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Monday, November 17, 2014

Cranberry-Mango-Orange Ice Cream and 100th post

With it looking like this outside: seems untimely to be thinking of ice cream, but I had some odds and ends to use up in the frig, including a bit of coconut milk, so I thought, aw, what the heck.

First I started with my basic Vanilla recipe....soooo simple:

 --- a few frozen bananas
 --- a few Medjool dates, pitted
 --- tiny bit of vanilla powder (probably 1/8 teaspoon- I LOVE this brand:          )
 --- coconut milk (I use canned coconut milk, not the packaged coconut drink/milk)

I don't measure, but there is a feel for what the correct balance is between frozen fruit and milk after making it a few times....too much milk, and it is too slushy (although still yummy) and not enough and well, the Vitamix will scream at you.

Blend all ingredients well in the Vitamix.  I use the plunger continually and aggressively when I am doing this.    If you just want Vanilla, you can stop here and serve as is immediately, or put in a container in the freezer for later (it will have to sit out for a few minutes to soften before serving).

For the Cranberry blend, to the above I added:

 --- a good amount of fresh cranberries, approximately 1 cup
 --- one orange, peeled
 --- frozen mango, approx 1/2 cup.

Blend in Vitamix.  Serve or freeze.

This was very good and I left it a little bit 'chunky', leaving visible bits of cranberry.  I liked the citrus overtones (I may increase the amount of orange or garnish with a few gratings of orange zest) and the tart bits of the cranberry.

Cranberry-Mango-Orange Ice Cream


100th post.  
I haven't been as active on this blog as I thought I might be this year and have many blog posts started but not finished, that cover topics I want to get on here; I hope to spend a bit more time on the blog in the coming months.

What started out as a tentative chronicle of my journey to attempt a path to a healthier me over 4 years ago, now feels like an important aspect of a true and committed way of living.  Of these changes, I am very proud.  I have many more improvements to make in myself, and of course, no journey of this type ever really ends, but it does feel like a bit of a milestone here in this moment, so I'll celebrate with a bit of ice cream, (followed by some hot tea as it is cold here!)

I hope you are firmly on your chosen paths and enjoying your journeys as well....

Sue, still on the (snow-covered!) path, in Ohio

Friday, October 24, 2014

Fed Up, the Documentary

I recently got a chance to view Fed Up, a documentary by Stephanie Soechtig and narrated by Katie Couric, who also co-produced the film.  You can click through to the trailer for it here: .

I was generally pleased with the overall message of the film although of course I always think these efforts could go further and I found some information not specific enough.  (For example, a very vital point made about how many cases of Type 2 Diabetes in adolescents were reported in 1980, zero, and how many were found in 2010, 57,638, gave no point of that in the U.S., worldwide or what?).  A quick check on the CDC's site did not give me this info.

I know other bloggers and investigators have questioned other statements and statistics purported in the film and I expect even more fallout will ensue (especially from individuals connected to the powerful food products industries that would be negatively impacted by radical change).

Regardless of actual facts and statistics, it doesn't take any hard science (other than maybe a field trip to Wal-Mart or other large grocery box store) to see that (1) we have a serious health problem in this country, that we are now exporting to the rest of the world and (2)  food choices are a big part of that problem.

As a vegan for over 4 years now (yeah!), I know how very limited my options are in any food store or restaurant, and this is in a day and age when awareness about whole food is on the rise. And yet, how can it not be understood that encouraging and facilitating the consumption of fresh, whole foods will help with our current health threats?

To say there is no connection between the amount of processed food Americans consume and the unhealthy lunch choices available to our children and the enormous rise in childhood obesity is just beyond logic.  Even the most avid soda pop drinker I know has an understanding that consuming this beverage is not a healthy choice to make and yet in one store I visited recently, the pop display vastly out-sized the entire produce section by a factor of 3 in my estimation.  Soda is a highly profitable commodity and is in part subsidized by our government.  For more on unhealthy subsidies:

Even more troubling is the consumption of pop by our kids and I remember serving on our local school board's Superintendent Advisory Council when BIG SODA offered money to be put in our vending machines in our high school.  I voted strongly against it, but the money was too enticing and 'desperately needed' to be turned down.

And this is just the pop selections and vast advertising campaigns and doesn't even touch the other candies and sugar-chemical-laden choices that bombard us at every turn.

Again and again we choose money and profits over health and taking the harder road.  I worry about the bigger lesson that is being taught here to our children.

Fed Up is, I think, a good film to refer people to who are maybe not making the best food choices, want to do the best for themselves and their families, yet don't know exactly where to start.  The overall message of getting off of processed foods, or at least reducing them and going back to the basics of cooking real whole foods is prominent in the film.  It is heart-breaking to see the obese children featured in the film who are suffering, but through their bravery in exposing their stories, inspiration to take that harder road can be found.

