All the Animals (the peaceful farm sanctuary)

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She was three days old.  Bouncy, adorable, and everything one would imagine a baby goat to be.  She nibbled on the geraniums, went to inner city schools with me when I went to speak, played the piano, and loved her bottles.  She stayed next to me as I read and thought herself a cat.  She rather enjoyed rides in the truck and loved everyone.

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We often have to learn things the hard way to realize what our true beliefs are.  I had been vegetarian for twenty-five years and then vegan for an additional two years when we entered the farming scene head on and fell into line with all the other small farms around us.  We started a small dairy.  We increased our chicken family.  We had many animals who all had to “earn their keep.”

Elsa got pregnant too early.  When she gave birth, we took the baby away. (That is how people get the milk and not the infant) (and we were so thankful it was a girl because boys get killed in the dairy industry.  Period.)  She got mastitis and scabs on her udders.  Instead of letting her heal and giving her another year, I quickly sold her to a family who ushered her into their minivan and were gone.  For $250.  It was only then that I realized in my farming fervor that I just sold our baby girl.  Roosters I couldn’t get myself to eat came home plucked and beheaded for little reason.  I have too many recipes out there that need to come down.

Many folks deter squirrels with cruel spinning feeders and squirrel proof this or that.  We had a squirrel years ago that would throw his food bowl if it was empty after getting our attention!  They are quite fascinating and sweet animals.  Our life is certainly richer watching them play.  They come quite near to receive their goodies.

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Birds of all sorts gather around our third of an acre in the middle of the city.  Scores of blackbirds, owls, hawks, eagles, sparrows, finches, and silly blue jays.  Hummingbirds drink the nectar from the geraniums on the porch.

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The chickens are named and are actually included in our holiday cards.  They all have very different personalities, just like cats and dogs.  My friend’s young turkey was killed.  A few weeks later, the mother of the turkey died.  She was depressed and had stopped eating.  There is no difference (and it is only humans that have determined who is more worthy, who is food, who is equal) between the dog, the cats, the chickens, the squirrels, the blue jays, even the mice that steal a nibble here and there from the birds’ food bowl. They all have a right to live and be and I have no more right to be here than they.  We are all walking upon mother earth.

At this time that we wish for peace on earth, let us remember these things.  Not only will your health drastically improve, but your emotional state will be happier,  anxiety disappears, your impact on the earth’s resources will lessen, and the very number of lives you will save and improve by not eating animals and by putting out some bird seed will be significant.  That is how we get peace on earth.  One life at a time.  This mini-farm is a sanctuary, for me as much as them.

 

Recommended Reading:

The Good, Good Pig by Sy Montgomery

Happily Ever Esther by Steve Jenkins

Living the Farm Sanctuary Life by Gene Baur

 

 

 

Easy Flautas with Spicy Cashew Queso

I promised on my Instagram (@katiesanders0223) that I would share a super easy meal to get on the table in 30 minutes or less, Flautas!

Oh my, these delicious, savory, crisp at the edges, smothered in Spicy Cashew Queso sure taste like a lot more time went into them.

You can start with leftovers if you wish, any roasted vegetables, beans, veggie meats, etc.  Blend them together with some taco seasoning.  Or grab a bag of Beyond Meat or other veggie crumbles and sauté with onions and garlic, or simply put in refried beans spiced up with taco seasoning.  All depends on what you have on hand.

Now put a layer down the middle of a flour tortilla and roll it up.  Place side down on a cookie sheet sprayed with oil.  Repeat with the rest and leave a little space between flautas so they get nice and crisp.  Spray tops with a little oil spray.

Bake at 400 degrees for 10 minutes, flip and bake another 5-10 minutes until nice and toasted.

Top with guacamole, vegan sour cream, tomatoes, lettuce, salsa, cilantro, and queso!

Spicy Cashew Queso

Meanwhile make the vegan queso (which is plant based and so good for you!)  This recipe was adapted from a recipe by a blogger @ConsciousChris in Thrive magazine.

Soak 1 cup of raw cashews in a doubled the water for a few hours.  (So you will have to plan ahead)  Strain and put in good blender.

