Archive for November, 2009

My Thanksgiving Meal

Posted on November 28, 2009. Filed under: Uncategorized |

This year I decided to cook, usually my mother does all of the cooking. I found a couple of new recipes that I wanted to try out. I found a recipe for roasted sweet potatoes and apples which is sweetened with maple syrup.

Sweet Potatoes with Apples

The recipe says to roast them for 40 minutes, I did them for 25 and they were well roasted, so I put them in the fridge and when it was time for dinner I heated them up in a bowl in the toaster oven. I thought they turned out pretty good. My father recommended mixing them with the cranberry sauce which made them even better.

I made cranberry sauce for the first time this year. Usually we buy the canned stuff. One year my mom made cranberry sauce and my sister and I didn’t like it and asked for the canned stuff again. I found a recipe that used frozen cranberry juice, fresh cranberries, and dried cranberries. Looked like a winner! The recipe called for 2/3 a cup of sugar, using organic sugar I know it can be sweeter then regular sugar and used a little over 1/2 a cup. The cranberries were incredibly sweet.

Cranberry sauce

They were good better then the canned ones but next time I think I will omit the sugar, since the cranberry juice all ready has sugar in it.

I also decided to make a new stuffing recipe Sourdough bread with pancetta and apples. At first I planned on cooking it in the bird, but Emril recommends that you cook it outside of the bird, so I did it that way, and I prefer it that way since the sourdough bread was a little toasted on top.

Pancetta, Sourdough and Apple Stuffing

I did use extra chicken stock when I made it so it was nice and moist. I should have cut up the pancetta a little smaller, but I must say cutting up a pound of thick pancetta is not the easiest thing.

For the turkey I followed Emril’s advice and stuffed it with vegetables including garlic. I then rubbed the bird with a mixture of butter, thyme and rosemary. The bird came out very well. I ate the drumstick. I’m the only person in my family who will eat the dark meat, previous years my mom used to give the dark meat to the dogs.

I baked my first apple pie on Thanksgiving. I made an all butter crust, and used a mixture of apples from the farmers market, mostly granny smith though. For the crust I did use organic unbleached flour, last year I did sprouted flour and it was not good. I figure a little white flour every now and then won’t do too much harm. The pie turned out okay. This is the second pie that I have made the first pie was a pumpkin pie last Thanksgiving using fresh pumpkin, and it was not great. When the pie was baking I heard a boom from the oven, I peeked in and the pie sprung a leak and it was dripping. I pulled it out, it continued to drip so I lost a lot of the pie juices.

Apple Pie

My father commented on the pie asking if the apples were raw. They were not the pie cooked for about 45 minutes, maybe the slices were a little too thick, or I used too many apples. I have to accept that I am new at cooking and it will take time to get better, and of course the best way to learn is by doing it yourself. Overall I was pleased with the dinner, don’t think I will  feel like making Thanksgiving dinner any time soon. My back was killing me at the end of the day, and I was pretty tired. Yesterday my back was still sore and my legs hurt.

I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving.

I wanted to mention where my ingredients came from. The turkey came from a farm 30 minutes away from me, the farmer Sharon feeds them a non-soy feed and they have space to roam around in the turkey enclosure. The day before Thanksgiving I went to the Santa Monica farmers market which was pretty crazy, not sure I will do that again. At the market I purchased the sweet potatoes, apples, celery,  potatoes, and sourdough bread. I am very thankful to live in place where farmers markets occur all year long, and every weekend I attend a farmers market.

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Good News, I’m going back to school

Posted on November 25, 2009. Filed under: Uncategorized |

I checked my e-mail this afternoon, after last checking it this morning to see if I had anything from the school that I applied to and sure enough, there was an e-mail from the school. I have been accepted to Bauman College. I am going there to get a Nutrition Consultant degree. Earlier today I was thinking once I get this degree what am I going to do, how am I going to get business? It’s nerve-raking. My next step is to get a loan. I plan on pulling out some extra money part of it will be to see a holistic health practitioner who will hopefully be able to help me regain my health. The other money I plan on pulling out is to take a couple courses at the Paul Chek school. I have a book by Paul Chek titled “How to Eat Move and Be Healthy” I really like what he teaches and want to learn more. I am incredibility happy, and can’t wait to start this new chapter in my life.

