General troublemaking, Healthy Living, Social Innovation

Sorry I’m Not Sorry

Lately I feel that I’m often on the defensive about my lifestyle choices. I am seen as extreme for making a conscious choice to eat real, clean foods that have no preservatives/additives, choosing to consume socially responsible goods, and being conscious about how I treat myself and the world.

My friends, family, colleagues think I am judging them for eating oreos (yum) and shopping at Forever 21. Well, friends, I am not judging you. I am not a judge-y person. Rather, I am judging the world we live in. I don’t blame people for eating foods packed with chemicals or buying clothes that are in no way a benefit to the world because that’s the norm, the status quo. It is really, really hard to avoid those things (and I spend a lot of time figuring out how to do that– more coming soon!). But it shouldn’t be that way. I will not accept that the world and the country I live in is flawed and nearly forcing us to consume products that aren’t acceptable, I will make trouble until I feel I am living in a world that I want to leave for my kids and grandkids and grand-grand-grand(x10) kids.

So I wanted to say:

Sorry I’m not sorry.

I am not going to apologize for being my “extreme” self. I’m not apologizing for thinking that consuming junk and things that are bad for my body and bad for the world is ridiculous or extreme. And I’m not sorry for pointing it out to you so you can make conscious decisions; not to make you feel bad, but to point out that we DON’T have to stand for the crap that is in the supermarket or the department store. And we won’t make change until enough people aren’t sorry either.

Even writing this, I sound extreme. I see it, I am reading it. But I don’t understand why it has to be that way. Why are we considered extreme if we just want basic, normal, sustainable things that won’t destroy our bodies or the planet? What a radical idea!

I keep thinking about this quote from Steve Jobs that we use in our visioning seminar at PresenTense. He says:

When you grow up you tend to get told the world is the way it is and your life is just to live your life inside the world. Life can be much broader once you discover one simple fact: Everything around you that you call life was made up by people that were no smarter than you and you can change it, you can influence it, you can build your own things that other people can use. Once you learn that, you’ll never be the same again.

This quote has, in fact, changed my viewpoint on the world. It’s so true. The things that frustrate me are completely man-made, and not any more real than anything else, than my opinions or the things I want to make or consume. Right? So if man had the right to add chemicals to my food, to employ kids in sweatshops to make my clothes, to damage the environment by the amount of pollution and waste we produce, and more, I have the right to disagree with that. So I am. Sue me.

Sorry I am not sorry for caring. And I am not sorry for causing trouble on issues I care about. And you shouldn’t be either.

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Healthy Living

DIY Recipes: Because Who Wants to Consume Chemicals?

One thing that troubles me most is the amount of junk in our foods. Seriously, there are so many chemicals and preservatives in our foods that they are literally making us fat and sick. Some of these additives are so bad for you they are even banned in other countries (WHAT?! yeah, disturbing, right?).

Since I have become more conscious of the food I consume and how it affects my body, I have been paying careful attention to the ingredients of what I buy. Even better, I have been causing trouble by making my own, healthier versions of every day “essentials.”

DIY 1: Almond Milk (paleo, whole30)
I have recently become pretty obsessed with almond milk, thanks to my strong disbelief in soy products and the desire to avoid excessive dairy. I even use this stuff in my homemade lattes— just dump it straight into my nespresso and within a couple minutes I have almondy-latte goodness.

This is so easy. All you need to do is:

  1. Soak 1/2c of almonds overnight in water (I just fill up a mason jar and put them in there).
  2. Drain almonds, give them a good rinse
  3. Add 1c fresh water + almonds to a blender and give it a good whirl. I normally will let it go for about 45 seconds, give it a break, and then another round of 45 seconds.
  4. Strain your new mixture using a cheese cloth (good to make sure it’s at least doubled up) or using a nut milk bag (OMG I can’t wait to get one of these).
  5. ENJOY! Keep refrigerated. People say it lasts about 3 days, but I normally finish mine in that time, so I haven’t seen it go bad.

If you want to add some flavor, feel free to add some vanilla bean, blend in some dates for sweetness, and sometimes I add a hint of cinnamon to my lattes. That wasn’t so bad, was it? Let’s carry on.

DIY 2: Mayonnaise (paleo, whole30)
I started making my own mayo when I did the whole30, and I don’t know why people don’t do this more. It takes literally 2 minutes and it is so much better than store bought, and so much healthier!

  1. Add 1/2c olive oil (light, not extra virgin), 1 egg, and a pinch of salt into a bowl (sometimes I also add about a teaspoon of dijon mustard)
  2. Stick an immersion blender (if you don’t have one, I highly recommend, especially if you like making soup!) into your mixture and turn that baby on. Leave it in there for 30 seconds and watch in amazement as mayo appears before your little troublemaking eyes.
  3. Enjoy on sandwiches, make your own chicken salad, or use however else you use mayo!

DIY 3: Chocolate Syrup (paleo if made with honey)
I am not going to lie— I love chocolate. And I love chocolate milk. And mocha lattes. Pre-whole30 I drank chocolate milk after every work out. I need to get back to that, but I am trying to reduce sugar. The point is, if you are going to consume chocolate syrup, make it yourself! SO delicious and no junk, and it lasts for months.

