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Sunday, January 30, 2011

Spring Cleaning Continued

Part of the diet vigil includes knowing what is going into my mouth at all times. I have already cleaned out the sodium laden canned goods and sugar based products to be on this diet. The other day, I wrote about dumping old lipstick. Today, let’s focus on the really scary stuff—the things in the kitchen.

Be honest, when did you last go into the cupboards and dump old spices? The refrigerator and dump barbeque sauce or mayonnaise?

Within my tradition of January and June cleaning, I need to attack the stuff normally ignored—the pricey items we buy for one purpose leave to sit for years in the cupboard. At $3.95 to $9.00 a bottle, spices are held in protective custody to be utilized when and if another recipe calls for it, which by-the-way usually doesn’t happen within the same year.

Let’s talk pumpkin spice. Have some? When did it get purchased? And when was the last time you used it? Exactly, I don’t remember either. I look at spice jar after spice jar unsure as to its age, my eyeballs skewed trying to read the tiny use-by-date stamped on the jar.

Take a look in my spice rack. Allspice used it last spring for a carrot cake recipe. Dump. Arrowroot—Chinese food last week. Friday taco night used Cayenne pepper and Chile powder. Cinnamon, cloves and ginger in all the Christmas desserts. Caraway seeds went into Irish Soda bread made special for Pastor Murphy in September. Ground coriander…hmmm…coriander. I’m not sure what recipe used coriander. Uh. Dump. And so on…

Now when I say dump, I mean take the contents of the spice jar and dump the contents, carefully clean the jar keeping the label pristine, then when you need the spice buy it in bulk or loose—twice a year—January and June. Health food stores, herb shops, Mexican groceries, Chinese stores and farmer markets sell spices in plastic packages or bulk at a fraction of the price of those bottled spices.

You can purchase fresh herbs like thyme, dill, and bay leaf in your grocery store. Fresh is good tasting and good health. If you are feeling particularly farmer-like you can pick up an herb-dish-garden at the local nursery or hardware store. My cousin Thia grows her own salsa garden—tomatoes, tomatillos, peppers, onions, cilantro, and garlic. Thia comes from Minnesota which explains her cultivation obsession.

Next walk over to that refrigerator. Take a look at those condiment jars. What do you think grows in them after a month or two? When my husband’s best friend, Spyros lived with us, he purchased different sauces and toppings every week. He liked to experiment with flavor. After a few months I couldn’t figure out what was old and what was new. To solve the problem, I dated the bottles as to the month they were opened then threw away anything over six months old.

I now toss anything over one month old. Mayonnaise-based products are dumped after one week. I’m afraid of food poisoning.

Food, like makeup or anything else for that matter, should be purchased as you need it, stored sealed, then dumped in a reasonable length of time after it’s been opened. This is simple common sense my foremothers taught me.

Happy Spring Cleaning!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

January Spring Cleaning

Every January and June, I have a ritual that could be called spring cleaning. I throw away make-up, cleaners, paints, and other stuff that can go-south after a while. Why those two months? Well January is a down month. It’s after Christmas. I’m too broke to go anywhere and the weather is usually pretty awful. June is six months later and my birthday. To me, this makes sense.

It started in my teens. I watched some daytime show after school. A doctor told the audience about the bacteria, germs, and crawly things that grow on your eye liner and icky things that happen to the makeup and powder. Six months was the limit on those items according to the forgotten doc.

I’m not a big make-up user—foundation, lipstick, highlighters, powder, and occasional use of perfume. I care that the items are fresh and relatively bug free. My extra cosmetics are kept in the refrigerator. Only the current products are in my bathroom cabinets and purse. Every six months the old stuff gets tossed then I replenish my shelves.

The same logic gets applied to hair brushes, hair spray, shampoos, conditioners, cleaning products, paints, and so on. It may seem like a waste of money but really this is economical. First, I only buy products that I will use over a six month period. I know women with forty tubes of lipstick. I have three—two different colors in the bath and one in my purse.

I also know what kind and shade of foundation I use and how often. I use a bottle of makeup every forty-five days or four bottles per six month period. So I go online look for the best price and buy four bottles of my favorite brand. One goes in the bath and the rest in the refrigerator. I actually save about $6 a bottle that way. Nail polish is the same. I bring my polish to the beauty shop, when I have the luxury to go, because I want the freshest products on my hands and toes.

