Eating to Feel Better : One Part Plant

I’m not one for diets or labels when it comes to my food. I like to eat.

I like to eat good food that I know is good for me, and food that makes me feel like crap.  I get just as excited about a big greasy cheesburger as I do a paleo bowl at Laughing Planet.  Green smoothies and milkshakes. Avocado toast and nutella toast. yum yum yum!

For a long time I accepted that the way my body was feeling is just how it was now.  I didn’t “get” the food body connection.

I’m learning that the more I eat food that is good for me, the better I feel.

This is something I’ve known intellectually for some time, but it wasn’t until my well-being was really challenged that I saw how true it was.

  • kidney stones
  • inflammation
  • joint pain
  • fatigue
  • upset stomach

These are just a few of the symptoms I struggled with in the past few years.  They crept on os slowly that I was usually able to attribute them to something else that was going on in my life.

Super tired all the time?  Weeeell, I do have a toddler and a business.

Hands ache all the time and having trouble opening jars of nacho cheese?  I’ve probably just been knitting too much.

And on and on.

But deep down, I knew.

The first change I made just to see what would happen, was trying a 30-day vegan challenge.  This was incredible for me. I felt lighter, had more energy, and was sleeping better. But I wasn’t prepared to make a lifestyle change of that magnitude. So after the 30 days were over, I committed to not eating meat.  I knew that “too much” dairy also had an affect on me, but i wasn’t willing to go there.

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Being meat free lasted about 3 years. I did “sneak” the occasional steak and would feel horrible about it. This is one of the reasons I don’t like lifestyle labels, btw.  It leads to guilt and shame and this feeling of wrongdoing around food, which isn’t healthy.

During my last pregnancy with my son, the intense cravings for red meat were Real.  I dipped my toe back into eating meat regularly, and it seemed like just what my body needed at the time. Like, I needed all those cheeseburgers…

But after he was born, I didn’t go back.

In fact, my eating probably got worse for a bit.

And so did my joint pain and fatigue.  Hmmmm.

Enter the lovely Jessica Murnane into my life via the One Part Plant Podcast.

I discovered the podcast quite by accident when someone else I followed was on the show. I loved Jessica’s casual yet deep interview style, and I was immediately hooked. And over time, her message of eating just one plant-based meal started taking root in my soul.

I started to feel invested in taking care of my physical body again.

Green smoothies, returning to a regular yoga practice, cleaning up my skin and makeup routine, even making a damn vision board: I can attribute it all to my girl Jessica.

So when she announced that she would be writing a cookbook, I was thrilled. I knew her story of going from a junk-food eating kitchen avoider to a plant-based cookbook author was real.  If she could change her lifestyle to feel better (she suffered from Stage 4 endometriosis for years), then so could I.

Jessica’s new book, One Part Plant , is being released next week on Feb 21st!  I happen to have an advance copy and can tell you it is so beautiful.  The layout and photography are stunning, and I can’t help but drool when I look at the recipes.  From dips and spreads to salads, and hearty main courses, Jessica has you covered for that one plant-based meal a day. Including dessert.

I’ve been incorporating more plant-based meals into my daily life, and I feel so much better for it. I’m not saying I’m vegan or not, vegetarian or not. After all, I still love those cheeseburgers!  But I know when I’m not eating much sugar or dairy or meat, my body feels more energetic and strong.

And that’s a good thing, whatever you want to call it.

Pre-orders are available on Amazon now and include a little discount.  Of course you can also head to your local bookstore next week to pick one up. 

Bonus: I’m thrilled to share that Jessica Murnane is going to be a guest on the very next episode of MY podcast!!!  I was super excited to have the opportunity to sit down with her and hear more of her story.  What is it really like to write a book?  Did her husband join her plant-based eating adventure?  Does she ever struggle with what to make for dinner?

Tune in on Monday for a brand new episode of the Stash Podcast. Subscribe via iTunes or your favorite podcast app, and you will automatically get new episodes as soon as they are released!

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I’d love to hear from you how food makes you feel. I know this is a big, complicated, messy topic. But I think in our gut we know what makes us feel good and what makes us feel not so good.


 

Spring Cocktail :: Watermelon Mojitos

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Over the weekend we hosted an informal cinco de mayo get together for friends.  The weather was hot, a friend’s back garden was bursting with mint, and I had an open bottle of white rum.  What’s a girl to do except make mojitos?  Make watermolon mojitos!

This got a little juicy, but it is well worth the sticky puddles on your kitchen counter.  Fresh watermelon juice is a heavenly drink, pretty much like sunshine and summer breezes in a glass.  If you don’t have a juicer, you can use a blender or food processer to puree, then strain the juice.

