Hey Lou Writes

The Grey Matters


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5 Keen Observations

5 Keen Observations (If I do say so, myself)

Driving around lately, I’ve had a few thoughts that I can’t shake. They aren’t Earth shattering or super original, but I think they’re worth sharing. Here goes:

1. I’m a little shocked by Band Aid. I’m one of those Christmas-radio-before-Thanksgiving-listeners. I love it! I’ve said it before, the Charlie Brown Christmas album is the number one thing played in our house. That being said, I’ve heard Do They Know It’s Christmas by Band Aid ten million times this month. And… I’m shocked by all of the sweeping/typical/cliche/and possibly offensive Africa references in that song. I understand the point, but still. I think it rains in some parts of Africa and there is for sure at least one famous river. Aaaaand not everyone loves snow.

I still love it. But jeeez!!

2. I’m a LOT shocked by Britney Spears’ new song, Perfume. I shudder to think that any teenage girl could be relating to this song. The point of perfume is NOT to “mark your territory” so that the (ex girlfriend!!!) girl he’s cheating on you with will know you exist. How demeaning and awful!!! Girls, let’s boycott this song for the greater good of humanity.

“And while I wait I put on my perfume, yeah I want it all over you

I gotta mark my territory.

I’ll never tell, tell on myself but I hope she smells my perfume.”

All I think of is dogs peeing, sadness, and the prayer that no girl actually does this, ever.

If you’re with a guy and you feel the need to mark him with your scent, don’t you think there’s a problem there? I’m still feeling the shock of having heard this song for the first time yesterday. Goodness.

(no way am I posting this song on here.)

3. Mumford and Sons lyrics, though pretty good, are very Yoda-ish. 

“My weakness I feel I must finally show.” Etc.

4. Organic food should not be labeled organic. Organic should be the standard and conventional and the only foods that should be specially labeled are the ones with chemicals or genetic alterations (GMOs). Yup. That’s about it for that one.

5. Radio music is nothin’ compared to the other stuff out there. The majority of people listen to about 1% of the music in this world (at least in the USA, I think.) I only had this realization because of a few KEY people in my life who shared other music with me. I was your typical top 40’s hits listener a few years ago and now I can say that I couldn’t name five songs on that top 40 list (except for Perfume, I guess.) Do me a Thanksgiving favor, completely make my day, and look up some of these bands/artists that you might not ever hear otherwise. I’ll include a list and some links to their “best” songs in my opinion!

Justin Townes Earle MAMA’S EYES

Middle Brother WILDERNESS

Shovels & Rope LAY LOW

Jeffrey Foucault CROSS OF FLOWERS

Brown Bird DOWN TO THE RIVER

*Wildewood ROPE

*Brush Strokes BLUEBIRD

*The Handsome Family SO MUCH WINE

If you were to study these lyrics, let them change your life, I’m positive that they would touch your soul and you will be changed in some way. That’s something Maroon 5 just can’t do for me anymore.

Have you had any thoughts you’ve been wanting to share lately?! Anything that shocked you or struck you as odd in some way? Please share… and share if you listen to any of these artists. :)

Love, Lou

*local Albuquerque bands… people I actually KNOW! How cool is that?

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Eat Like Your Life Depends On It (How I Got Overwhelmed)

Eat Like Your Life Depends On It Blog Series… here we go for round Three. 

chickens, cows, livestock, gmos, conditions for animals, current food system

If you’ve read about how I used to eat, how much I weighed and how I felt about it, then you know that I wanted a change.

If you’ve read about how I started to change the way I eat and the “rules” I began to follow, then you know that I wanted that change to be drastic, yet totally realistic. 

Here are my goals for this post:

NOT to sound like a crazy conspiracy theorist… and yeah. That’s pretty much the only goal.

OH! And also, to inspire and possibly lead to some new pondering thoughts for anyone who reads it.

So far I’ve talked about :

the weight I gained, the acne I painfully and embarrassingly made it through, and the bad mood I was perpetually in … all due to what I ate. There are always other factors, sure, but don’t all of those also directly relate to what we eat? Life is always stressful in some ways. I wanted to never let stress cause me to have a bad relationship with food ever again.

the book I read, The Omnivore’s Dilemma by Michael Pollan.