Add 4 Tb of sriracha or favorite hot sauce

4 Tb nutritional yeast (cheesy and very high in B12)

1/2 ts sea salt

1/2 ts of smoked salt (opt.)

1/2 ts of cumin

1/2 ts pepper

1/2 ts garlic

1 cup of hot water

Doug is the master of the vegan queso so he adds more of this or that to our liking.  I like a little bit of hot garlic chili in mine.  It is savory and delicious on nachos or poured over flautas!

Three Juice Margarita

One can’t seriously have Mexican food without a margarita, can they?

Fill a beer glass 1/3 of the way with orange juice, 1/3 apple juice, and a good splash of cranberry juice (let’s all get 100% juice, not from concentrate, shall we?) and a shot of tequila.

 

 

5 Reasons to Adopt a Plant Based Diet

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1- There is not a disease out there that can not be benefited, if not reversed entirely, by adopting a plant based diet.  Plants are medicine.  They contain every healing property needed to heal from cancer, diabetes, bone loss, dementia, heart problems, or colds.  That is what they were made for!  So in my work as a Clinical Herbalist when people are asking which medicine herbs to take, I always mention that they need to incorporate more plants into their diets too.  Kale and Broccoli can reverse bone loss.  Tomatoes and garlic heal the heart and wine relaxes the blood vessels.  Walnuts heal the brain and fresh greens remove built up mucous that inhibits memory.  There are thousands of food combinations and every single nutrient one needs is located in fruits, nuts, seeds, legumes, grains, and vegetables.

The more meat or processed foods one puts on their plate, the less room there is for the plants.  By adopting a plant based diet one gets all of the nutrients, none of the disease.

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2- Saves Money and Time!  We actually cut our grocery bill in half by eating a plant based diet.  In half!  This week I shopped at King Soopers and bought a week’s worth of groceries-all organic- for a hundred bucks.  (Kuddos to King Soopers for hearing the need and desires for more organic!)  Instead of an hour in the kitchen, I spend thirty minutes preparing a meal.

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3- More Eco-friendly– We are all a little freaked out by our own lusts for oil and gas and the impacts we as a cumulative society are making on this beautiful planet of ours that sustains us and nurtures us.  We purchase more fuel efficient cars and try to remember to turn the lights off but the one huge impact that one person could make is to adopt a plant based diet.  After all this time after the reports came out many years ago, our mainstream meat production is still the number one cause of greenhouse gases and pollution, the loss of species and rainforests, and the reason that so many pollutants get into our water ways.

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4- Animals and Karma– Let’s face it, when it comes to creating suffering, none of us really want to make an animal suffer.  (There really is no difference between a horse, cat, cow, dog, pig…) Yet we tell ourselves that it’s the circle of life, the cavemen did it, or it’s healthier, and we continue to eat ten times more meat than our ancestors ever did, create so much suffering by being a consumer, and then wonder why our bodies begin to rebel and fall apart.

My brother-in-law lives and teaches in Thailand and I asked him when he was here visiting, “What is it like there?  What wild animals do you have there?”

He replied, “There are no wild animals.  The people ate them all a long time ago.”

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5- It’s Fun!– I think I heard some of y’all choke out there. It is fun!  I love cooking and creating and it is fun to cook through a new cookbook.  It is fun to see what flavor combinations can be had.  We cook together and as we chop and laugh and sauté and pour a drink, we talk about our day, alter seasonings, and eat really, really healthy food.

We were vegetarian/vegan for a long time.  When we stopped we both started seeing just what eating meat does.  Gout, weight gain, back problems, hormone disruptions, circulatory issues….It is nice feeding my husband foods that will nurture and heal him, give him energy and well being.  It is nice feeding myself those foods as well.  I know I am doing my part to help the animal kingdom whom I adore, and am lowering my footprint on this little homestead.  I am saving money and making amazing, delicious foods.  There are so many beautiful books out there.  My new favorite is “The Homemade Vegan Pantry” by the magnificent Miyoko Schinner.  We have been cooking our way through it this week.  I highly recommend it.  I don’t want processed food in my plant based journey, so this helps me in seconds whip up delicious substitutes.