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Watermelon Mojitos

Makes 2 refreshing adult beverages.  Leave out the rum and it’s a watermelon fizz fit for the whole family!

4-6 fresh mint leaves

1 teaspoon sugar

4 oz watermelon juice

2 oz lime juice

4 oz white rum

6 oz club soda

  • Muddle together the torn mint leaves and sugar.  Add to the bottom of a tall glass and add ice cubes.
  • Stir together watermelon, lime, and rum.  Add to glass.  Top with soda.  Garnish with a slice of watermelon and additional mint.
  • Depending on the sweetness of the watermelon and your sweet tooth, increase or decrease sugar.

Yarn Along:: Under the Never-ending Scarf

From Ginny~ Two of my favorite things are knitting and reading, and the evidence of this often shows up in my photographs.  I love seeing what other people are knitting and reading as well. So, what are you knitting or crocheting right now? What are you reading? Take a photo and share it either on your blog or on Flickr. Leave a link below to share your photo with the rest of us! ~

I cast on this airy mohair affair of a scarf on a whim at the shop a few weeks ago.  We needed a sample out of the yarn,and I was in the mood for a quick knit.  Ha.  It’s simple, to be sure, and it does only have 20-some rows to it.  I’m nearly done, but now each row has over 1200 stitches of laceweight mohair/silk yarn.  It is so light and airy, which will be an asset in the finished piece, but it’s hard to knit quickly; it takes me an hour to knit each row now.  For that reason, it has been dragging.  I wish I were more zen about it, finding peace in knitting a few stitches here and there over the course of the day, but I’m not.  I want it to be finished yesterday, and that’s just the way some projects go!

Not dragging, however, is my summer reading!  I picked each of these books up on spontaneous trips to local bookshops on travels, and have been so happy I did.  Under the Never Sky is a young-adult adventure about what happens when a young woman is thrust out of her sheltered society into the terrifying outside world, teeming with electrical storms, “savages”, and cannibals.  The things she sees and the people she meets are far more real and complex than anything she’s ever experienced.  There’s mystery and action and young people doing extraordinary things; it’s been an entertaining and engaging book, a perfect summer read.

I picked up The Homemade Pantry in an aim to help shake off the cooking slump I’ve been in.  Part narrative, part delicious recipes and photos, this book is surely inspiring me to do things like make cheese and bake graham crackers, perhaps even on a work night. Can you imagine?  I love how Alana shares the realities of her busy family life while also wanting to eat well and make good food; sometimes it’s messy, it certainly takes longer, but the end result is well worth it.  So often lately I’ve been opting for the quick fix, while my body and palate crave the more wholesome and tasty alternatives.  I continue to read this book in bed at night, and hope to take myself from inspiration to action soon. For the call of fresh homemade mozzarella on a crispy grilled pizza in the backyard sounds like all sorts of heaven to me.

So what is on your nightstand and in your project basket this week?  And while we’re at it, what have you been cooking (or dreaming of cooking)?  Please share!

Yarn Along:: Chickens + Stripes

From Yarn Along with Ginny: ~ Two of my favorite things are knitting and reading, and the evidence of this often shows up in my photographs.  I love seeing what other people are knitting and reading as well. So, what are you knitting or crocheting right now? What are you reading? 

This week I’m enjoying a beautiful new book that I received for my birthday. Written by a former restaurant chef cum suburban chicken herder,Chicken and Egg strikes the perfect balance between coopy rusticity and elegant food porn. This book instantly had me salivating over its delicious looking recipes and chicken-raising tales alike.

It even made me go out and buy a whole chicken to roast, something I haven’t done in a very long time.


You may remember when I participated in Heather Bruggeman’s 30-day vegan challenge and my subsequent step into a meat-free lifestyle. It’s been just over a year since then, and I’ve maintained that goal with the rare exception of a bite of bacon here and there, and a Valentine’s Day steak dinner I cooked for Sweetie.

All along, I’ve been comfortable with my choice not to eat meat the majority of the time, and being gentle with myself when I do. I’ve recently been taking another e-course with Heather, the Whole Food Kitchen workshop. In it she shares essays, book recommendations, weekly recipes, a live forum for participants to discuss weekly topics, and so much more.  I haven’t been able to give this 12-week course the full amount of time I had hoped, but I’m still getting a lot out of it. And it has made me think a lot about the food I eat, where it comes from, and how I want to feed my family.

