Thursday, May 29, 2014

lilacs for them all

My mother's favorite flower is lilac.  The house on Market Street where I grew up was filled with the pale purple blossoms for a few brief days every May. Even with this year's late spring they arrived as always in a big heady burst in time for Memorial Day.  I picked from the one white bush in my yard and tied them in bunches with some sprigs of Royalty crab and blue bugle weed.

There were decades when I disregarded the practice of visiting the cemetery where my ancestors rest.
My father William Engel, born May 26th 1888, died October 1st 1955 when I was only two and half years old.  His sister Katherine, my cantankerous aunt Kate who loved me "like the dickens."
My children's paternal grandparents are in that same cemetery... John Cashmiere Hauger who served in WW2 as a medic at the Battle of the Bulge and his wife Maryann.  My adopted father, John Alois Theis who served as a sergeant during the war, but was stationed in the states.

My mother accompanied me, and led prayer at each stop within the cemetery.
"Eternal rest, grant unto them O Lord
and let perpetual light shine upon them.
May their soul and the souls of all the faithful departed,
through the mercy of God, rest in peace.  Amen."

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Get Back to 21

It's been a little over a month since I completed a 21 day diet detox.  Some of the "old pal" offenders have crept back into my pantry...honey, chocolate chips, whole wheat pasta, red wine, a small wheel of goat cheese.  I've have had no problem resisting others.  Dairy half and half has been replaced with home made almond milk in my morning coffee or tea.  There are a couple of bottles of beer tucked on the inside refrigerator door that don't seem appealing (check in with me at grass mowing season.)

Unfortunately it's not just what you put in your mouth but how you put it there.  Delaying breakfast after a couple of cups of 'wake me up' or constantly grazing throughout the day is a hard nut to crack.  It's time for me to get back to some of the principles of the detox.

Getting back to basics with breakfast means taking the time to make something with enough protein to last 4 to 5 hours.  I'm a one pot kind of cook and love this old relic of a pan I found at one of my favorite haunts.  Vintage Le Creuset cookware may have some cosmetic issues like mine but the porcelain interior over cast iron is great for quick browning and then maintaining an even heat.  You'll get a workout trying to one hand the #28 skillet!

Start the day with a simple two egg omelet and some veggie hash.

Onion, bell pepper and shitake mushrooms get a sauté in coconut oil 
(much healthier than seed oils)
A handful of chopped greens: swiss chard, kale or collards wilt fast in the hot pan.
Diced tomatoes and a splash of balsamic vinegar finish the dish.

If your missing the cheese in your omelet try substituting with a sprinkle of nutritional yeast!

I love vintage restaurant china for maintaining the heat of a meal from stove to table.
I found my set at Junk Bonanza two years ago from Kathi and her crew: all things white.  More can be found here:

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Monday, February 17, 2014


a wind's come up last night and it's still blowing
its chasing everything out
birds and bluejays, precious pets, a Polish moon

what was crystalline and sparkling yesterday
today is buff and grey
orange has turned to rust

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Diet Detox Dessert

Don't give up eating pretty, sweeties!

Fresh pineapple is in season, and blackberries are on sale.  
Buying frozen fruit may be more healthful and eco-friendly as the fruit is flash frozen at its peak of flavor and avoids shipping long distance.  But you do sacrifice texture.
An easy fruit side looks more like dessert if you put it in a pretty sherbet glass.
I am so excited to be coming into the third week of my 21 day detox.

a treasury in pineapple and blackberry

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Winter Bath

Richard had an electrical outlet installed so that he could add a heated birdbath to our deck railing.
He's been feeding the birds, and squirrels and deer for years but it only occurred to us lately to add the water.  It may be natural that they don't seek it out on very cold days.  You can see the steam rising in gentle wafts from the surface.  If you look to the upper left you can see a bold chickadee.  Adding the christmas tree boughs was a way to add bridges so that the birds are more inclined to dip a toe in.

