Hello From Wyoming!

Here I am in Evanston, WY, which appears to be the betting capitol of of the Mountain States. There is betting in every form from keno to horse racing to greyhounds to rodeos.  I have been here since last night due to a botched home town auto repair job that resulted in my car having issues while on my travels and eventually breaking down completely right at the highway off ramp of this tiny cowboy town. The only auto service shop in town does not have the right machinery to repair my car so it will need to go Salt Lake City, UT which is about 80 miles away. I am so grateful to AAA right now. Me and my car will be towed in the morning where I will likely stay through Monday while my car gets repaired.
This is certainly not the road trip I envisioned. In fact, most of this trip so far has been challenging and not so much fun for me. I battled with myself to even blog about these obstacles that have created way more stress than I have cared for.  I would say that I almost feel embarrassed that this long dreamed journey has been what feels to me like a complete bust.  I don’t really know what I expected, but I didn’t anticipate car troubles that would keep me from moving along for days or the expense involved in repairs.
I suppose this experience now becomes part of my journey. I have been intrigued by small town America where there is most definitely no gluten free or dairy free options. I guess I can say I am also grateful for my meticulous food planning and preparations because even though I have had cooling issues with my food and have had to toss a few things for safety sake, I still have quite a stock of food. The motels where I have stayed have had refrigerators and microwaves so in that regard, it has worked well for me. I am, however, desperately low on fresh produce and that led me to the motel’s salad bar that I was excited for until I viewed my options. There was iceberg lettuce, not even spinach! along with about 5 other things that I could eat. Thankfully there was a dressing available so although it was far from my ideal salad, I have to give credit to the freshness. That salad was crisp and satisfied my need for fresh veggies. Even though I love my home made food, after days of travelling, it’s fresh factor is dwindling.
I understand that Salt Lake City is relatively large and will likely have grocery store options for me. I guess I will find out tomorrow. For now, I will be heading down the road to enjoy the evening fireworks, which I hear are pretty great. Have safe and happy celebrations if that is what you do on this day.

Here’s a couple of my road trip foods I ate today!

Enjoy!

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Raspberry Chia Seed Pudding

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pizza made with basil/artichoke pesto, roasted radishes, swiss chard, artichoke hearts, chicken breast pieces and a sprinkle of basil.

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The Journey Begins

The past 24 hours have been a whirlwind of preparations and incredible anxiety as I loaded up my car and headed out of Oregon on my adventure across the country.

I have anxiously awaited this trip for so long and dreamed about it for even longer.  Now it is here; my road trip across middle America has begun!  Gluten Free/Dairy Free Across America  {http://wp.me/p4cJfr-ph}  is my blog that highlights my trip.  I had intentions to blog my beginnings yesterday morning before I hit the road, however anxiety and my overwhelmed state of mind made it pretty impossible to accomplish anything other than getting ready to leave and even that was incredibly difficult!

I had a few stress related glitches and there were a few moments when fear paralyzed me from going further.  I left home a lot later than I had anticipated, forgot a few things in my haste, most importantly-all my maps and travel books!  Yeah, that was cause for severe panic.  Feeling very disoriented and after some brief encouraging words from my sweetie, I decided to continue on and pick up maps along the way.  My first night was near Ontario, OR at a very peaceful campground.  I met a super neat guy who had the same vehicle as me.  He gave me some sound wisdom on how to baby my engine over the steep mountain roads so I won’t have overheating issues.  He also was kind enough to show me some maps so I had an idea of what I was going toward.  He even highlighted some choice spots to check out beautiful sights.  And so it begins….

I am currently enjoying a little air conditioning in a Whole Foods Market in Boise, ID.  I needed some time to orient myself and this store feels familiar, so here I sit.  I also need to be available for a phone appointment so I’ll hang out and find my center again.

I am sure there are plenty of options for my kind of eating since this is a Whole Foods Market, but I am plenty stocked with food at the moment.  I am not impressed with my 12 Volt cooler, but I may have it over full.  It is just too warm to have mediocre cooler temperatures so I have decided to purchase an insulated cooler for food safety (and my health!) sake.

Here’s a few pics of some yummy road trip food that I have enjoyed so far.  I promise recipes later!  It’s all in the car right now!  So far, I am happy with my road trip food choices. Now, I must seek out some additional cooling before it all goes bad!  More to come as I journey along!

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The Garden Of Good Eating

Our garden is providing well for us this season.  This gives me immense gratification. Gardening has become incredibly therapeutic for me.  It has helped tremendously in reducing my stress and anxiety.  My rewards are tremendous not only in mind and spirit, but in body as well.  My diligence and hard work pays off in the form of healthy, organic whole food that nourishes and heals my body.