When the recipe for Fast and Crispy Roast Chicken came calling the very same day I ready Heather’s essay on the benefits of small amounts of meat and dairy in one’s diet, I figured I’d give it a try.

The (local, happily free-range) chicken was fun to cook; sometimes veggie meals feel a bit like a collection of side dishes, and it is the rare find that satisfies everyone at the table these days. And while the chicken was indeed crispy and tasty, I didn’t enjoy it as much as I thought I would after all this time. I’m not sure where I’m going to go from here, or whether meat and poultry will be making a regular appearance at our family’s table. And that’s okay.  Rethinking one’s way of eating takes time, and, as I’m learning, a lot of patience and compassion for yourself along the way.

Anyway, on to the knitting!

I’m happily knitting away on the Dancette shawl for our shop KAL. Stockinette and a simple stripe pattern have been perfect project for knitting at work, at home in the evenings, and in the car. I’m almost ready to start the border, which promises to make for some delightful knitting.

ps-If you’re interested, I just noticed that Heather is offering a spring session of the 30-Day Vegan Challenge.

Inspired to Start Fresh

Ever feel like you’re stuck in a rut, trudging along in the same worn out habits day after day, dreaming of what your life/job/diet/body/home/etc could be?  No mater how organized or happy we are, there are moments where we all catch ourselves thinking about making changes, large or small, in our lives.  I’m a dreamer and love looking forward to the next adventures coming up in my life.

To that end, I wanted to share a couple of gorgeous online workshops I’m participating in this winter.

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A Lovely Venture by Julie Wray of Olivine’s Charm School

This is an online workshop geared toward creative women who have or are thinking about starting their own businesses.  There’s a lot of frank sharing and prompts for self-reflection and list-making so far, which I think would have really helped me out when I was first forming my ideas and strategies for Stash.  This is a go-at-your-own-pace course, with a Facebook Group for sharing and networking among participants.  I’m hoping to get inspired and learn some new tricks for vamping up the creativity and efficiency of my business.

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Whole Foods Workshop by Heather of Beauty that Moves

I first participated in Heather’s 30 Day Vegan Diet last spring, and found it to be a wonderful experience.  A bit radical, cutting all animal products out of one’s diet for a month, but it was just the challenge I needed.  At the time I had been thinking a lot about changing the way I ate and was seriously considering eliminating meat from my daily diet.  After this experience, with the help of recipes, thoughtful blog posts, and the comments of other participants, I felt I had the tools and knowledge to venture out into the world of vegetarianism.  I’ve had my temptations (the smell of a sizzling steak still makes my mouth water, and I’ve had the occasional bite of bacon or seafood), but for the most part I haven’t looked back.

Since going back to work this fall, our family meals have really taken a nosedive.  We used to eat about 90% of our food made from scratch, and would enjoy eating restaurant food about twice a week.  Lately there has been a lot more convenience foods and takeout, and I think we’re all feeling the effects.  I’m looking forward to the inspiration, challenge, and changes that learning more about whole foods cooking may ignite.  And I hope we all start feeling brighter and more energetic, too!

What’s new for you this year?  What changes or challenges are you looking forward to making?

Of Food and Flora

Quince blossoms

Fennel?

There has been a little bit of cooking and time spent outdoors this week, the latter happening in the small windows between downpours.  It’s been a wet week, which is good for the plants (tough on my seedlings, though) and a little hard on this at home mama and toddler duo.

I made it to the farmer’s market twice in the last week, which excites me beyond what seems reasonable.  Who gets so excited about vegetables, anyway?  Oregonians, that’s who!  It’s such a festive, happy place filled with live music, gorgeous local food and flowers, and excellent people watching.  On Saturday I bought lettuce, radishes, tiny carrots, and swiss chard, which means we’ve been eating salads all week.  Somehow in all the excitement I didn’t do much “regular” grocery shopping, and with all the rain never wanted to go on a big shopping trip.  So it’s been greens and pantry things (soup, pasta, grilled cheese), homemade pizza, and a little potluck with a friend who made the most delicious sweet potato risotto.  And then I just had to make a half-batch of the strawberry rhubarb crumble after scoring some strawberries at the Wednesday market.  That day I was so desperate for some fresh air that PB and I sat in the drizzle and shared a burrito for lunch at the market. I guess we’re adjusting to our new climate fairly well!

The sight of brightly colored plants, blooming berries, and my daughter tromping around in the mud outside, as well as the smells of cooking, jasmine tea, and knitting inside definitely help.  It’s supposed to be a relatively dry and warm weekend, so I hope to get back outside and play!

I hope you have a colorful and tasty weekend.

