Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Kids in the Kitchen: Zombie Tomatoes!

the picture just doesn't do them justice

   The idea was to make a basic tomato/cilantro salad; I don't do basic. To vamp up the activity, a variety of herbs and tomatoes was arranged on the cutting board peaking interest and sparking curiosity (yes!). Students arrived, scattering to the various stations to prepare.. but.. you never know what will happen when kids get in the kitchen

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Monday, May 19, 2014

Update: Where Have We Been?

     The past few weeks have been absolutely crazy, not bad, just crazy! Blame it on the calendar that is absolutely booked with data collection, healthy cooking demonstrations, unplugged family activities, and a master specialist training (oh yeah, now I am 'certified'). In the midst of so much coming a going, the crazy was not only work related, but the homestead is busting with activity as well. 
        This sweet guy joined our homestead family! Maximus (Max) is a Pyrenees/Anatolian Shepard mix; sweet as can be and oh so playful. He spends his day napping, checking the back door, and shadowing each of us as he learns his place on the homestead.

          Babies! Oh yes, babies, babies, babies are popping out like daisies these days. We have Nubian, Nigerian, and Boar little-s. There are goat babies in every stall, running around every play-scape, and bawling for love from every gate. Not only do we have goat babies, but turkey babies, chicken babies, goose and duck babies- like I said babies everywhere! 
                Gardens are graciously coming along despite my shameful neglect. Every evening I struggle to catch up weeding and chores- what a struggle it is! Despite my pitiful efforts, we have beautiful fresh greens, the first showing of green beans and tomatoes, as well as squash and cucumber blossoms. Strawberries, dew berries, spring lettuce and peas are pretty well done for- but I see green blackberries, white elderberry blossoms and the tiny Jujube blooms. Roses in the herbal garden were astounding this year and the herbs are bushing out beautifully. We may eat well after all.
                  The next few days are hectic, and so many changes may be coming (it's exciting, yet a bit un-nerving!). Hopefully time will come at the end of day to sit here and share; I do miss it and so many posts are swirling around my head. We will see where we go and how it all works:)

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Go Lady Moments

   "It's a great thing you are doing there," a friend said to me. "Yes, but it isn't a ministry- it's a job," was my reply. Our conversation continued with her challenge to me- look for the ministry in the job. Though I politely smiled, there was doubt in my mind I would find it, after all, God isn't allowed in schools.
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Monday, May 5, 2014

Start Simple: Our Beverages

beverages photo: beverages beverages11-27-09.jpg
photo credit
      When I meet with prospective volunteers, teachers, and parent (even some students) there is one thing that catches my attention right off the bat; what's in their hands. Name brand coffees, bubbly beverages, crazy colored sport drinks in hand, the car cup holder, the lunch box, etc. Beverages are a huge marketing industry, and they are good at getting us to tweak our budgets to buy them. Most of us don't realize the money we spend on basic beverages every day. We even buy water! (Okay, I would rather see people holding a bottle of water!) The point is, we can cut this cost and cut a large amount of sugar/calories right here- and it's not hard to do.  Let's address it.

        1. Coffee. I love my coffee (you almost never see me without it), but I love my coffee. One pound of coffee makes 32 cups of coffee. That pound of coffee will run about $6.00 (more or less dependent upon the brand you are purchasing). That is about the cost of 1 coffee house drink. Want it flavored? My daughters loved flavored coffees. They made their own using caramel syrup, fresh cream, and hot cocoa powder (easily made cold in a blender with ice). One basic $20 investment in a coffee maker can really help the coffee craving expense.
        2. Bubbly drinks. Let me be the first not to shun you for loving them; they are yummy. The problem is, they were never meant to be a 24/7 intake. Expensive and seriously sugar laden, bubblies are hard on the budget and the body. I have not totally banned the bubblies from my home, however, I do purchase them at the store, on sale- and attempt to limit myself. Once simple step: stop driving through or vending them, buy a case (often 3/18ct for $12) and ration them a bit.
         3. Sport drinks. Crazy colors, athletic promoters, sports drink marketers have us convinced there beverage is vital to our health and fitness; they aren't. These drinks are chemical cocktails filled with sugar and dye- nothing our body truly needs, especially when we are sweating or exerting ourselves. We are an active and athletic family, but we do not drink these. Water or water with frozen fruits added (in place of ice cubes) are both great alternatives to the sport beverage craze; and quite a bit cheaper as well.
          4. Bottled water. Ok, I sigh. This is actually the best convenience beverage purchase you can make, but it doesn't have to be a purchase. Water from tap, filtered tap, or the water cooler are already part of your budget. Carry along refillable cups/bottles are available everywhere- and are a one-time purchase. Just something to consider.

           This week I give you a challenge: take a conscious look at what is in you hand and where you could make a change. One step is still a step! Consider making and taking your coffee, buying in bulk and limiting the bubblies, and putting more water in you system. Yes, it will be challenging at first, but after a few days it will become routine.

**A personal note:
     I have always kept a coffee pot & supplies in my office/classroom for a quick pick me up- and I have a file cabinet full of bottled water for those days I need one on the go. These two habits help me stay out of the drive through and low on the calories.

           Have a tip to share? Please do! A little encouragement goes a long way.


Sunday, May 4, 2014

Finding the Foundation

fast food photo: fast food fastfood2.jpg
photo credit
     I am an educator currently focusing on nutritional education. While my focus is primarily children, the goal is also to reach each aspect of that child's environment including their teachers, caregivers, and family members. This role allows me the amazing opportunity to form relationships with people often overlooked as important to this child's future. While education is crucial to their future, there can be no future without health.
     As an educator, my goal is to find the foundation from which to build on; where do we start. Sometimes this information is revealed during activities, accidental encounters, or direct surveys/interviews. Herein, the realization occurs: families are not eating to nourish, they are eating to eat. Habits have developed leaving gaps in the generations where skills should be. A large task lies ahead of me and I can't do it alone; recruiting help becomes a priority.
     Volunteers are sought out to join the education process; just like the students, surveys/interviews reveal the foundation we are to work from. Another startling reality is revealed- young adults are also lacking the skills needed. Older adults are busy and falling into similar habits leaving yet another gap in the skills. So what is the foundation?
      How are the people around us feeding themselves and their friends/families? Fast food is the number one answer. We purchase our breakfast, lunch and dinner on the way to somewhere else; coffee stops, large carbonated beverage breaks, we even buy water. From the drive through to the microwave, the second foundational reality is convenience food. Prepackaged micro meals offer us dinner in 5 minutes at the expense of nutrition. These habits form out of convenience and lack of confidence. Then there is the misconception of expense- fast food/convenience food is cheaper. Is it?
       Here in we realize we must start at the beginning- at the place we are lacking. It is time to introduce ourselves to the kitchen, the market, and the reality of marketing. My goal is to share basic, simple steps to move out of the drive thru, away from the microwave, and into the grocery store while building the skills we need for basic nutrition and nourishment.
       Before you start beheading me, let me say: 1. I grew up with financial challenged, 2. I have lived as a single woman in an apartment on a tight budget, 3. I have lived as a single-income family on a very tight budget, 4. I am currently a very busy wife/mother/homesteader/educator with very little time for Martha meals. These experiences offer me a foundation to start from and a place to build on. I invite you into my kitchen, my cabinet, and my car as we travel a path to better habits and health.