Wouldn't I like my own hot springs outdoor bath?  After yet another rigorous workout with the snow shovel I opted for Janell Yule's detox salt bath, which is helpful to detoxify the largest organ of our bodies...our skin.  Rather than comforting lavender, I used a dropper full of Unbind Me from TeraDeiFarms and a few too many drops of essential oregano oil which is said to heal and boost immunity.  I smelled a bit like spaghetti sauce simmering instead of flowers.

Hot Springs, Minnesota...not

Saturday, January 25, 2014

2 eggs over medium... hold the toast

My spot is reserved at this morning's diet detox breakfast table.  Uncured bacon is on the menu!
The side of roasted golden beets and parsnips were quickly sautéed with kale.   
It is so helpful to have left over veggies from dinner to round out the plate.

I've had to recondition my impulse to grab the olive oil bottle for cooking and roasting.  High heat changes the nature of the Coconut oil is on of the preferred fats to use for high heat cooking and ALL seed oils are to be avoided.  
After reading this article I think I'll just eliminate them permanently from the pantry and save it for polishing lawn tools!

Article excerpt taken from:

Olive Oil:This oil has been everyone’s favorite oil for a number of years now.  It’s a foundation of the famous health-promoting Mediterranean Diet; rich in health-promoting Omega-9 monounsaturated fatty acids, olive oil has been associated with improvement in cholesterol, blood pressure, diabetes, age-related dementia, blood clots, cancer, and living longer (to name a few!).

Olive oil also tastes great and can be used heated in cooking as well as cold as a substitute for butter on bread, as the base of a healthy salad dressing, or in a marinade.
So, is this wonderful, health, tasty food also dangerous?  The answer is…it can be.  But it’s not the fault of the oil; it’s when we mistreat it or use it for purposes it was never intendedto fulfill that it can become more harmful than helpful.
The key to understanding this paradox is looking at the concept of “Smoke Point.”  The Smoke Point is literally the point at which oil starts to smoke.  Different oils smoke at different temperatures; olive oil is one that generally does best at Low to Medium heat.  Much hotter, and it may smoke.
Smoke when cooking is not a good thing—the oil is decomposing under the extreme heat, and the antioxidants we usually love in olive oil are replaced by free radicals and other dangerous molecules.  The smoke itself is also toxic and shouldn’t be breathed.  Finally, when there’s smoke, it means the oil is dangerously close to its “Flash Point”—the point at which it may catch on fire!
So, the general rule is to only cook with olive oil on Low to Medium heat, or use it cold.  If you need a hardier oil for baking or high heat cooking, consider an oil with a higher Smoke Point such as coconut oil.  Unrefined coconut oil is stable to medium heat cooking anrefined coconut oil is stable to medium-high heat cooking.

Friday, January 24, 2014

January Diet Detox...No Picnic

Before dawn of the sixth day of my 21 Day Detox I woke up to crazy uncomfortable muscle aches and what felt like sciatica from my butt to the arches of my feet.  While I tried to rearrange and stretch my limbs my mind wrapped around the image of comfort food: a bowl of steel cut oats with a dollop of greek yogurt and brown sugar.  Yesterday, after doing a fair amount of shipping, I had to lay down for two hours from exhaustion.  The energy and freedom that I am looking for in my joints may be more elusive than six days into this program.

Counter plan: I am getting over to the gym and on a treadmill and then to see Dr. Dustin Campion for my A.R.T. appointment.  Active Release Therapy is a therapy that incorporates myofascial release and targets scar tissue that inhibits movement and ease. The patient actively participates through a prescribed range of motion while the provider stabilizes the area.  On my first two appointments, I was amazed at the relief I found in my right shoulder, neck and wrist.  I also learned that my tight periformis could be due to restriction at the psoas and hip flexors at the front of the body.  My Yin yoga practice is sorely missing and I know how valuable sustained, deep stretch is to my health.

yin master Paulie Zinc and wife Maria on their Montana homestead
website content ©2009 Paulie Zink, LLC 

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

29 candles no cake

Day 3 of the detox and I'm happily cooking birthday dinner for my daughter at her lovely little place in St.Paul.  We went shopping for the ingredients at Lund's after pedicures and then we high tailed back to her apartment.  Our birthdays are four days apart and always notoriously bitter cold.

the menu:
Wild Atlantic Cod poached with lemons and herbs
Caramelized onions
Baked yam with toasted pecans
Steamed brussel sprouts
Mango, red pepper and avocado salad
Sparkling water

It was fun to cook in her tiny but well stocked galley kitchen.  Caroline is familiar with a diet cleanse having done one at her yoga training on the Baja and she is AOK with my program.  The verdict on the main course:  Cod is bland.  There is a reason that it is enjoyed deep-fried and served with tartar sauce.  I've used it in cream fish stews previously.  For this diet detox I'll stick to salmon, shrimp and scallops.