Deep Thoughts about Granola. Really.

“I’m going to take pictures of my granola, and you’re just going to have to humor me and not ask any questions.”  And so began my love note to granola.

I love granola.  Always have. Crunchy and slightly sweet, it’s a hearty way to start the day. Except I hardly ever had it in the house, dissuaded at the supermarket from indulging in my love by the tiny bags and high prices.  Why should I spend a portion of the grocery budget on something that only I would enjoy, I thought. Guess I’ll just get the shredded wheat again.  Sigh…

Enter the vegan challenge and a good recipe for homemade granola.  I’d come across granola recipes plenty of times, but never fancied myself as a make-your-own-granola type of gal; it seemed a little crunchy, if you know what I mean.  I was even less inclined to make myself something I liked than to buy it.  When I write that, it seems extraordinarily backwards and silly, but I never really thought of it that way while standing in the cereal aisle.  In the interest of participating in the challenge to the best of my ability, and wanting to eat more homemade, whole foods, I gave the granola recipe a try.

Turns out, making your own granola is fantastic!  It’s fun, tasty, and inexpensive.  I’m the only one in my house who really eats it, so I’ve got a recipe figured that lasts me a week and costs about $1.50.  Best of all, I can add in whatever tasty tidbits I like each morning, from dried cherries and roasted almonds to chocolate chips and coconut flakes.  I feel like I’ve been missing out on this little secret, and it has me wondering what other pleasures I’ve been unknowingly denying myself.

What is your granola?  Is there something out there that you love but tend to shy away from for some reason?  Could it be that creating this pleasure for yourself is wholly worth the effort?

Granola for One

3 c whole oats

1/4 c whole wheat flour

1/2 c shredded coconut or sliced almonds (or both!)

1 T cinnamon

1 t nutmeg

2/3 c maple syrup (or honey or a combo of both)

1/4 c canola oil (or coconut oil)

1 t vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 300 degrees.  In a small bowl mix together the maple syrup, oil, and vanilla.  In a larger bowl, stir together all dry ingredients. Add the maple mixture to the dry mixture and stir until all the oats are coated with sweet goodness.  Spread onto a baking sheet and bake for 15 minutes. Stir and bake for another 15 minutes or until mixture is dry and toasted.  Let cool and store in an airtight container.  Add in ideas: dried fruit, chocolate chips, chopped pecans, crystalized ginger, banana chips, whatever makes you feel zesty in the morning.

Enjoy!

In the Kitchen

Some sort of New Home Nesting has been going on around here lately.  I am, at heart, a homebody, and it is important to me that my home be comfortable, beautiful, and full of good things to eat, read, knit, and do.  Slowly but surely over these past few weeks I have been making progress toward these goals.  Autumn is a natural time to think about stocking up for winter, and I have been doing that in the kitchen (and in yarn acquisition).

Smitten Kitchen is always an inspirational place for me to go when I want ideas for something new to make.  Lately I have been spending a lot of time over there and made 4 recipes in the last week alone.  It seems I only got pictures of the Sour Cream Cheddar Biscuits, which were tangy and crisp.  I doubled the recipe and froze the second half of the biscuits unbaked for future use on a lazy cooking day.

I also made my own versions of this soup (white beans, no potatoes) and chili (ground turkey & diced green chiles instead of bell peppers) based on what I had on hand.  Both turned out to be exceptionally tasty and I will definitely make them a part of my cold-weather repertoire.  I’m so excited that it’s soup season again!  Come January I may not be as enthusiastic, but for a while I will be enamored with the idea of a one-pot meal.

At the farmer’s market last weekend some fresh tomatillos caught my eye.  I love a good salsa verde but had never tried my hand at making it myself.  A couple of pounds of these green beauties came home with me, and after comparing a few recipes online I came up with my own recipe.  Looks like I change recipes around as often as I modify knitting patterns…

Sonia’s Salsa Verde

  • 1 1/2 pounds fresh tomatillos
  • 2 jalapeno peppers or other green chile, halved lengthwise with seeds removed
  • 3 garlic cloves unpeeled
  • 1 medium onion, coarsely chopped
  • 2 Tablespoons fresh cilantro
  • 1/4 cup fresh lime juice
  • salt to taste
  • pinch of red pepper flakes optional

Peel the papery skins from the tomatillos and rinse until the flesh is no longer sticky.  Place them on a baking sheet along with the peppers and garlic and roast under the broiler about 5 minutes.  Turn and continue roasting another 2-3 minutes or until tender.

