Thursday, August 30, 2012

Cornbread 'Quiche'

Since school has started, the next 5 weeks find me doing school work + working four 12-hour shifts every week (2 as a clinical instructor, 2 as a NICU RN). In my life, that's Busy with a capital B. I still feel best when I'm eating my vegetables. I don't have time to prep a nice dinner most nights, and I can't afford to buy a bunch of prepared salads and cooked dishes, so I'm trying to get creative. This recipe is inspired by one Caitlin posted a few weeks ago.

(based off of my gluten-free cornbread recipe)

1 cup finely ground corn meal
1 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp xantham gum (optional) 

1/4 tsp salt
1 egg (or a flax or chia egg)
2 Tbs. olive oil

1 Tbs. honey
1/2 cup milk of choice

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Mix the corn meal, baking powder, xantham gum, and salt well in a medium bowl.

In a small bowl mix the oil, honey, and egg.

Add wet to dry and stir until just incorporated. The mixture will seem dry and crumbly.

Coat a round pie pan lightly with cooking spray. Press the dough into the bottom of the pan and bake for 10 minutes.


4 eggs
1 cup fresh veggies (I used 1 zucchini and threw in some leftover black beans)
1/4 cup liquid (Milk, cream, or salsa would work. I used leftover enchilada sauce this time.)

While the crust is baking, saute veggies on the stove (I used 1 zucchini today and threw in some leftover black beans). Then whip eggs + liquid of choice in a small bowl. Remove the crust from the oven and layer the veggies over the crust. Then pour the egg mixture on top.

Place back in the oven and bake for 20 minutes. Makes 4 servings.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Caramel Pear Crisp

This is for my co-worker Karen, who always gazes longingly at the hospital cafeteria's cobbler and moans about how bad it is. I promised her ages ago that cobbler could be healthy but I'm just now getting around to typing this out. You see, I use rough ratios for this "recipe" and it changes a little each time. It's hard to go wrong here!

Caramel Pear Crisp

Fruit Filling:
3 cups fruit (this can vary between 2-5 cups, really. And frozen or fresh doesn't really matter.)
2 Tbs sugar or honey
3 Tbs water
1/2 Tbs cornstarch
1/2 tsp cinnamon (feel free to add more if pears or apples are your fruit of choice and less if you're using berries)
1 tsp vanilla

Crumble Topping:
1/4 cup flour (I use oat flour, but if you're okay with gluten you can use spelt or whole wheat)
1/4 cup old-fashioned oats
1/4 cup almond meal (or more flour)
1/4 cup crushed walnuts
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
2 Tbs sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon
2 Tbs butter
1/3 cup milk (as usual, I use SoDelicious unsweetened coconut milk)

Preheat oven to 400F and grease a large pie dish.

In a large pot or skillet with the heat off, stir together the sugar, cornstarch, and cinnamon. Add water and whisk until smooth. Mix in your sliced fruit and mix until coated. Bring fruit mixture to a boil. Reduce heat and cook for 3-5 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla. Spoon cooked fruit into prepared pan.

In a medium-sized bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients. Cut in the butter until mixture is crumbly. Stir in the milk until combined. Spoon the batter over the fruit.

Bake at 400F for 25-30 minutes until golden. Serve immediately with your favorite ice cream and a drizzle of homemade caramel sauce (recipe to come)!

Friday, August 24, 2012

Steady my Heart

A week or so ago, my friend Jami wrote a delightful post on her introverted nature. I wanted to shout "Amen!" after every paragraph:
When we get snowed in, I'm thrilled. When things get cancelled, I feel like I just won the lottery. when I'm alone, I feel like I can finally get things sorted out that are running around in my brain.
Being with people all day makes me tired. When I come home from work, sometimes I'm exhausted because I work in the NICU and it can get crazy and my brain has to be "on" for 12 hours straight and my legs hurt from standing all day. But usually I'm just tired because I had to talk to people all day. Sad but true.

