To Read: What your gut is telling you (Real “Clean”)

By now you probably know I’m a bit of a gardening geek and a food nerd. In fact, this week I’m working on making water kefir and sourdough culture to comfort my inner nerd and geek with the impending truncation of my growing season outside (though the outrageous fashion show the mountains put on totally makes it worth it).

So, there is nothing terribly revolutionary about this article, but it spoke to me on a few levels. Healthy, living dirt (my Soils professor would kill me for using that word) is one of my favorite smells. Healthy dirt is sustainable. A healthy gut protects not just our digestive system, but our whole body. Living food isn’t just about eating “raw”.  Those little tiny bugs could well be the making or breaking of our civilization.

So, if you have 4 minutes, it’s worth a quick read.

What your gut is telling you, by Maria Rodale

Happy Birthday to Me! An ETW & To-Read all in one!

Tomorrow is my birthday and I had great hopes of posting something novel and unique and thought provoking with a giveaway. But instead my kids kept me up half the night and now we’re going to spend the day today and tomorrow playing. I think that’s the best idea we’ve had in a long time!

So, in honor of my birthday – read this and be excited for us in Utah. And no, I’m not the Amanda in this blog, thank goodness. I can’t be that blog-prolific with the life I’m currently living.

Is Salt Lake City more Vegan than we Know?

Cows, Disney and Kale Chips

Last week Andrew and I went to Long Beach to meet our friends Colin and Jenn and their 2 year old Liam. Although it was the first time meeting them, it felt more like a reunion. Colin and Jenn are vegan, have been for awhile and have helped me be a better vegan mom to Andrew. It was such a delight  to be around like-minded people and it gave me joy to see Andrew devour everything Colin handed him without question. It must be exhausting for Andrew to eat. He scrutinizes every label, he basically doesn’t eat anything I don’t make from scratch, wait it is exhausting for me to feed Andrew! Colin and Jenn introduced us to a few new favorite things

  1. Veggie Grill. If you don’t have one of these restaurants in your area, start petitioning to get one! I can’t convey how good the food was with words or pictures, but here is one pic to give you an idea. This place will satisfy carnivores!
    All American Stack, steak strips with Onion rings and sweet potato Fries, Buffalo Wings with Ranch dipping sauce

See better photos and like them on Facebook at\

  1. Colin told me about VegNews magazine awhile ago and I love it

This magazine comes every other month, has great recipes, fun facts like:

Cows have BFFs—really a study measured the heart rate of cows who were isolated, paired with random cows or penned with their preferred partner. Those alongside their best friend exhibited reduced levels of stress compared to those who were with a stranger-cow.

 and excellent articles. You can subscribe and get an online newsletter: I just got a yummy recipe for Hot Chocolate Ice Cream

that I can’t wait to try, you can see it here,  if you make it let me know how you like it!

3. Ranch Kale Chips. I have made plain ones before and love them, but found these at whole foods and couldn’t stop thinking about them, so I figured out how to make my own—unfortunately I ate them all before I remembered to take a picture.

Ranch Kale Chips (Andrew approved)

1 cup raw cashews

1 bunch of kale, spines removed, torn into 2×2” (about)

¼ cup water

2 Tbs nutritional yeast

¼ tsp garlic powder

¼ tsp sea salt

¼ cup chopped red onion

1 tsp rice vinegar

Method: blend everything in your Vitamix until smooth, coat kale with mixture, place on tinfoil lined cookie sheet, sprinkle with a little more sea salt. Cook on 275 for about 20 minutes, or until kale is crispy, I had to turn mine a few times to get it crispy on all sides. Next time I am going to throw the whole mess in a dehydrator for a few hours to get a more even crisp.

We also spent a few days in Disneyland and learned what the vegan options are—not many.

  1. Plain Mickey Mouse pretzel (we had more than 1)
  2. Popcorn (not healthy, but so tasty)
  3. Best Meal was in Carnation Café on Main street, they had a certified Vegan Burger, it was ok, Andrew thought it was outstanding, but that was because he was starving.
  4. I had a “veggie” sandwich in Adventure land and it was GROSS.
  5. We found Vegetarian chili in Frontierland, that you could make Vegan by holding the cheese and sour cream, but didn’t get to try it
  6. Blue Bayou  had a Portabella meal, but we didn’t try it

To Read: A sugar shortage?

I know I just posted one of these, but this is fully entertaining. What would a sugar shortage do to our nation? Well, after the initial withdrawal issues, I’d love to see it!

Feds to farmers: Grow GMO beets or face sugar shortage

To Read: What is Food? by Mark Bittman

I’m kind of a food jerk. There, I said it. I am one of those mean people that wouldn’t mind if we banned super-harmful foods (especially in schools), just as I look at people who still smoke and wonder why they still do it (especially when it’s FREEZING outside). Don’t yell at me for this, because I know this is NOT the opinion of most people, and I claim no POLITICAL affiliation based on my views (I couldn’t argue the Left/Right debate even if I tried), and this does not reflect the opinion of my cohorts.

