Monday, December 28, 2009

Table Tuesdays are getting sweaty!

Hey, Hippie! I've been eating really well, but I still don't feel as fit as I was hoping to...

Exercise is equally as important as eating well. Unfortunately, some people have a hard time figuring out where to start, or feel intimidated about getting started.

God gave us amazing bodies. He loves it when we take care of them. They are capable of so much! Yes, it does take some hard work to keep them operating well, but that work is also very rewarding.

I want to encourage you all to exercise! There is a type of fitness out there for everyone. Once you start, you'll feel better on a daily basis.

Some of the simplest and most economic forms of exercise are good old fashioned walking or running. Walk fast and hard enough to get your heart rate up, but don't over-exert yourself. Keeping your heart rate up is what makes exercise worthwhile.

Hiking is a great way to move around and walk because you get to take in the scenery available in your area. Search for hikes of all levels in your area here.

Want to get into running but feeling intimidated? Check out this guy. Make goals for yourself. Start small, and don't feel like you're not doing it right by starting small. Can't or won't try running? If you have a bike, bust it out, get it tuned up, and start riding. If you have access to a pool, suit up and start swimming!

Yoga can be convenient and inexpensive, too! It's great for strength, balance, posture, and flexibility. There are free instructional videos and websites that you can watch and workout with in your own home. Check out a personal favorite of mine: Yoga Today.

Exercise for me is usually outdoors and dirty. I am an outdoor enthusiast. I love adventure. There are dozens of exciting outdoor activities that are exercise in disguise. If there's something you've been curious to try, go for it. You may find an activity you like. When you do, enjoy it and reap the benefits of being active!

MSN has a fun interactive video quiz that will help you find the kind of fitness that is the best for you. Check it out!

If you still need some convincing, here are just a few benefits to regular exercise: Increased metabolism, increased energy, increased strength, stronger heart, healthier skin, increased bone density, more balanced hormones, better balance, improved reflexes, improved mood, and less illness.

As someone who spends a lot of time at the beach and in the water, and sees almost-naked people from all over the world on a daily basis, let me tell you: none of them have magazine-cover bodies. So please, aspire to a personal best for your own health and lifestyle, and don't get discouraged by vanity.

Sarah, your mission this week: seek Scripture and see what it says about caring for our bodies, and the rewards of working hard. I'm excited to hear what is spoken to you!

Peace, love, and produce -- Hippie

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Fact vs. Fiction

I read an interesting article in this month's Runner's World that got me thinking a lot about food. Ok, ok, I'm always thinking about food. But it got me thinking about peoples' perceptions of food based on gossip and wives' tales. So I thought I'd write this week's Table Tuesday about my thoughts that came from reading that article.

You've probably heard things like "red meat will cause heart and blood pressure problems, stay away!" or "carbs will make you fat," or, "egg yolks will raise your cholesterol."

All of these ideas are problematic. And they tend to cause people to eat less healthy, not more healthy.

Most natural foods are good for you in moderation. Unless you're at high risk for heart disease and your doctor says "do not eat red meat," you can probably have some. The line between healthy consumption and unhealthy consumption gets crossed when people don't respect portion control. Too much red meat, too often (say, several times a week, or on a regular basis) really isn't good for you. But that doesn't mean you should cut it out completely.

Carbs will not make you fat, but a certain Dr. A sure made a good fortune by making everyone believe they will. Gorging yourself on carbs (or really any element of any food) probably will. Cutting carbs out of your diet all-together to get a quick slim-down is bad for you. All crash-diets are bad for you. In fact, from here on out, let's consider the word "diet" a four-letter no-no. You need the sugars that carbs turn into for energy. You'll find yourself feeling great at first, but in the long run becoming less healthy and probably a little lethargic. A better alternative: instead of eating refined, enriched flours, go for the whole stuff: Bob's Red Mill puts out some great products (including great gluten-free flours that I've had excellent luck with).

