Archive for the ‘health’ Category

shenandoah valley and national park highlights

June 10, 2009

I’m finally getting to recap my adventures from last week, when my boyfriend and I drove on down to Luray, Virginia for 5 days (well, really it was more like 3 plus travel days). It was a great trip, but I haven’t had a second since I’ve been home to write about it. So, I’m going to sum it up in photos.

the park

Jewell Hollow Overlook

The valley below, a landscape altered by man (I try to imagine what the mountain would look like if the national park had not been established).

Cloudy day

Don’t fall in!

Lewis Falls

Mountain laurel, one of the fragrant flowers pervading the mountain air (honeysuckles were rampant outside of the park, delicious!)

Volcano-like cloud

the wildlife

Three black bears on the roadside, a mama and two cubs

A lone black bear

One of two young bucks on Skyline Drive

Wild turkey, Skyline Drive

Ducks on the Luray Greenway, a nice little path running along the Hawksbill Creek.

We also saw 3 bald eagles, a couple of great blue heron, and many other birds on a kayaking trip (didn’t want to tip the kayak and drown the camera).

the farms

We were surrounded by them. Seemingly idyllic pastoral Americana, but many were Cargill farms. (If you’ve read The Omnivore’s Dilemma, you may have just shuddered).

This farm was literally in our backyard. Our little cottage at Piney Hill B&B was just steps from this fence. Unfortunately, we learned the hard way that my boyfriend is allergic to hay. Acchhoooo!


Oink oink (Virginians love their pork).

the food

Breakfast delivered to our doorstep every morning.

Joshua Wilton House in Harrisonburg, VA. One of the best meals we had on the trip. (The other was at Ivy Inn in Charlottesville)

They served Polyface Farms products, like this pork loin and the chicken in the background. If you’re not familiar with farmer Joel Salatin, check out his books or website.

Ice cream! (without knowing the origin of the dairy, probably not the most sustainable dessert we could have had)

the storm

A big storm’s a-brewin’

Take shelter, Dorothy!

“Safe” inside the cottage

Not just golf-ball-sized hail, a tornado less than a mile away

the caverns

Luray Caverns, much more interesting than I expected

Grand illusion

For scale, check out the people at bottom right of this pic

Drapery formations or as they called it in the audio tour, “bacon” (can’t get away from the pork products)

Please don’t fall on my head!

the history

One rainy day, we visited Monticello (took the house tour, but couldn’t take photos inside).

We’re finally coming around to rainwater harvesting after all this time.

Thomas Jefferson was quite the horticulturist. This is the restored garden and orchard.

A plantation tour gives the slaves’ perspective.

TJ’s laboratory

This bee seems right at home.

coming home

It was good to come home to a thriving indoor vegetable garden.

After all of the rich Southern food, I was more than ready for some fresh veggies. Thankfully, we got home just in time to visit the farmer’s market to stock up on some delicious seasonal produce.


what the @#$% are they putting in our food?

May 27, 2009

and what are you gonna do about it?

Join the members of New York State Against Genetic Engineering (NYSAGE) on

THURSDAY, MAY 28, 2009
Sixth Street Community Center
638 East 6th Street (Between Avenues B & C)

to organize for SAFE FOOD LOBBY DAY in Albany June 10, 2009.

The meeting will begin with a panel discussion with Dr. Michael Hansen of Consumer Union, Greg Todd of the Park Slope Food Coop and Rob Schmidt of SOS Food. The panel will provide an update on the latest science around GE foods and crops, the recently released food labeling study by Park Slope Food Coop and a summary of the recent trip to Albany by six NYSAGE members who met with the staffs of Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and Senate Majority Leader Malcolm Smith. Following this we will discuss plans and logistics for the upcoming Safe Food Lobby Day scheduled for Wednesday, June 10.

Bring a dish or drink to share if you can. We hope you can join us!

Howard Brandstein and Annette Averette

Learn more about genetically engineered or genetically modified foods, from:

cosmetics consumption and conflict

April 20, 2009

There was a time in my life when I wasn’t a terribly conscious consumer. I would compulsively buy things like inexpensive clothing and makeup without really thinking about where it came from or what it was made of. Those days have long since passed, but I still hold onto some small reminders of that less mindful time. What were these little reminders? A crapload of makeup sitting in bags in my closet.