Since I have been on this crazy diet, I have been reading articles, books, and magazines about the raw food experience. One lady has given up shampoo altogether to lessen the amount of chemicals in her life. I currently keep two different shampoos and conditioners in the bath. She is using baking soda to wash her hair followed by a white vinegar rinse. Although skeptical at first, she swears her hair texture has improved plus she is saving a fortune in hair products. I like the idea but I haven’t figured out how to store baking soda in the shower. Somehow it is going to get soggy don’t you think?

Everything has a shelf life except maybe plastic. So it makes sense to me to keep products in my home that are at the peak of their usefulness. By dumping old products and starting fresh there is a time to understand the value of things around me and the need to use what I purchase—limit my waste or as in the current vernacular, my carbon footprint.

Does anyone know the shelf life of shoe polish?

Monday, January 24, 2011


Beth—my friend, mentor, and blog reader—pointed out that the marmalade recipe may dilute the vitamin C content from over cooking. I disagreed at first, but the more I think about it, she may be right. I altered the recipe to enhance the vitamin C. This weekend after picking another peck of oranges, I will try the recipe out. The flavor should be similar to the previous recipe.

Almost Raw Organic Orange Marmalade ala Pam
Into pan on the stove
• 2 cups of fresh squeezed orange juice
• Zest of 3 oranges sliced in thin ribbons
• Zest of ½ organic Meyer lemon
• 2 Tblsp Candied ginger if desired
Cook on low heat until the rind is soft and yummy. Shut of the burner and set the pan on trivet to cool.
While warm add
• 1 jar about one pound of organic honey
• Pulp of 10 organic large orange sections – no white parts. Double the amount of oranges if they are small
• Pulp of 1 Meyer lemon—no white parts
Mix thoroughly
Cool to room temperature
Mix in 1 package No Cook Pectin.
Stir for 3 minutes

Ladle into 3 small Ball brand plastic freezer jars or containers you already have
Refrigerate for 1 hour before eating—freeze or give away the rest.

Saturday, January 22, 2011


When my husband and I decided to buy a home, we originally looked for a condo with a tiny backyard. I want little or no work outside of the home. What we bought was a four bedroom single family dwelling with almost a quarter of an acre. Ah, good intentions.

Built in 1979, our place has eight fruit trees—two apricots, crabapple, Granny Smith apple, ornamental plum, pomegranate, Meyer lemon, and an orange tree. All the trees—except the pomegranate, a gift from my cousin Cindy last year—are thirty years old. The centers of the trees are decayed and full of termites and ants. The outer edges are producing a multitude of offspring in the form of fruit beyond the imaginings of this city girl.

This summer I had so much organic apricots that I made jar after jar of apricot butter. The recipe I found on line and required only fruit, sugar, and a crock pot. I gave away ten freezer jars of the stuff and froze three pints for us. The last one, I opened yesterday.

Then came January, with a bumper crop of Meyer lemons and unidentified oranges, I am on my third picking of the citrus fruit. My neighbors run into their houses and lock the doors when they see me approaching with bags of lemons. The oranges are harder yet to give away. The lemons are perfect in flavor and juice but the oranges are small and not sour but a tad on the tart side. When I offer oranges the question is always, “Are they sweet?”

“Well, no. A little on the tart side.”

The victim screws up his or her nose and shakes the head a clear, “No, thank you.”

This morning my kitchen counter displayed three pounds of lemons and about thirty pounds of washed oranges. What to do? What to do?

I went online downloaded a lovely article published by the University of California, Davis. All about oranges, it tells of the care and feeding of the plant plus a few ideas about what to do with this sunny fruit. I did a Google, Bing, and Ask search of orange recipes. Most covered orange marmalade. Some recipes instructed the creation of cordials, candied citrus circles, and orange cheesecake. The recipe with the largest amount of orange usage was a marmalade recipe that called for nine oranges and four cups of sugar. That is correct. Nine oranges and four cups of sugar. That is not jam that is a sugar high.