In the end, we can start by focusing on ourselves and what we CAN do to better improve our own health and for those we hold dear.  I've been taking my little 4 year old grand-daughter shopping after our play time in the parks and trying to teach a bit here and there and encouraging her to pick out the fruits and veggies she wants.  She LOVES broccoli and this week we went to a rural year-round farm market, the only one I know of in our area, and she found some beautiful broccoli.  I was even more excited to hear her ask for carrots and to tell me that 'they are good for me, Mi-ma.'.  This is something I told her a few shopping visits ago but she turned up her nose at them.  Now, she couldn't get them into the basket fast enough.  Progress.

If we don't have our health, all else is impacted drastically.  It is worth all that it takes to live healthfully.  I wish you success on your journey to optimal health!

Sue, snacking on kale, in Ohio

Friday, September 26, 2014

Quinoa Burgers and Finding my Way with Michael, Rich, Dan and TED*.

I recently got inspired to make up a quinoa burger recipe after glancing at a Trader Joe's flyer and seeing the words "quinoa", "burger" and "salsa" in the same sentence.  I think TJoe's actually carries such a thing now and will investigate the next time I am in the store, but until then.....

Quinoa Burgers:

1/2 c quinoa (dry measure), cooked 
2-3 small onions, chop and water saute
1 can pinto beans - drained and mashed
1/2 c salsa
1 cup corn, lightly processed or just smash with potato masher
1/2 c raw sunflower seeds - ground
1/4 t cumin
1 t garlic
1-2T arrowroot powder
That was my original working recipe but I ended up adding:

 1-2T of whole wheat flour and an additional 
 1/2 cup of oatmeal, ground, to compensate for the mix being too moist.

Blend all ingredients, form into patties and refrigerate for an hour or more.

Bake at 400 degrees and turn once, watch for browning and firming up.  Baking time will vary according to amount of moisture and patty size, but mine took about 20-25 mins.

Makes 8 - 10 burgers and I enjoyed them even more cold as left-overs the next day.

Vary spices and add-ins to suit your individual taste; I will try adding in lentils next time.

I set out in 2014 to really make this a concentrated year of growth.  This is the Year of the Horse, if you follow Chinese calendars, as I do (mostly for fun, but some of the categorizations of personality type are intriguingly accurate), and that is my year.  It only comes around every 12 years and since this is a significant number that I am turning in December (read "OLDER!"), I am especially drawn to the task at hand of living the most meaningful life I can and attaining even my more elusive goals.

As a result, I've submerged myself even deeper into the 'self-improvement' realm.  My studies have taken me recently on a powerful tack and the things I am reading are now over-lapping and condensing.....clarity is on the horizon.

Yoga and meditation are back on my regular schedule and I highly recommend Trudie Styler/James D'Silva's Warrior Yoga dvd  although there is no real warm up, so I'd suggest warming up before diving in and it is definitely challenging.  I'm enjoying it quite a bit though and my body is thanking me for pushing through it.  You can pick it up on Ebay or Amazon for a few bucks.  I got her Pure-Sculpt one too and it is a good way, :).

I'm continuing with the Rick Hanson materials (Buddha's Brain, Just One Thing and Hard-wiring Happiness---sign up for Rick's free newsletter here: and continuing on the 'happy' theme, I recently listened to Dan Harris' work, 10% Happier after hearing him on one of Rich Roll's podcasts.  (Rich continues to be a personal hero for me....listen to ANY of his podcasts, they are all informative and inspirational., also his book "Finding Ultra" is wonderful).

Dan's book is great in audio form; being read by him, it has a nice flow and if you like sarcasm, you'll appreciate his dry, sarcastic wit.  Entertaining, inspirational and a great way to increase your walking mileage...listen while you walk.  More about Dan's story here:

I'm also listening to the Happiness Advantage by Shawn Achor  and Charge by Brendon Burchard, both of which are giving me little pointers and practical applications to help bust through blocks to my progress.

Then I ran across a little 10 minute video on Brian Johnson's blog that introduced me to TED*, The Empowerment Dynamic.  I instantly ordered the book which is a very fast read and is full of simple, yet powerful observations about the ways in which we limit ourselves, simply by point of view and how to switch to a more causative perspective.  I am working through it a second time with highlighter in hand and have ordered some of the source books that the author, David Emerald, took his inspiration from.  I have a feeling I'll be poking around down in this rabbit hole for quite a while.

To round out my growth, and to learn more about understanding, and taming, the 'voice in the head', I picked up a wonderful book entitled, The Untethered Soul, by Michael Singer. I am taking my time through this one and allowing the concepts, most of which I am very familiar with but now find presented in a more absorbable way, to really seep in.

I've actually done a lot more investigation and research and self-work this year, but these are some highlights that I think would help anyone wanting to better understand themselves and reach their goals.

Sue, still seeking, but firmly on the path, in Ohio