Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Tacoma Food Co-Op

Do you have questions about Tacoma Food Co-op? Join Mandy Landa on Saturday, May 7, 2011, between 11am – 12pm at The Greener Bean in Fircrest for a Coffee Talk!  

The co-op could use your* involvement! Join us!

Rick and I were hesitant to join until recently when we became confident that Tacoma is ready for a food co-op. Why are we so confident now?

~ A great location has been chosen and a transition agreement reached with the owner

~ The co-op has 523 paid members (as of April 25, 2011)

~ Shares in the co-op will be available mid-May offering members a chance to further invest in the co-op and our community

~ The hiring process is well underway for a General Manager

*Bloom in Health would like to sponsor the membership of a few Gritty Tacomans who are willing to invest time and enthusiasm in TFC. Please send an e-mail to Bloom in Health (or comment below if you are comfortable doing so) telling us why and how you would like invest in our community via the co-op, as well as a brief description of the financial circumstances that do not enable you to invest cash in the co-op at this time.

Please "like" Bloom in Health on Facebook here.


Thursday, April 7, 2011

"Fast Food" Testing #1
Sometimes I don't do a very good job planning ahead for meals. I know I'm not alone in this! Before I did my detox diet in February and began trying to do an elimination diet, I always had convenience foods around the house for "emergencies." You know, when your blood sugar gets so low, you get moody and a bit faint. I relied on wheat thins, tortilla chips, cheddar cheese, a sandwich (or just a slice of bread!), dried fruit, Luna bars, and nuts to revive me enough to think of a better meal or give me enough energy to make it to the next meal. I thought my choices were fairly healthy. It turns out the foods themselves aren't awful, but they may have been causing problems for me. I am now exploring the possibility that I am intolerant of gluten, some nuts, corn, and dairy.  My former snacks are currently ruled out.
Of bigger concern, according to recent research presented on The Dr. Oz Show, cancer develops in response to the stress we cause our bodies by not eating on a regular schedule.
When you eat meals at different times rather than on a regular schedule, your body goes into stress mode. For example, when you eat breakfast at 7 a.m. one morning and 11 a.m. the next, your body becomes confused about where its next meal is coming from. This causes the secretion of the stress hormone cortisol. High levels of cortisol lead to spikes in insulin, which causes inflammation and can increase the risk of many cancers.

Dr. Oz’s suggestion is to
Create a regular meal schedule and do your best to stick with it. Since life often intervenes when it comes to routines, make a habit of carrying a healthy snack with you at all times, such as air-popped popcorn or an apple, to ward off hunger pangs and insulin spikes.

Many of the foods that I eat now require planning, and I’m still not good at that! For example, my calendar just reminded me that I need to eat lunch, so I went to the kitchen and started looking around. The only left-overs in the fridge were some (under)baked beets and carrots that need some more time in the oven. I popped those in, but felt that I needed something right away.  Fortunately, I remembered that a box had arrived on my porch this morning from Sequel Naturals. A few days ago, I went online searching for “super foods,” which I had just heard about through WISH, in an interview with Mike Adams. I found some super food energy bars that sounded good and ordered them.
I opened up the package and took my first bite. Hmm, tastes healthy. As I chewed (and chewed) I started to read the packaging. I discovered that the bars had been developed by Brendan Brasier, a professional Ironman triathelete and author, whom I had recently heard speak on his experiences with switching to a raw food diet. “Made exclusively from raw, alkaline, plant-based superfoods.” That sounds good. Oops! Almond butter. Oh, Almonds and wheat grass. The bar had started to taste pretty good and I wanted to eat more. I reacted badly to almonds a few weeks ago, but hadn’t had a noticeable reaction to wheat when I tried it. And I had been avoiding wheat and dried fruit these past months just because my doctor is treating me for a candida infection; theoretically both those foods would ‘feed’ the yeast in my belly. I decided to finish the bar (it was really tasting yummy now, after I had gotten used to the flavor) and see how my body reacts. I sure hope I can eat them; otherwise, 11 of my friends will be receiving samples!

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Happiness through Attitude Adjustment - Part 1

Photographic art by J M Barclay
I bought a 5x5 print of this today. I am grateful.
I found it because a friend posted a link on Facebook.
The universe conspires to assist me. No, I'm not joking!