I read fifteen marmalade recipes including a raw marmalade recipe that asked me to cook one-third of the recipe then mix in the other two-thirds cultured with Kefir whey—whatever that is. I was absolutely sure I didn’t have it in the cupboard. Plus the raw dude wanted me use gelatin instead of pectin. Why no pectin? Maybe, I thought, it was a chemical based product but according to UC Davis pectin is made from the white-pulpy part of the orange. Sounds natural to me.

So I decided to make my own recipe. Yea. I know. What the heck do I know about making jam? I made a lot of apricot jam this summer. The way I looked at it, there were thirty pounds of oranges sitting on the counter and heaven knows how many more out on the tree. What did to lose other than time?

Organic Orange Marmalade ala Pam

Into a clean crock pot
  • 2 cups of fresh squeezed orange juice
  • Zest of 3 oranges sliced in thin ribbons. Okay I was having so much fun with the zester that makes the thin ribbons that I put the zest of 10 oranges in it and it was too bitter so I had to pull out much of the zest. So don’t make the same mistake. If you don’t have a zester then you need to scrape all the white out of the orange peel and finely slice the rind. Good luck.
  • Pulp of 10 organic orange sections – no white parts. I used 20 oranges because my crop was small this year. If you buy oranges they will be larger so you will need less.
  • Zest of ½ organic Meyer lemon
  • Pulp of 1 Meyer lemon—no white parts
  • 1 jar about one pound of organic honey
  • I had some leftover candied ginger from Christmas and threw that in the crock pot

Heat on low heat until the rind is soft and yummy
Cool to room temperature
3 Minutes Mix in 1 package No Cook Pectin (I got that Wal-Mart last fall)

Ladle into 3 small Ball brand plastic freezer jars or containers you already have
Refrigerate for 1 hour before eating—freeze or give away the rest.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011


We spent three hours of the afternoon with the homecare nurse. She changed Paul's foot wound dressings and coached me while I administered his first round of Vancomyicin at the house. I am proud to say I made it through without killing my husband or fainting. A small accomplishment for a Monday.

I made a run to the pharmacy for my hubby then stopped at my favorite local health food store which carried Ultimate Flora Critical Care probiotics—recommended by my friend Pam Medeiros to counteract some of the side effects Paul’s home injections of Vancomyicin. Moose still recovering from two surgeries requested chicken soup for dinner. Born in 1964, my husband is a product of television marketing, preferring Snapple to sun tea, Jiffy peanut butter or organic ground, and Campbell’s Chicken and Stars to about any other chicken soup other than my homemade. So not run to two grocery stores, I also picked up organic graham crackers and saltines at the health food store. Too pooped to go on one more stop, I purchased the…gasp…healthy soup.

After walking the dog, watching All My Children on SoapNet, bouncing on my trampoline, and cleaning the bathrooms, I set about dinner. I decided if Paul wanted chicken soup and crackers, I would go for steamed turnips and broccoli. Understand I don’t like either turnips or broccoli or at least I didn’t. Farm Fresh to You has been delivering organic fruits and vegetables every other week to our home for three months now. And WOW. Organics taste different than the food offered in the grocery stores. Organic broccoli does not taste like broccoli. The flavor is milder and fresh. It’s the difference between the flavor and texture of roasted corn on the cob and canned corn. Not the same food.

I plopped two pans on the stove starting the soup in one and flipping the steamer in the other. Poindexter got fed cheeseburger flavored canned dog food. I chopped the turnips and broccoli and tossed them into the pan. Of course I hummed Dana Carvey’s classic song, “Chopping Broccoli” while doing so. Paul and I talked about the Croatian episode of House Hunters International he watched while I cooked.

Something was burning. I looked at the soup then the veggies—steamed poured from both. I poured his soup out into a bowl and set it on the table. The metallic-burning smell filled the kitchen and the dog started sneezing. Pulling the lid off of the veggies, I found the edges of the broccoli black. I had “steamed” the veggies for seven minutes with no water—burning the pan and the contents. Amazed that I did not set fire to the kitchen, I poured water over the grate and shut off the burner.

Paul took one taste of his organic soup and crushed eight saltines into it before taking another bite. I had one bite of blackened broccoli and threw it away. I had an orange instead. Not our best dinner.

I lost five pounds this month.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Raw Sacramento

The Raw Sacramento group has moved to A wise decision on their part. If you would like to check them out go to
Blessings on your day!

