29 March 2013

Top Five Friday: Turmeric - Healthy and Delicious!

Leave your drugs in the chemist’s pot if you can cure the patient with food.
~ Hippocrates

ood is medicine.

Last Friday, I talked about gluten and how being gluten-free is a healthier way to eat.  One of my friends asked if I had any turmeric recipes, so today, I’m going to highlight the health benefits of this root and post some recipes that showcase its great flavor.

Herb, Spice, Huh?
Before we talk about the health benefits, let’s get one thing settled.  What is the difference between and herb, a spice, and a root? Or is there one?

Webster defines an herb as:
1. a seed-producing annual, biennial, or perennial that does not develop persistent woody tissue but dies down at the end of a growing season

2: a plant or plant part valued for its medicinal, savory, or aromatic qualities
And spice as: An aromatic or pungent vegetable substance used to flavor food, e.g., cloves, pepper, or mace.

Mother Earth Living further says:
Herbs are obtained from the leaves of plants that do not have woody stems. They tend to thrive in more temperate climates, and can be used fresh or dry. Spices, on the other hand, can be obtained from woody or non-woody plants and are always dried before use. Except for the leaves, all other parts of the plant are spices, including the seeds, fruits, flowers and bark. Spices are usually native to hot, tropical climates. Additionally, while herbs sometimes seem to have more medicinal properties than spices do, most herbs and spices have both flavoring and healing properties. (Sarah McCabe, December 2012)
What does all this mean?  Turmeric, which is a perennial shrub, comes from the root, so it’s a spice.
Turmeric: Spice is Nice
Chinese medicine has long used turmeric to treat various ailments: arthritis, cancer, cuts, digestive issues, and as a liver cleanse.  In some cases, it can also act as a mild anti-depressant.  Studies show that this is due to curcumin, the active ingredient in turmeric. More at Mother Earth Living.

Any way you grate it, turmeric is a great spice to add to your favorite Indian inspired dishes and I have my top five to share with you today.  And since today is Good Friday, those who are abstaining from meat can make any of the recipes here meatless.

My gluten-free detox is officially at an end, but I have so much more energy and pep these days that I’ve decided I’m going to continue to keep it off my plate indefinitely.  I’m also still keeping my chicken consumption down as well, so for this recipe I use lean pork or leave meat out all together.

You can add chicken, lamb, or beef to this soup if you want.  Lamb would be heavenly, but I leave it out usually and use vegetable broth instead of beef because I want to keep my meat consumption low.  Leave out the pasta or use a quinoa or corn based pasta to keep this gluten-free.

If Popeye lived in India, this is what he would eat.  And I can have as much of this soup as I want during my detox – no gluten and no white food to raise my glucose levels.  Speaking of, did you know that the body cannot tell the difference between a white potato and a Snickers bar?  They’re on the same level on the glycemic index.  Insane!!  So when I thought I was doing the right thing by eating a baked potato ~ not so much.  Eat a yam or sweet potato instead!

Another soup!?  WTH!?  I know, but soup is “souper” easy to make and it fills you up without weighing you down.  Substitute mushrooms for the white potatoes to give it a hearty feel.

I eat mostly vegan and raw, but I do love meat.  So for my healthy carnivore readers, here is a turmeric recipe for you.  And hey, it’s not soup!

Oremus pro invicem,
~ Mikaela
To find out more about the health benefits of turmeric, visit these websites:

28 March 2013

La Belle's Hobby Farm: Fickle Spring Planting

It was one of those March days when the sun shines hot and the wind blows cold:
when it is summer in the light, and winter in the shade. 
~ Charles Dickens, Great Expectations

Since the "Frigid" cover reveal was yesterday, I’m publishing my Garden Post today.

eeping a journal is a useful habit, especially when gardening.  I don’t remember a March being this unpredictable, but then, I haven’t been keeping track.

But seriously: snow two days after it was 60 degrees!?!?

