That Time I Fed My Family A Weed

Over the years, I have found myself asking more and more questions like “Who was the first person to…”

“….decide it sounded like a good idea to eat that thing that comes out of a chicken?”

      “….see what it would be like if they threw their raw Mastadon steak on the fire?”

     “….be brave enough to pick that unknown plant and put it in their mouth?” (For a more comprehensive take on this one, see The Omnivore’s Dilemma)

So in my quest to live and eat a more natural and sustainable life, I have danced around the idea of foraging.  The idea makes me nervous (to say the least) though and I haven’t gone anywhere with it.

Enter: our new house and garden.  This summer, I have discovered the therapeutic value of weeding. Most prevalent in our garden is this:

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I didn’t know what it was, but I did know that it wasn’t in a neat and tidy row planted by the previous owner.  Therefore, it must be a weed.  Out it comes.

But there was So.Much.Of.It.  Every time I turned around, there was another patch.  So I started wondering if it could be eaten.  No lie, earlier in the summer I remarked to my husband (who was standing outside the garden WATCHING me weed) “I wonder what this is, and I wonder if it is edible?”

This past week, I ran across two articles in the same day about this mysterious weed.  It was a sign, and now, I had a name for it:  Purslane.  And apparently, not only is it edible but it is incredibly good for you.

So tonight, I crossed what some would consider a line in the sand.  I fed my family a weed.

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What is a weed, really, except a plant growing where you don’t want it to grow?  Wild rose bushes could be considered weeds if they end up taking over your tomato patch…right?  Right??!?

I picked the purslane and trimmed off the stems and leaves that seemed more tender.  Since it spreads out across the ground, I washed it really really well.  Then I tossed it with some other garden fresh veggies (tomatoes and carrots) and a homemade honey mustard vinaigrette and served it a la side salad with our hamburgers.

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Verdict?  Delicious.  So tender.  A great peppery bite to it.  Even the three year old picked it out of her salad and ate it….and ignored everything else, as a three year old will do at the dinner table.

I don’t know that I would go foraging for it out of sidewalk cracks where strange dogs may have peed on it.  But I will definitely not be throwing it into the compost pile with the rest of the weeds from now on.

Purslane for the win.

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4 Reasons Why I Make Everything* From Scratch

Subtitle:  I know you think I’m crazy.

Sub-Subtitle:  *Ok…not EVERYTHING

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It all started with baked oatmeal muffins.  Four years ago, I pinned a link to this blog post on one of my very first Pinterest boards (disclaimer, I have since tweaked the recipe for myself and she has since updated the recipe on her site…so they aren’t exactly the same anymore).  Then my mom let me borrow her yogurt maker.  She eventually bought me one of my VERY, VERY own…so she could have hers back.

Since then…

Baked Oatmeal Muffins

Bread

English Muffins

Hamburger Buns

“Wheat Thin” Crackers

Graham Crackers

Granola

Marshmallows

Yogurt

Cheese (yes, cheese…post about that coming soon)

Here are four reasons I spend my free time in the kitchen:

  1. It’s fun– first of all, it’s become my hobby.  Some people scrapbook.  Some people fish.  Some people do…other things (I don’t know, what do people do if they’re not making stuff in the kitchen??) I enjoy discovering new recipes for things that I would normally buy in the store and then tweaking them to fit my family’s tastes.  Usually, they end up better than the store bought versions…if I do say so myself.
  2. It’s cheaper– Now, I will admit that this means dollar wise.  If you assign a cost to your time, you may not decide the cost is worth it… unless you discover the truth in reason number one.  But it really, really is easier on the wallet.  A bag of whole wheat flour costs $3.98 at the grocery store.  A GOOD loaf of whole wheat bread that doesn’t have a bunch of crap in it costs $3.75.  The bag of flour will make six loaves of bread.  Even after factoring in the cost of other ingredients, that’s hands down a cost saver.  I’m able to spend the savings on more fresh fruits and vegetables…and ice cream.
  3. I got tired of putting things back on the shelf– When I really started reading the ingredient labels on packaged foods at the grocery store, my arm got tired.  I was in danger of getting a repetitive motion injury:  Pick up the package.  Turn it over.  Read label.  Put it back.  Repeat.  95% of the packaged foods that I picked up I would reject because of the length of the ingredient label, or the amount of sugar and sodium, or the number of mystery chemicals.  Really and truly, it just eventually became easier to make it myself.  The other options were give up on my family’s health or starve.
  4. I’m a control freak– No surprise to those of you who know me in real life, I like to be in control.  When a friend asked me why in the world I was going to make my own cheese, my response sounded something like “Because I can control the quality of milk, and I can control where the milk comes from, and I can control the number of additives and, you know…I can CONTROL.”  In all seriousness, though, the amount of control over their daily bread that most Americans have given up is scary.  This is evidenced in the ever growing list of food recalls (I tried to count the number of food recalls in 2015, but gave up eventually…you can find the list here).  I can go visit the cows who produce the milk from which my cheese is made.  I can see the conditions they are kept in. I know exactly what is going in my, and my family’s, mouth.  I can’t say the same about cheese that comes in plastic wrappers.
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We get to eat grass!  Yay for grass!!