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Taco Night

My husband came home from a week’s stay in the hospital. He is recovering from a partial foot amputation and infection. During his incarceration, I was free to munch on carrots for breakfast, make fruit smoothies for dinner, and order a veggie omelet at the hospital cafeteria. Now he is back home, I face the daily grind of making two different meals three times per day. At times it is overwhelming. Yet I have found that my friends that make one major meal at dinner time for their families face the same dilemma—what do we fix today?

Moose is on a BRAC diet mostly. That is a diet consisting of bananas, rice, apples/applesauce, and chicken. This mix helps his digestive track which is totally messed up by the twenty-eight different medications he takes three times per day. We deviate a little but keeping in mind that too much of anything makes him very ill. His system cannot tolerate salt, sugar, or animal fats. I cook with none of the three and only have extra virgin olive oil in the cupboard.

A typical day for us.
  • Breakfast: Water, 1 Slice--Organic sprouted wheat toast, soy butter, honey with 1 cup ½ caff coffee with rice milk
  • Snack: Water, Fruit or nuts or combination
  • Lunch: Water, Salad with raw blue cheese or tofu or raw Ahi tuna
  • Snack: Water, Spoonful peanut or almond butter
  • Dinner: Water, Steamed seasonal veggies sometimes with chicken slices sometimes not
  • Dessert: Water, Fruit or Fruit Smoothie
  • Breakfast: 1 container Lite fruit yogurt, glass of juice, ¼ cup caff coffee with milk
  • Lunch: ½ sandwich with turkey luncheon meat, cheese, and deli mustard, Ice tea
  • Snack: ½ banana or apple or pear
  • Dinner: BBQ chicken, 1 cup steam rice, applesauce, Ice tea
  • Dessert: Glass of Port, biscuit or International Decaf Coffee and sugar free cookies
You can see that we do not eat much of the same things. Once in a while I try to combine foods that will accommodate both of our diets. Moose’s favorite is taco night which happens once a month.

Taco Night Recipe
The taco meat:
  • 1 pound ground turkey meat
  • Chile powder
  • Cayenne pepper
  • ¼ cup diced onions (yellow, white, or green)
  • 2 cloves of garlic smashed and chopped
  • Olive oil wiped on a nonstick pan
The taco makings:
  • Taco shells
  • 3 or 4 washed dried lettuce leaves the size of your hand
  • Black olive slices
  • Homemade no-salt guacamole or sliced avocados
  • Non-fat plain yogurt
  • Salsa Verde or Rojas (I make my salsa fresh)
  • Grated cheese (I use Trader Joes Raw Cheddar Cheese)
First add oil, onion, and ground turkey into the frying pan. Cook on medium high heat until the meat is browning. Add garlic and spices to taste. Add a little at a time until you get a flavor that you like. Remember Cayenne pepper is hot and Chile powder is not. Mix while cooking until the meat is browned and coated with flavor. If the mixture looks a little dry add some water and stir.

Serve with the taco makings. My husband fills the taco shells for his meal while I fill the lettuce leaves for mine. The leaves are crunchy like the taco shells with almost no calories. The meat makes it warm and satisfying. If you are not eating meat substitute the turkey with a soy based taco filling in the produce section of your market. Or you can eat the veggies without any meat at all. The salsa will give the south-of-the-border flavor.

You should have enough leftovers for a tasty lunch or taco salad.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

I am Not a Bear

Part of my dedication the raw food diet and this blog involves reading magazines, books, and internet articles on the raw world. Overwhelmingly, authors start their appeal to the reader to join this type of diet, usually in chapter one, by comparing our current eating habits—Standard American Diet (SAD) to that which occurs in nature. Bears eat fish in season then the next day eat berries. Elephants eat diets of vegetation. "We are the only animal that cooks." This is somehow supposed to motivate the reader to eat nothing but raw uncooked foods.

A bear may live on raw foods but she does not compose symphonies, create sophisticated cities with millions inhabitants, search for the cure for childhood diabetes, or learn how to square dance with ten other couples. Humans are unique in their need to socialize and interact with large numbers of their kind. Please do not point out bees or parrots. Large numbers yes. But complex socializations no. How many bees work a full time job, attend church and volunteer at a local charity, while rearing two children? I think none.