I went to check on our strawberries this morning and was delighted to discover quite a few berries ripe and reading for picking.  There are few things that give me as much pleasure as food from the garden.  Literally,  every single time I step outside to pick fresh produce I find myself getting all skippy and jumpy like a child on a playground.  More than once my sweetie giggled with me as I gleefully danced around the kitchen marveling at the miracle food right from our yard.

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It was no different this morning when I discovered the strawberries.  My inspiration was instantaneous as I skipped back into the house. This was our first good pick of strawberries! My mind began swirling with ideas for these beautiful fruits.  I considered eating them for breakfast in some lovely concoction, but I just couldn’t keep these luscious, juicy berries all to myself.  It would be nice for me to share and I know my sweetie would appreciate enjoying these berries as well.  Since hospital work is everyday and never ending, my sweetie is at work today.  I decided whatever I came up with would be for later this evening.

Of course berries means dessert in my mind, however I have been trying to keep grains out of my diet.  It wouldn’t really benefit my body to make a delicious cake or crisp even though that does sound fantastic.  Besides, I wanted to taste these berries in their most natural form so I decided on a salad for dinner.  We could both share in the literal fruits of our labor, the berries are in their pure form and enhanced with even more goodness from the garden by adding green leaf lettuce and cut chives.  This salad is simple, fresh and absolutely beautiful.  Check it out!

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I borrowed some ideas for this salad from one of my favorite websites http://www.nourishingmeals.com/.  You can find the original recipe there.  I made some slight changes by using raw organic agave nectar instead of coconut nectar for the pepitas .  I planned on making the dressing, also using the agave but discovered I was out of red wine vinegar.  A trip to the store revealed a bargain I could not pass up so I abandoned my red wine vinegar and dressing idea for this:

bargain of the day!!!

bargain of the day!!!

It was only $1.20; down from $4.79.  It’s made with some yummy superfruits providing tons of antioxidents.  It has a flavor zing that will make your taste buds dance!  I sprinkled the salad with poppyseeds and drizzled the dressing over the top for a fantastic tasting dish that was a feast for the eyes and belly.  I scaled the entire recipe down to accommodate a nice size dinner salad for two people.  The best part-leftovers for my lunch tomorrow!

The Versatile Blogger Award & The Dragon’s Loyalty Award

I was honored with a nomination by Detox Mama (http://wp.me/46j66) for a dual award; the Versatile Blogger Award & the Dragon’s Loyalty Award.  Thank you so much, Detox Mama!  I truly appreciate the support as I “learn the ropes” of blogging.  Detox Mama is passionate about nutrition and health.   She blogs about her detox experiences while sharing wholesome, organic recipes for you to try at home.  Some of Detox Mama’s recipes have become my favorites to play around with in the kitchen!
versatilebloggerThe Versatile Blogger Award looks at the quality of the writing and the uniqueness of the subjects covered. It also looks at the level of love displayed in the words on the virtual page as well as the quality of the photos and the love that went into taking them.
dragonsloyaltyaward1The Dragon’s Loyalty Award is an awarded to the loyal follower who frequently likes and/or comments on blogs, sort of like a “high 5” for showing the love.
Both awards require that I share 7 facts about myself and then pass on the awards to 15 fellow bloggers. Since these were awarded to me together, I will award them together as well. I then thank and tag the person who nominated me, then tag and notify my nominees.

7 facts about me:

  1. I rarely listen to music yet I hum random songs all day long.
  2. I want to have my own kind of food revolution like Jamie Oliver (http://www.jamieoliver.com/us/foundation/jamies-food-revolution/about_jamie_oliver)
  3. I am social worker turned food radical, working cook/chef & have always worked for non-profits in both fields.
  4. I am a native Oregonian.
  5. I have a secret (not so much now!) desire to be a race car driver.
  6. I have had many hobbies in the past including card making, glass & wood painting and glass magnets.
  7. I am about to start a new craft project involving small terra cotta pots!  I think it will be lots of fun!

 

Honestly, I am just new enough in this blogging environment and dipping my feet in slowly.  I admit I really don’t know 15 bloggers well enough to pass on these awards.  However, I wish to share 8 of my favorites.

Here are my nominations:

  1. Holistic Fitness & Wellness, http://wordpress.com/read/blog/id/63498752/
  2. I Need A Feed, http://wp.me/2Olpe
  3. Cat at Things My Belly Likes, http://wp.me/28ZQb
  4. Kate at Gluten-Free For Lunchboxes,  http://wp.me/P2EGNb-2
  5. Wise Monkey Abroad, http://wp.me/3vWrS
  6. Outlook In Life, http://wp.me/2VodR
  7. Espirational, http://wp.me/2ynnO
  8. My Foray Into Food Storage, http://wp.me/4hATB

 

Please answer 7 facts about yourself, tag & thank the blogger who nominated you, & nominate 15 new bloggers (or as many as you can).  Tag them on your blog and notify them on theirs.