the changes I began to make, following some simple food rules and maintaining a positive and hopeful attitude.

~~~~~

Now is when I want to get real. I want to tell you guys just how overwhelmed I was at the start of it all. It’s all fine and dandy to have a good attitude and a smile. But someone close to me (again, POOR Greg!) was lucky enough to see the freak out moments… the moments where I panicked.

These were not the types of panics you might be imagining.

The adrenaline rushes and the overwhelming feeling that everything was going to hell in the food world caught me unaware. All of a sudden I was reading about the treatment of factory “farm” animals, the engineering and modification of our precious food, and the way it was affecting people and the environment.

Now. I’ve always considered myself to be level headed. In many ways, you could call me conservative, though I usually want to leave politics OFF of Hey Lou and stay on more uplifting topics. (Let me also note here that I think words like “conservative” and “conventional” are drastically different these days than the ideals they are really meant to represent. Isn’t living sort of a hippy lifestyle and growing your own food “conservative?” Anyway.)

On the same note, now I guess I have lots of ways of living that could cause someone to point at me and call me liberal. Or libertarian. Or a damn hippy. Or whatever the heck you want to call it.

I’d call myself completely un-trusting of any of those titles… and I’m just me. 

Though the more I read into food and big agriculture and big animal operations, the more political it got. The more depressing it got.

TRUTH? I couldn’t even finish The Omnivore’s Dilemma the first time I read it. Because it overwhelmed me. I could no longer trust certain aspects of life that I thought I could. I looked at the glossy apple at the regular grocery store differently. I looked at the Manager Special half-off steak differently.

If you want to know the truth about why, just pick up a book about the food system. But I can almost promise you that it won’t be anything you haven’t heard of before. What I want to know is this:

Even though most people are aware of the fact that animals are stuffed and overpopulated and kept in completely unsanitary conditions throughout their lives, for the sake of OUR dinners, WHY is anyone okay with it?

Someone told me recently, a reminder perhaps, that I can’t put human emotions on to an animal. They don’t have the same thought process as us.

Okay, fine.

What I will do, then, is look at the facts.

Animals have instinct, yeah? They do. Probably a better survival instinct than most humans. Even if a chicken cannot think, “Oh my, what’s happened here? I must be in an awful situation and therefore I’m sad,” I believe that the same chicken can do this: Sense that something is wrong. 

The same goes for any animal, especially ones we eat. Nothing healthy happens when humans are stressed out. Toxins are released in our bodies and all kinds of bad things happen. Why should an animal be any different? If an animal has lived a stressful life, completely out of its natural environment (like… in a building…) how can you tell me that this animal isn’t at least a little bit stressed out? (If not SAD about it, too?)

Cows were meant to graze freely on grass. Chickens were meant to peck around at insects and fresh greens and have plenty of space to do it. Pigs are actually very clean animals with a keener sense of smell than dogs. Now picture these animals in feed lots, surrounded by their own waste. Picture them surrounded by loud animals of the same kind, with barely any room to move. Imagine a chicken who has been pumped with hormones and can literally never walk around… the thing I KNOW chickens love to do?

chickens, treatment of animals, current food system,gmo

PROOF! Ray Bradbury… running through the yard.

It breaks my heart, guys. It really does. It doesn’t take something drastic to have a say … to have a vote… for what will go on with livestock in the future. Choosing meat that came from an honest farmer, spending more on that meat while eating less of it (maybe twice a week? maybe once a week? maybe a small portion of your meal, rather than the main event?), and being a good example for others is all it takes. If each person in our generation said NO to large factory farms and made conscious decisions about what went into their mouths, we could start a revolution.

You wouldn’t even have to make a sign and attend a protest. All you have to do is cook an awesome meal each day!! HOOOORAY! That’s good news, no?

It’s not just the treatment of animals that gets me in a tizzy, either. It’s the land used all over the world in order to grow enough corn to feed these animals, who, by the way, shouldn’t even eat corn. It’s the nitrogen and waste infiltrating our water supply (wonder why your tomato has a problem? probably because the water used to grow it had cow you-know-what in it), it’s the excuse of “solving world hunger” that GMOs use, when really, the majority of them go to feed livestock. It’s the fact that if you take a seed that has been engineered in a laboratory, you can’t regrow that plant freely. (More on Genetically Modified [Engineered] Organisms in a post to come…)

All of that can be changed. I’ll never stop believing in that.

cows, gmo, organic eating, food system

a happy family of cows :)

Changing the DNA of our seeds, essentially torturing the animals that grace this Earth for us to shepherd and take care of, well, it overwhelms me. It makes me wonder WHO can sleep at night, if this is something they are actually a part of. It makes me wonder just how much money is involved (LOTS…) and it makes me want to make a stand.

So I did.

This might be a long Blog Series, folks.

LOVE, LOU

 


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Eat Like Your Life Depends On It (How I Began To Eat)

Eat Like Your Life Depends On It Part Two

Welcome back guys! I hope my last post, What I Used To Eat, was enough to get you interested in the changes I made to my diet and lifestyle. What I described as far as diet choices and workout choices (P90X!) may have sounded perfectly normal and healthy to you. You might be the rare type of person who was shocked by how unhealthy it actually sounded.

Either way, I’m glad you’re back. This is going to be a “blog series” journey that will take you through the journey that was the last 5 years of my life. The road has been challenging, but it’s mostly been:

FUN…EXCITING…INSPIRATIONAL…EDUCATIONAL and… LIFE-CHANGING

Five years changed me into someone who:

Doesn’t own a microwave

Buys minimal processed food (usually only for special occasions when I “don’t have time” to cook, which is rare)

Tries to know her grower/farmer

Reads almost as many non-fiction food books as fiction (!!!)

Interns on a farm

Owns chickens

Has a garden that feeds me at least once a day

chickens,garden, eating organic, eating, health

Don’t worry. I don’t want to overwhelm you yet. I also don’t expect everyone to go out and buy baby chicks, start a garden, or throw their microwave in their trash can. The microwave can wait a few more blogs… then I expect it to go. (Just kidding… kind of.)

I guess I’m just sort of fascinated by my own story, because so many people have reminded me that, “The Melinda you used to be would not believe the Melinda you have turned into. It’s crazy.”

I prefer the crazy Melinda, I s’pose.