Needless to say, tt has been hit or miss getting my direct sow seeds in the ground.  If you work the ground too soon, it clumps up and hardens and the seeds suffocate.  You wait too long, and the seeds forget to come up.

And let's not forget my social calendar.  My extrovert side needs people as much as my introvert side needs to be alone in my garden.

And so it was that on March 16, my friend Pearl and her wee ones came down to help me plant some seeds.  Between insane schedules and traffic, I endedup getting ready for a dinner, and she ended up planting a few seeds.  Meanwhile, her youngest (an introvert) quietly sampled some fine organic dirt (yum!) and her oldest talked a blue streak about the cats, the dog, and every blade of grass she stepped on (definitely an extrovert).  They were both absolutely adorable.  Remember: no age is too young to be exposed to gardening!

So both sides of my personality were pleased with the day's outcome.

So what got planted?  Well, not all the direct sow seeds had come in, so what we did have and what we had time to plant went in: lettuce and spinach.  Then this past week, I added two rows of sugar snaps and prayed that they would remember to pop up.  I hadn't planned on putting lettace and spinach in this garden, so the garden plan now looks like this: 

M. Deigh Revised Garden Plan from Garden Planner
This past weekend was a good weekend to plant, but I was busy buying hats (I really need to tell you about my latest addiction!) and didn’t spend any quality time in the dirt.  However, with Easter coming this weekend, I hope to get more weeds pulled, more seeds in the ground, and some in little pots!  Will post pictures next week!

Oremus pro invicem,
~ Mikaela
It’s not too late, I swear!  What didn't make it into your garden?

27 March 2013

Jennifer Armentrout's "Frigid" Cover Revealed!

A good book should leave you... slightly exhausted at the end. 
You live several lives while reading it. 
~ William Styron

ennifer Armentrout, a favorite paranormal YA author that I have mentioned before, has just revealed the cover for her latest YA novel, Frigid.  The synopsis is hot, so I can only imagine the full story will be even hotter! 

July 30th seems so far away!

Oremus pro invicem,
~ Mikaela


Cover design: Okay Creations
Photographer: Jennifer Rush
For twenty-one-year-old Sydney, being in love with Kyler isn't anything new. They'd been best friends ever since he pushed her down on the playground and she made him eat a mud pie. Somewhere over the years, she fell for him and fell hard. The big problem with that? Kyler puts the 'man' in man-whore. He's never stayed with a girl longer than a few nights, and with it being their last year in college, Syd doesn't want to risk their friendship by declaring her love.

Kyler has always put Syd on a pedestal that was too high for him to reach. To him, she's perfect and she's everything. But the feelings he has for her, he's always hidden away or focused on any other female. After all, Kyler will always be the poor boy from the wrong side of tracks, and Syd will always be the one girl he can never have.

But when they're stranded together at a posh ski resort due to a massive Nor'easter, there's nothing stopping their red-hot feelings for each other from coming to the surface. Can their friendship survive the attraction? Better yet, can they survive at all? Because as the snow falls, someone is stalking them, and this ski trip may be a life-changer in more ways than one.

Frigid will be available in digital formats on July 30th 2013
Print release of Frigid will be November 5th 2012
J. Lynn, also known as Jennifer L. Armentrout, is a #1 New York Times and USA Today Bestselling author. She lives in Martinsburg, West Virginia. All the rumors you’ve heard about her state aren’t true. When she’s not hard at work writing. she spends her time reading, working out, watching really bad zombie movies, pretending to write, and hanging out with her husband and her Jack Russel Loki.

Her dreams of becoming an author started in algebra class, where she spent most of her time writing short stories….which explains her dismal grades in math. Jennifer writes young adult paranormal, science fiction, fantasy, and contemporary romance. She is published with Spencer Hill Press, Entangled Teen and Brazen, Disney/Hyperion and Harlequin Teen.

She also writes adult and New Adult romance under the name J. Lynn. She is published by Entangled Brazen and HarperCollins.

Twitter  https://twitter.com/JLArmentrout
Facebook http://www.facebook.com/JenniferLArmentrout
Website http://www.jenniferarmentrout.com/

22 March 2013

Top Five Friday: Gluten-Free Detox and Loving It!