I went for a walk around Liberty Park this morning with Pancho in the Ergo and pushing ZJ in the BOB while my 5YO was at day camp, and loved it despite the heat. But what surprised me is how many people were walking with sodas or frosty Starbucks drinks in hand. I know health is more than calories in-calories out, but if we’re exercising to help our bodies feel strong and lean, then wouldn’t we want to watch what goes into them as well, at least WHILE exercising?

I’m also a fan of insurance companies charging more for people living unhealthy lifestyles. My husband’s employer gives us a minor discount for being “healthy”, meaning we have few enough risk factors that we aren’t a likely threat to insurance premiums (though I’ll be the first to admit – having kids is not a cheap activity). I like that discount. But then again, I also like my kids to learn to bear the burden of natural consequences, like if they don’t put their things away, they may not be able to find them later or if they don’t eat their meal, they might be hungry later.

I do confess, though, that I love treats and a sugar-fast right now might send me into a fit (I am nursing a HUGE baby after all). BUT I cannot honestly remember the last time I bought a soda.

So, I just read this article by Mark Bittman, who is always fun to read. The whole article can be found here, and I’d recommend it. But here are a few of the highlights… (though as I look at them parsed out like this, they’re much less elegant and cohesive than his whole article).

“To (loosely) paraphrase Oliver Wendell Holmes, your right to harm yourself stops when I have to pay for it. And just as we all pay for the ravages of smoking, we all pay for the harmful effects of Coke, Snapple and Gatorade.”

“So perhaps we ask: What, exactly, is food? My dictionary calls it “any nutritious substance that people or animals eat or drink, or that plants absorb, in order to maintain life and growth.” That doesn’t help so much unless you define nutritious. Nutritious food, it says here, “provides those substances necessary for growth, health, and good condition.””

“Added sugar, as will be obvious when we look back in 20 or 50 years, is the tobacco of the 21st century”

“We should be encouraging people to eat real food and discouraging the consumption of non-food. Pretending there’s no difference is siding with the merchants of death who would have us eat junk at the expense of food and spend half our lives earning enough money to deal with the health consequences.”

To Read: Soul Food: Spirituality and Nutrition

So much of the information that guides my choices in life comes from what I learn. So much of what I learn comes from either experience or from reading now that my “formal” education has ended (or is a least on hold for the foreseeable future). The experience portion of my education involves things like figuring out how to do things while holding a fussy baby, or weeding one-handed, or learning to control my temper when all fiery torment seems to have broken out around me with screaming and fighting amongst my children, or learning patience as I find myself in situations I never would have imagined for myself.

These are all VERY good things to learn, but sometimes they lack the cerebral nature that occupied so much of my life prior to motherhood. So, as you can imagine, I find other sources of information to supplement my experiences. I have dreams of things I will do in my future life and things I imagine I would love to do but may never have the chance for. So I read about them.

Indulge me as I share fabulous articles or stories or books with you as my “education” relates to food. I came across this one the other day, and it’s short so scan it quickly if you must but read it thoroughly if you can. She concludes with five guiding principles that totally apply to the food experiences I want to be having, and I love the cultural and spiritual background she provides that frames those principles.

Soul Food: Spirituality and Nutrition

By Lisa Turner, Huffington Post

1. Eat mindfully, being aware of the food and your body.
2. Eat for the purpose of nourishing your body; treat your body as a temple.
3. Eat only fresh, clean, light foods, avoiding foods that are processed or canned.
4. Eat only what you need, without overeating or binging on food.
5. Eat for the purpose of bettering yourself spiritually.

To Read: For our Mothers

All of use here at GCF are mothers. We are trying our darndest to be good ones, but nobody gave us a manual and the “expert” advice continues to change weekly. Sleep on tummies or backs, low-fat or low-carb, rear facing until one or two, bottle or breast, thumb or pacifier, working mom or stay-at-home mom? There always seems to be some new advice that demands our adherence, or ELSE! In the last 40 years, all “truth” has been turned on its head when it comes to raising children, and so, today, we thank our mothers who somehow managed to keep us alive despite using what might now be considered “outdated” advice and backwards methods.

As any of us could tell you, the experts probably don’t have children of their own and as we have learned from our mothers, motherly intuition knows best nearly ALL of the time.

So, today especially, MOMS! (of all types) we thank you and honor you, whether we ate boxed macaroni and cheese or fresh baked bread (or both); whether we worked in the garden and harvested food or thought apples came from shelves on the store; whether you loved us first in your womb or in your heart; and whether you knew it or not, you helped shape who we are today and helped us develop the tools we need to protect our own families and raise and feed our own children, standing as lionesses at the gates of our own homes.

Is Sugar Toxic?

This is worth the time to listen to;storyMediaBox

Dr. Sanjay Gupta reports on new research showing that beyond weight gain, sugar can take a serious toll on your health, worsening conditions ranging from heart disease to cancer.