Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Simplifying Life

     After reading a great post from a fellow blogger, I decided to create my own post about living a balanced life. I have read many books and have had countless amazing discussions about how to become a more balanced individual and why that is important. Let's start from why being balanced is important, shall we? To me, being a balanced person is having a feeling of calm and being in control of the things important to you. In nature, when things are unbalanced, things like tornadoes, earth quakes, hurricanes, and even rain occur. Now, with this in mind, you can see that sometimes, being unbalanced is a necessary part of life. Humans, animals, and plants all need water to survive, therefore rain (which is an unbalanced moisture content in the air) is a necessity for survival. On the other hand, hot and cold air mixing together and becoming unbalanced (or unstable, as the meteorologists call it) becomes a natural disaster like a tornado! Although it is not necessary, natural disasters occur and are just as much a part of life as rain. Balancing and being unbalanced are part of our natural life.
     Part 2: Ever since I first learned about the teachings of Yoga, I have wanted to become more of a well-rounded human being; covering all 5 domains of life (spiritual, physical, intellectual, emotional, and social). Here is my personal experience with these domains, but remember, no two people are a like; so what works for me may or may not work for you. Balance requires attention to your own personal life and fining what does and does not work for your greater good.
     Spiritual- I was raised Catholic, so I should be a spiritual person right? Not really...Just because someone declares a denomination, it does not mean that he or she is spiritual. I believe that being a spiritual person means finding love and happiness in everyday occasions (plants growing, birds chirping, breathing, being able to smile, etc.). I also believe that everything has a spirit, a life-force if you will. I feel the most spiritual while taking a long walk/hike through the woods or up a mountain; when I am in nature to be exact. All people have different forms of spirituality and places that they feel the most spiritual. Try new things and go out on a limb to see where your spiritual place lies!
     Physical- I have been fine tuning this one my whole life! I played volleyball up until I was a sophomore in college and since then, have been trying different exercise techniques to see what I like and don't like. Eating also goes under this domain. Since my childhood, my eating habits and style have done a 180! I now focus on getting as many vegetables into my diet every day and also add in vegetable protein, fruits, whole grains, and healthy fats to create a well-balanced diet :)
     Intellectual- This domain comes easy to me because I love to read and learn! When I am not studying for a class, I am learning new things online or reading a book. I even have a list of all the books I would like to read...let's just say its more than 1 page long...
     Emotional- This domain is the hardest for me. I am a very emotional person and it is hard for me to keep them to myself. When something is wrong, I want to share it with someone. Now, I am not saying that I show my emotions to everybody, I just need to get things off my chest in a timely manner. For instance, when something bad occurs (to me or someone close to me), I have to talk to someone about it. My way of dealing with emotions is through talking. Some people like to keep to themselves, others exercise to blow off steam, while some even meditate! (I can't sit still long enough to do that...yet...) The important thing here is to find what works for you and stick to it. Emotions are probably the hardest to conquer and the most important for a healthy life. I am continuously working on mine, and will never settle because life is always throwing curve balls; it is up to us to stay on top of it.
     Social- Growing up as an only child, I was extremely shy around my peers. I am still not the most outgoing person, but I am more willing to step out of my comfort zone more often. I feel that college really helped me with that because I had no one to be with unless I stepped out of my dorm room. For me, being social means connecting with my friends and family; making the most of my current relationships; and being willing to start new friendships while keeping the old ones strong.

 What living a balance life means to me:
This is simple...live life!  I know that is a very vague way to put it, but there is no equation or solution to finding more balance in your life.  That is the beauty of it; it constantly changes, even for you!  The important thing to do is to stay positive and know that no matter the situation, a positive lesson will be brought out and you will learn.  Also, know that there are many people in your life for a reason, so contact them and try to work on each of the domains of health to become a more balanced you!

How do you stay balanced when the world around you seems to be tilting?

Luana ola!

Friday, June 22, 2012

Fermented Love

After sipping a morning glass of cold ACF (apple cider vinegar) and water and going through blog posts, I remembered how much I LOVE fermented foods!





Practically anything with vinegar!

Now, most people do not like that tang that comes with vinegar, but I gobble it up.  Through a lot of my research, I have come to find that naturally fermented foods are some of the healthiest foods for your insides.  Why, you ask?  Well, fermentation comes from bacteria.  The little guys eat up the sugar and Carbon that is present in the food and sometimes create gas bubbles.  That being said, the yellow, extra crunchy, HFCS laden pickled foods at the grocery store are not what I am talking about.  Fermented foods are actually quite easy to make at home.  Once you do a little research and practice, you come to find that it is not a scary process and is actually quite fun!