I don’t even really wear makeup. Maybe a little mascara every once in a blue moon. That’s about it. So why was I still holding onto these whispers of habits past collecting dust, taking up physical and mental space? Because I simply didn’t know what to do with them. I have a really hard time throwing things out that will just end up in a landfill.

Until… I got a tip-off from a fellow twitterer (thanks, Melissa!) about a place I could recycle these wastes of space.

An Origins store.

So inspired was I by this news (and by the book I’m currently reading Throw Out 50 Things – more on that in a later post) that I collected all of this old makeup and brought it to the Origins store on West Broadway and Spring Street. Before I made my way over there, I had to clean out all of the lipstick tubes, eyeshadow palettes, and blush compacts. When I was through, my hands were covered in nasty makeup and the trash can looked like a fairy threw up into it – all pastel and glittery.

When I got to the store, the sales woman was so enthusiastic about my decision to turn in these old conveyances. She rewarded me with the news that this weekend, the store was holding an Earth Day event offering free mini facials to its customers. She also gave me a couple of samples of products from their Perfect World line.

I didn’t think much about the exchange, other than feeling good about ridding myself of that old makeup and not having to resort to just tossing it all in the trash.

When I sat back down in front of my computer however, I had to look up the new samples I had acquired to see what their contents really held (ingredients lists don’t fit on those tiny tubes of product). Much to my dismay, they’re full of all the no-nos in beauty products today: parabens, petroleum, and some other nasty fillers. Check out the full list of what Origins uses at Not such a Perfect World after all.

So I’m left with mixed feelings. I’m glad that Origins accepted all of my old cosmetics vessels for recycling, but can’t really support their products because of the dubious contents. I’ve even taken down the banner I used to have promoting them (in the right-hand column).

What are your thoughts on this beauty product paradox?

making stock

April 12, 2009

It’s chilly out (41 degrees as of 11:53 am) and my sweetheart’s not feeling well, so I’m brewing up a pot of pure healing love. It’s really a simple recipe, I learned it from Leda of Leda’s Urban Homestead.

It takes a little bit of foresight, or really just having a habit of hoarding. I save up all of my veggie scraps, veggies on the verge (of going bad), and chicken bones and throw them in the freezer. Once there’s enough goodness to fill my 12-quart stock pot, in they all go. Bones on the bottom, veggies on top, fill it up with water. The flavor of the stock might vary depending on what I’ve been stockpiling. This one will be a rich stock filled with whole pieces of spinach, kale, cabbage, scallions, half onions, onion and carrot butts, broccoli stalks, fennel fronds, and the requisite bay leaves and peppercorns. Leda suggests a splash of vinegar to release calcium from the bones. I want it to be as nutrient rich as possible, so I heed this good advice.

After a full day of simmering — boiling would make it cloudy — I’ll strain out the bulk and then run it through a food mill. This results in two kinds of stock, one clear and one full of pulverized vegetable matter. The former is great for any recipe that calls for broth or stock. The latter makes a great soup all on its own, even better with some chopped carrots and onions and maybe some rice thrown in for good measure.

The aroma is filling our apartment. It’s quite comforting. It smells like home.

double whammy – lovefast day 5

April 10, 2009

Just as I suspected, as Bikram class was ending last night, something in my body was starting. I won’t go into too much detail; let’s just say I was being paid a monthly visit. I didn’t want to take any drugs to combat the pains I know I’d be feeling once it really kicked in, so when I got home I brewed some ginger tea and slapped a hot water bottle onto my belly. Ah, this works, I thought. I was happy that I didn’t have to poison my newly detoxified system with acetaminophen.

But then at around 4:45 this morning I was awakened by the pain. Knowing I couldn’t strap the hot water bottle to myself all day, I took the two little pills to get me through the day. A necessary evil that happens only one day a month.

Then this happened: as I was walking down 8th Ave, right after picking up my meals for today (my last day of the raw, vegan fast), I felt a strong tingling tickle inside my nose. AAaaah-AAaaah-choooo!!!

Hello allergy season.

green apple cleaners, in my ‘hood!

April 10, 2009

As I walked, still half asleep, to my subway stop this morning, I noticed a bright green smart fortwo covered in advertisements for Green Apple Cleaners (the non-toxic, CO2 based dry cleaners) parked just by the entrance to the station. Oh, look at that, they’re advertising in Brooklyn, I thought.

This shot’s is as blurry as my vision was.

I had heard from David Kistner, CEO of Green Apple Cleaners, last year that there would be a Brooklyn store opening this year. For some reason, I imagined it in Brooklyn Heights or Carroll Gardens. But much to my delight, it’s right next door in North Park Slope. Hurray!