Remove garlic from skins and peel away any blackened skin from the peppers. Add the garlic, peppers, tomatillos, onion, cilantro, and lime juice to a blender or food processor and mix until all ingredients are finely chopped.  Add salt and red pepper flakes to taste, giving the whole thing a final blitz.  Refrigerate for up to a week.

 

We had our salsa on top of enchiladas the first day, and later with chips.  Delicious either way!  I think it got a little spicier as it sat overnight, which was a pleasant surprise.

I’m starting to think about squash and pumpkins, dreaming of more delicious soups, stews, and baked goods.  What are some of your go-to recipes for fall?

 

Fresh is Best

Over the weekend  I met up with some friends at the local farmer’s market.  I hadn’t been in a couple of weeks, so was thrilled to see the abundance of newly in-season produce.  I picked up some fresh corn, swiss chard, feta pesto, sourdough bread, and a pile of green beans.

Eager to get cooking (but briefly, so as not to further heat up the already hot kitchen, I whipped up a cold salad.  Hope you enjoy it as much as we did!

Chilled Green Bean & Goat Cheese Salad

  • 1 pound fresh green beans, trimmed
  • 2 Tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 4 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 ounces good quality goat cheese
  • 1/4 c toasted & chopped nuts like hazelnuts, almonds, or walnuts
  • salt & pepper to taste

Bring a large pot of water to boil.  Drop the beans in and blanch until bright green and tender-crisp, about 3 minutes.  Pour into a colander and run under cold water, or immerse in an ice bath to cool and stop the cooking process.

Meanwhile, whisk together the vinegar, oil, salt and pepper in a bowl.  Add chilled green beans, goat cheese and toss to coat.  Sprinkle with nuts and enjoy!

Retro Rib Hand Towel: Free Pattern

Retro Rib Hand Towel

What better way to brighten up your kitchen or bathroom than with a colorful hand-knit towel?  Use your imagination to create color combinations that speak to you and get started on this fast and fun knit!

PDF pattern now available: Retro Rib Hand Towel

Materials
  • Peaches & Creme 100% cotton yarn, 1 ball for main color and 1/4 ball for contrast color
  • US Size 7 needles
  • 1 button
  • Tapestry needle

Finished Measurements
7 inches wide and 12 ½ inches tall unstretched.  Garter stitch strap measures 2 inches wide and 5 ¼ inches long unstretched

Abbreviations
CO—Cast on
MC—Main color
CC—Contrast color
K—knit
P—purl
Sts—stitches
Sl 1—slip 1 stitch as if to knit
WS—wrong side or back of work
RS—right side or front of work
K2tog—knit 2 stitches together
BO—Bind off

Notes:
Slip the first stitch of every row in pattern to create a neat edge.  Do not slip first stitch when changing colors or decreasing.
Color changes happen on the right side rows until you get to the garter stitch strap where they occur on the wrong side of the fabric.  When changing colors it is helpful to carry the old color up the side of your work every 2 rows during the striped sections.  Less ends to weave in!

Pattern
CO 60 sts in MC.

Row 1 (RS): Sl 1 * K3, P2 * to last 4 sts, K4
Row 2 (WS): Sl 1 * P3, K2 * to last 4 stitches, P4

Repeat these two rows until piece measures 1 ½ inches from CO edge.
On the next RS row, add CC and work in set pattern for 4 rows.

RS: add MC and work 4 rows in pattern
RS: add CC and work 4 rows in pattern
RS: add MC and continue in rib pattern, slipping the first stitch of every row, until piece measures 11 inches from CO edge.
RS: add CC and work 4 rows in pattern
RS: add MC and work 4 rows in pattern

The following decrease rows are worked in garter stitch:
Row 1 (RS): k2tog across all stitches (30 sts remain)
Row 2 (WS): knit
Row 3: same as row 1 (15 sts remain)
Row 4: same as row 2
Row 5: k2tog twice, k7, k2tog twice (11 sts remain)
Row 6: knit
Row 7: k2tog, k7, k2tog (9 sts remain)

Knit in garter stitch (knit every row) for 5 rows.  You will now change colors on the back of your work.
WS: add CC and knit 4 rows
WS: add MC and knit 4 rows
WS: add CC and knit 4 rows
WS: add MC and knit 5 rows

Buttonhole
RS: k3, BO 3. K3
WS: k3, CO 3, k3
Knit 5 rows in garter stitch
WS: add CC and knit 3 rows
BO in CC

Attach button to the center of first MC garter stitch section. Weave in ends.

© Sonia Ruyts 2008

I hope you enjoy this pattern!  As always, please let me know if you find anything to be unclear.