So far, I have made my own dairy free yogurt (which I need to do again...) and pickles.  My next adventure is sauerkraut and kombucha.

Back to the fermentation process...when these bacteria grow, they become ingested and actually help to line your digestive tract and feed on the other foods you ingest; making digestion mush easier on your body and keeping your intestines clean!  The cool thing about being in a microbiology class right now is that I get to see the little guys working every day in lab!  Too bad I can't take pictures to post...oh well, off to eat the rest of my coco-yogurt for breakfast with flax meal and pineapple!!

What is your favorite fermented food?

Luana ola!

Monday, June 18, 2012

Summer Wedding

My cousin got married this past Saturday!  Congrats Jeremy and Alexis!  As you will be able to see, this was no traditional wedding; the theme was tye-dye.  Since my cousin, Jeremy, is a drummer, my mom made their card holder into a drum set.  It had pictures of the couple growing up, their engagement picture, and a couple pictures from their Honeymoon in Italy.
 Reciting their vows.
 Needless to say, it was a very fun night with love in the air!  I wish the best of luck to them and hope they live a wonderful life together!

Then, on Father's Day (Sunday), Andrew and I took my parents to Lake Michigan to catch some rays and stroll on the beach.  Here's dad and me!
Andrew wanted to pretend we were on the Titanic...

 We stopped at a cute sandwich shop and got some amazing freshly made sandwiches!  Mom and I split a veggie sub (I added hot peppers to mine), Dad got tuna on rye, and Andrew got turkey on wheat.
 Then in the tradition of summer, we all got milkshakes across the street.  Dad got the oh-so-famous vanilla, Andrew got Elephant tracks (peanut butter cup), mom got vanilla/chocolate swirl, and I got green tea (no dairy!!) 
 After a nice walk on the beach and looking at light houses, we went to Grandpa's (dad's dad) to say hey.  He has a beautiful garden with roses that are super perky because of our mild winter.  Red, pink, and yellow.

 That night, Andrew and I had whole wheat pasta with olive oil, and garlic, all topped with basil from the garden.
 And cute little Gus with the only remains of her Romaine lettuce she finished!
What did you do for Father's Day with your dad?

Luana ola!

Friday, June 15, 2012

The Blind Leading the Blind

While reading, Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver I came across many very interesting concepts about the food we eat; and why we eat it.  I have had such a good experience reading this book and I feel that anyone who eats should read it.

Towards the end of the book, page 339 to be exact, has a quick side note about critics of eating local food. Many people think that eating local and organic is expensive, and at a first glance, they are right.  The thing to keep in mind about eating "conventional" foods is that although they may seem like they cost less, they are actually costing more in the long run.  Let's take a conventional apple for example.  That tree is sprayed with pesticides (cost:  health and money), grown on hundreds of acres (cost:  money, depleted nutrients in soil from lack of crop rotation), picked and planted by machinery (cost:  tax dollars, gasoline), and then delivered to stores year round (cost:  trucks, drivers, taxes, health, market).  Now for comparison, the organic apple.  This apple tree is surrounded by a few more trees for natural pollination, no pesticides are used, usually picked by hand (by the farmer), and are brought to market only while in season (can't grow apples in the winter...).

Which would you chose to eat?  Which would ultimately cost less?  You decide and let me know what you think.
Now, back to the book...This side note talks about how a golden rice has been genetically created to feed the malnourished children of the world.  This rice gets its golden color from the beta carotene that has been bred into it (beta carotene is synthesized into vitamin A by our bodies to enhance eye sight and brain function).  The ironic thing about this creation is that "most of the world's malnourished children live in countries that already produce surplus food" (339).  The nutritional problems that these children are experiencing are because of these mono-cultured products we are creating.  The whole reason that multiple types of plants are edible is so the body can absorb the nutrients easily.  When the golden rice is eaten, the beta carotene is not as bio-available as if it were from dark leafy greens, carrots, or other naturally colorful food.  This whole crisis could be solved if the world focused on eating natural foods that their land creates.

I would appreciate some comments on this topic because it is very close to my heart and I would love to hear some different opinions on this case; so please feel free to let me know what you think/how you feel about this issue.

Luana ola!

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Check List

Man, now that I actually have a day off of work (still have class tonight), I can get some stuff done.  Here's my checklist for today:

  • finish exam review guide for micro- almost done
  • complete business exam
  • bike ride
  • write out recipes- 2 left
  • put laundry away
I absolutely LOVE having things to do!

