Back to My Roots

So I am doing a cleanse this week with a really good friend of mine. I have gained weight, and am still trying to get my groove back. As part of my cleanse I wanted to make some raw kale crackers and was looking for inspiration through an older blog post from about 5 years ago. Wow, I was really enjoying life and living in a way that I felt was right for me. I need to get back to that, back to my roots! (Don’t you love it when the title is mentioned in the movie, TV show, blog post!)

This week I’ll begin the journey to what this blog was always intended to be about: health; wellness; gardening; veganism with an emphasis on whole foods plant based. I let myself get lost in the shuffle of relationship bumps that I am very happy to say have smoothed out. I have let school and work cloud my vision. I also had an interesting experience that made me realize what a wonderful life I have with amazing people and that I am truly lucky because I know that people who try to cause pain are usually in pain themselves. For me right now, life is good…

Oh and here’s an updated recipe for those kale crackers:

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Kale Crackers
1 cup ground flax seed + 3/4 cup whole seeds
2 cups water
1/4 cup pumpkin seeds
2 cups kale
1 apple
1 carrot
1 celery stalk
1 small pepper
1 red onion (optional if you don’t want it too strong)
3 cloves of garlic
1 tsp salt

Directions

Soak the whole flax seeds and pumpkin seeds in 1 1/3 cup water for at least 3 hours

Day of: In large bowl mix ground flax, flax, salt, garlic, onion, remaining water, and ingredients, mix well. Let stand for 30 minutes

Spread thickly on 1 teflex tray (or on parchment paper if you don’t have teflex trays) smooth out into an even square about 1/8 to 1/4 inch thick. Dry at 104 degrees for 4 hours or 3hr at 115 degrees

Flip & score crackers into desired sizes

Dehydrate another hour, before serving. Serve warm.

The longer you dehydrate the crispier the cracker.

Happy 7th Birthday FSTS & Happy 7-Year Veganniversary to Me!

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Image Courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

When I started this blog 7 years ago I had no idea that my life would be so different today. I didn’t know I would be vegan, it wasn’t even an idea in the beginning of February 2010. I would never have thought I was going to leave the corporate world to go back to school for nutrition or enjoy teaching nutrtion so much. I didn’t think I would have lost my mother and one of my beloved cats too soon or that I would have had more dogs than cats in the house. I also didn’t know that my husband had a child and how that secret would affect me, our relationship and my faith in people to do the right thing.

I like to think of the last 7 years as a time of growth, not just in the garden but also in me. I see that life will always have challenges, the latest with a sick kitty, and no matter what it throws at you, you have to rise above it. Like I said in January, I don’t really know where I will end up this year, but I do know that it will include my garden. According to High Mowing Seeds, the time to start onion seeds is now, or about 12 weeks before transplant – so that will be my next project. The garden plan will be to plant lots of greens, garlic (got that started in November) peppers, eggplants, herbs and maybe a few other things. Nothing too ambitious, last year squash borers killed ALL of my squashes so this year I will take a break from them. I’m also done with tomatoes, I like them but I am not in love with them and I want this to be a garden I love that will hopefully love me back.

Goodbye 2016, don’t let the door hit you on the way out

I really wanted to write something witty, upbeat and thoughtful about the last year, however, it was a truly difficult year for me. Emotionally, it was on par with 2010, the year I lost my mother, my cat and my job… while not as catastrophic, certainly full of highs and lows.

I’ve come to realize just how complex relationships are and appreciate the importance of honesty, accountability, sincerity and remorse. I’ve also learned how an apology can make a world of difference and how we show respect in the little things we do too, when that is missing things can really fall apart. I’ve also seen how shame can beat a person down and make him feel small and insignificant.

During all of this I let myself get drawn away from the things that are important to me, the self-care rituals like journaling, meditation, yoga and exercise. I can feel the neglect both in my mental and physical state. Every day I find myself putting it off for ‘tomorrow’ and more often than not tomorrow never comes, and things don’t feel any different or get any better.

I can say without a doubt that I have absolutely no idea what 2017 it going to bring. My one sign that things just might be OK, whatever that means, is that my kitty Lola, who has been moored on the dining room table for the better part of the last year has started to venture out and has spent that last few days on my lap in the living room. She came to me in a time of need for something light in this world and showed me that no matter how dark I may feel, I will at least have a fat cat purring in my lap.