So while I know making your own food isn’t for everyone, that’s why I do it…in a nutshell. (Hmmm…I wonder how hard it is to make your own nutbutter?)

 

 

Pin-Valuate: 3 Day Detox Drink

Spoiler alert:  I didn’t make it all 3 days.

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Pinvaluate is a feature in which I test out Pinterest health and fitness pins that seem to good to be true.  Maybe one of these days I’ll find one that works.  Until then…

After a weekend of delicious, delicious camping over the Fourth of July holiday (Hot dogs, and s’mores, and cookies, and candy, and alcohol…oh my), it was time to return to the real world.  If I was ever going to do a detox drink, now was the time to do it.

As a disclaimer, I am skeptical of detox drinks in general.  They all just seem to fall into the category of “if it seems to good to be true, it probably is.”  If you have ever had success with a detox drink, please contact me.  I’d love to hear your story.

At the end of this post, I’ll give my take on why I think people think they work…but first, my experience:

I first pinned this because it was just too click-baity to pass up.  It was only three days.  There was nothing in it that was going to kill me…nothing extreme; just apple cider vinegar, cayenne pepper, and lemon juice.

The Ingredients

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Doesn’t it just LOOK delicious??

Apple Cider Vinegar is actually one of the only vinegars that is alkaline in the body instead of acidic.  This is one of the purported benefits by those that choke down a tablespoon of it every morning–that it restores the alkalinity of the body.  But you know what else helps to restore the alkalinity of your body?  Raw leafy greens…go eat some kale.  Or collards.  Or swiss chard.  AND you’ll get the vitamins and minerals that ACV lacks.  So while ACV isn’t going to harm you, and may even help you, it falls into the category of “there are better things out there.”

Cayenne pepper is often included in detox drinks because it causes the body to sweat, which some believe leads to detoxification (the same idea behind a sauna).  Maybe?  I do know that cayenne has other health benefits such as aiding in digestion and being anti-viral.

Lemon is a great source of Vitamin C. So there’s that.  It also has some research backing up the idea that it helps slow the digestion of certain foods, leading to better nutrient absorption, which in turn leads to less bloating.  But as most people know, lemon juice is very acidic so it can also erode the enamel on your teeth if you drink it regularly.

The Process

So while the ingredients don’t fall exactly into the realm of “junk science,”  I’m still skeptical about anything advertised as a magic potion.

The process is to drink the concoction 3 times a day for 3 days, preferably before meals.  The claim is that the drinker will consume less food over the day while the brew magically whisks away toxins already in the body.

I went into it expecting to gag at the first taste.  Honestly, it’s not as bad as I thought it would be.  A little sour, and it smells like an Easter egg, but definitely palatable.

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So excited for the first taste!!

By halfway through the glass I was sweating from the cayenne.  By the end of the glass I was having to plug my nose to get past the vinegar smell.  But I did it.  The first glass down.

I managed a second glass that evening before dinner.

And then I hit a wall.  That evening I felt MORE bloated than normal and my stomach hurt (probably because I drink a lot of water on the regular, so I was adding more liquid to that.  Also, I don’t like spicy food so my digestive tract was dealing with an onslaught of cayenne pepper that it’s not used to as well).  The next morning, I couldn’t do it.  I could not force myself to choke down another glass first thing in the morning.

So I quit…I’m a detox drink quitter.

The Verdict

I can’t really say if THIS detox drink works or not…because I didn’t follow the process through.  But here’s why I think people THINK they work:

First, detox drinks are generally pretty low calorie and you are filling your stomach with it multiple times a day.  Your stomach muscles have what are called “stretch receptors” in them that send “full” signals to your brain when they are stretched.  So if you are stretching it with a low calorie drink, you are consuming less calories over the course of the day, leading to weight loss.

Second, detox drinks usually require you to drink A LOT of liquid over the course of the day which causes you to pee…a lot.  Most people are chronically dehydrated and so the body isn’t used to the sudden increase in fluid, leading it to discharge most of it and then some.  This leads to water weight loss and a feeling of less bloat.

The danger I see in detox drinks is when the drink supplants the nutrient dense foods you should be eating over the course of the day.  This can lead to a whole host of problems.  Additionally, if you already drink enough water and add MORE liquid on top of that, you run the risk of a condition called hyponatremia– basically your body has diluted and peed out all the salt in your cells.  Sodium is important for cellular function, so hyponatremia can lead to cell shut down.

Bottom line:  IF you are going to detox–this one is only three days and doesn’t contain anything crazy.  But I still don’t see the point…

(Remember…if you have had success with detoxes, get in contact with me nutritioncoachramsey@gmail.com.  I would love to hear your story!!)