Back when I was 20 pounds heavier, took three medications for acne and felt angry/frustrated/confused every single day, I decided to make some decisions. And those decisions, folks, were made quickly. One cannot put off change. I hate to say it, but it’s completely true. Stop putting it off. 

“To change one’s life:

Start immediately.

Do it flamboyantly.

No exceptions.”

-William James

I did exactly this when I made a decision to at least try to follow some of Michael Pollan’s food suggestions. Along with The Omnivore’s Dilemma, I also read Food Rules, a very short and sweet book that lays out simple rules for eating.

A few rules that really shouted out to me:

Don’t eat anything your great-grandmother wouldn’t recognize as food. I might even change this to great-great grandmother for some, depending on which generation you’re from. Think she would have recognized “yogurt” in a tube? Think she would know what to do with a box of mac and cheese (“What’s this package of orange powder?” She would say.)

Avoid food products that contain high-fructose corn syrup. Sure, it’s “just another sugar,” but it’s everywhere, and that makes it something to avoid. Really, just avoid food with loads of added sugar. (Another Food Rule is to avoid foods with some form of sugar listed as one of the three first ingredients!)

Avoid foods with more than 5 ingredients. The exception to this rule would be something with a long list of herbs or spices. I would go grab a cardboard package of food from my kitchen to tell you the ingredients list, but I cannot. I currently don’t have anything processed in my home.* (YAY!) The list should be short and sweet. It should contains words that sound like REAL food. A small child should be able to pronounce and recognize these sort of words. It shouldn’t look like a science experiment gone wrong.

Avoid food products with the wordoid “lite” or the terms “low-fat” or “nonfat” in their names. These are gimmicks. Hoaxes. What happened when the low-fat ads began popping up in the 1970’s? Oh yeah, people began eating way more sugar to make up for this loss of fat. Just take in your good fats. (Olive oil, coconut oil, grass fed butter, avocado… don’t act like you haven’t heard this before!)

If it came from a plant, eat it; if it was made in a plant, don’t. I am a very visual person. I stopped drinking pop (soda?) when I was a senior in high school because one day I had this vision of sugary liquid in my brain, causing a headache, and I couldn’t get past it. I often feel dehydrated, even with all the water I drink. If I were to drink a sugary pop, I’d freak out. So….. this rule was very visual for me. Metal, steel, robots, machinery, surgical caps, lab coats, food running down belts and being splurted into jars… those are not good visuals. Think about what you eat, what sort of plant it was made in, and just how foreign and new it is, when compared to the generations before us who ate nothing that came from a plant. They ate plants.

Don’t eat breakfast cereals that change the color of the milk. Or, in my case, just don’t eat cereal for breakfast. But if you do, choose a healthy one. And unless it contains beets, it shouldn’t be affecting the color of your milk. (Red 40 is definitely something your great-great grandmother would not recognize as something to EAT!)

Pay more, eat less. (the next rule: …Eat Less) Did you know that in France, people use up to 16 or 18 percent of their income on food? Here, the average American spends less than 10 percent of their income on food. We are always looking for the cheapest, fastest, and most convenient way to eat. Guess what? It should come as no shock that none of those factors equals healthy. I truly believe that it is affordable to eat in the healthiest ways possible. Not only does some produce for a quick stir fry cost only a few dollars, but there are other factors I’d consider important… and hopefully these will change your point of view. If anyone tells me that the food at the farmer’s market, Coop, or Whole Foods is too expensive to buy, or that organic or “specialty health items” in their regular grocery store are simply tooooo much, here is what I will ask them (I’m asking YOU right now. You can answer in the comments box, if you’d like):

How much do you pay for your TV? Cable? Dish? Ten zillion channels?

How much do you pay for your cell phone? Is it a smart phone?

How much do you want to pay for high blood pressure medicine when you are older? Or for that physical trainer to give you a meal plan once you realize that you are in too deep to get yourself out of this mess?

I have one word for you: PRIORITIES

You guys, I am rarely this straightforward or opinionated. Honestly. I’m just me, I’m positive and laid back, but this is my passion. I care SO MUCH about the health of others, that yes, I would ask this to your face. How much do all of those things cost? Add it up. And don’t forget to add up all of the other potential medical expenses that could occur, too.

If I had these things to pay for, guess what? I would not be able to afford the food I eat. I’m not rich, when it comes to money. (though I am totally one of those overly sentimental people who would tell you just how rich in love I am!)

Greg and I don’t have a television. 

We have the most cave-mannish cell phones that most children of today wouldn’t quite recognize as a phone at all (aka, not smart phones).

And I weaned myself off the acne medication because I didn’t want to use it OR pay for it.

We made sacrifices, which turned out to only be positive, and not really sacrifices at all, in order to eat the way we do. I understand what it took to get that cucumber onto my dinner plate. I will pay the price. Over and over and over again.

Will you?

Cook. It’s the last rule I’ll list here, but one that is possibly more important than all others. The question I would ask you for this round would be:

How much time do you spend cooking each day? And then… how much time do you spend watching TV? I’m not trying to demonize TV, but I don’t understand how people have time to watch it. So many people use “busy” as their excuse for so many things, especially what they eat or how much they work out. I’m saying that those are the least legitimate excuses in the book. IF you are doing something like watching TV. (As in… I am NOT talking about single parents who work three jobs and then come home to three kids. I am talking about an average situation. There are always exceptions.)

You guys, I spend a lot of my time cooking. I cook something for every meal. I wake up earlier than the old Melinda because I usually wash/chop/satuee/bake/cook something every single morning. During that time, I also make whatever I’ll pack for my lunch. Then, when I get home, I do the same thing all over again for dinner. We don’t need a microwave because we cook each meal, and usually in small amounts so there are rarely leftovers. If there are, guess where I heat them up? On the stove or in the oven. There are no “quick meals” here.

The “slow” meals taste too good to leave behind.

And they’re really not slow at all. I don’t wake up an hour earlier… just 15-20 minutes. That’s all I need for the prep time, cook time, and cleanup time. I’d add on maybe five or ten minutes if I were feeding children, too.