Please understand my diet is now about seventy percent uncooked and came close to ninety percent during the melon season. Yum. I am sorry I can't go the full Monty on this one. I am not a bear. The comparison of our eating habits to our fellow creatures is weak and missing the basic human factor. We are community creatures.

If we look back at ancient cave dwellers and current tribes that still live what we call a primitive existence, we will see human groups coming together for safety, love, and sharing of food. It’s that sharing of the meal that brings us to cooked and mixed foods.

Do you know the old Sunday school story about “Rock Soup?”

A town and surrounding region devastated a blight made food scarce. Most people there hadn’t eaten for days.

A man sat in the town square with a big pot of water boiling over an open fire. He stirred the pot with a wooden spoon.

A couple walked up to him. “What are you cooking?” They asked.

He gave it another stir, “Rock soup,” he said then tasted the liquid. “Mmm. Almost done.”

The couple watched him sip the soup. “We have a potato. If we add it to the soup, can we share it with you?”

“Oh yes. A potato would add more flavor to the soup.”

A few moments later, a woman walked up and asked the same series of questions. She offered a carrot. More people came by. Soon the town was busy with people adding their bits to the soup. After all the people had a bowl of the finished product, they proclaimed rock soup the best meal they’d eaten in a long time.
The moral of the story had to do with sharing. I think it is a better example of how we came to cook meal.

Our bodies do not need all the junk we stuff into it. The proof is that Americans are getting fatter and sicker. But becoming a bear—eating only raw fish one day and berries the next—is not realistic either. Socially, we gather to share to feed, nurture, and love one another. Have you ever belonged to any group where food was not served within the first few meetings? Even the Raw Society here in Sacramento has monthly potlucks. There is a balance to achieve with a predominately vegetarian life style. In my book it includes shared meals—organic raw and occasionally cooked foods.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Surviving Backsliding

My Moose landed himself in the hospital on Friday. Sunday, he will have a partial amputation of his left and only remaining foot. You can imagine the stress and anxiety on both our parts.

With my husband in the hospital, it is easy to fall into my old negative eating patterns—bad fattening foods eaten at odd hours, caffeinated coffee with cream sipped throughout the day, and snacks, snacks, snacks. Not this time. I’ve worked to hard to get to my current weight and activity level.

I have fallen off the raw food wagon a little. Last night I found my husband’s stash of Christmas candy. I ate one I liked and threw the rest away. Don't feel sorry for the Moose. He's a diabetic and should not have candy stash in the first place. On the way home from the hospital, I wanted to stop at Starbucks for a vanilla latte instead had an instant decaf International coffee in my own kitchen.

Although my choices were not raw-diet legal, they were still better than my old pattern. The idea is to get through the tough times with as little weight gain as possible. We all understand that stress alone can add pounds. Exercise, water, and sleep are the only legitimate tools to fight the bulge during anxious periods. Plus I have the Rounder trampoline to bounce on whenever I feel stress which seems to be continuous.

Oh and pack a lunch sack. Hospital cafeterias are not the place to find nutrition.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

"All My Children"

In 2010, I hit my goal of 225 pounds—the weight I needed to be Paul’s kidney donor. In the interim, Paul’s health has declined. His foot wound is now of serious concern. The transplant cannot happen until he is free from open wounds for six months. So July 2011 would be the best case scenario before I jump onto a gurney and hand over a body part to a group of people in masks.

I am currently 44 pounds lighter than my July 1st beginning weight of 260. At 216 pounds—lost one pound this year so far—I am going to push to lose a mere 26 pounds by July 1st 2011. This would put me at my ideal weight 190 and ideal size 14. A healthy goal by any standard.

My darling Moose gave me a Rounder for Christmas. That is a medium size trampoline with a rail that I can use in my living room. Yesterday I bounced for thirty minutes. Today I feel every muscle especially in my fanny and thighs. I am planning to jump to All My Children five days a week and pounce off those inches. The weight is coming off faster than the inches. Exercise is the only answer.

Oh, I am also planning to write this blog about three times a week. I have received comments that once a week is not helpful to the dieter. Expect recipes and meal planning in the following weeks. Okay?

Have a Blessed Day!