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My health history

Posted on November 18, 2009. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , |

I have been having health issues since I was 18 or 19, I became a vegetarian at the age of 17. The first symptom that I noticed was fatigue. When I was in high school I had a ton of energy. I don’t remember exactly when the fatigue hit I think I was 19 I remember going to the gym 3-4 times a week because going to the gym is supposed to increase your energy, and I went for several months and no changes. I saw my primary physician who tested to see if my thyroid was low and she said it was fine, and I didn’t do anything else. I remember when I was 21 or 22 I was going to the gym and after working out for 5 minutes or so I felt dizzy and light headed. I saw my physician who recommended that I see a cardiologist. The Cardiologist ran some tests and found out that I have Mitral Valve Prolapse. MVP is a heart condition where the valve does not close properly and sometimes blood can flow back in.

Symptoms tend to be: (From the Mayo Clinic website)

  • A racing or irregular heartbeat (arrhythmia)
  • Dizziness or lightheadedness
  • Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath, often when lying flat or during physical activity
  • Fatigue
  • Chest pain that’s not caused by a heart attack or coronary artery disease

This past week I haven’t been feeling too well, I’ve been feeling lightheaded. The other day it felt like the room was spinning. I have also been having chest pains. I have a history of chest pains, they usually don’t last more then 10 minutes, and aren’t brought on my anything. I was wondering why I wasn’t feeling well, and reading the symptoms I’m wondering if its the MVP.

When I was 21 I started getting nauseous when I read. I saw several doctors who didn’t know what was going on and then my GP referred me to a neurologist who ordered a MRI. The MRI reveled that I have a arachnoid cyst in the left portion of my head which is why there is a bump an inch above my ear. Arachnoid cyst’s usually don’t have any symptoms, and most of them are the result of developmental abnormalities in the brain during the early weeks of pregnancy. I saw doctor after doctor, one doctor thought he had a solution, but it was a short term one. So after hearing multiple doctors tell me I don’t know whats wrong with you and I can’t help you I gave up on Western medicine. In the past couple years though it has been determined that one of the symptoms of having a arachnoid cyst is nausea.

I was under homeopathic care in 2007 and I was using the pill to suppress my periods even though I knew the pill was bad for my health. I didn’t care. Right before my cycle my nausea almost always occurs and it would be 10 times worse. I was in school that year trying to finish my degree in finance. So whatever I could do to lessen the nausea I was going to do. My homeopath told me to go off of it in September and maybe my nausea would improve, well it didn’t and a month or so later I started losing my hair. I did some research and found out that sometimes when women go off the pill it can cause hair loss. In August of last year it had been almost one year since I started losing my hair and there was no improvement, and I was becoming depressed because of it. I hated washing my hair because of how much hair I would lose when combing it, I didn’t like leaving the house, didn’t want anyone to take a picture of me. I decided to call my General Practioner and had some blood work done, including testing for thyroid. I will never forget the phone call with my results. I was driving back from Santa Barbara and I received the call and was told that my blood work came back normal. I broke down, I couldn’t understand how could my blood work be normal and I feel awful, besides the fatigue and hair loss, my hands and feet get cold very easily, I am very forgetful, I feel like I’m not all there, that I’m not thinking clearly. I have a difficult time concentrating or reading a book for very long which is also a symptom of low thyroid. I think this is a common problem with  doctors today, rather then refer me to a endocrinologist who specializes in this type of thing she tells me everything is fine, end of story.