Yesterday and today, my assignments in my health coaching course were about positive psychology. I got to listen to a lecture by James Pawelski, PhD, Director of Education and Senior Scholar in the Positive Psychology Center at the University of Pennsylvania about achieving happiness. The lecture was chock-full of information that I'm still digesting. I'll be sharing some of it soon, I assure you!

Today, part of my assignment was to watch this video from 20/20 that reminded me of my post from a few days ago as well as a book that I read in 2009. Pursuit of happiness has been a recurring theme in my life for the last few years and I haven't been highly successful. Most likely my set point (genetic) for happiness is quite low. What is encouraging is that Dr. Pawelski and the experts in the video agree that even with a low set-point, I can choose actions that will increase my happiness dramatically.

The video, the lecture, and the book have one solution in common, the first key to happiness is a change in attitude gained by attention to gratitude. In 2009, I started writing down 5 things for which I was grateful before I got out of bed in the morning. This habit didn't take, probably because I'm not a morning person. Dr. Pawelski instructed us to do an exercise called "Three Blessings" wherein before you go to bed, you write down three good things that happened during the day and then write down why each of them happened. One of the experts in the video recommends following grandma's advice: count your blessings.

So, step one to changing my attitude (one degree at a time) is now officially to count my blessings before I go to bed. Five of them, in writing, and why these blessings happened. I think you'll be able to tell if this approach works, since I'm fairly transparent, but I'll make sure to post about it through the year.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Roasted Veg Fish Stew Recipe

Tonight I concocted a stew that is worth sharing! Unfortunately, I didn't take any pictures. Maybe I'll snap a shot of my leftovers tomorrow. We had fish and cabbage to use and I wanted to make the stew as anti-inflammatory as I could. Most of the ingredients were from our Terra Organics box.

2 Tilapia fillets (I got ours in a multi-pack from Costco)
1 small head organic red cabbage
1 long organic sweet potato (could substitute carrots or beets)
1/2 onion
1 head of garlic
5-6 cups of liquid (I used 3.5 cups of vegetable broth and some water)
Peeled and grated fresh organic ginger (I started with a chunk about the size of my thumb)
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper
1/2 tsp turmeric (less for those of you who can taste turmeric)
salt and pepper to taste

Turn on oven to 400 degrees. Slice sweet potato into 1/2 inch thick rounds, prepare garlic to roast (see great instructions here), cut off bottom of onion. Place them on baking sheet and drizzle with olive oil. Cover onion and garlic with foil. Roast for about 30 minutes. While this is happening, you can leave the kitchen!

Pull pan out of oven and allow to cool a bit. Meanwhile, put liquid in large pot, add spices and ginger. Bring to boil, then lower heat, stirring regularly.  Chop cabbage and add to pot. Stir. Cut up onion into large chunks and add to pot. Squeeze out garlic and add to pot. Stir. Cut fish into larger than bite size pieces and add to pot. Look at the time. Cut sweet potato rounds into quarters and add to pot.  Serve after fish has been in the stew for 5 minutes or less. It cooks very quickly. You can add it frozen and it will still cook in less than 10 minutes in the hot liquid.

I'm not eating bread or dairy right now, so we had this stew as our main course. It would be lovely with a slice of bread and a dollop of sour cream on top. One of the lovely things about this stew is its dark color and rustic, hearty look. The roasted vegetables are sweet and the broth is spicy. You can taste the fish, but it isn't overwhelming.

Serves 4-5.
Prep and cook time, 50 minutes. Actual time in kitchen: 20 at most. I didn't even peel the sweet potatoes - the skins fell off in the soup and blended right in with the cabbage.

Rick paired the soup with Trio Vintners Mourvedre 2007 and it was a lovely choice. Against the spicy and sweet soup, the wine tasted light and sweet. Really nice.

Attitude Adjustment

Last week, I had a poor attitude - not really a "bad" attitude, just sad, unmotivated, a little hopeless. I kept trying to change my attitude, shrug it off, find the silver lining to the dark clouds hovering over my soul. It reminded me of how I've felt when I've been depressed and I was afraid that the clouds wouldn't part no matter what positive thinking techniques I attempted. It helped a little to hear from friends that I wasn't the only one. Some blamed mercury in retrograde, some the pull of the moon, some the shift in the earth from the earthquake in Japan, some the gloomy skies, and others just had some really crappy stuff going on in their lives. No matter the cause, we all have bad days, which sometimes turn into bad weeks or months.