As for eggs: a few eggs a few times a week are good for most people, unless a doctor says otherwise. For most people, the cholesterol in eggs isn't a threat unless you're already genetically predisposed to having cholesterol problems. People think that the yellow part is practically poisonous. True, the yolk does contain the most of the cholesterol, but it's also where all the vitamins, minerals, and the bulk of the protein in the egg are. And, um, yolks are delicious.

People today seem to think that the key to healthy eating is an all-or-nothing approach. But that's not true for most people. The key to healthy eating is whole, real foods, in moderation. Too much of a good thing can hurt you, but an appropriate amount of a good thing will usually benefit you.

Now, there are exceptions for some people. If your doctor, a certified, highly-educated medical professional who knows your medical history, tells you that there is a specific food that you need to stay away from for the sake of your health and longevity, talk about it with them.

Although I will say that I think all foods, when whole and unprocessed, are good for us and should be eaten, I'm not overlooking people with specific dietary needs. For instance, someone with Celiac Disease is going to have a very unique set of challenges to face when getting healthy carb intake, since someone with Celiac can put their health in danger simply by eating any product that has gluten (a wheat protein).

But, barring all special dietary needs, we need not worry so much about cutting one thing or another out, as we do need to be concerned with eating well in moderation.

On the flip-side, some people take the "Food X is good for me" to an extreme and have too much. Some vitamins, for instance, are really good for you, but too many can be bad for your liver or other organs if they are fat soluble. Someone who hears that a glass of red wine a few nights a week is good for the heart (which is true, just ask my dad's cardiologist!) should not take that to mean that they have an excuse to drink as much wine as they want, as often as they please. Too much alcohol is bad for all of our organs, no matter what form it comes in.

So, let's take a fun little True/False Food Folklore quiz!

1. True or False: Nuts will cause weight gain quickly.

Answer: False. The fat in nuts is a type that is actually good for your heart. Nuts are packed with vitamins and minerals, and are a good snack throughout the day to stave off an over-active appetite.

2. True or False: Dairy products are fattening.

Answer: Mostly false. Too much dairy is not good for anyone. But lots of dairy products (like yogurt or milk, yum!) have a great balance of calcium and vitamins that can actually help you maintain a weight you're happy with.

3. True or False: Smoothies are really good for me, especially in the morning.

Answer: False. A smoothie you pick up from a smoothie place will have way more sugar in it than vitamins, minerals, or...fresh fruit. Try making your own. Honey is a good sweetener that has plenty of flavor so you don't have to use loads of sugar. Or just try keeping your homemade smoothie sweet with natural sugars in foods right off the produce aisle.

As for our mission this week: It's Christmas this week! I feel bad giving an assignment during an already busy week. Enjoy the bounty and blessings the Lord is sharing with you and your family. Enjoy the birthday of our Savior! I am, however, intrigued to hear more about what you're learning about food, nutrition, healthy living, and oxalates. Should the writing mood strike you, indulge us!

Mele Kelikimaka! Aloha!

Friday, December 18, 2009

Food Journey Friday... low oxalate is working!

Howdy all,

I hate to venture off track today, but I simply must.

As I mentioned when we started this journey, I have been trying a new diet for pain management. It is called a low oxalate diet. Don't ask me what an oxalate is; I don't know. I just eat what they tell me. I started the diet as a last ditch effort to try and curb a pain problem that I've had for THREE YEARS. The doctor didn't think that this diet would help, but he offered it when I pressed him enough on the issue.

Lo and behold:

It is working.

We are baffled at the progress I am making with the pain problem- all because of this diet. I'm sorry, but this just blows my mind. It is about like a night and day difference. I am going to have to write more in depth about this strange diet and the benefits I am seeing, but that is for another day.

This has gotten me thinking more about the healing power/hurting power of food. I'm not talking about new age stuff. I'm talking about the principle sowing and reaping-- reaping the benefits of eating healthfully. I'll grant you, it has gotten me thinking, but not necessarily doing. But it's a step.

Here's the thing. If this particular group of foods was having such an adverse affect (I mean- severe pain) on my body, then what else might I be missing? Could it be that when I feel sluggish sometimes, it's just because I haven't been giving my body the nutrients it needs to really thrive?