I decided to do some research and came across this wonderful website Stop the Thyroid Madness:

If you think you might have thyroid issues, I highly recommend that website. I found out that when testing for thyroid problems that the Free T4, and Free T3 need to be tested. Most doctors just test for TSH. According to the website the TSH test is useless that people who are experiencing thyroid symptoms will have normal TSH levels. On the website is a list of recommended endocrinologists. I picked one out called the office and was told that there would be a 2 month wait.

I was excited for my first appointment, I felt that I would finally find out what was wrong with me. The doctor tested my calcium, iron, ferritin, B12, Vit D, and Free T3 and T4 levels along with Estradiol, DHEA Sulfate, and Testosterone levels. I found out that my B12 levels were incredibly low, and that I had low iron. My B12 levels were 371 and she wanted them to be at 2000. My total iron level was at 82, and she wanted it to be 150. My ferritin levels were at 21 and she wanted it to bee at 200. Ferritin is a protein that stores iron.  At this point I had been eating meat for a little over a year and probably started eating red meat 6 months ago.  I do think that me being a vegetarian for 7 years depleted my levels. Now for the thyroid results My Free T3 was 3.3, my Free T4 was 1.22. According to Dr. Bruce Rind who wrote a article in Wise Traditions in the Summer of 2009 issue. Optimal levels for the T3 are 3.2-3.3 and for the T4 it’s 1.2-1.3. My doctor had me take 3 B12 tabs they are sub-lingual ones that you put under your tongue, along with Chelated Iron, and she put me on Armour .3. Armour is a thyroid medicine made from the glands of pigs.

My next appointment was in late March. There were zero changes. In fact when I got my blood results, I was a bit surprised. My iron levels dropped to 56, my ferritin levels only went up by 8 to 29. My B12 levels did go up to 23333. My thyroid levels went down my T3 was 2.9, and my T4 was 1.05.  After my initial bottle of chelated iron, I switched to dessicated liver in late February and took it until two months ago. It’s $30 for a one month supply, and the chelated iron is $4 for a month’s supply, money was tight so I switched. The doctor asked if I wanted to increase my thyroid medicine from .3 to .6. I said sure, and I took the .6 for the next couple months.

My next appointment was set for late July. My total iron level was at 57, and my ferritin level went up to 44. My T3 levels were at 3.2 and my Free T4 was at 1.14, yet there were no changes. I decided to go off the thyroid medicine. I had been on it for 8 months and I didn’t see any improvement so I figured it wasn’t worth it.

My last appointment was a week ago, and my total iron is up at 90, and my ferritin levels shot up to 75. My thyroid levels dropped though, my T3 is at 2.8 and my T4 levels are at .95. Since the weather has cooled down, my right hand is frequently cold, and my feet chill easily.

Right now I am charting my temperature. On Dr. Rind’s site at he recommends that you take your temperature three times a day. The first time is three hours after waking up, then three hours after that, and three hours after the second time. You should chart your temperature for at least a week.  The optimal temperature is 98.6. If your temperature graph is up and down then you have adrenal fatigue. If your temperature is low and stable that indicates low thyroid function. Dr. Rind recommends using a Lumniscope Digital thermometer, which I purchased just for this. Today is my sixth day taking my temperature. Based on my graph it looks like I have adrenal fatigue. In the WAPF journal Dr. Rind writes “Another way of looking at this thyroid-adrenal relationship is to think of the thyroid as “generating” the energy while the adrenals need to be able to “handle” the energy.” If one has weak adrenals and low thyroid, then adrenal repair is the first thing to work on. In the article Dr. Rind states that if the adrenals are weak that taking thyroid medicine will have little improvement, and increasing the dose offers little to no benefit. In a later post I will write about what adrenal fatigue is and how to repair it along with restoring thyroid function.

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Ingredients film review and another food event

Posted on November 10, 2009. Filed under: Uncategorized |

Last weekend I attended two different food events. The first one was held by the Santa Monica farmers market called Eating the Whole Farm the second one was a screening of a documentary titled Ingredients. For the first event I had to travel to Santa Monica leaving the house at 5:15 it took me an hour and a half to get there and I drove in the dark on curvy roads not my idea of an ideal drive. As I was driving there I kept thinking to myself I hope this is worth it.