When I made these changes… I swear… the weight melted off. Melted. It just disappeared, and then another 5 pounds, because I was no longer a super muscular cheerleader like I had been in high school. In reality, I was close to 25 pounds overweight without even knowing it. I’m not stick thin now, either. I am comfortable and healthy. I feel good about my body because I feel good about what goes into it. I started taking less and less of my acne medication, and during that time, started to make more and more of these food changes. Suddenly, about a year and a half later, I threw the last of my tretinoin acne pills in the trash. I ate another salad. I no longer had to worry about breakouts. (I also cut out gluten. You can read more about my experiences with acne and finally getting clear skin here.) Notice how nothing changed overnight? The weight came off within the year. My skin changed, but there were days when I felt like nothing was happening. Our bodies are jam packed with junk. It DOES take time to get rid of it all and replace it with what it actually wants.

Our bodies want to be as healthy as they can be.

So many people (mostly woman) have talked to me about their body issues lately. They usually say something like, “I can’t control what I eat,” or “I have issues with my body and I feel so depressed because of it,” or “I wish I could eat healthy, but I always give in. It makes me feel bad. I wish I could change it.”

One of the things that helped me MOST in changing my eating lifestyle was having a positive attitude.

I formulated many mantras, all of which I still use to this day.

I CAN DO THIS.

THIS IS EASY!!!

THIS IS FUN!

MY FOOD TASTES GOOD!

Food doesn’t need to be purely fuel. Thinking that way might even backfire. (One of Michael Pollan’s rules is also: Break the rules every once in a while.) It is an experience. We should be salivating when we think about our next meal. We should be excited to cook and eat. Food should be something joyous, not something depressing or scary.

We have to eat to survive. But I’d say that even more than that, we have to be happy in order to survive.

Here’s my challenge for you:

Consider taking baby steps and adding a new “Food Rule” to your shopping list each week. These will accumulate, not change out. ;)

Wake up and force yourself to smile. This smile will eventually become a real one.

Wake up fifteen minutes early and have your meals planned.

Sit at a table for each meal and savor the flavors. These will eventually be flavors YOU decided should be there, and not some company trying to hook you into buying their product again.

Tell me how you’re doing.

This was a long blog, but I just couldn’t stop at one thing.

AND there’s more to come!!! (My detailed week of eating, prices, facts about subsidies and why the “rebel” in me cares so much about organic and local food, and moooooooore)

To say the least, I’m excited.

melinda short hair

So much love, 

Lou

* I lied!!!! I actually have a box of Larabars that were on sale at Whole Foods. I chose the Peanut Butter & Jelly flavor. Ingredients list: dates, peanuts, unsweetened cherries, sea salt. No added sugar, check. Under five ingredients, check. Real food items, check!!


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Eat Like Your Life Depends On It (Which It Does)

This made me cry. Twice. First, because of the truth this video represents and how sad, in my soul, these facts make me.

Then I had a real tear of joy… because there are people who are fighting the current food system… and they give me so much hope, I can hardly stop smiling.

This new blog series, Eat Like Your Life Depends On It, is something I’ve been contemplating for a long time. The last thing I want to do is push people away from healthy food choices. I know from experience that having a “hippy agenda” or a “radical point of view” can be a big turn off. I try to remain positive in my outlook and the way I share my passion for real food.

I, too, was once skeptical. I have said OUT LOUD (wish it wasn’t true…), “Who cares if it’s organic? It tastes the same.”

But now, I’d like to seriously take back those words.

Because:

A. Real food and “conventional” food do NOT taste the same

B. I care very greatly if it’s organic, but more than that… I care if it’s local, because sometimes small operations can’t afford the fancy organic labeling

C. That comment was made by a version of myself who had a lot to learn. And so I did learn. And I’m still learning every single day.

If you care about your health and the long term health of those you love, keep reading my blog series.

Find out why I believe in organic farming and local eating so so so so much. Find out why I could easily cry, for many reasons, at the thought of the video Chipotle has just released.

Find out why I care. 

Someday, you might just leave your microwave, food-like-substances, and “cheap food coupons” in the dust like I did.

You might also save money, both now, and later in life when you aren’t taking medication for any number of ailments.

I can promise you’ll smile with me, laugh with me, cringe a little with me, and continue to learn, the way I will never stop learning.

The best is yet to come!

real food, organic, gmos, gardening, chipotle ad

Kate Burn Photography

 

Love, Lou


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Stuffed Zucchini Boats (organic, of course)

Yum. Today I had a great lunch. I decided it was good enough to share the recipe.

I’m calling them Stuffed Zucchini Boats. I had a starter recipe from Pinterest (where else?) and I only had about half the ingredients, so I made up my own.

Here goes:

zucchini, organic, recipe, garden, stuffed zucchiniI was lucky enough to have these items picked straight from the garden.

Full ingredient list:

Stuffed Zucchini Boats

2 zucchini

1/2 c cooked rice (I used black rice… not wild… black)

3 cloves garlic (from the garden, too! You can use less, or also add an onion, which I didn’t have)

~2 collard green leaves

1 tsp curry powder

dash cayenne

1/2 c grated Parmesan cheese 

dash of chopped:

     parsley

     chives

     basil 

salt and pepper to taste

olive oil to use while cooking

zucchini, recipe, organic, garden, stuffed zucchiniFirst I scraped out the middle of the zucchini (and saved it.) Then I chopped up the collards. stuffed zucchini, garden, organic, recipe

I sauteed that with the rice, minced garlic, curry and cayenne. I added some olive oil and water, then covered with a loose lid for a few minutes. Easy as pie.

zucchini, stuffed zucchini, recipe, organic, garden Fill the boats!

Bake for 20 minutes at 400.

zucchini recipe, stuffed zucchini, garden, organic While that was happening, I made a side dish.

All you need is:

Green beans and purple beans, if available. (another thing we have growing)

Collard Greens

Curry

Olive oil

There is no scientific way to do this. Just pull out your inner cook, chop up the greens, put everything together with a drizzle of oil, and heat it up. I can’t tell you anything more specific.

collard greens and beans, organic, garden, recipe

green beans, purple beans, collard greens, recipe

recipe, organic, garden, green beans, collard greens That was a tasty bowl of food. It held us over while the zucchini boats baked!

Once the zucchini was done, I added the cheese on top and broiled the boats for just a few minutes, until the cheese browned.

zucchini boats, stuffed zucchini recipe, organic, garden Once out of the oven, I added the chopped parsley, basic and chives.

Then all of a sudden, I had this sitting before me:

zucchini recipe, boats, organic, recipe, garden And we, the Lous Williams, were content and happy and full.