Beauty Evolution

Happy 2016 – Now What?

I hope everyone had a healthy and happy New Year. We have kicked 2015 to the curb, Now What?

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Image courtesy of Serge Bertasius Photography at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

We have a few exciting things to look forward to this year:

  • Leap Year! We have an extra day to do something fabulous for ourselves or someone else.
  • Elections! We have an opportunity to participate in a democratic process that so many of our brave young men and women have fought for.

Many use this new time of year to reflect about changes, however, I don’t understand why we don’t do that every day. So I ask again, Now What?

What makes this year the one that you will lose 25 pounds, finish that book, clear out the clutter, or join the gym?

Intention. Make 2016 your year of Intention. Do things with a purpose and focus on the things that you really want to do. Start small because you can’t climb Mount Everest if you haven’t walked out your front door.

A few ways to set Intentions:

  • A vision board lets you create a visual space to see what you intend to do for the year.
  • Affirmations help you laser focus on the things you want to work on
  • Calendar reminders help keep you on track and can help with measuring metrics, unless of course you intend to unplug more :).

You get the idea, surround yourself with what you intend to do this year and instead of asking yourself Now What, you can say Now Yes, with Intention.

Healthy Holidays 2015

The holiday season can mean a time of high stress for many people. For some people the holiday season reminds them of lost loved ones, for those in college with finals it can overwhelm and anyone with debt or financial problems the idea of having to buy extravagant gifts for loved ones can make the holiday less than a time for festivities.

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In addition to gift giving stress we also have holiday parties with too much eating and drinking, putting stress on our bodies and fueling more overall stress.

Don’t let this holiday season bring you down, the following tips can help:

1. Missing Lost Loved Ones
The holidays suck after people die. There I said it. No magic pill exists to take away the pain, especially the first year, however, you can honor them in special ways. Family photos are a great gift to share, watching home movies, talking about the funny things they did, and making their favorite dish to bring to a potluck can also help honor them. The goal is to resect your feelings and doing whatever you have to that feels right, getting drunk and miserable may not be the best option.

2. Finals Not the End of the World
The mere thought of starting school again (YAY Rutgers Coordinated Dietetics Program – BS Nutrition/RD exam eligible) has brought back the anxiety of classes, tuition and test-taking. For those students that have finals all the way until the week before Christmas, during Hanukkah or whatever end of year festival you observe, the idea of coming up with a thoughtful gift may not rank very high or at all. No worries, school-inspired gifts can help educate the masses. Books, science kits, jewelry-making and painting kits can entertain while building a skill for old and young.

3. Not Getting Into More Debt
Setting a budget for each gift can help control holiday spending as can letting your loved ones know that you can’t spend as much as you have in the past. If they have a problem with that then maybe they need a refresher on the spirit of the holidays. Also, by saying something you might be expressing what others feel as well and they may welcome an opportunity to avoid spending money on frivolous items that no one really wanted in the first place. A family grab bag can also help keep holiday gift-giving costs down and fun. Pick a name out of a hat, set a limit and have at it.

4. Healthy Body
To compound the emotional stress of the holidays the body also takes a lickin’ with all the party food and cocktails imbibed. A few ways to ease the overindulging include water between drinks, this way you don’t drink as much, you avoid embarrassing yourself (especially at a work party!), and you have kept yourself hydrating helping to avoid or lessen the hangover. Before you get to a party you can decide to only have a certain number of alcoholic drinks and once you reach that number switch off to non-alcoholic beverages. To handle food intake you can eat a light meal before a party to avoid over-eating. No need to skip dessert, split it with a friend or just have a one bite policy. Take one bite’s worth of everything offered so you can have a taste without feeling like a glutton.

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Don’t let the holidays get you down or drive you crazy. Keeping a clear head will help you make better decisions when it comes to gift giving and holiday parties. The spirit of the holiday should make you feel joyous, not miserable.

Have a great holiday everyone!

Xo Evelyn Continue reading

Happy New Year! Sort of…

Hi Everyone!