The speakers were Phil McGrath from Mcgrath farm their farm is located 10 miles from my house. The other farmer was Greg of Rocky Canyon Farm, who is more of a rancher then a farmer, but he also grows vegetables. McGrath has a farm-stand that I used to frequent on my way home from work. I buy almost all of my beef and pork from Rocky Canyon Farms. The other speaker was Ben Ford(Harrison Ford’s son) he owns a restaurant called Ford’s Filling Station. The Moderator was Evan Kleiman, Host of KCRW”s Good Food and Chef/Owner of Angeli Caffe.

Phil McGrath started talking about his CSA program. How a CSA works is you pay the farmer a certain amount of money and then you receive produce from the farm for the next 3-4 months on a weekly basis. By paying in advance Phil said that his number one customers are the CSA members. CSA’s started in Japan, farm land was dissapearing and individuals went to the farmers and asked them to continue farming and they arranged to pay them in advance for their produce so they could continue farming. One thing Phil said that I completely agree with is that Northern California is more advanced when it comes to the local food movement then Southern California. I think that McGrath Farms is one of two or three farms in the county that offer a CSA. I love the bay area and hope to move back up there someday, I was researching the different farms in the bay area and quite a few of them offer CSA’s. I also noticed that they offer CSA’s that are perfect for two people or four people. Where McGrath’s farm only offers one option and you need to have at least 4 people in your family or split it with someone else. Another thing I noticed when looking at the farms in Northern California is that they offer meat CSA’s where you get an assortment of meat every week or every other week. As far as I know there aren’t any meat CSA’s in Ventura or Los Angles county. Phil is working on putting a compost center on the farm, he plans on taking green waste from a neighboring city, Oxnard and possibly Burbank. His farm is over 200 acres and it is certified organic. He said that one of the benefits of having a organic farm is that the labor is more diverse, he has 20 employees that work year round. He said for non-organic farms they will hire 30 people for three weeks and might have a few people that work year round.

Greg grew up on a dairy farm and his wife grew up on a ranch. He went to school for agriculture. He decided to start raising pigs, he was also growing vegetables and was used chemical sprays because he didn’t know of a different way. When he had children he decided he didn’t want the chemicals to affect his children,and switched to organic. He raises his cows until they are 14 to 18 months old. He said that grain is not necessarily bad for cows but it should be fed as a treat and not as their main food source. He said that cows like diversity, that he will feed them vegetables and after he makes apple juice they get apple rinds along with melons, cantelopes, tomatoes, and eggplant. He stated that government policies push cheap food that you can purchase a burger from McDonald’s for $1, that government wants people to spend their money on TV’s, cars and other electronics. If you have seen King Corn or Food Inc. you know that corn is subsidized by the government making it very cheap to feed cows. What are the risks associated with eating that $1 burger though? That would be E.Coli. I think it was about 3 weeks ago there was another ground beef recall. When you purchase ground beef at a supermarket or a burger from a fast food chain that ground beef has meat from roughly 1,000 cows! If you do eat a burger at a restaurant, find out where they get there meat from, do they grind it themselves? If they grind it themselves then you know that the meat is from maybe a couple cows rather then a thousand.

When I first arrived at the event I was waiting for the speakers to start, I overheard these two people behind me talking about Ojai. I asked if they were going to the film festival tomorrow, they said yes. I asked what film and found out they were going to see the same film as myself, Ingredients. When I showed up to the film the next day I ran into them and found out the male was the producer of the film!

Was it worth the hour and a half drive in the dark to attend the event? Yes, I thought it was a great event, very educational. I think more farmers markets should host events like the Santa Monica Farmers Market does.