After years of experimenting here is my favorite plant based milk recipe:

Cashew Milk– Place 1 cup of cashews with 4 cups of filtered water in blender and blend until completely smooth and frothy.  No need to strain!  It should be completely blended and smooth enough to go through the cappuccino machine or into your cereal.

It’s a bright new year, here’s to your health and your karma!

Vegan Week 3 (tips for success and surprising results)

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I guess I noticed it on our two mile walk.  The one we did later that day, not the two mile hike up a steep incline we did that morning.  My knee wasn’t bothering me in the least.  Ok, first of all, no one can ever tell me again that one needs lots of protein from animal sources for energy and working out.  Goodness, we have so much energy we are hiking all over the place!  That has been one really great result of going vegan.  The other, is my knee.

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I hurt it when I was seventeen, so…a few years ago.  I tend to it with herbal concoctions and intermittent yoga to keep  it at bay.  The third floor apartment though was really doing my knee in.  You may have noticed that I have been hobbling around more.  This makes my back hurt then and I am instantly aged and grumpy!  Well, my knee hasn’t hurt.  And I bet it’s been two weeks.  So yes, we know that animal products create or worsen inflammatory issues like arthritis, gout, and other skeletal issues, but what I am eating now is really helping.  Between the two to four cups of homemade kombucha (glucosamine and B12) we are enjoying plus the quart of green smoothie each morning with the heavy dollop of coconut oil put in it, plus the nuts and nut butters in the smoothie and on bread, and the increased antioxidant intake from all these plant foods, my skeletal system is healing itself.  And that, my friends, is an amazing thing to report so early in this experiment!

Here are some tips for going and staying plant based:

#1 Start the day with a great smoothie.  For two people, put in 4 cups of greens of your liking such as kale, spinach, chard, collards, romaine, dandelions or other wild greens.  Add 4 cups of fruit, a combination of bananas, apples, kiwi, mango, peaches, plums, grapes, cherries, pears, and a good amount of frozen fruit to make it nice and cold.  Add a fat to make it bioavailable.  A dollop of sunflower or almond butter, peanut butter or coconut oil, or a handful of nuts.  Add spices like cinnamon or cardamom Sweeten with maple syrup or honey.  Make more filling with a handful of oats (a good nervine for pain) added in uncooked.  A good chug of coffee if needed!  Fill the container half way with water or cashew milk or juice and swirl away in a good blender.  Imagine that kind of healing power in a breakfast!

#2 When going out be prepared.  When Doug wanted to go to Panera and have coffee and bagels I put his creamer and cream cheese in my bag.  It isn’t dairy so it keeps rather well and then we don’t feel deprived.  Seem silly?  It’s not.  We get our time reading, writing, sitting outside enjoying coffee and bagels together, we just add the creamer and cream cheese that is healthier for us.

#3 Try new restaurants.  Gnarly Root, City O City, Watercourse, Leaf, just to name a few, are offering up creative vegan dishes.

#4 Get creative in the kitchen!  Doug and I have been having fun creating veggie meats out of the Vegan Bean Book.  “Chicken” made with chickpeas, wheat gluten, spices, and dipped in panko are baked and go from lemon chicken with pasta and mushrooms to burritos with lots of lettuce, tomato, salsa, and vegan cheese.  We also make “chorizo” using black beans, millet, quinoa, and New Mexican red chile (our staple around here!).  That went into a roasted sweet and new potatoes, corn, and green chili casserole with my homemade taco sauce and vegan cheese mixed in.  The fresh vegetables look so beautiful to me.

We are fluctuating between three pounds, down and up, because muscle is heavier than fat, and where a woman is in her cycle, and water and waste all plays into the weight scale.  But, we are feeling great.  All the beautiful fluids and fats and antioxidants are making us look a little younger even.  You know, I don’t think we are ever going back.

Two Weeks Vegan (cost, cookbooks, and the original nourishing diet)

 

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I was following what my friends were doing for awhile.  The Nourishing Diet, or way of eating (diet always seems to denote weight loss, but this was a lifestyle).  It fit our farm lives, fats, bone broth, nourishing whole foods.  I have never in my life felt more nourished than being vegan.  I am glad we went away from being vegan then came back so I could see the difference.  None of that after fat or grease or overeating ick feeling.  I feel like every cell in my body is being nourished as I consume a smoothie.  Kale, dandelions, or spinach, with apples, bananas, and/or nectarines, topped with frozen berries and a little maple syrup and coconut oil.  Oats (a delicious nervine) and cashews or almond butter or whatever speaks to us today.  The quart of nourishing juice revitalizes us and has to be more nutritious than any bone broth.