Right now, I have too much solitude on my days off. I'm shocked that I'm starting to hate it. I LOVE downtime, but when it's just me, myself, and I, things can get stale. I waste a little too much time. I think about myself a little bit too much. I write rambling, self-centered blog posts and resort to emoticons to illustrate the rueful expression on my face :o)

The thing about Jami's post is that while she's undeniably a self-described hermit, she's really funny. And fun to be around in large groups. In contrast, every single day in the last week I've had an encounter that reminds me I am a total wallflower. I am so painfully shy, yet I so deeply want to reach out and connect and interact with others at the heart of matters.

I'm discouraged because it feels like every time I try to reach out or enter a conversation, it comes across as awkward or rude and the conversation falters. You know what? It hurts just as much now as it did when I would come home crying from grade school. Yet just like my mom and dad always told me, comparing myself to others won't get my anywhere.

I'm excited that this fall I have no choice but to bust out of my hermitudinal routine. I'm grateful that a change of pace will shake things up, but I'm also really, really terrified. Sitting in a classroom with other people is okay. I'm used to that. However, I'm also in charge of a clinical group for two shifts a week in an unfamiliar hospital, with rotations through unfamiliar units. Of course, I'm not expected to be friends with my students (that would be bad, actually) but I do want them to respect me. Awkward and unsure just don't look good on someone in a professional adult role.

Proverbs 17:22 says, "a cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones." I've noticed that when I'm trying too hard to fit in, I resort to gossip or catty remarks. That's not me! I don't want that to become me, either. But the more crushed my spirit becomes in my failed attempt to make friends and fit in, the more awkward I get. And I don't mean awkward in a cute, funny way. I mean awkward in the sense that I can no longer think of anything to say to carry a conversation forward and I look like a dunce.

Alternately, a cheerful heart will radiate outward when I allow myself to stand firm in my confidence in Christ and stop trying to impress others. That confidence, though, is where I waver. Even when my mind knows that God says,

"Do not fear, for I am with you. Do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will uphold you with my righteous right hand." {Isaiah 41:10}

It's so hard for me to believe this sometimes, because I like to think that I'm in control here. Thankfully, Sarah reminded me today that a cheerful heart is good medicine. That "the best way to heal something inside yourself is to do something outside yourself. Do it with joy. Do it with gratitude."

I'm not saying that I should stop trying to make friends. Clearly, that's worked so well for me the past three years (where's that sarcasm font when you need it?!) I have approximately two friends here, and I need to put effort into maintaining and deepening those relationships. I still need to step outside my comfort zone and attend social events and invite people over. But maybe I need to stop trying in an overly desperate way.

Proverbs 17:24 reminds me, "a discerning person keeps wisdom in view but a fool's eyes wander to the ends of the earth." There's only One Place I need to be looking to for confidence. Ultimately, I don't need affirmation from my peers. When I'm tempted to think that my worth is based upon how others look at me, I need to take a step back to gain perspective and rest in The One who always accepts me, even when I least deserve it. As I grow in confidence of that Good News, I'm hoping and praying that a cheerful heart attracts friends.

Wish it could be easy  
Why is life so messy  
Why is pain a part of us 
There are days I feel like  
Nothing ever goes right  
Sometimes it just hurts so much

But You're here  
You're real 
I know I can trust You
Even when it hurts  
Even when it's hard 
Even when it all just falls apart  
I will run to You  
'Cause I know that You are  
Lover of my soul Healer of my scars 
You steady my heart (x2)
I'm not gonna worry  
I know that You got me  
Right inside the palm of your hand  
Each and every moment  
What's good and what gets broken 
Happens just the way that You plan

You are here  
You're real 
I know I can trust You
Even when it hurts  
Even when it's hard 
Even when it all just falls apart  
I will run to You  
'Cause I know that You are  
Lover of my soul Healer of my scars 
You steady my heart (x2)
And I will run to You  
And take refuge in Your arms  
And I will sing to You  
'Cause of everything You are
You steady my heart (x2)

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Qunioa Enchilada Casserole

This recipe was so good, I didn't even get a picture of it before it was gone. Seriously. And, as the true mark of any good meal in our household, the flavors were actually even better in leftovers. We had a great week of lunches! Complete credit for this recipe goes to Sarah at Peas and Thank You. I simply made it a little more 'grown-up friendly.'