Good luck with your cooking… let me know if you have any luck or try another version of this!

Love, Lou


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That’s What I Call Progress

writing, flowers, gardening

Not so impressive…. yet

Okay.

Remember this sad thing? I had a vision of a giant flower garden buzzing with bees (I did buy a “Save the Bees” seed mix, after all) and a lovely addition to our backyard. I honestly didn’t know if it would work.

But it did. I woke up every morning to water this patch of dirt, and kept it moist in the evening, too. I sang to the plants. (Not really, but I’ve been seriously tempted to…) Now, we have a lovely flower garden!!!

organic gardening, flowers, save the bees

an actual flower garden!!!!

I’m doing my part to save the bees, one flower at a time. I chose to post today because when I walked outside this morning, our very first sunflower had bloomed. I ran back inside and told Greg he had to come look.

Bonus: there was a bee. Hallelujah.

bees, organic, sunflower, writing

yay yay yay!

Now that’s what I call progress.

And not giving up… even when you start with just a pile of dirt that doesn’t look like much.

Happy Thursday!

Love, Lou


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This One Went To The Market

local, organic, garden, farmer's market

what a way to start the day!

The challenge to blog every day in May continues, but today I’m going off topic.

I didn’t need the prompt, because yesterday turned out to be pretty dang blog-worthy, in my opinion.

Greg and I went to our local Grower’s Market in downtown Albuquerque. I was so excited.

‘Tis the season for buying local!!! 

We arrived at the market and right away, we saw friends of ours. The sun was shining. Little kids were dancing along with the music of the live band, and families were picking out the healthiest food within miles to take home. It was a perfect Saturday.

writing, local food, market

there are those cute kids. this is maybe one of the only places that can convince me that I need a kid right away. then I go to target and completely change my mind.

farmer's market, local food, organic

a view of the market

Right away, we found this:

organic, local, albuquerque, market

PICKLED GREEN BEANS!!!!!!!!!!!!******** Do I want to go back and change the spelling? Not really. My apologies.

The Valley Gurlz, two cousins here in Albuquerque, started their small business of pickling green beans. We met them and chatted, had a sample, and became instant fans of what they do. They were so nice, too!! It’s worth checking out, folks! (One of these women live near us in the South Valley! It’s a small world)

Next, we got these items:

organic, local, albuquerque, cooking

The garlic scapes (shoots? I think scapes!) were from Erda Gardens (UM…. just down the road from my house!!!) and I got information on how I can volunteer. I’m so excited.

The black and white radishes came from the Moore Family Farm. They were so nice. We got to try those, too, and man- were they spicy!

We also bought green onion, but I honestly don’t remember the name of the woman’s booth! Will make up for that…

So off we went, home to make a great dinner with these ingredients.

Oh, and a few more right from out backyard:

local, organic, albuquerque, farming, gardening

Lambsquarters

gardening, local, organic, albuquerque, market

lettuce

garden, albuquerque, local, organic, produce

picking what I need

Lambsquarters is a green that grows like a weed in our garden. It is everywhere. I didn’t even know such a plant existed until this year. Michael Pollan even mentions Lambsquarters in Food Rules, as one of the top two healthiest wild greens you can eat. (it’s a good source of Niacin, Folate, Iron, Magnesium and Phosphorus, Dietary Fiber, Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Thiamin, Riboflavin, Vitamin B6, Calcium, Potassium, Copper and Magnese.)

The butterhead lettuce, I’m sure you are familiar with. It apparently loves our garden, too. And we love IT.

Spinach also did well. We had enough left from the winter crop to pick some for the meal yesterday.

And here is what I cooked:

garden, local, organic, albuquerque

Dinner:

I cooked mixed red and regular quinoa in my rice cooker. (One part quinoa, two parts water. I added a splash more water, as the red seems to take more to cook all the way through.)

I sauteed:

local, organic, albuquerque, gardening

-carrots (from California)

-Garlic shoots (from down the street)

-Radishes (from a little further down the street)

-Green onion (from Albuquerque)

-Spinach (from my backyard)

-Lettuce (from my backyard!)

-Lambsquarters (from my backyard)

-Tempeh (from California)

-Soy sauce (from Virginia)

I added some EVOO and voila! DINNER!!

I’m no math expert, but I’d say that’s a very high percentage of LOCAL

Every single item I made was organic. MOST of it was not USDA certified, but certified by ME, because I met the people who grew it and/or saw where it grew. What a blessing.

This dinner was a cinch. SO easy to make. SO EASY to enjoy, too. We sat in the backyard with our neighbor and ate, drank some beer, and enjoyed the healthy feeling running through our veins.

Find your nearest market, meet some new friends, grow something in your backyard, and smile because it’s good for YOU and the Earth!!

Love,

LOU


5 Comments

Move Over Homeowners Association!

Day 22, Wednesday: Rant about something. Get up on your soapbox and tell us how you really feel. (a pet peeve, a current event, a controversial topic, something your husband or roommate or neighbor or boss does that really ticks you off)

Get ready, readers.

writing, gardening, outside, backyard flowers

sweat and time, but worth it

I have a beef. There’s no homeowners association in my neighborhood, so I’m not really against them. I’m sure they do great things, but I’ve never been to such an exclusive meeting.

I am, however, in quite a tiff with front lawns. Yes.

Front lawns. 

Before you think I’m crazy, just stay with me and hear me out.

After reading these books:

Ominvore’s Dilemma by Michael Pollan

The Food Revolution by John Robbins

Main Street Vegan by Victoria Moran

Food Rules by Michael Pollan

The Botany of Desire by Michael Pollan

The One Straw Revolution by Masanobu Fukuoka

The Small-Scale Poultry Flock by Harvey Ussery

…to name a few…

And watching these documentaries:

Dirt

The Vanishing of the Bees

Food Inc.

Hungry For Change

 

…let’s just say, I am now a changed person.

I am no expert. I still have a lot more reading to do, a lot more steps to take, in order to live the lifestyle I want to achieve, but I’m getting there. I may not be the most well-read person on the subject of organic food/gardening/local/gmo’s/the impact it all has on our environment, but I know a thing or two.

Plus, I’m passionate about it. That counts for something as well.

The reason I am upset with front lawns is because it has recently dawned on me just how utterly silly they truly are.

What does a front lawn do?

-It looks nice

-It uses tons of water (especially in dry climates)

-It gets looked at

-It keeps homeowners associations and the mean old lady down the street happy

-Uses up oil, for those who mow the lawn (unless you’re using one of those old twisty non-electric things)

When, I wonder, did the front lawn become a staple among American homes? I’m sure there’s some historian who can tell me exactly where the idea stemmed from (probably a European country), what ads in the early 1900’s began to tell folks they needed such a space for grass, and how the idea spread like wildfire, resulting in cookie cutter lawns. I haven’t met him or her yet. If you are one, please, let me know. I am baffled.