I think that as Americans, when it comes to our health, we are used to just getting by. As long as there isn't anything majorly wrong with us, we are happy. But perhaps we ought to think more clearly about the benefits we would reap by putting better fuel into these amazing bodies God has given us. That is not to say that eating healthfully will cure all ailments. The hard truth is that sin ruined everything, so even our best attempts at healthy living will not always be enough. I am also not talking about being an extremist. But I do think we could both honor God more, and have healthier bodies if we ate differently.

So, as for the challenge this week, I am going to start planning a no HFCS week for January. This will take more planning than I can currently handle with the holidays coming up. I was surprised to find online a list of foods with no HFCS. That's a start. And then of course it mostly means I need to go less processed and more fresh. I hope to slowly start weeding out HFCS altogether in our home.

So that's where I am this week on my journey. The next few weeks will probably be crazy in the food journey, but I am sure that I will still have thoughts to share.

What do you think? Are there particular ailments you face which you think might be related to the food that you eat?

Tuesday, December 15, 2009


The Happy Hippie here. I meant to come home early this evening and write up an amazing Table Tuesday blog that tied in my own current adventures with figuring out how to live local and healthy in Hawaii.

Instead, I got suckered into going on a hike (can I ever say no to a good hike? we'll probably never find out...) with some locals. It involved eating some fruits and goodies right off the branches! Guava? Mmmm yum. And this thing called a Moya...tastes like pineapple, passionfruit, orange, mango, strawberry and a whole bunch of other things all wrapped up in a funky green little package.

But, I digress. I will have to edit this entry for an add-on or do a nice brief follow-up entry tomorrow. The ole' eyelids are getting heavy as lead as I type this. My apologies for not being faithful to the task offered to me by my great friend, Sarah. I feel that dropping the ball is not exactly showing my gratefulness to a task that I truly do feel blessed for.

Peace, Love and Produce --- Hippie Dec 15, 09

The Real Table Tuesday

Ok, well, it seemed a little greedy of me to put in a second entry since this isn't my blog. So allow me to follow up from last night!

I dropped the ball this week, big time.

That's because I moved to Hawaii last week. Which is putting me in the position of having to take all of my own advice from scratch! There are so many foods I've never cooked with before (dandelion greens, for instance), even more foods that I've never heard of---like atemoya, breadfruit, cherimoya, daikon, jicama, liliko'i, lychee, moya, negi, soursop, won bok, and that's just to name a few. And yeah, they're in alphabetical order because I listed them straight out of a great new farmer's market cookbook I picked up to help me get started.

I'm really being challenged by things I've written to readers recently. The two that are the newest and most challenging to me are: eating locally and staying under budget.

The first is especially challenging because, well, I grew up on the mainland where the climate provided different types of food all together. To me, those foods are normal; they're what I'm used to. Foods down here tend to grow sweeter because they get so much sunlight that the plants produce more natural sugar.

The second one---staying under budget---seemed impossible at first. I got a Costco membership right away (and was pleasantly surprised to see that they're carrying more natural and organic products than they did when I was a kid). I stocked up on a few things, like pasta, eggs, butter, olive oil and the like. I need to go back and get some quinoa. So far, they're the best deal around for a big bag of quinoa.

Now, to paint a picture for you of the cost of food here: I went down the road a few miles to a place called "Sack n' Save"...sounds thrifty, right? Well, it's supposedly one of the most affordable big chains here in the islands. Hah. I was planning on getting a few staples and stocking up on spices. Well, milk was about $7.00 for half a gallon...on sale!!! One small jar (like the kind you keep in your spice cabinet) of cayenne pepper was $11.00 and cinnamon was about $9.00.

Those are not exactly the kinds of prices that make your money spread thin. It really makes it feel impossible to be a good steward of money and makes me feel like I'm spending the good fortune I've been blessed with poorly. I had to take my own advice about shopping around!