According to WordPress, I last posted 5 months ago, WTF, wow! How did that happen? Well, I decided to focus on my full-time job and my RCE Master Gardener Certification, and now that I am finished focusing the health & wellness blogosphere calls to me!

Quick Garden Update: The garden did OK this year, I expanded it and played around with some new things. But since I spent most of my Saturdays there this summer my garden looked like the shoemaker’s children – they have no shoes!

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Why Happy New Year? I have a birthday in November and I look at this as the beginning of a new year. While I still have my goals for January – which include my health coaching / personal training business and more writing, I like to take a look at what I have and see what tweaks need to be made in life.

Birthdays remind you that yes, though now a year older and hopefully wiser, you have the next year to look forward to. Take this time to evaluate your relationships, how you treat yourself and others and what really makes you tick. Finding happiness has more to do with looking inward than outward, it begins within you.

Long Long Overdue Garden Update

Hello my lovelies,

I know, I have left you for way too long. I promise that I have kept myself sufficiently lazy and busy. Lazy because after a long day at the FoodBank I enjoy my evenings puttering in the garden and sitting outside and busy because I have a garden to tend after all!

By this time of year I usually have a few posts on what I have going on outside and as they, whoever they are, say – better late than never baby!

The Herbs:
I have the usual echinacea, marjoram, caraway and lemon balm growing in my herb patch. This year I added a few perennial plants from the Rutgers Master Gardener sale (Shameless Plug) which includes two varieties of lavender, gold sage, and greek oregano. I also bought some bronze fennel and rosemary. From seed I planted a few more perennials: thyme, garlic chives and yarrow, though right now it only seems I have yarrow growing. The chives and thyme were older seeds but should still have germinated.

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Wild Bergamot under a squash

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Bronze Fennel on left and Rosemary on right

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Echinacea on rights with Caraway and Marjoram on left and Lemon Balm in front

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Golden Sage

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Lavenders on top and Greek Oregano on the bottom

The Squashes:
My lovely squashes how I enjoy them. I have a few acorn squashes, a kabocha or two, a calabasa and some blue hubbard squashes. Alas, my butternuts have become butternots – as in not doing very well. Luckily I have some rogue squashes that have done spectacularly so far, now if I could only know what goodies they will give me.

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Unknown Variety Squash

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Acorn Squash with an Unknown Variety behind it

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Calabasa with Cut Flowers and Sunflowers

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Blue Hubbard Squash with and Unknown Variety in foreground

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Kabocha Squash with Collard seed pods behind it

The Tomatoes:
This year I planted three varieties of tomatoes: black prince, cherry tomatoes and cosmonaut volkov tomatoes. I have to admit I didn’t think they would do as well as they have done so far. Their legginess when I planted them made me think the heirloom plants at the produce store looked good when my seedlings died. I only lost one!

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Tomato

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Tomato

The Peppers:
I have to admit that my peppers have become a bit of a disappointment. The seedlings had done really well but the plants, not so much. I have some yellow peppers, and jalapenos. I have one that I think looks pretty good the others – meh

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Pepper

The Greens:
My pride and joy. I have my usual prolific collards and this year I planted a kale mix that has produced pretty well. My lettuce mix not so much, I think I saw two plants…

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Collards

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Kale mix with Sunflowers and Unknown Variety Squash and Red Cabbage

Everything Else:
The asparagus did well, even the one I thought had died came back. I also planted a purple variety so in a couple of years I hope to enjoy it. I planted beets, way too close together, I have a feeling I’ll have more beet greens than beets which works too!

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Asparagus with Onion Flower in foreground

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Beets with Brussels Sprouts

This year I also added two cut flower beds to the garden, looks like a lot of cosmos and zinnias which I love.

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Cut Flowers

Of course we can’t forget the forage greens like dandelion, lambs quarter and purslane.

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Purslane

I also expanded the garden with a new row of beds and two perennial flower beds that produce flowers for beneficial insects on each side. I put the fencing around to help keep the dogs out.

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Expanded Garden

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Perennial Flower bed around the border of the yard which 

Every year we fill in the border of the yard with new plants and veggies, this year I added a few rutgers strawberries

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Rutgers Strawberry

And how can we forget Lola with the catnip.

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Lola with her favorite Catnip patch behind her