  1. Add these ingredients to a pot: ½c cocoa powder, 1c water, 2c sugar (I have used honey and agave instead as well), pinch of salt, 1/4tsp of vanilla
  2. Let pot boil.
  3. Store in fridge, and savor every moment.

DIY 4: Granola Bars (gluten free, dairy free if dark chocolate is used, soy free, paleo without substitutions/exceptions noted)
I love granola bars, but so often they are chock full of stuff I have never heard of. Why do I need soy protein isolate (which actually triggers my migraines) in a granola bar? The gig’s up, Quaker, these trouble maker does it herself.IMG_2858

  1. Add any types of nuts and seeds you like to a baking dish along with 2 cups oats, and toast them in the oven on 350 for 5 minutes. I generally use pecans or almonds, pepitas (spicy are good!), sunflower seeds. Feel free to add those extra healthy ones like flax and chia seeds too! You should have about 2 cups total of the nuts. You could even make these without oats if you are paleo.
  2. While those are hanging out in the oven, mix up the following in a pot and bring to a boil, then turn off: 1/4 cup brown sugar, 1/4 cup honey, dash of salt, dash of vanilla, dash of cinnamon (optional). Sub more honey for the brown sugar if you are paleo.
  3. When both are ready, mix it up! At this point I also like to add chocolate chips and they melt through, so you only need about 1/4 cup or less. But that’s optional too!
  4. Spread evenly on baking pan on top of wax paper, bake at 350 for about 30 minutes or until golden brown.

Have you noticed something here? All these recipes are super fast, and super delicious, and, dare I say, much better for you. I am not saying to eat mayo and chocolate syrup at every meal, but I do feel strongly that it’s worth doing some of these DIY for products you consume anyways because they don’t contain all the gunk you’d be contaminating your body with. Not to mention they all taste EXPONENTIALLY better and might even save you some cash. Everyone wins!

Let me know what you make, and how it turns out. Or what products you DIY/want me to figure out a recipe for. Let’s cause some necessary trouble to the food industry by refusing to consume the junk they are trying to feed us.

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Healthy Living

Healthy and Easy Food Prep with Jenny

Last week when I launched my blog (thanks to all of you who read it so far!), my friend Jenny emailed me with the idea of cooking together. I was very excited because Jenny and I are always talking about healthy living and exchanging recipes, but Jenny doesn’t cook much. She asked me to come over so we can cook together and she can learn the ropes. I gave her some tips along the way, and I included some here too.

Of course I took her up on it! I have been cooking a TON because of the Whole30 detox program I am doing (I can only eat proteins, nuts, fruits and veggies, no juice cleanses over here– more to come on that) so it was nice to have company. Everything we made is Whole30 compliant.

Our first stop was Trader Joe’s. It is almost impossible to get affordable groceries living in NYC, so TJ’s is really the place to be. We stood in the line that wrapped around the entire store and shopped as we were in line. Here’s what we ended up with:

IMG_4747        groceries

Our Menu:

  • Salmon Burgers with Basil
  • Cauliflower and Broccoli Soup
  • Mini Egg Fritatas
  • Sweet Potato, Carrot and Ginger Cakes
  • Cilantro Mustard Chicken

We did triage and decided to start by making the veggie broth for our soup, because that takes a while to simmer. Luckily we bought a mirepoix at TJ’s so we didn’t have to cut up all of our carrots, onions, and celery.

Tip one: Save time and make things easy for yourself!
If you can buy precut and it’s reasonably affordable, do it. It will make your life so much easier.

So we added our mirepoix to a pot, sautéed for a few minutes, added water, let that simmer for a while, then eventually added the broccoli and cauliflower, let it boil, and blended it all up with my immersion blender. We had some kale lying around, so Jenny threw that in– why not get even more greens? You could barely taste the kale anyways.

mire poixsoup with kale

We also got started early on the marinade for the chicken, so that could mariande for a bit. Jenny blended up some cilantro, mustard, lime, salt and pepper, rubbed in on the chicken and got that started. After about an hour we baked the chicken for 30 minutes to perfection.

salmon

I recently had an amazing salmon burger at Siggy’s Good Food which I wanted to try to recreate. I found a recipe online which required putting everything in a blender (weird, I know), so that’s what I did. Blended up the salmon, basil, some cashew flour, spices and an egg. Then pan fried them. Unfortunately these didn’t turn as good as Siggy’s, but they were still enjoyable.

Tip 2: Improvise with what you have and what you like.
The salmon burger recipe I found didn’t include fresh herbs, but I love basil and we had some extra, so I threw some in. Be creative! You don’t have to follow recipes precisely.

Lastly we also made super easy egg kale mini fritatas in muffin tins (just mix up some eggs, salt, pepper, throw in some sautéed kale, pop in oven at 350 for 25 minutes) for quick, on the go breakfasts, and some sweet potato carrot ginger cakes from Live Better Forever. I probably should have followed the recipe closer, but they still turned out well!

Tip 3: It’s easier to cook and eat healthy with friends.
Jenny and I had a really good time. We accomplished a lot cooking, made some great food, and got to know each other better. For example, I learn that Jenny roasts her own almonds– 10lbs at a time! Needless to say, they are quite delicious.

And, of course, we both left with half of this to last us for lunches this week:

final meal

Do you prep food on the weekends for the week? What are your tips? Let me know in the comments (top left of the post)!

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