Fortunately, I found a great health food market here called Mana Foods a few miles west in a place called Paia. I was hesitant at first, knowing that most super "granola" all-organic health food places are spendy, but was surprised to find that they had the overall best prices on the entire island! I learned (by asking) that on most given days, at least 45% of their produce is entirely local. Even better: all the local stuff is way more affordable than the imported stuff. Suh-weet.

I've also discovered, by word of mouth, that there's a swap meet at the local community college every Saturday, and many a farmer show up for that with their goods. There are also lots of farmer's markets on the south side and west side of the island. They're not listed in a phone book or on the internet. It took some driving around almost aimlessly to find these produce stands, but I'm glad I did.

To answer Sarah's question about eating fresh during non-growing seasons: it's a hard one to answer! In the winter, if you want to eat produce, it seems that your best options are to forego non-local foods for imported ones that are still in season, or you can buy extra throughout the year for canning and freezing. Canned foods do have the sodium factor, and lose quite a bit of their nutritional value, but are better than no produce at all. In the winter, try looking for root veggies: turnips, potatoes, etc. Also, see if your local grocery store puts the place that foods came from on the labels in the produce section. Some do. You may be surprised! If you have a weekly swap meet, farmer's market, or similar event in your town, you may find local farmers selling things they've canned themselves. Those will have a noticably lower sodium content and no preservatives. I say go for it!

For this week's mission, I decided that I need to choose something that I need to do as part of this whole new food learning process.

Dear Sarah and mission-enthused readers: Try to do a NO High Fructose Corn Syrup week in your home. It's going to be much harder than it sounds. I've even had a really hard time with it here, because at first the only "affordable" foods I could find had it. I'm back on track, though.

The thing about HFCS is that it's just concentrated sugar. We're so used to seeing it that we forget that by putting so many products containing it in our bodies, we're consuming a LOT of sugar. Sugar isn't good for you. It weakens your immune system, and when sick, it's the thing you put in your body that viruses and bacteria eat the most of (which can keep you sicker, longer. Good thing to keep in mind this flu season, especially with things like H1N1 out there). It's no surprise that when HFCS went on the market through packaged foods that our nation's obesity and diabetes rates (especially in children) sky rocketed. If you're craving something sweet, some doctors suggest that your body may actually be demanding minerals. When we eat sugar, we sometimes trick our bodies temporarily into thinking we've met their mineral demand. So try some leafy greens or a mineral supplement instead!

Peace, Love and Produce --- Hippie, Dec 16 '09

Friday, December 11, 2009

Food Journey Friday: CSA

Nope, CSA is not the newest crime detection show on television. Thankfully.

CSA stands for Community Supported Agriculture. In a nutshell, it's like a subscription with a local farmer. I pay a certain amount of money and get a box/basket of fresh seasonal veggies each week for the growing season (usually spring through the end of summer). I was curious what my options might be for next summer.

In my search, I ended up on a great website called Local Harvest which is all about eating locally. I was blown away when I typed in my zip code and found 22 results for CSA in my area. 22! Granted, not all of them are really helpful or applicable. But I did find about 6 promising CSA programs in my area. I was thrilled to find so many!

So, why a CSA, you ask?

Well, the biggest draw for me is just that fresh food is just better for you.

I do love fresh food. As some of you know, I attempted my own garden this year. It was a great learning experience, and it yielded a few veggies. But I'm still mulling over my possibilities for next year's growing season. I have a great opportunity to do a garden with two gardening friends and think that would be very successful- more successful than mine this year. However, part of me wonders if it might be better to leave the gardening to people who actually know what they're doing. And who are really committed with their time. What do you think?

The prices for the CSA are really reasonable in most cases. I saw prices from $15 per week to $30 per week. Some you had to commit to 12 weeks, and some were only 4. I am definitely going to look into this more for next year. If any of you are interested, visit that link and type in your zip! I'm curious to see what you find!

This search also made me wonder: how do we eat healthfully/locally during these winter months? CSAs and farmer's markets are only open during the summer here (obviously-- that is when the produce is fresh!). Natalie? :)

That's it for now. We hope you'll take the challenge too... happy hunting!