Chemicals, n:  Noxious substances from which modern foods are made. 
~ Author Unknown

ood is medicine.

This is a truth that has come home to roost in a very real way for me.  Back in January, I had my gall bladder removed after getting through the majority of 2012 gallstone (and therefore pain) free.  Despite another detox, the emergency room doctors determined that my GB was infected.  So out it came.

Knowing that over 30% of people who have it removed experience similar symptoms, I resolved to focus on not just changing my diet, but changing my lifestyle so that I would not be one of the thirty-plus percent.

Apparently, I didn’t change it enough.

Since January, I have had some interesting symptoms pop up that, while directly caused by my lack of a gall bladder, my naturopath thinks they are related to my liver.  This isn’t a huge surprise, since the gall bladder and the liver are neighbors and rely on each other.  And getting the liver back on track is related to diet.

And one of the most common culprits in food-related health and wellness, is gluten.  Gluten is defined as:

1. The mixture of proteins, including gliadins and glutelins, found in wheat grains, which are not soluble in water and which give wheat dough its elastic texture.

2. Any of the prolamins found in cereal grains, especially the prolamins in wheat, rye, barley, and possibly oats, that cause digestive disorders such as celiac disease.

So, she put me on a 21-Day Gluten-Free detox.  She also included all grains (so no rice-based gluten-free products), anything processed (which is a no-brainer), and anything white (potatoes, rice, sugar).  My friends ask with utter horror: “What in the world is left for you to eat!?”

Quite a lot actually.

Goody Brain vs. Brat Brain
Someone once said that if you want to eat healthy, shop only on the perimeter of the grocery store and not in the middle.  Which boils down to 3 sections: Produce, Meat, and Dairy.  I am dairy-intolerant, so that leaves produce and meat.  In the produce section, I can eat as many veggies as I want (and I juice quite a bit of it) and up to two fruits a day (even fruit has naturally occurring glucose, i.e. sugar, so it isn’t good to consume copious amounts of it every day).

In the meat department, she banned me from eating chicken ~ something about arsenic.  So pork loin and lean red meat it is.  Yay ~ I love meat.  So basically: lots of veggies, a little fruit, and a little meat.  Not bad.

Plus, it’s only for 21 days, people!

However, my amygdala loves bread, and although I have gone the gluten-free route before, even the substitutes were forboten in the 21 day period.  So Ms. Amygdala proceeded to kick, scream, and throw a general hissy fit.  She even (cough) pushed me off the wagon once or twice.

Damn, my amygdala is such a brat sometimes!

As much as it pains my inner culinary diva to admit it, though, my naturopath was right.  Today is Day 18 and I feel really good.  Better than I was when I went to see her three weeks ago.  Not quite ready to run a marathon, but I definitely have more energy and the blues are easier to beat.  I even signed up for a dance class! Go me!

So today, I’m sharing with you my top gluten-free, grain-free, dairy-free recipes that don’t taste like sawdust or dirt.

In my quest for yummy gluten-free recipes, I recently discovered Gluten Free Girl and the Chef.  She has dairy free recipes as well (yay!)  And I love wild Alaskan salmon ~ which is a very good mood booster.  Not a huge fan of soy, so I substituted black beans for the edamame.

Yummly reminds me of Punchfork and Foodgawker.  This recipe is phenom ~ it has butternut squash, it has curry, it as coconut ~ what’s not to love!?  During this detox, I of course didn’t have the rice.  Don’t need it, it’s yumalicious all by itself.

Another great gluten-free find, Gluten Free for Good has some incredible recipes.  I love this one; but since I’m not eating chicken or white potatoes right now, I substituted vegetable broth, and added another sweet potato. 

 WAnother curry recipe I know, but I love it!  And this one from Kalyn’s Kitchen is doubly awesome because I can put it in the crock pot and have ready to eat when I get home!