One great thing about leftover cod, onions and red pepper strips is they can go right into a breakfast omelet the next morning.  Sprinkled with nutritional yeast you can almost pretend to taste parmesan cheese.  

After our omelet and juice we were out into the cold crisp morning for a Slow Flow Vinyasa Yoga at core power yoga.  Just what I needed.  I am realizing that this detox is no simple matter for scheduling proper meal times and appropriate snacks.  Many of my go-to "emergency I'm hungry" snacks like yogurt, or cheese and crackers and even a glass of soy milk are on the Eliminate List.

Consider that our ancestors spent over 90% of their waking time hunting, fishing and foraging for enough calories to stay alive.  Juxtapose that to our fast food and instant gratification society and you need to have a big shift of priority.  I am grateful that I have had a 3 to 4 day period of a relatively light work schedule, so that I can rest and prepare the food that I need.  It takes time to tune in to the physical and mental sensations, not all pleasant, that come from withdrawing sugar, caffeine, and alcohol.

While my beautiful daughter is kicking up her heels and red tipped birthday toes I'll be taking my second bath and heading to bed.

Monday, January 20, 2014

21 Day Detox

I've been preparing for a marathon.  My goal is not to cover any mileage with my legs or feet, but to detoxify and restore health by diet.  Encouraged by a team of instructors and clients at the doyoga4you studio who have successfully done the detox before, I committed to attend the kick-off meeting.  I've also made a commitment to journal about it here on my blog every few days.

Janell Yule of Chanhassen Fitness Revolution is the developer of the program and presented the case for how a detoxifying diet plan can work to assist our overly taxed systems from the Standard American Diet. (SAD)  Typically, I choose fresh organic foods when possible.  And I've never been grossly overweight.  But after my 60th birthday last year I noticed a substantial shift of extra flesh around my waist.  My clothing didn't feel comfortable.  I wasn't gaining pounds, but I was loosing muscle mass.  

Over the past week I've been grooming myself for the challenge.  With Janell's list of diet do's and diet don'ts I was armed to face a field trip to Whole Foods.  This was not an inexpensive field trip.   But it did include staples like coconut oil and almond butter that should last three weeks.  I purged most of the offending sugary and gluten laden items out of my pantry.  I started to wean myself from the 2 or 3 cups of Richard's kick ass morning coffee with cream to one cup.  Saturday night I licked the last smidgen of cream cheese frosting from the packaging of my carrot cake birthday cake.  

A typical breakfast on the detox plan might look like this: 

Protein is the showcase of any meal, surrounded by vegetables and fruit.  Considering that last night's leftover cooked vegetables can be an appropriate breakfast food was a lightbulb moment!  I learned that one egg is truly not enough protein per meal for an average sized woman, so I also drank a large glass of almond milk.  A few strips of crisp, uncured bacon would have been perfect on this plate.

The meat and potatoes of this plan are what may be referred to as the paleo diet.  It's based on what our caveman ancestors may have eaten which includes grass fed meats, seafood, eggs, fruits and vegetable, nuts and seeds and healthful unrefined oils.  in addition, this plan also eliminates many of the foods that are most offending to autoimmune disease.   What I was forced to consider was my relationship to sugar, caffeine and alcohol.  Janell's program explains the science behind the cycle cravings with my morning cup of coffee and english muffin and jam.  And how I could expect that after detoxifying my system of these sugar highs and lows I could hope to see improvements in energy and focus.  

I'll be sharing my thoughts, recipes and reflections on my detox diet over the next 3 weeks!