But why do I have a problem with something we all grew up with?

Because if everyone used their front lawns for edible gardens, so many of the world’s problems would be solved. 

You read that correctly.

Have you ever thought about it? Using that space, or even half of it, to supply your own family with food? People are so creative. I’ve seen many a Pinterest picture showing a person how to garden using little space. The information is out there, we just need to start paying attention. For those who have both a front and back yard, why not turn that entire backyard into something functional?

Something that will:

-Feed you

-Save you money in the long run

-Put all that water to a good cause (I repeat: saving you $$$)

-Improve your health

-Ensure that the produce you eat is, in fact, organic

-Bring you closer to nature as you raise something up from seed

-Enhance your eating experience

-Help the bee population (I LOVE bees. In fact, I just planted a bunch of flowers and herbs all together from a “Save the Bees” seed mix. They need chemical free resources and we need them.)

-Make you less dependent on big companies and/or government for food (this is so important)

Sounds good, right?

Oh! And you don’t have to mow it. Therefore, you will be using less oil. That’s always a plus, right? (Again, I’m no expert, but I’m pretty sure it will run out someday. Why not start a generation of kids who know how to feed themselves?)

You might even get some chickens for such a backyard…as they:

-Help add nutrients into the soil

-Keep pests at a minimum

-Eat weeds and your table scraps (instant compost!)

-They are so cute!

In areas within a city where having chickens might not be allowed, you can try to get the law changed. It’s happened all over the place.

[Click here for my own baby chick adventure.]

chickens, organic, gardening

Meet Linus

Anyway.

The current food system is in desperate need of repair. If you haven’t noticed, people are gaining weight left and right, healthcare systems are in shock, and more and more people are dependent on some form of medication to live their normal lives.

Why? Because we are eating Food-Like Substances, a term coined by Michael Pollan.

“Populations that eat a so-called Western diet- generally defined as a diet consisting of lots of processed foods and meat, lots of added fat and sugar, lots of refined grains, lots of everything except vegetables, fruits and whole grains- invariably suffer from high rates of the so-called Western diseases: obesity, type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and cancer.” -Michael Pollan, Food Rules

Any processed food you buy at the store most likely comes from a giant crop that is depleting the ground of nitrogen, harming water sources, and there’s a good chance it’s a GMO. (Genetically Modified Organism)

We’re not Generation Y, folks.

We are The Guinea Pig Generation. There are all kinds of scientific things happening to our food, often involving chemicals, that we are mostly unaware of and most definitely exposed to on a daily basis. And there has been little or no testing done to determine what long term effects these changes and chemicals will have on our long term health. (Or short term. Read about my struggle with acne and how I ended it once and for all here.)

Some people swear that the key to losing weight is counting calories. I’d like to suggest something else.

Never look at another calorie count/nutrition label again.

Look only to the ingredient list. For this holds the key to what you are eating.

“It’s gotten to the point where we don’t see foods anymore but instead look right through them to the nutrients (good and bad) they contain, and of course to the calories- all these invisible qualities in our food that, properly understood, supposedly hold the secret to eating well.

…I learned that in fact science knows a lot less about nutrition that you would expect- that in fact nutrition science is, to put it charitably, a very young science.” -Michael Pollan, Food Rules

Who cares if what you’re eating has more grams of fat? It could be from a great source, like coconut oil or nuts. You will only know if you look at the ingredients list. And even better, make sure that list is filled with food you recognize. Ethoxylated diglycerides? Calcium propionate? Ammonium Sulfate? DUDE. Why are these things everywhere the eye can see? Are you okay with that, when you really think about it?

This is just me, but here are my general rules while shopping:

-Look at the ingredients and try to choose an item with as few as possible (I try not to pass 5 ingredients)

-Make sure they’re all pronounceable (unless you’re with a rocket scientist)

-Shop only on the outside of the store (Ever noticed how processed foods tend to be in the aisles? Produce, bulk items, and foods in their natural state are often found on the periphery of the store)

-I look for Non-GMO Project items

-I get produce that is in season

-I buy at least 95% organic, if not 100% (NOTE: if an item is local, that beats out organic….because many local sources cannot afford the organic certification)

And before you go telling me that this is too expensive, let me ask you yet another question:

How much do you spend on your TV access, your smartphone, or your monthly medication for high blood pressure? Priorities. I cannot say we are rich. But I can say that our top priority when spending comes down to what ends up on our dinner plates. Investing in your health is a real thing. 

At the end of the day, why not do your shopping in your yard? 

It could change the world we live in for the better.

I promise!

{I’d like to share some exciting finds. I only drink soy, almond, or oat milk. The only problem I had with these was … you guessed it… their ingredient lists. They are so often filled with “filler” items like carrageenan or tricalcium posphate. We make our own oat milk sometimes, but on days when we run out and I just want to buy something, we resort to whatever we can get at the store. Today Greg came home with an awesome item!!!!!! WESTSOY Organic Unsweetned Soymilk! Ingredients: filtered water, whole organic soybeans. HALLELUJAH}

{Another fun note: we have lettuce, spinach and Lambsquarters [a wild green, often thrown away as a “weed”] growing out back and I haven’t had to buy my greens at the store. It’s so exciting. I cannot even convey how happy this makes me! Inside and out!!}

So much love,

I just want YOU to be healthy,

and glowing,

and happy,

<3 LOU

writer, new writer, fiction

um… I hope my rant wasn’t too ranty


7 Comments

Three Lovely Ladies <3

UPDATE!!! CHICKEN COOP IS ALMOST READY!!! 

diy chicken coop, chickens, building, writing

I think the chickens will fit…. ;)

chicken coop, chickens, diy, writing

Greg, gettin his drill on

chicken coop, diy, chickens, writing, short stories

It was all of a sudden freezing last night! Fun, though…..

I can’t wait for the chickens. They’ll be free range, organic, and completely loved by me. I already have their names picked out (we’re just eating their eggs! not them!) and I’ll post about it when we get them this week…yay

Anyway.

Now, business.

Blog Everyday in May Challenge

Day 5, Sunday: Publicly profess your love and devotion for one of your blogger friends. What makes them great? Why do you love them? If you don’t have blogger friends, talk about a real-life friend or even a family member