Who says gluten-free and raw have to be boring?  Rawmazing is still my go-to gal for all things raw, healthy, and yummy.  This recipe is no different.

Healthy eating today is nothing like it was back in the 1970s ~ do you remember carob powder?!  Today we focus on taste as much as nutrition.  And we gluten-free-ites eat pretty darn well.  Who knows ~ I go gluten-free forever!

Just don’t tell Ms. Amygdala.

Oremus pro invicem,
~ Mikaela
Share your gluten-free recipes here!

18 March 2013

Head Over to the Photo Party!

Spring makes its own statement, so loud and clear
that the gardener seems to be only one of the instruments, not the composer. 
~ Geoffrey B. Charlesworth

aturday some seeds finally went in to the ground, thanks to my friend Megers ~ with a little help from the feet of her daughters!  And then, today it snows!

Thank goodness the seeds are lettuce and kale ~ they should be fine.

And yet, even with the snow, spring is definitely on the way: peepers are out in full force, singing their little hearts out for a mate, the bulbs are crawling all over the place, some with blooms already, and Abbey of the Arts is hosting another Photo Party! Details from Christine V. Paintner below.

Welcome to the Abbey Photo Party!

Christine selects a theme and invites you to respond with images.

"Springtime begins in the northern hemisphere on Wednesday, the time of great flowering on the earth offering hope of new possibilities emerging.

This week, go on a photo pilgrimage, holding the start of springtime in your heart, and notice what images are shimmering in the world around you.

(For my southern hemisphere friends, you are welcome to also share images of the arrival of autumn, or the ways you see signs of spring even in the midst of the season of letting go)

You can share images you already have which illuminate the theme, but I encourage you also to go for a walk with the theme in mind and see what you discover.

New stray who is the spitting image of Flops (d. 12/12)
© 2013 Mikaela D’Eigh
 You are also welcome to post photos of any other art you create inspired by the theme.  See what stirs your imagination!"

How to participate:
1. Go to the Flickr Group Christine has created. You need a free Flickr account first (go to the Flickr home page and click "Sign up now.")  When you go to the link it will ask you to join the group first before posting.  Share up to five of your images in response to the theme.

2. Leave a comment below her blog post to let us know you have joined the party and what your Flickr profile name is (you must include this to be entered into the prize drawing).

3. Please post the invitation on your blog or Facebook page and encourage others to come join the party!

On Friday, March 22nd – Christine will draw a name at random from those who participate and the winner will receive a space in one of her upcoming online class Eyes of the Heart: Photography as a Contemplative Practice (April 28-June 15, 2013) and a copy of her new book which the class accompanies.

Oremus pro invicem,
~ Mikaela

If you participate, share links to your blog here and on Christine’s page!

14 March 2013

La Belle's Hobby Farm: The Plan Unveiled!

The best laid schemes of mice and men. . .
~ Robert Burns

I was going to publish this on my regular Wednesday Hobby Farm post, but with all the Pope news going on, I waited a day. 

nd gardeners too!

Last weekend, I planned on getting some direct sow seeds into the ground but the soil was still too sodden and unworkable.  Garden gloves fingers crossed that this weekend the rain holds off and I can finally get those sugar snaps in the ground ~ along with a bunch of other direct sow beauties.

Given my love for lists, spreadsheets, and plans in general ~ whether I follow them or not is beside the point! ~ I signed up for an online Garden Planner with the Farmer’s Almanac. It is awesomesauce!  It must be the same one that powers the Mother Earth News one, because it looks the same.  But my free trial ran out on that one, so I signed up again. 

Here is my current draft plan for my direct sow / herb garden. 

I’ll print it out this weekend and see if my vision matches up with reality.  It rarely does, but hey ~ that’s why we dream!

Oremus pro invicem,
~ Mikaela
Did you get any seeds in the ground last weekend?  What are you doing in the garden this weekend?