Today's lunch was a whole bunch of broccoli (I had to finish the lot because it's starting to go bad...) and half of a baked potato topped with plain coco-yogurt.  The whole lot was sprinkled with red pepper flakes and garlic.  Oh, and that gloppy yellowish-brown mess is the best mustard I've ever had!  Organic stone ground with apple cider vinegar!

What's a fun recipe you've made recently?

Luana ola!

Wild and Tasty

As you may know (if not, I am going to surprise you...), wild rice is not actually rice!  It is the seed of a grass, but it looks and cooks much like rice.  It has a sweeter taste and has a nice chewy bite when cooked properly.  Another cool thing about wild rice is the dark black color to them.  This black hue is crated by the phytonutrients (antioxidents) encased in this grain.  A good rule of thumb is typically, "the darker the whole food, the richer in antioxidents and phytonutrients that food is".

Now, you may be thinking, what's with the post on rice; that is not even rice?...  Well, that's what I had for breakfast this morning!
I actually had about a cup of this stuff, but I started eating and then remembered to take a picture :)  It is an equal combination of medium grain brown rice and wild rice.  I soaked 1 cup of the dry rice mixture for a few hours, then cooked it in 2 c of water.  Bring the whole thing up to a boil for 1 minute, then turn off the heat at let the rice soak up all the water.  Feel free to add any spices/herbs.  I then keep this rice in the fridge for a quick side dish to dinner or I heat it up for breakfast with a little stevia and cinnamon (which reminds me of the rice breakfast Mamaw used to make me when I stayed at her house; although she used cane sugar and white rice...).

Luana ola!

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Peanut butter and Tortoise

Well, since I promised a post on powdered peanut butter, I will stick to my word and inform you of some pros and cons.  On the other hand, we took way to many pictures of Gus yesterday to not post about her too!

Let's start with the peanut butter.  The great thing about peanuts, and nuts/seeds in general, is that they are high in good fats and protein, loaded with vitamins, and just taste great!  The con, if you are like me, is that they are very calorie-dense and that spells trouble when it is very hard for you to keep the spoon out of the jar.  Nothing beats that smooth, nutty taste.  A couple of years ago, I came across a product called PB2.  Someone from the company went to my dad's office and asked him to try the product.  Loving to try new foods, he brought it home to the two people who loved peanut butter more than anyone he knew; my mom and me.  The cool thing about this peanut butter is that all of the oil is pressed out of it, so it is in powdered form (and 85% less fat!!!!!)  All you have to do is measure out how much you want and add a little water until it is the perfect consistency for you.
It comes in a couple different flavors and tastes great, but I still missed the thick, creamy consistency of the real deal.  I have now found another brand from Whole Foods, called Just Great Stuff, and is the same concept.  This brand tastes a little bit better because you can actually make it pretty thick.
It is the same deal, but costs $8 per tiny jar! 

The cool thing about this, too, is that you can also use it to bake with!  Talk about healthy, amazing, gluten free cookies!!!  I can't wait to try it.

Now for the cutest thing in the world!
 We poured water over her for a bath.
Watering our tortoise :)

She'll grow big and strong if she eats her greens!

 She seemed to really like it :)
 Lilies in full bloom in the back yard!
 I think she wanted another bath...
 Luana ola!

Friday, June 8, 2012

GF Cookie Cake

Last night, I baked a gluten-free cookie cake for Andrew to bring to a surprise birthday party for one of his colleagues.  It was very interesting making a cookie with no wheat flour, but it seemed to turn out just fine (although the real review will come home tonight with Andrew).  I modified the recipe from a chocolate chocolate chip recipe from whole foods here's what you will need:

Then, this morning, I topped the whole thing with a vegan cream cheese mixture (organic dairy free cream cheese, powdered sugar, and vanilla) then layered that with sliced kiwi, strawberries, and blue berries.  To put the whole thing over the top, I drizzled it with melted bittersweet chocolate!!

 I had some of the leftover berries with coco-yogurt and chocolate drizzle for breakfast, and of course my side of toast!
Have a happy and healthy weekend!

Luana ola!

Thursday, June 7, 2012

30 Before 30

This is a list of some of the things that Andrew and I would like to do before we turn 30:

K- Publish 3 books: medieval cookbook, nutrition, living green
K/A- visit all 50 states together
K/A see a Galapagos tortoise
K- take a martial arts class
K-become a yoga instructor
K-Start and run a restaurant
K-Have over 50 followers on my blog
K- learn how to ferment foods (i.e. sourdough, yogurt, pickles, etc.)
K-learn how to cook Indian and Polynesian food
A-publish 3 books: finance, live simple "Simple living in a modern world" (write together), and avalanche
A-Harvard Masters in finance
A-Live in Hawaii
A- Visit Tahiti
A-Visit Seychelles
A-Scuba Dive
A-Be my own boss
A-On a closed course, drive 150 MPH.
A/K-Get married

Well, here is the list so far...it is being added to every day and I would love some input from my readers! :)

Luana ola!