Ingredients Movie Review

I was pretty excited to see another food movie, I have seen Food Inc. which I think is one documentary every person should see. This film is about the local food movement. The film shows farms located in Oregon, New York, and Ohio. One of my favorite quotes from the movie was “Pay the Farmer, or Pay the Doctor.” I couldn’t agree more with this statement, if people are not consuming fresh, non-processed foods then it is going to take a toll on their body, and they will become ill.

Alice Waters is in the film, when she was 19 she went to France, and shopped primarily at farmers markets, when she got back to the United States she decided to source local food, and hired a forager to puchase local produce and humanely raised meat. I think that would be a really fun job shopping at farmers markets, visiting farms seeking humanely raised meat.

One thing that was mentioned in the movie is that we expect cheap food, the United States spends less on food then any other industrialized nation. Some people think this is wonderful, but look at how many people are sick in this country.  This goes back to the pay the farmer or pay the doctor comment. I think the best preventive medicine is food. I would rather pay more money for locally grown organic food, and grass-fed beef then pay for prescription pills every month. People complain about how expensive is to eat this way, and after the film a local farmer said it feels like this is the rich white people movement. When I would stop off at the McGrath farm stand in the parking lot there would be a BMW, a Mercedes, a Lexus and I would think to myself is it only rich people that can afford this lifestyle? I do struggle to eat this way especially now that I lost my job. It’s about doing the best that you can with the money you have. I have not been eating as much meat, but have started making soup from scratch once a week and will eat that 3 times a week. When I do eat beef it’s mostly ground meat from grass-fed cows.

I thought the film was pretty good, I do prefer Food Inc. though since that film covered more topics then this film. The film shows how the local food movement is really growing, how farmers markets are expanding.  How farmers and chefs work together. I saw the film with a friend who I dragged along, I also took him to see Food, Inc when that came out. He said that he preferred Ingredients because it had a positive message and made him want to eat healthier. I do think this film is less intimidating then Food, Inc. For those who are slightly interested in eating better or the local food movement, I think this would be a really good film for them to see.  There may have been one scence in the film where they showed a CAFO, but other then that they do not show how animals are raised like Food Inc. did. The film’s website is:

This post is part of Real Food Wednesday hosted by Kelly the Kitchen Kop.

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Chicken and Brown Rice Soup with Bacon

Posted on November 3, 2009. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: |

I must admit I am not the best soup maker, so when thinking about how I was going to make chicken and brown rice soup I was thinking of how I could improve it. Bacon! Bacon makes everything taste better. I used Massa Organic rice. Last year when I went to the bay area I decided to go to the San Francisco farmers market. That is where I purchased my first bag of their brown rice. It’s the best brown rice that I have tried. Here’s their website: Massa Organics


    slices of bacon3/4-1 cup of rice

    6 cups of chicken stock

    4-5 handfuls of chicken

    1 stick of celery

    1 onion

    8-10 carrots


    Salt and Pepper to taste


The first thing I did was start the brown rice, cook the brown rice according to the manufacturers instructions.  I only had 3/4th of a cup of rice left, and it was enough. Next I started cooking the bacon in a large pot. When the bacon was cooking, I added some butter, if I had ghee I would have used that. After the bacon started to brown, I added in the diced onion then after a couple minutes added in the carrot and celery.  I cooked them for about 10 minutes. I pulled out the bacon and cut it into bite size pieces.  Then I added the chicken stock, and threw in the leftover chicken about 5 handfuls. I tore it into little pieces as I was adding it into the pot. I also added 8 springs of thyme. I probably added a teaspoon of salt and 1/2 a teaspoon of pepper. I would probably recommend 2 teaspoons of sea salt and one teaspoon of pepper, since I added a lot more in later on. Taste the soup as you add them in though.  I cooked the soup for roughly 40 minutes until the vegetables were soft. I pulled out the thyme and added the brown rice. Then I added in the bacon pieces. I garnished mine with a little creme fraiche. It came out pretty good, I really liked the addition of bacon.

This post is part of Real Food Wednesday hosted by Cheeseslave check it out: here

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