 

 

Food Security Is Just One Roasted Chicken Away

Personally, I absolutely love roasted chicken.  One chicken can make gluten free, dairy free meal preparations a breeze for days and that is all right by me!  I think chicken pairs well with pretty much everything!  I also find a great deal of pleasure coming up with new and unique chicken dishes.

I do choose to eat meat, mostly chicken and fish.  I lived many years as a vegetarian for ethical and moral reasons.  For health reasons,  I chose a vegan way of eating for nearly a year.   Ultimately, what I have learned is I feel my best when there is a moderate amount of animal protein in my diet.  So, with this choice, I am mindful of where my meat comes from and that it is the “happiest” meat I can afford.  By “happiest” I mean local, raised humanely, antibiotic and hormone free, organic, free range and best of best when I have the extra money; grass fed.

Blessed be that I can have that choice.  It was not always that way.   Because remembering that eating chicken was a luxury rarely afforded and to honor the life of the chicken that provided me food to eat, I believe in using as much of a whole chicken as I can.  My own personal roasted chicken challenge stems from this belief.  I challenge myself to make the most meals out of each roasted chicken, always attempting to ‘up’ my last chicken challenge in the amount of dishes I can make.

I am not quite sure when it began that I would count the number of meals a roasted chicken would provide, but I believe it began with my first roasted chicken I prepared after a long absence from meat.  I enjoyed that chicken at nearly every meal for over a week.  I ate so many chicken meals that a friend actually commented on how long I had been eating from this same roasted chicken.

Each time I begin a chicken challenge it takes me to a place of remembrance.  Remembering when I could barely afford a can of chicken soup, let alone a whole chicken.  It also reminds me that I now have food security.  I can take care of myself and I can do so in the way I feel is best for me because I can afford to make this choice.  I always have to give a moment of grateful thanks when I have this realization, which is often.  I know access to good, whole food and quality ingredients is a “luxury” not accessible to so many.  Quality, organic, non-GMO foods should not be a “luxury”.   I’ll share more on my beliefs around food security, hunger and lack of access in another post.  For now, in my preparations of just one roasted chicken, I am reminded that I can be resourceful and I can be cost efficient.  I can provide meals for not just myself, but my household for days.  I can do all of these things and adhere to my personal belief system and food philosophy.  This gives me such deeply felt satisfaction.

I ask you to consider having your own roasted chicken challenge by trying out some of these great chicken dish recipes I came up with.  In addition to the meat from the chicken itself, I made a broth with the remaining chicken parts and vegetables I used to roast the chicken.  I put some into mason jars for the freezer and I used some to make a wonderful chicken noodle soup.  The meat from the chicken was enjoyed sliced with veggie sides, it was used to make burritos, stir-fry and breakfast sandwiches.  In total we enjoyed about 15 individual meals with this one chicken.  That’s a conservative guess because I lost count there were so many delicious meals!

How many meals can you provide with your own whole chicken?

For this chicken, I used celery, parsley, a lemon, carrots, yellow onion, minced garlic (from a jar because I had no fresh!)  I sat the chicken on a bed of the sliced veggies as well as stuffing the cavity with all the veggies you see here except the carrots.  I slid a few veggies under the skin and topped it with a spice combination of garlic salt, pepper, paprika, basil and turmeric. I spread the carrots around the chicken, added 1 1/2 cups of water and put into a 350 degree oven for 20 minutes, turning it down to 250 degrees and roasting until done, about 2 1/4 hours for a 3 (ish) pound chicken.

Here's what went into the pot with the chicken for roasting.

Here’s what went into the pot with the chicken for roasting.

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All stuffed, spiced and ready for the oven!

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This is the meat that made meals for so many days!!

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This is what is left after I cut the meat from the chicken. I added about 4 cups of water and simmered the chicken parts and the veggies from roasting to make a delicious and flavorful broth.

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3 pints of broth went into the freezer!

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This broth was the base for one of the best chicken soups I have made!

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Here is the finished product! Fantastic chicken noodle soup!
Into this broth I added: the remaining chicken meat that was simmered off the bones, 1/2 a yellow onion and minced garlic to equal 1 clove, sauteed, 3 medium carrots cut into rounds, 1 stalk of celery sliced into moons, 1 cup of fresh radicchio, shredded,   a handful of fresh parsley, a handful of rice vermicelli noodles &  a little salt and pepper. Heat on the stove top until veggies are cooked through and enjoy a piping hot bowl of soup!!

 

Urban Adventures in the “Jade District”

Our neighborhood, nicknamed  “Jade District” caters to a diverse ethnic population.  We regularly delight in weekend urban adventures and were motivated to check out one of the newer local Asian markets, not just because it was new to the neighborhood, but there was also a celebration of the new cafe’ opening inside this market; owned by one of my sweeties colleagues.