Quinoa Enchilada Casserole
  • 1 c. quinoa, uncooked
  • 1 c. vegetable broth
  • 1 15 oz. can enchilada sauce
  • 2 small/medium zucchini, shredded and squeezed to remove excess moisture
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 1/2 cups cooked black beans
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 c. non-dairy organic cheese (I used Follow Your Heart cheddar)
  • 1 3 oz. can sliced olives, drained
  • 1 avocado, sliced (optional)
  • cilantro for garnish (optional)
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Rinse and drain the quinoa. Then in a medium sauce pot, combine quinoa, broth, and 1/2 cup of enchilada sauce. Bring to a boil over medium high heat.  Reduce heat, stir and cover. Simmer for 15-20 minutes.  Removed lid and cook for an additional minute or two, or until all of the liquid has been absorbed and quinoa is fully cooked.

Add shredded zucchini, remaining enchilada sauce, and garlic and heat until fully incorporated.  Stir in 3/4 cup of cheese and the black beans.

Transfer mixture to a large, greased casserole dish.

Top with grated cheese (I put real cheddar on Ross' half) and sliced olives.  Bake for 25-30 minutes or until cheese is bubbly. (To brown the top of the casserole, you can switch the oven over to the broil setting for the last several minutes)

Garnish with avocado and cilantro if desired.

Enjoy, and don't forget to save some for tomorrow's lunch!

P.S. I finally updated the recipe page.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Change is in the Air

I was shocked that when I greeted fresh air this evening, it had a chill to it! When I had walked into work 13 hour previously, the early morning air was humid and comfortable.

Along with the hint of crispness in the air tonight, I felt a hint of anticipation instead of despair. Momentum instead of anxiety. I love summer and I'm not wishing it away quite yet, but you know what? I'm ready for fall.

I have been in a holding pattern for so long. I'm still not sure when or where life is going, but change is coming. Change in attitude or change in circumstance? I can't tell yet, although my outlook certainly is improving daily in surprising ways.

For once, I'm ready to greet the changing of the seasons when it comes. This summer was the tail end of a dark, dark season and while I've spent some time wishing I had reveled in the sunshine instead of hiding inside crying, I can't change what was. I can only be ready to greet what is to come.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

How full is your plate?

I mentioned some things in yesterday's post that have been bouncing around my head for a few days, but I didn't want to put the effort into delving into them further. But several things happened throughout the course of the day that convinced me that this was something I needed to sit in and not breeze right through.

First, I read Jami's recent blog post on personality. She says,
I don't need tips and tricks on how to serve myself better and feed my personality label. I need to look at God and ask him to help me be obedient when it feels very uncomfortable. Even if it means functioning outside my natural bend... we all need to stop using our personalities as a crutch.

I must lean on Him and into Him for times when I think situations are beyond my personality capabilities and my energy level. I am learning to stop saying, it's just my personality! in order to avoid a challenge that leads to greater intimacy with God.

He is the source of energy that never runs out. He does not sleep and He does not get tired. He has endless patience and endless love. Endless courage and wisdom. When I find myself getting lost in my limitations, I look at the limitless power of our God. And that is good for me: to be weak and in my weakness find strength in Him.

Then I listened to a Mark Driscoll sermon about 2 Peter 1:5-15. The sermon, titled "Faith in Your New Life" was shockingly apropos: this spring, I learned a very harsh way that my plans are my idols. I didn't even have time to drop them-- they were pried out of my hands in a painful way that I'm not ready to blog about. In a series of twists that only God could've orchestrated, some of those plans have been restored in unexpected ways. I find myself feeling like "I have nothing I asked for, but everything I hoped for." And maybe even a little more than I think I'm ready to handle right now.