Until next week... eat well!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

How to stay under budget and use the best resources to set your table

Hey everyone! I'm excited to be posting for Table Tuesdays yet again! I've really been enjoying this journey with Sarah and I think about it all week! We have gotten a few comments via e-mail and directly in conversation. I know that I love carrying on conversations with other people any time. We'd like to encourage you to leave comments here with your questions and ideas. Perhaps other readers will gain something from those too!

Last week I started talking about eating locally, and finding the right foods for your table. But I wasn't very specific, was I? Sure we'd all love to have the right foods on our table, but we don't always know where to find them. On the other hand, sometimes we're left thinking that the only place to find healthy food is at the most expensive place in town. So, without further ado, please take a seat at my table!

I like being rewarded by eating well, but not if it's going to break the bank. All those health-food places like Whole Foods are spendy!

Whole Foods can be a great place, but it is also a place that sees the world of healthy eating as a profitable market, which isn't always great for us consumers. Sure, there are things I get there that I can't get anywhere else, but not everything on their shelves is actually beneficial to you. My future sister-in-law calls the place Whole Paycheck with good reason.

Please believe me when I say that I have a strict food budget for my household, and I still manage to eat wholesome, healthy foods.

A healthy lifestyle on a budget can be done! Here are a few tips on making your way into the community of healthy eaters without going broke:

The Golden Rule of Affordable Fooding: Never go grocery shopping on an empty stomach!

A. When you find a new fruit or veggie to experiment with, you don't have to try a really elaborate recipe the first time you use it. Sometimes something as simple and flavorful as garlic and olive oil is all you need! The longer an ingredients list on a recipe, the spendier your new fruit or veggie will seem. There are hundreds of recipes for everything; don't convince yourself there's only one way to eat something!

B. Don't feel pressured to go into those huge organic supermarkets. If you do, just go in for the one or two items you can't get anywhere else in town, but do the rest of your shopping elsewhere. Do some research, find a local farmer's market. Depending on where you live, your local farmer's market may be seasonal or year-round. It's really nice to get onto a first-name basis with the people who grow the things you eat.

C. Add some variety to your shopping if you can. You might be able to find the best grains at one place, the best fruits at another, and the best veggies at a local farm. I lived in a tiny town on an Indian reservation (before moving to Hawaii) where the nearest supermarket was 190 miles away, and I still found a few shopping options by doing some research!

D. Don't worry about making everyone in your family a member of the "clean plate club"...leftovers are always yummy, in my opinion, and can sometimes even be creatively turned into something else for lunch the next day.

E. Three letters: CSA (Community Supported Agriculture). I plan to go into greater detail about what a CSA is in the future. I have to stop myself short right now because I will otherwise write an entry of novel length about CSAs. I love them. For information about what they are, and where to find one in your area, I beg you to check out this website! Most CSAs operate by their own rules and prices, so do some reading!

That brings us to the weekly mission for Sarah!

Start doing some research! Simply bust out the phone book, use the internet, and see how many farmer's markets, CSAs (community supported agriculture programs), and local agricultural communities are within driving distance from where you live. Remember, driving distance is somewhat relative, as it depends on how far you are willing to drive a few times a month for healthy fixins' for your table. If you find one you like, let us know how far you were (hypothetically) willing to drive for it! Report your findings on the blog.

P.S. Remember, for various reasons, some people choose to split the cost of a CSA membership with friends or another household. Sometimes it's just too much food for one family, so take that into consideration while you do your research!

Friday, December 4, 2009

Food Journey Friday... finally begun!

It has been quite a day. Ryan's family has our little man, so I have been all-by-myself-ALL-DAY-LONG.

It was crazy at first. I had no idea what to do with myself. But I managed to take a nap and do quite a bit of work around the house. I also cooked a scrumptious dinner... which brings us back to the topic at hand: FOOD JOURNEY FRIDAY!! (echo echo, cheers from the crowd, etc.)

