbage
  • walnuts, chopped
  • apple, chopped (if organic, skin on), lemon squeezed over to keep from browning
  • sesame seeds toasted, with a dash of toasted sesame oil

try adding:

avocado on the side, organic chicken or cheese for added protein, a dash of flax oil for omega-3 (your walnuts and sesame have the omega-6's).

 

simple and yum!  (thanks Monica)

and yes!.. i tend to trust instinct over measurements… it's liberating really..

Mayo 101

Do not make mayonaise in a personal smoothie drink blender!
So i loooove mayonaise ( and hollandaise sauce, and that ranch dipping sauce that comes with take-out pizza…. You get the picture). So I figured what better service to humanity than to figure out a super tasty, fast and nutrient dense home version? The kind to make Jamie Oliver beat down my door and shake my hand…
Being in a hurry and being the only person around me who eats mayo(?!), I figured personal size! Here I come! Did mention that I couldn’t be bothered to look up a recipe too? I know the general premise: blend egg yolk with vinegar/lemon and then slowly add oil until it thickens.
Maybe the ratio matters, or maybe it’s oil and Then vinegar, or maybe it’s the fact that the egg yolk took up so little space that it sat under the blades and so could not get pre-whippified.. Regardless, it was runny and oily and kinda gross and I had to add a whole bunch of tofu just to thicken it up.
I have not given up (think flax oil, fresh lemon, herbs) but I will get back to you after a little extra research and equipment sourcing.
Back to the vitamin packed margheritas with my little blender!

come on Truth! Ensue already!

It's hard to jump past the instinctive defensiveness that arises when conversations include people of different philosophies.  Health care comes under that heading in my opinion (or philosophy!)..ha ha  How do you argue a platform that doesn't come within someone's sphere of belief or 'reality', and how do you listen to someone else's when you've spent your whole life seeing things work from a certain perspective?  I know I am guilty of It…I spent a lifetime in the forest before tiptoeing around the globe in wonder and curiosity, and I always find it surprising that it is not obvious to everyone how every step we take the earth can feel –and so can our neighbors. 

It makes sense to me that everything i put in my body is going to affect how i feel, and everything i believe stems from this.  So how do I have a conversation with someone who has spent their life ignoring their body to follow pursuits of the mind, or out of necessity because their particular body tends to bring them pain, or because they grew up in the city where it is simple survival to ignore most of what goes on around you.  How do i not be judgmental as i describe the pleasures of feeling good when I wake up in the morning after a day of not eating shit.  (and why oh why can i not do it more often?)

Did I just replace my Catholic upbringing (we are saved/they are not) ideology with my own brand of close-mindedness?  Eat Your Weeds or you will go to hell!! (and yes, i do mean dandelions, violets, chickweed, and the like)  And more likely that you will go in the ground and no self-respecting worms will touch you…..

I love the adage, "First, Do No Harm".  i suppose i am a "the means is as important as the end" kinda girl. 

And i think every health philosophy that i know of follows that pretty well except the current medical science model.  There is a thirst for knowledge that is provable, knowable , cuttable and put back together like lego-able, and of course "the one truth"..just like the "one true god"….I mean please!  have we not learned anything from trying to make different religions get along?  Can we not see that until EVERYone admits that, hmmm, maybe no-one knows the "ONE-Truth"…simply what's worked for them thus far.  Science simply breaks things into smaller and smaller components and figures if it only gets small enough and precise enough, Truth will Ensue.  And That Truth will cascade up through all the knowledge of the body and earth, colouring our view of the entire world.  the Best scientists are philosophers, making leaps, discovering new things, and unfortunately the most Powerful doctors are the ones who can convince people to follow their orders…or give them money. 

The Money, as usual, gives the power and the resources.  Whoever can convince the rest of their society to come along on their truth-jaunt, gains extra footholds as they rewrite the rules to include themselves as truth.  The heaIth food INDUSTRY is an alternative that is still on some level based on money, and who can convince the rest to buy their stuff.  So we are fighting the good fight using the tools of the 'enemy'.  Does that make us worse?  when our sense of validation still comes from the hierarchy that we are trying to dislodge, how do we not become them?  (However, without addressing Capitalism as another side on the philosophy-train, options are few.) 

I am grateful for the Internet these days  where info can be had and had and had again, and its up to our own brains to filter and decide what works for us.  Although my best retention still comes from a dialogue involving 1-2 authors and real paper.  (as Rupert Giles says, "books have a smell", that's why you can trust them) In the end it still comes down to the personal interaction.  Do you trust the knowledge the person speaking to you has, and especially how they wield it?  If we can just get past our egos and have some conversations…

Eat for Balance

There is a balance to eating the same way there is a balance to life in general…

Chinese medicine says that cooling and heating are opposite sides of the spectrum..
Vegetarianism (For the Love of Food by Jeanne Marie Martin) says meat and sugar are concurrently hard/easy to digest, and that you can't give up one without the other… 
PH says (yes, i have a direct line to mr. PH) you need an acid/alkaline balance to stay in the health zone, and that for most of us more alkaline is on order…
Ayurveda states that you must eat to balance out your existing constitution but taking into account your excesses and imbalances–heavy/grounding/oily, light/airy/fresh/, or fiery/energetic/stimulating…
Clearly these are huge generalizations of very large areas of science/medicine, but you get the idea!!