Doug has lost seven pounds.  All of our issues are less.  Not gone yet, but geez, it’s only been two weeks!  Less sinus issue for him, a lot less inflammation for me, minor detoxing (when we were vegan before we only needed a shower every five days, we never smelled), so a few extra showers and a few teen zits coming up here and there as we attempt to undue two and a half years of damage in two weeks.

I hear a lot that it costs more for healthy food.  I want to address this because a lot of people don’t do it because of this.  So, yes, an organic apple next to a conventional apple will typically be about ten to twenty cents more.  However, once I cut out all meat and dairy and most processed foods out of my grocery cart, you wouldn’t believe how much I saved!  I spent a lot on meat, especially grass fed, local meats.  Nuts are pricey, beans are not, organic orange juice is pricey, but we were buying that before.  We are consuming a lot of vegetables and fruits and whole grains.  And in the end, it’s cheaper.  We can’t just run willy nilly out to restaurants so we are eating at home a lot more.

I am inspired when I get into my kitchen.  I used to think I was in a rut before we fell off the bacon wagon but nothing says “rut” like “meatloaf or pork chops?”.  We are inspired to make vegan cheeses from creamy cashews and coconuts.  Veggie meats from organic wheat gluten (really, y’all, not all gluten is bad for you) and whole beans make a quick, delicious, protein and veggie filled replacement.  Dipped in panko and baked, covered in vegan gravy with mashed potatoes, you’d think you were back at the kitchen table on a farm.  And none of the icky, overate, too much comfort food feeling, just nourishment.  Salads, sandwiches, vegan pizza, or just fruit salad, anything we want.  We haven’t even missed meat.  If I do not have time to make something from scratch I can grab a vegan pizza from the frozen section at the health food store and embellish it.  Remember when the veggie stuff had so many ingredients and none of them were pronounceable?   Well, a lot of that has changed.  Stay away from Monsanto bought veggie products like Morning star, stick with Gardein, Tofurky, the smaller brands.  Just nourishment.

Here are a few cookbooks I am loving.  The Vegan Bean Book by Kathy Hester has great recipes like chorizo and veggie chicken plus a zillion more, and Thug Kitchen; Eat Like You Give a F*ck is the funniest cook book I have ever read.

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So keep up the good work, heal yourself and the world, kiss a cow, wave at a robin, and eat great this week.  Be nourished.

 

Gone Vegan

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Last night Doug and I watched the documentary “Forks Over Knives”.  I tell you the reason we did it though, we knew what they were going to say, but we needed inspiration because Doug and I are extremists and we need passion to achieve anything.  Diet and lifestyle is a much argued subject and it gets confusing traversing all the information out there.  Most of the time we just don’t want to think about it.  Our ancestors just ate, can’t we too?  There is also much discrepancy on what our ancestors ate!  Meat was a rarity no matter what the Paleo movement tells us.  It was seasonal, or small, or for rich people.  And those rich people were sick and fat.

We knew this when we ordered bacon at a restaurant after being vegetarian, I for twenty-seven years, Doug for eight, and staunch vegans for two years.  All our friends ate meat.  They were fine.  My friend that convinced us to eat meat died of cancer shortly after.  I watch cancer come through my shop door almost daily.  I can see illnesses.  It is a somewhat rare clairvoyant gift that helps me be an effective herbalist.  I see heart disease, circulatory problems, I see problems in me and Doug now.  We need a change.

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In the past two and a half years since we began eating meat we have both obtained a lovely array of issues.  When we went vegan the first time Doug lost thirty-five pounds.  We had just started our rigorous farmers market season (eight markets a week) and we felt great.

We had convinced ourselves that it is a natural process, that farm animals are to be eaten, that we kill animals when we clear farmland for vegetables, that my body needed meat and B12!  Then I read the back of a bottle of kombucha.  20% of my daily B12.  There are a lot of sources of B12.  The meat and dairy industry make the guidelines that we all use for health, for our children’s health, for what we believe to be true.  We listened, and then we saw for ourselves.