Easy! This is an easy blog to do!!

I have three. If I lived in the same place as these fabulous gals, we’d all be in a book club. I’d ask them to join me for coffee (or Earl Grey Tea) at least once a month, and I think we’d all laugh about our funny “I’m married” (or “I’m dating”) stories as well as how much we love to share bits and pieces of our lives with others. (I picture the four of us being friends like the four women in Sex and the City. Is that weird?)

I think you’ll want to be their friends, too!!

First up!!!

Olive Me Post – A Blog By Cindy Johnson

Cindy is a good friend of mine! She is so sweet and encouraging, and even cooler, I actually know her. She was at my wedding, which makes for a special bond that girls will never forget. We’ve laughed together over ridiculous things like barking spiders. We’ve slept in bunk beds together. Memories, oh memories.

But even better than all of that… Cindy is about to be a published author.

Yup! That’s right.

She has accomplished something huge. Cindy is a big inspiration to me and many others. Her faith in God is worth striving for, her kindness is rare, and her ability to write is fantastic. I have literally laughed out loud, gasped in horror and shook my head at her true stories. She’s one of those people who have weird things happen to them all the time. She can’t even go to an airport without something odd taking place.

Cindy has insightful things to say about dating, red flags (hilarious, so hilarious), Halloween, and dreaming big.

Second!!!

JenEric Generation …We Are Far Too Easily Pleased

Jenny Williams (great last name, by the way) was the first blogger to ever reach out to me.

I was SO IMPRESSED with her blog and everything she does on it, I thought only, “Wow, how does that work? How does she do it?”

Jenny is so smart/funny/witty and she always has something important to share with the world. She recently interviewed me and I’ve never felt so honored in my life. We have some common loves:

-C.S. Lewis

-Bald men (okay, we’re not super creepy, we’re both married to bald guys! I just love that!)

Style (though, look at her! she is way more stylish than I’ll ever be.)

-Pretty sketches (I don’t sketch though… only she does ;) )

I owe a lot of any blogging success I might have to her. She’s been willing to answer all of my questions and keep in touch with me as I figure out the internet and blogging in general. So thanks for EVERYTHING, Jenny!

Last But Not Least!!!

The Lady Okie…Planting My Stakes In A Flyover State 

I feel like meeting Amanda, via the blogging world, was completely meant to be. Here’s why:

I said to Greg, “How does a writer find a reputable editor? I’ve googled it and asked around, and I just can’t quite figure it out. Gosh, I really need someone to edit my stuff.”

THEN Amanda, one of the most hilarious and well spoken (well written?) people I’ve ever encountered, and I “met” via blogging. I checked out her page and there it was: my answer. She is a professional freelance editor! Can you believe it? She has already opened my eyes to ways I can improve my writing and she is perfect, just perfect, when it comes to finding errors. I love that.

Some of my favorite blogs of Amanda’s include:

That one time she…..

RAN A MARATHON… no biggie ;)

WENT SKYDIVING… also, no biggie (um, I’ve always wanted to do this.)

WAS SUPER HONEST… and it made me immediately like her. I love honesty in people!!

I could go on and on.

Just go look at Cindy, Jenny and Amanda’s blogs and I promise, your life will improve. :)

Love, Lou


16 Comments

Lou’s Really Good At…

Here it is!! Day 2 of the challenge- to write a blog every single day of May. Uff-da!

Day 2, Thursday: Educate us on something you know a lot about or are good at. Take any approach you’d like (serious and educational or funny and sarcastic)

First off, let me tell you all a few things I am NOT so good at. I’ve tried and failed at so much, the list is hard to compile.

Being super fashionable. I just don’t do fashion. I mean, I think I pull off a great outfit every once in a while, but that’s largely thanks to Pinterest and the example of others. In high school my friends constantly teased me for my lack of ability to match. My shoes NEVER matched my outfit. I only have one purse. One. Not one for each outfit. I wear the same thing two days in a row. I could never do a fashion blog.

Arguing about politics. I know what I like, what I don’t like, what I want to support and what makes me want to cry. What I am bad at is arguing for these things, purely with political stats and facts. I am horrible at remembering which article x info came from, or which (scuzzy) politician said what (scuzzy) thing and the date it was said on, or what happened 20 years ago that directly impacts such and such decision. I get all shaky and my heart starts to pound when people have in depth political debates in my presence. I have a new approach- never get into a political discussion, at least with anyone who I know will raise their voice. It won’t end well.

Being completely organized and/or neat. This will never be a “how to organize your life” blog. I am kind of a run with it, figure it out as you go along, probably lose an important piece of paper kind of gal. I simply cannot change. There will always be piles of paper in my home. I’ve tried to write down all of my random thoughts in one concise place, like a small notebook, but I never stick to it. I try to keep a tidy kitchen 24/7, but sometimes reading a book is way more important than washing a dish. I am who I am. I’ll say it again: I cannot change.

That being said, there is something I am good at. I have said enough about writing and reading by this point, so I will shift gears today.

I am good at sticking to a healthy diet and keeping a gluten-free, semi-vegetarian home.

Here’s my story:

Suddenly, out of nowhere, when I was a senior in high school, I developed acne. Yes, acne. It was awful. The acne formed mostly around my jawline, mouth and cheekbones. I cried myself to sleep, cried in the morning getting ready for school (I remember one devastating morning, when the makeup just wouldn’t cover up the purple/red I had going on, and I broke down in my parent’s bathroom. They didn’t know what to do) and went to the bathroom between every single class, fixing whatever I thought needed fixing… by adding more makeup. I went to a dermatologist, who gave me THREE chemical peels, an antibiotic to take 2x a day, and a face cream: Retin A. The results? I constantly felt like my face was peeling off and to the annoyance of my twin, Meredith, asked her at least ten times a day, “Does it look like my skin is peeling?” My skin was bright red all the time. I still had pimples. I still cried a lot. I remember dreaming that I woke up with smooth skin. It was really a nightmare and I woke up… never to forget that dream. (there are zero pictures to show… I shied away from the camera. I didn’t want my face documented)

There are a two factors I believe contributed to my dilemma:

partially: High stress (isn’t high school always this way? but it was a particularly bad year, mean girl-wise)