As usual i can only use myself to illustrate:

I was vegetarian for about 5 years in BC, stayed off meat but added fish as i toured Asia for 8 months, stayed on fish as i watched hardcore vegans get ill over and over with a white rice and lettuce diet.  (when in Rome and all if you ask me…).
It wasn't till i moved to the big city of Toronto (well compared to Canadian cities!)  that i started craving meat…and i mean gimme a raw steak (though i'd never really had that before)  med rare and thick and bloody (my apologies veg-heads)  soooo, not being one to deprive myself all that much…. i ate one.  -With a friend who had stomachaches for days….and me?  felt great, no trouble digesting it at all…

Looking back i have 2 or 3 theories:  There is a balancing effect to nutrients that, as long as you honour, you can eat with abandon.  In Japan it came naturally, as it is a very nutrient dense and easily digestible diet, most importantly the least amount of bread or refined sugar that i've ever eaten!
The blood type book (Eat Right 4 Your Type) says O's are the carnivores…not so good with the dairy and the wheat.  As i had already come to these conclusions on my own i was intrigued with the idea of a scientific explanation of them.  I mean blood is a pretty basic component of our life, and clearly each type acts differently on some level or 'blood type' wouldn't matter.
The stress of living in a bigger town, oh yah and playing music:  constant movement and noise, pollution, night lifestyle (i.e. more drinking and less sleep), and a lack of time to cook for ones-self.. all contribute to a depletion of nutrients, especially B-vits and iron which can be found in a thick bloody steak!….so!  The solution for myself, as i had become veggie out of an environmental and economic stance as opposed to a health one, was to listen to the body, but only purchase meat that i felt worthy;  local, organic if possible, free range definitely, and less processed.  Eggs as well.  Although as my friends can attest i would also have no problem eating meat off their plates if they weren't gonna finish it and it was just gonna go to waste!!  i ain't proud and i really LIKE meat mmmmm.  i also have gutted my own fish and chased headless chickens around as a child as well as watched pigs and cows get slaughtered.  My only issue with myself (ok ok!  one of many….) is that i am unsure if i am willing to butcher things at this point…  i am still really grateful that other people do this thing.  My uncle Teri is a hunter and a very responsible and respectful one at that!  I would eat out of his freezer at a moments notice…well with enough time to thaw/cook stuff!
i digress:

BOTTOM LINE- you cannot give up meat but continue to eat excess sugar, alcohol and starches.  Bring it more to the middle, add fibre, greens and dense foods to balance out the, shall we say, indulgences?  More on spectrums later!
 

Now who’s the soda-dope?

Upon returning from a trip i came across some strange new form of purified water in my fridge left by the house sitter…as i searched for the ingredients, guess what popped out?? That's right… SODIUM BICARBONATE
(otherwise known as baking soda)
Now, this water was touting itself as being designed for professional athletes so i gots to wonderin'…why would Baking Soda be good in my water?  I knew about the antacid effect for treating heartburn etc. -but that is a rather extreme treatment that shouldn't be used all the time -never mind in my daily drinking water (especially when -as a serious athlete of course- i try very hard to consume 2 liters of  water per day).  So after much searching i found some explanations that both made sense and were not in the form of a chemical formula. 

It actually does stem from its 'ant-acid' or 'buffering' attitude towards life.  What do muscles make when pushed hard to work?  Lactic Acid!  and that's what causes the soreness and apparently fatigue.  So basically, baking soda raises the pH of the blood and buffers the effects of this acid in the body, albeit in very small amounts and it is only really helpful it you are really working hard, not just a stroll around the block! 

This was taken from an article that i thought was funny, yet still informative, as they were worrying about baking soda doping for the Beijing Olympics:


"For optimum effects it should be taken with water, ideally before exercise, on an empty stomach. Most people take about 20g, although it can cause problems."
 
This idea also went further in explaining why baking soda is good for the teeth, and not just because of its soft abrasion quality, but also in the neutralization of the acid causing bacteria that contribute to tooth decay.

 
Ok, now the pH factor has been introduced and i am jumping down the rabbit hole…this is one of my favorite mysterious subjects!  One that can be so simple in the imagining and so complex to try to explain.  hwaa hwaa hwaa (villainous laugh)..

Hot Brie with benefits!

(ok, ok! the real title is:)

Baked Brie with warm nuts and berries

Brie: (creamy kind is best – like a double cream brie)
Mixture: cashews, walnuts, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, dried cranberries and gogi berries, raisins.


Put mixture all over brie and bake on low heat. Watch carefully as you don't want cheese to melt, just bake and soften
I found out the hard way that u keep the brie as one piece – I tried cutting it into smaller bits but it melted too quick on me – then it's wasted

A Jenn Sunset contribution.

 

(colleen's note:  How to make your cheesy dreams chock full of nutrients and flavour sensations!! mmmm   P.S. I'm pretty sure that i was the recipient of the "wasted" experiment…but i can assure you that the goo you are left with is still a delicous thing to spread around…)

serve with almost anything!

Which corners are we cutting?

ok so everybody gotta choose their poison
eveybody gotta see what matters most
everyone has a different take on things
and pretty much anything goes

vit D or the sun
macrobiotics or supplements
eat meat
eat beans
eat protein shakes in a glass
consume less
consume closer to natural state
we are natural functional beings that we strive closer and closer to understanding but there is always just a bit of that magic out of our reach that makes us tick
makes us live
makes us us
hard to pin, poke, ultrasound, scope, magnify, prod, x-ray, staple, stitch, or nail it down

the plants live it
so eating them feeds us some of it
at the extreme people fast, eat only fallen fruit, live on ether
but eating feels natural
sure we abuse it, but its one thing we can agree on from the time we are born, wherever we are, whatever food is available
we eat, it is instinctive, we shouldn’t take it for granted or think that it doesn’t affect our every aspect of being
from how we think, feel, energize, give, and give back

how do you cut your corners?


Health Yerself!