We enjoyed festivities and entertainment then wandered the store with our coffee in hand.  We gazed across displays of unfamiliar produce before ultimately eyeing one of my favorite Chinese leaf vegetables.

Rambutan

Rambutan

green & purple mini eggplant

green & purple mini eggplant

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???

Jackfruit

Jackfruit

When I saw the baby bok choy all plump and pretty green I had to take a second look. Those beautiful bundles hugged between an array of exotic vegetables had my creative juices flowing instantly.  I had to walk back and grab a bunch.  With a developing dinner menu we continued around the store and I gathered a few more ingredients to complete my plan.

The remainder of our day we bounded around outside soaking up the tiny bit of sunshine our lovely city gave us for a too short time.

We returned home at just the perfect time to get dinner going.   I got to work in the kitchen, taking joy in the colorful assortment of veggies on the counter.

Isn't this pretty?

Isn’t this pretty?

Partly inspired by gorgeous bok choy and partly by fellow bloggers and facebook posts, our dinner is a chicken and veggie stir fry using the following ingredients:

chicken breast

cashews

pineapple chunks

garlic

yellow onion

jicama

ginger

carrots

baby bok choy

low sodium tamari

fish sauce

oyster sauce

vermicelli rice noodles

I sauteed the one whole chicken breast (about 2/3 of a pound)  in 1 Tblsp. of sesame oil, removed it when just browned on the outside, diced into cubes and set aside on a dish. I then added minced garlic, diced onions and sauteed with a little pineapple juice until translucent. I added in cut carrot rounds, cooked those about 3 more minutes then added back in the chicken, diced into small chunks. I tossed about 1 cup of cashews into the mix.  All this jumble got some stir fry action until the chicken was cooked through. I tossed in 2 bunches of chopped baby bok choy, 1/2 cup of pineapple chunks, 1  1/2 tsp of fish sauce, 1/8 cup of tamari, 2 Tblsp. of oyster sauce and let it all sit together so flavors could meld.

beautiful!

beautiful!

This went over the cooked noodles and dinner was served!  It was fantastic! Enjoy this with any variety of vegetables that sound good to you.  Experiment with amounts and flavors.  Mostly, have fun and eat well!

Juicing My Way Through Grief

I drove past a funeral procession on my way home from work this afternoon. Instantaneously, I felt a wave of grief wash over me and I began to cry. I was completely powerless over my response. It just happened.  I know the raw pain that those people in the procession are experiencing; it took me right back. It is too fresh for me and still so painful.

Grief is an interesting emotion. At any given moment such as this, I find myself in such anguish and unbelievable sorrow.  In the past week or so my predominant and annoying grief emotion has been anxiety. This anxiety gives me butterfly tummy, makes me feel jittery, on edge because something has to be done, right?? I easily become irritable. I pace a lot. There is one serious storm that brews in my mind; a whirlpool of agitated thoughts keeping me from clear focus on nothing more complex than “just getting by”.  I’m sure I am not the only one with this feeling.  Some days doesn’t it seem like it takes every bit of energy you can muster to get out of bed and do your regular morning routines?  Right now it stops me and I must force myself toward tasks if I want anything accomplished. I find a mantra and push forward. Sometimes it’s as simple as “this will help you feel better”.

I’ve tried a number of over the counter supplements and homeopathic remedies for this anxiety with a great degree of success however, there are some days when my mind is weak, my body tired and emotions rule. I simply do the best I can and that is enough.

It is always easy enough for me to be mindful of what food goes in my body. Even in high stress times, I don’t often sway toward extremes. I do however tend to favor one food group which often leads to tummy unhappiness. In an effort to be more diverse and add beneficial nutrition to my diet I have been drinking juices and smoothies often.

Juicing is a pain. I’m just going to say it. It is messy. It’s time consuming. There is a lot of produce that goes in and very little comes out in comparison. With that said, this is one of those tasks where my mantra is useful. Because the kitchen is an easy and calming place for me, it doesn’t take long to soothe my scattered mind. 

When I drink fresh made juice it’s like mega vitamins zap my brain at lightening speed helping me to feel alert, alive, energetic  and yes, even anxiety free. In combination with my current supplements I have had a few less miserable days.

I expect that I will cope with grief for a while. I give myself room for those days when I just “get by” and I know that this too shall pass. I will help myself to feel rejuvenated by keeping a regular routine of juicing. The pros of this care taking technique far out way the cons. My goal is to feel better!

In whatever way you may need to feel better I encourage you to try juicing.  This juice is amazing. Drink a rainbow today!

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What I used for this juice:

2 fuji apples

1 bartlett pear

2 mandrins

5 stalks of celery

4 medium carrots

1 english cucumber

2 red beets

5 kale leaves

large handful of mixed greens

small handful of parsley

push through juicer and enjoy immediately!!