but mostly: DIET  (with the new found freedom I had in going to class later a few times a week [flex schedule, being a senior] plus driving myself there, I was for some reason possessed enough to find myself going to McDonald’s on my way to school. Can I even believe that I ever did such a thing? Barely. But I did. It was truly weeks into eating McDonald’s ~2 times a week that I started having acne. Growing up we never ate fast food. It was rare, and every time I did eat it, it made me sick [surprise, surprise].)

I didn’t see the connection between diet and skin. I just didn’t. Dermatologists don’t say, “Hey, you should really try changing your overall diet.” No. They say, “Here, let me prescribe x, and x, and x.”

I’ve said before that I love the word CAHOOTS. Well, I think dermatologists (and most western health care professionals) are in CAHOOTS with the drug companies. ***NOT ALL. There are some who I think truly care, truly believe they are doing the right thing, and only want to help.*** But there is an overwhelming majority who, I believe, are influenced by $ and $ alone. If people simply changed their diets, what would the drug companies do? Go out of business, that’s what. 

Anyway!

It took years, YEARS, for me to discover a new way of eating and living. My mother-in-law has celiac. It’s absolutely no joke. She survived cancer, caused by eating gluten when “gluten free” was a term used by no one. It’s almost funny now, because one can hardly have a symptom of sickness without her asking, “Well, do you think you might have celiac?” But I think she may be on to something. She suggested I try going gluten free to try and fix my skin problem. I didn’t really think it would help.

But then I tried it.

I started eating a gluten free diet about two years ago. My skin improved dramatically. Whenever I would “cheat” and eat gluten, guess what? A pimple would pop up, pretty much the next day. I began to see a direct correlation. So I stopped cheating. I have been eating 100% gluten free for a year and a half now. My skin has improved. During that time I also started taking my antibiotic once a day, rather than twice… and eventually stopped taking it altogether. I didn’t want to depend on something like that. I stopped applying the Retin A. I stopped seeing a dermatologist.

Want to know something kind of sad? The first 5 years of my relationship with Greg, he never once touched my face. Because I was obsessive compulsive about anything touching my face. I didn’t touch it, I changed my pillow case every night, and heaven forbid Greg touch my cheek. I wouldn’t let him. How sad is that?

I’m proud to say that now, I don’t have to worry about anything touching my face. I once said, “I want to use make up as an enhancer, not a cover up.” Now I do. I wake up, wash my face, and I sometimes put on make up, sometimes go without it. I no longer buy or use pimple cream. I stopped with those harsh cleansers… the ones claiming to be “acne fighting” and make up containing salicylic acid. None of those things helped. They only make things worse.

Now I use natural skin care products. I mostly buy MyChelle brand items, use 100% Argon oil, and a light fruit enzyme mist. That’s it!!! It’s cheaper and easier, let me tell you… than relying on prescriptions galore and all kinds of horrible make up.

My skin has never been better. And it wasn’t just the gluten free. Cutting gluten out of my diet helped, but it didn’t solve every single problem. I still had a little bit of red, my scars still needed to fade, and I’d wake up every once in a while with a blemish.

There was one more step on my road to clear skin. And I thank God every single day for what I’ve learned.

I began to eat organic. I started eating greens every single day. I stopped eating meat every day. 

Which inevitably led to educating myself on the food system in general. It’s outrageous, if you do your research. I started with Michael Pollan’s Ominvore’s Dilemma. Then I read The Food Revolution by John Robbins. Next was Main Street Vegan by Victoria Moran. The list goes on, but the knowledge gained goes on forever. I began to see the connection between big companies… whether they’re GMO seed companies, like Monsanto, or big animal torturing meat companies, like Tyson, they’re all contributing to the unhealthy distribution of food. No WONDER our generation has seen an influx of medical maladies. No WONDER kids suffer with acne, obesity and overall sickness of health. Look at what we, as a nation, are eating!! “Food like substances.” That’s what. You can hardly call a McDonald’s Happy Meal food. Or happy. (I haven’t eaten fast food in over two years. It overwhelms me to think of every bad element that goes into one fast food item. I simply cannot do it.)

I try my hardest to advocate for the things I like, rather than bashing the things I cannot abide by. Like Michael Pollan says, we can vote for what we support THREE TIMES A DAY!! That’s a lot of voting. And how is that done? By what we eat. What we choose to buy… each time our food gets scanned at the grocery store… that’s a vote. I choose to vote for smaller companies, preferably organic, and to limit my meat intake, which ultimately helps water conservation, the way animals are treated, and my own health (Please, please.. I beg of you… read those books I listed above!!!)

When I started:

-cooking every meal from scratch

-eating 100% gluten free

-buying ~95% organic

-eating a ~90% plant based diet (roughly…)

my skin became perfect.

I am not here trying to boast about it. I’m not here saying that makes me, in any way, better. But it makes me happier. When I wake up, I can touch my skin and smile, feeling that it is smooth. When I look in the mirror, I no longer want to cry. (Though I have, literally, cried from the joy and hardly being able to believe that my dream of having clear skin finally came true.) I want to shout all of this from the rooftops in order to help every teenager and adult who feels like their acne just won’t go away. The solution is so simple. If I can do it, you can too.

I love this topic. I love discussions about healthy eating. PLEASE FEEL FREE to email me (mgreywilliams@gmail.com), comment on here, or contact me on facebook. I will tell you every single meal I eat, if that will help you. I’ll give tips on how to shop this way, make it affordable and tell you over and over again… it’s easy!!!

So many people blow off a good diet and use the excuses it’s too expensive or I don’t have time or I don’t believe it. Don’t let these poor excuses keep you from knowing the truth and improving your life!!! Because investing in your health today is a whole lot cheaper than paying for medical help later on in life. BE that older person who doesn’t rely on pills or a doctor. BE that person who is free from that and who lives simply.

I want to write all day about this. But I think I’ll stop here.

Just a recap…

– I had acne, which directly correlated with eating fast food, being stressed, and gluten intake

-I fixed my skin… my own way, by:

– educating myself on the current food system

– choosing to “vote” for and support local and organic food and farms

– NEVER, ever, ever, eating fast food or supporting big companies such as Monsanto, Tyson, McDonald’s, etc.

– cooking from scratch, always including healthy greens like spinach, arugula or kale

– choosing to make my household primarily vegetarian (for so many reasons… too many to write about today)

I am so excited to be sharing this with you. I hope it helps!

I just want everyone to know how attainable a healthy, glowing complexion is!!! I don’t want ANYONE to suffer the way I did. No one deserves that.

food, acne, writing

the smile I wear couldn’t BE more real :)

Love, love, love

Lou