Today I took on mission 1 from my happy hippie: NO high fructose corn syrup, olive oil preferable to butter, limit off the shelf products, and use what you have.

I am happy to report about my delicious cauliflower soup. It contains:

1. NO high fructose corn syrup- yay! I don't miss it.
2. Butter... olive oil just wasn't cutting it (taste wise) for this meal. However, there are no other icky hydrogenated oils. Ultimately I would like to have raw butter, but I will explore that later.
3. Some shelf v. fresh ingredients. Fresh: cauliflower, carrots, turnip, onion. Packaged: butter, milk, half and half, sour cream, broth, and spices. Next time I would change: I would try to make my own broth with chicken or turkey bones.
4. ALL ingredients I already had!!! Big check-plus on this one. I literally used only items I already had. I was very proud of this fact. It was extremely frugal!

I am very pleased with the outcome! It is so cold here today, so a soup (with a sandwich for my hubby) will be just perfect for a date-night in. I am slowly but surely trying to make small changed for a healthier lifestyle. I think this is a step in the right direction!

As for mission number 2, I am in the process. I haven't done much shopping this week, due to traveling and such with Ryan, but the opportunities I have had to check the ingredients, I have taken. It has been very good for me to have to actually pay attention to what is in my food! I realize that so many of the packaged items we pick up are just full of JUNK that in no way benefits our bodies. Even if I am only able to change slowly and over time, checking the ingredient list will be helpful since it will deter me from certain products (HFCS, hydrogenated oils, and the like). I am grateful for this mission and plan on using it every week as I shop. It will help me to make wise choices. Thanks, hippie!!

So, that's Food Journey Friday for now. It's a marathon for me... not a sprint. But I am grateful for food, for a healthy body, for a God who created all of it, and for a sweet friend who is going to help me make lifestyle changes for the better. We have much ground to cover. I hope you'll stay tuned!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Table Tuesday on Wednesday

Hello all!

The Happy Hippie here! Apologies for my tardiness. On Monday I was driving through 4 states and over the Rocky Mountains, and on Tuesday I got so caught up in packing (I'm in the process of moving to an island, which is harder than you may think!) that I overlooked my duties.

Last week I was just getting into the fact that natural living and healthy living are practically the same thing. Let's pick up from there!

Natural, ok. I think I get that. How do you apply that to your own life?

The first thing I did was try my best to choose organic over conventional. There are many, many reasons I did this, but I will save that for another post with a more organic-specific focus.

The second thing I did (and this turned out to be a much bigger deal than I expected): I tried to set my table with as much locally-grown and raised food as possible. Initially, this move was more environmental than health-based. But the health benefits were amazing, and what was more: it opened my eyes to so much that I never knew about before!

For one, there are probably dozens of fruits and veggies grown by local farmers that you didn't even know could grow so well in your area! Second, you may have never heard of or eaten some of those things. Talk about having to get creative! In my experience with going local, I found that so much research went into reading up on these new things and finding recipes, that I realized how much I neglected to learn about other things I've eaten my entire life.

Then God said, "I give you every seed-bearing plant on the face of the whole earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it. They will be yours for food. Gen 1:29

What's more: all of these new and exciting foods all possess their own nutritional benefits. And by opening up my dinner table to new things, I was putting a beautiful variety of body-nourishing foods on my table, and my body was reaping the benefits. For more truly interesting, research-based information about this, I cannot recommend this book highly enough!

In short, I feel that by respecting the earth as a gift and my home; and by becoming more interested in trying and learning all about the foods---which I now see as beautiful, unique gifts---I have access to, I am being rewarded. I'm not going to lie, I love being rewarded!

Now, for our weekly mission!

This week's mission for Sarah: to read the ingredients label of every food item you buy or eat this week. Not nutritional info, but ingredients. You'd be shocked by how many ingredients you could never identify in a line-up. Seeing what goes into your food can really affect your appetite and the way you think about what you eat. Report back about what this made you realize about your food, and how you feel about that.