It’s the little things that get me excited. Now I can take all of those delicates, sweaters, and dress shirts out of the “handwash” pile that’s been accumulating for months — I’d been handwashing with The Laundress in lieu of the nasty chem bath of traditional dry cleaners — and walk on over to the new Green Apple. Oh, happy day!

The new Brooklyn location of Green Apple Cleaners is located at:

78 7th Ave (nr Berkeley)
Park Slope BKLYN

lovefast and bikram

April 9, 2009

Now I understand why some people who do Bikram yoga are into raw food. I hadn’t been to Bikram in over a week and was curious as to how I would feel being on this detoxifying diet. Before I even got all hot and sweaty, I could see the glow on my face (in Bikram yoga, everyone faces a mirror — it takes getting used to). I was able to participate in the class at the same level I usually do, but something felt different. Some asanas just seemed a little easier — mainly camel (Ustrasana, pictured above), seated forward bend (Paschimottanasana), and seated spinal twist (Ardha Matsyendrasana). I guess everything was a little freer to move inside of me, there was little obstruction, so to speak.

I didn’t feel weak, I didn’t feel hungry. Those were my original fears. Guess there was nothing to worry about.

Related posts

lovefast day 4

April 9, 2009

Sorry this picture is all a-blur.

I’m high on raw, vegan spicy burrito. This stuff is amazing! (and I feel incredible).

Spicy Burrito: Lentils, parsnip, cilantro, oregano, coriander, jalapenos, cumin, chipotle, olive oil, lime juice, romaine lettuce, tomatoes, onions, garlic, coconut, walnuts, sage, miso, bell peppers, flax seed, lemon juice, chili powder, black pepper, mesquite, sea salt

If you live in NYC and want to try it out, head on down to Organic Avenue, now at two locations:

101 Stanton St (btw Orchard and Ludlow)

43 Eighth Ave (btw Jane and Horatio)

The lovefast continues…

let me clear things up…

April 8, 2009

I’ve received a couple of concerned calls about the last post. I just want to tell you all — I am feeling fine! I guess I hit “publish post” without realizing that what I wrote sounded wan and desperate. Really, it’s far from it. Right now, I am feeling fully satiated by the chocolate coconut macaroons I just ate. Feeling very full in fact.

(See, happy as a clam >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>)

It’s like I said in the last post, during the day I feel a little whiny. There may be more than one reason for that: a) the fast seems the most obvious, b) lack of sleep (my honey’s away in LA), c) PMS (hate to get that personal, but hey, dems da breaks), d) I haven’t gone to Bikram in over a week.

At night, I feel great. Relaxed, at peace, what have you. Everything’s hunky dory.

Okay, just wanted to clear that up.

Enjoy the evening!

PS, this is all about the fast, read more if you don’t know what the hay I’m talkin’ ’bout (or just scroll down and you’ll get the picture).

fried chicken, get away!

April 8, 2009

Some of my colleagues are eating fried chicken. It looks and smells awesome. If I sit near them drool might start dribbling down my chin. I might push it off the table onto the carpet in protest. So I’m just going to enjoy my Ginger Almond Nori Roll — alone. It’s awesome, just in a different way.

I deliberately eat more slowly than I normally would (and if you ask my friends, they’ll tell you I’m already a very slow eater). The finite nature of the day’s meals make me carefully consider how I eat. I pay attention to each bite and think about how it will sustain me until the next course.

It takes me over 40 minutes to eat 6 pieces of nori roll. Normally, it might take me 10.

A bit later… It has only been about 35 minutes since I ate lunch and I am hungry and light-headed. What’s that about? I just want to make some lemon ginger tea, but don’t know if that’s off limits right now. Anything to make these feelings subside. I guess I’ll go and get a cup of tasteless hot water.

Can’t concentrate. I think it’s from the lack of sleep for the past 3 nights. I could use a nap.

I’ve noticed that during the day, when I’m working, I feel like a whiny baby. Bouts of hunger, bouts of wooziness, lack of concentration. But as soon as I leave I am calm, almost catatonic in my composure. When I get home, there is nothing to complain about, I feel good. And I look back and wonder why I was a whiny baby all day. It’s more than the fast that’s making me feel this way. There is a lesson in here somewhere… Don’t work! 😉

What’s this post all about?
Read my l.o.v.e. (live organic vegan experience)