Today, life is relatively simple. Ross got a job this summer (praise. the. Lord.) and he works pretty typical office hours 5 days a week. I work three 12-hour shifts a week and run various errands, workout, cook, go to meetings, and whatnot on my days off. We go to church on Sundays. We're trying to be more social. That's it. But in two weeks everything changes. (Disclaimer: I really don't expect you to read the next few paragraphs. It's more for me to look back on and be amazed at what God does with this fall because left to our own devices, we're sure to mess up a good thing.)

This fall, Ross will continue working and he will also begin grad school again, taking several classes this semester so he can graduate (hopefully) in May. I'm also resuming classes. Because of everything that happened this summer, I had come to terms with not obtaining my Master's of Science in Nursing at this time. Then literally the day after I had come to terms with that, I was offered a Teaching Assistant contract for this fall. I was in a really confused place: hemmed in and then handed freedom shortly thereafter. So I agreed to the contract and since teaching also means resuming classes, I'll be taking 3 this fall (because, well, they're free).

So I have class Monday nights. I teach clinicals Tuesday and Wednesday. Ross has class Wednesday night. I work my usual shifts in the NICU on Thursday and Friday (and some weekends). Whew! On top of that, our small group begins a new study this week and they moved to Tuesday nights specifically so we could join again. I thought clinicals were from 0630-1630 on Tuesday and Wednesday, so those evenings would be free. I also joined a women's group at church on Wednesdays because I need to learn how to make more friends.

But this week I learned that my clinicals are 12 hours long. My understanding when I agreed to the contract was that they were 8 hours long. So, again, I'm confused. Yet I can't deny that this is a very clear answer to the prayer, "God, what should we do with our time this fall?" My initial reactions are that a.) now I really won't have free time to spend with Ross or anyone else, and b.) I was trying to reach out and make friends and now I don't have those opportunities. Both slightly exaggerated reactions, both reeking of control and pride issues.

I'm ashamed to say that I thought God would "reward" me for cramming small groups into my schedule. By making them unavailable he's either telling me that I made the wrong choice regarding clinical teaching (although it's too late to back out now), or that I'm overextending myself and I need to pull back and re-prioritize. When I overextend, I tend to under-commit and instead of doing a few things well, I do a lot of things poorly.

Which brings me back to the Mars Hill sermon I mentioned above. About a third of the way into the sermon, Mark Driscoll started talking about two obstacles to fruitfulness and I had to stop loading the dishwasher and sit down with a pen and my journal. The first obstacle is laziness: you don't do enough. The second obstacle is busyness: you do too much, but nothing of real importance.

In a sense, I feel like my schedule right now encourages laziness and busyness. When I'm busy, I'm busy. Gone from the house for 13 hours at a time, forced to be "on my game" and on my feet for hours and hours, unable to run any errands, struggling for time and energy to workout or make healthy meals or read my Bible. But when I'm off, I'm off. I have very few concrete plans and no daily itinerary. I'm really good at filling the time available for a task: if I have all day to do my Bible study or work out, why do it first thing, right? Wrong. But that's what I find myself doing. So maybe a more regimented calendar is what I need, even though it feels slightly overwhelming?

Then Driscoll said that to be repentant of this, you need better vision. To have your eyes opened, so to speak. As 2 Peter: 9 says, if you don't possess faith and strive to add it it the qualities of goodness, knowledge, self-control, perseverance, godliness, mutual affection, and love, then you are nearsighted and blind. Blind to Jesus' work in your past (trying instead to earn what Jesus freely gave) or nearsighted and unable to look to the future (overwhelmed by the present and needing a vision to live in light of).