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We were invited to go to a pig harvest and barbeque.  I had my freezer full of heritage pork from a local farmer.  We can do this!  We chickened out.  Turns out Doug and I would just sit there babbling like idiots, crying over the pig, or worse, try to wrestle him into our truck to kidnap.  I must admit that Doug and I are lousy meat eaters.  But we can’t blindly buy packaged, red tinted slabs of faceless meat either.  I know what goes on in slaughterhouses, even the grass fed, sustainable, local, blah, blah, blah cows go there.  Pretty horrific.

Anyways, I promise not to be preachy with the veganism, I wasn’t when we were before either.  But I will keep you up to date on how we feel and what we are doing.

To start this process, Doug and I assessed how we feel.  Doug has gained almost half of his weight back. He has chronic sinus and breathing issues since we began eating meat.  His energy levels are nil, his umbilical hernia is getting worse, he has digestive issues again, his memory is his most concerning factor.

I have gained weight in my stomach, uneven, not necessarily noticeable to the vast majority, but I know it is either bloating or fat which is not supposed to be there.  I have extensive swelling, my rings don’t fit, I get sharp pains in my chest, have breathing problems sometimes, and my knee and lower back often hurt.  I also am having problems with my teeth.  Doug and I both know that dairy leaches calcium from the bones but that cheese…ooh it calls to us.  Loudly.  My face is breaking out.  I have circulatory issues, frequent blues, and even more frequent headaches.  About 2-6 migraines a month.

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This is a lot of really personal information but I know that it will only get worse if we do not wake up.  We see folks all around us with dietary and lifestyle related illnesses, issues, things we just call “getting old”, but I ain’t going out like that.  I still have a lot of life ahead of me and I want to keep my husband here too, both of us nice and healthy.  So, if you are curious or want to join in, follow along each week and see how we are doing!  Maybe it will inspire you to adopt a plant based diet as well.  Or, we’ll all go out for bacon.  We’ll see!

Use food as medicine.  Check out the documentaries Forks Over Knives and Food Inc.  It will change your life and your health.

 

 

Natural Sunscreen (and sun myths)

Did you know that there are studies out there proving that conventional sunscreens actually cause skin cancer?  There are many chemicals in our body products that cause cancer.  Scary.  There are many things that one can do to protect from sunburn.

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Something that people often forget is that the sun itself is not harmful.  The companies that sell sunscreen and treat skin cancer sure don’t want you to know that.  Don’t take my word for it, research it yourself!  Now the sun can heal many ailments from impotence to kidney failure by exposing areas to the sun (not in public, folks) and can help eyesight and improve levels of Vitamin D which can help prevent and treat myriads of ailments.

Here is how not to fry your skin.  Coconut oil is about a 12 SPF.  Slather on and crave stir fry all day, but it sure does feel good on the skin.  Olive oil is a 10 SPF.  Use with beeswax which is an additional 2 SPF in a nice salve or lotion.  Eating mostly fruits, vegetables, grains, nuts, and seeds provides your body with all the enzymes, phytochemicals, and antioxidants it needs to keep cancer cells from coming through the skin and helps prevent burns.  They also fight and prevent cancer internally as well.  If you really need a good sunscreen because you will be out fishing, at the beach, or in the garden all day, add a little non-toxic zinc oxide (available in powder form on the internet) to non-toxic lotion (only ingredients you recognize!) and slather on.

Our sunscreen at the shop uses demulcent olive oil, beeswax, water, essential oils, cancer fighting herbs (that also protect against burn) like chaparral and comfrey, and a little zinc.  This keeps us, and the new baby, from getting burnt and keeps our skin super soft, smelling wonderful, and keeps cells healthy.

Skin is the biggest organ on your body, make sure you only put fresh ingredients on it!  Get a bit of sunshine each day, it’s good for you!

If you do get fried, fresh aloe vera juice, olive oil, and lavender essential oil diluted into coconut or olive oil will help the burn disappear overnight!

http://cosmeticsdatabase.com to find out how clean or toxic your body products are and http://gardenfairyapothecary for some clean ones!