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

In a Pickle

Boy do I have A LOT to talk about tonight!  First of all, I have a ton of energy for some reason!!! (couldn't be the nice cream with peanut butter and pretzels I just had...)  Anyways, I forgot to post about my newest recipe a couple of days ago...pickled watermelon rind.  I have been munching on it all week; it is just so good.  A perfect sweet, crunchy, salty, tart topping to just about anything.

Here is the recipe.  I only used the rind of 1/2 a watermelon and just tweeked the amounts of the other ingredients to suit my palate.  Considering I have made pickles before, I kind of knew what I was doing, but if you are unsure don't hesitate to ask as canning is one of my favorite things to do! (Speaking of...I can't wait for fresh peaches and apricots to make some jam-it's the only other jam I like besides strawberry and blueberry)

Just thought I'd show you my favorite book from Harper!  Haha, just kidding, this is my least favorite.  Microbiology is so much better!  We culture different strands of bacteria in lab every day.
 Here's the little princess.
 ...and news on the garden!!  I have carrots, spinach, leek, garlic, sunflower, and zucchini that I planted from seed. Today, I bought some baby plants from Whole Foods; basil, spearmint, and purple kale.
 This is the zucchini.  I am so excited that it is growing!  I have never had this much success with planting from seeds before!
 Here are the herbs.
 And the kale (planted especially for Gus, but we will eat some too)
 The little stems that look like sticks are garlic.  The ones that I planted got eaten or something because I went out there one day and they were gone.  So, Jackie's (my manager and friend) aunt gave me some of hers to plant.  Funny story about her garlic is that she didn't pull up last year's crop before rota tilling this season, so she has garlic everywhere.  I gladly accepted some.
 Dinner tonight was a spinach salad with avocado, mushroom, red pepper flakes, garlic, and sunflower seeds; all topped with fig vinegar and olive oil.  Andrew and I horked it down before going to where we needed to be:  he, a meeting, and I, school.

Finishing up online stuff, then reading Animal, Vegetable, Miracle before tucking in for the night.

Luana ola!


Monday, June 4, 2012

Fresh Ideas

It was a great weekend filled with fun (well, not having to finish 2 assignments and 1 exam before midnight on Saturday, but all in all...).  Since we finished Once Upon a Time, we decided that it was a weekend for reading.  I found an awesome book at Costco called Animal, Vegetable, Miracle.  It is about a family who decided to go 1 full year with only eating locally grown foods, either from what they grew in their own garden or from local farmers markets and farm stands.  Although I am only a short ways into it, the book is very insightful and I can't wait to read more!

While reading this new book, a though came to me about gardening and how wasteful some companies are at trying to make their property look "appealing".  What happens (I noticed this especially at Carthage) is that every spring, summer, and fall, the flowers are ripped out of the ground before they die and new ones are planted in their place.  Not only is this damaging the earth and depleting it from nutrients, it is also extremely expensive!  Carthage alone goes through thousands of dollars every few months to change the flowers and keep them watered.  In my opinion, all campuses and offices should utilize wildflowers and other plants natural to their area to grow.  The plants would not have to be changed every couple of months, there would be little maintenance, and the cost would probably reduce 75%!

While we're on the topic of gardening, mine is coming along well.  I have a few little plants of zucchini and sunflowers (I can't remember what else I planted, and silly me did not label the seeds...).  As one who would love to one day supply her family with all of the fresh homegrown fruits and vegetables that they can possibly eat, I am a huge advocate for community gardens  If you have never heard of them or would like to know if there is one my you, visit www.localharvest.com Here you will be able to learn how to buy and sell practically anything you could ever want in your kitchen.  Community gardens and CSAs are some of the best ways to get fresh local produce into your family's diet (that, and JuciePlus...)

In addition to all of that fun stuff, I made a delicious mushroom soup yesterday!  It started with a base of sauteed garlic and onion in some olive oil, then came the mushrooms, thyme, salt, pepper, and a bit of water.  Once the mushrooms were cooked, a little mixture of flour and water was added to help thicken the soup.  Topped with a sprinkle of red pepper flakes, and this tasty soup was ready to eat in less than 10 minutes!

What recipes have you tried lately?

Luana ola!