This morning, even though it is cold and raining (again!), I could feel that the storm in my brain had passed. Whew, I did something right! Maybe it was the rest that I allowed myself, maybe the extra vitamins, maybe the loving support of my husband or the cumulative effect of the multiple friends that shared their lives with me during the week. They accepted my slump and shared their own struggles - and we all found something to laugh about. As I think about my past, and my varied approaches to attitude, I realize that during different phases of my 42 years I've experienced a lot of approaches to attitude adjustment.

Watercolor by Wendy Burchill
STAND UP STRAIGHT AND SMILE! This was delivered by my mother often enough that I remember it clearly. And usually said with an accompanying grip of my elbow or back of the neck. This hurt and made me angry. The message from my parents about a poor attitude was consistent: go to your room until you can come out with a smile on your face; if you can't feel it, fake it; if you don't have something nice to say, don't say anything at all. This approach didn't help me feel better, but at least they didn't have to deal with me.

ATTITUDE ADJUSTMENT:  The first time I heard this phrase was in grade school. One of the teachers at our small school used it regularly. "Somebody needs an attitude adjustment."  Sometimes it meant straighten up, other times it meant that the paddle was going to be employed. It never worked.

LET GO, AND LET GOD: This one is more subtle, but was pervasive in my life for 28 years. The gist of this approach is that if you trust in God, He will give you peace. If you don't feel peace, you are too self absorbed and not trusting enough. A true believer won't have much discouragement because it is all God's will.

LOOK ON THE BRIGHT SIDE helped me through some really tough times, and has given me some measure of peace, but hasn't really cheered me up. For this to work, you need to wholeheartedly believe that everything happens for a reason. That something positive will eventually come from the negative. For example, my experiences with my second husband taught me a lot about addiction, drug dealers, and absolute desperation, that I hoped would help me later in life, either to relate to others in the same boat or just to make me a stronger person.

FAKE IT 'TIL YOU MAKE IT seems to work sometimes, but I've always found it to be a temporary fix. Faking it can also really backfire as friends can sense that something false is going on even if they can't put their finger on it. Trust is fragile.

DON'T LIKE IT? CHANGE IT!  I call bullshit on this one. There are people that like to say that we all have the power to change our circumstances. Talk to my cousin who has schizophrenia or a mother living in a war refuge camp about this one. Even when applied strictly to attitude, I have trouble with this. When a person is clinically depressed, they can try and try and try again to change their attitude without success. Telling a person, to "Just smile! Change your attitude!" is not helpful in any situation. On the other hand, I do think that it is helpful to think of our psychological attitudes like aviation attitude, that is, directional.  Even a change in attitude of half of a degree will change a long term outcome. And often a very slight change in attitude is possible and that slight change can make a world of difference in the long run.

My perspective today, as I'm coming out of a rough week, is that advice and forced cheerfulness don't really help someone that is hurting. SINCERE SUPPORT does help. It might take some of your valuable time and energy, but it really helps. If your friend seems down, telling them to 'buck up' isn't going to help; although it might temporarily make you feel better about yourself. The more I think about attitudes, the more I think we need to learn to accept ourselves and those around us, in good times and bad. We are human beings each with a unique combination of attributes that make us whole. And as Dr. Carl Jung said, "I'd rather be whole than good." As whole human beings we have dark thoughts and impulses as well as light. When we deny that part of ourselves, as with denial of any part of ourselves, that part of ourselves won't leave us alone. By accepting and loving the entirety of our beings, we can more easily focus on and share the light. The next time I'm in a slump, I'm going to do my best to accept my poor attitude as part of who I am, a beautiful, moody, sensitive, strong woman. I may try to change my attitude by a degree, but I'm not going to beat myself up just because I'm feeling sad. And when my friends have a negative or sad attitude, I'm going to try to give hugs and let them know that they are beautiful even when they are experiencing pain and that I am so grateful that they are a unique piece in the puzzle of my life.

Upon re-reading this post, I realized that the majority of what I wrote was negative, or "what not to do," leaving just the last paragraph to emphasize the encouragement part. I thought about changing it, but then decided to accept the process, to accept my feelings and thoughts, and allow them to be seen by you, dear reader. Hopefully my honesty and vulnerability will serve to inspire someone, someday.