08 March 2013

Top Five Friday: New and Small Farm Web Resources

The soil is the great connector of lives, the source and destination of all.
~ Wendell Berry

y spreadsheet mania knows no bounds!  I got so caught up in Excel La-La land, that I decided I should keep track of my gardening costs.  This led me to looking for farming resources on the web that would help me figure out how to track expenses for crops.  That led me to a couple of really great websites for beginning farmers. 

While I’m not going to be growing crops on a large scale, most of these resources will come in handy in the coming months and if this sustainable endeavor ever grows into a full time project/business.

Tons of resources here, from finding farmland and starting a farm to the politics of agriculture.  Wish their GUI were more, well, user friendly.  Although any resource that helps me with my gardening dreams doesn’t have to be 100% on the organic/sustainable band wagon to have valuable information, I heart them even more if they do.  I don’t know how BF feels about organic farming, but they do have a link to organic and Non-GMO seed sources.

Another great resource.  And their GUI is beautiful.  Researching which flowers to plant next to which plants to keep away pests is so much better when the website is easy on the eyes.     

Best feature?  Online courses – which include Feasibility and Financial Record Keeping.

Speaking of confusing GUIs, I’m still not sure what this page/organization is about; however, they are on board with organic, sustainable farming and the list of resources if extensive.

Best feature?  Library contains full texts of older resources. 

Dude, just hire Cornell U’s web designer.

Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education
Another beautifully designed website.  SARE is ~ as their name implies ~ all about education.  And if you really are serious about starting a small sustainable farm, they have grant information by region.

This site is specifically about encouraging the establishment of small farms in Chatham County, NC.  However, the resources page has many links that work just as well here in Virginia, or for any small farm. 

Garlic Plants
Photo Credit: 123rf.com

The loss of farmland to commercial development in general, and specifically the disappearance of small, family farms to the commercial monstrosities that tend (although maybe not always) to use GMO seeds and choke their veggies with gallons of pesticides, has been a lament and topic of discussion for awhile now. 

But I am hopeful and optimistic that the tide is turning.  A growing number of people are curious about where their food comes from, and concerned about the effects (known and unknown) of pesticides, genetic modification (not to be confused with hybridization). 

I for one, will know exactly where my veggies are coming from: my back yard.

Oremus pro invicem,
~ Mikaela
Want to know more? Best place to start is your local cooperative extension office.  They’re always happy to answer questions and help you out! 

07 March 2013

La Belle's Hobby Farm: Another Brick in the (Garden) Wall

‎A farm is a manipulative creature. There is no such thing as finished. Work comes in a stream and has no end. There are only the things that must be done now and things that can be done later. The threat the farm has got on you, the one that keeps you running from can until can't, is this: do it now or some living thing will wilt or suffer or die. It’s blackmail really.
~ Kristin Kimball, The Dirty Life: On Farming, Food, and Love

nother brick in the garden wall ~ or at least, in the planning of said garden: The Farmer’s Almanac Guide to Planting.

So of course I am diligently searching the web for as much information on gardening as I can so that my veggies, fruits, flowers, and herbs don’t die before their time.  Usually it’s death by starvation, thirst, or plain old neglect.  Sometimes they simply don’t grow because I planted them too late, too early, too deep, or too shallow.  You live and learn, but learning that way can get expensive. Hence: extensive reading, charting, and check-listing.

Which is why I nearly screamed like a 1960s tween at a Beatles concert when I saw that it was not too late to plant sugar snap peas (Yes! Go me!) and then did a face-palm when I realized that my plans for this big 1 acre garden forgot to factor in how to water it (Doh!  Add sprinklers to the “Buy” list).

I also decided I needed another visual aid to help me stay on track with all my garden chores.  Voila!

Excel nerd, remember?

This calendar will also help me track when a crop was planted, when they were last watered, what kind of compost or soil was added, etc.

Next step: the actual garden plan: i.e. where each crop will live.  This is important especially for sustainable gardening.  Certain flowers need to be planted near certain plants to help ward off pests.

Oremus pro invicem,
~ Mikaela
This should have been published yesterday, but due to the snow blizzard that wasn't, it didn't go out.  Mea culpa!