Can open. Worms everywhere. It's like he's talking directly to me! He went on to spell it out: to be fruitful, you need to remember "plate, priorities, and pruning." First, be realistic and assess the size of your plate. Everyone is different. There is no one-size-fits-all. I was so relieved to hear this! I'm always comparing myself to others, thinking how can they handle all of this and I can't even handle these few things? I was suddenly relieved of that burden. How big is my plate? Driscoll said some people's plate is the size of a dinner roll and that's okay. Other people may have a plate the size of a serving platter. All that matters is that you're honest with yourself and realistic. What size is your plate? Right now, I think mine is about the size of a 6 or 8-inch salad plate. Bigger than a dinner roll, but smaller than a dinner plate. And that's okay.

Priorities, then, looks at how you will fill the plate God has given you. Those who are lazy don't fill their plate and waste space. Those who are busy overfill their plate until stuff falls off. Lightbulb moment. I am still reminding myself to remember that priorities are more than what "needs" to get done today. What's important in the short term and the long term? Eternally? Pick carefully.

Pruning, obviously, means getting rid of the excess so that the vine can grow stronger. Eliminate the scraggly branches so you can devote more energy to strengthening the roots and trunk. Priorities and pruning will take more than a few days for me to determine, but it was so great to hear these things spelled out so simply. It's not rocket science.

I learned this spring that sometimes you just have to do it. I was looking for devotionals, looking for mentors, looking for someone to tell me what to do to walk as a Christian. While all those things are good, the answer was right in front of me: pick up the Bible and read it. If you're in a rough patch in life, read the book of James or Psalms. If you simply want to grow in faith, it's okay to start on page 1. You don't need a complicated Bible-reading plan! (I say you, but I mean "me" just as much. I'm forever a work in progress.)

What a long winded way for me to say, Keep it Simple Stupid. I have a co-worker who likes to say, "you can do everything. Just not all at once." And when I was talking to a professor about dropping a class this summer, he replied, "the question isn't 'can you' but 'should you'." That makes all the difference.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Thoughts on a Tuesday

-At my hospital in Texas, we had to be on-call once a schedule. At my current hospital, there's not typically an on-call signup. However, there are sometimes extenuating circumstances and I'm on-call today. I forgot how annoying it is to be tethered to your phone!

-Open hands and open eyes are a necessity in Christian life.

-Ross now loves PB on a spoon for a snack. I am so proud.

-I've been praying that God would direct our choices lately. Ross and I have had to decide recently whether or not to participate in our couples small group this fall. I also had an opportunity to join a women's group at church. After debating and debating, we finally came to a tentative conclusion. And then the next day I found out that, while I was under the impression I was teaching clinicals from 0630-1630 Tuesday and Wednesday, it's actually 0630-1900 Tuesday and Wednesday. An answer to prayer? I guess. A bleak outlook on the month of September when I'm going to be getting home after 8pm every day Monday through Friday? Yes.

-On that note, I'm enjoying my last day of freedom and hermitude today while I sit next to my phone (so potentially not a free day at all).

-Burrowing babies make me melt.

-My heart yearns for a BFF right now. That's kind of embarrassing to put out there in cyberspace. But you know the friend in high school you could run to crying and eat cookie dough while talking a mile a minute and laugh until your face hurt? I miss her.

-Yes, these "list" posts are totally a cop out. There are many subjects bouncing around my head that I'd love to write a full post on, but I can't seem to focus enough to flesh them out right now.

What's new with you?

Friday, August 10, 2012

Local Breakfast

When Ross and I decided to try eating locally for a week, breakfast was the most immediate struggle. I'm stuck on oatmeal with coconut or almond milk, chia seeds, banana, and almond butter. Ross loves his Raisin Bran.

Of course, the most obvious answer would be eggs. We love a good fry-up and eggs, veggies, and potatoes are certainly plentiful right now. However, we don't have the time! Our alarms go off between 4:30-6:30am 5-6 days a week. We're just not going to get up even earlier to cook an omelet before work.

With this in mind, I snagged some locally made granola at the farmer's market last weekend. I know none of the ingredients were grown locally, but I rationalized it on the technicality that it's still a locally made product and buying it puts my money where my mouth is by supporting local individuals. Still, there were 2 immediate problems: a.) eating it with local milk made my stomach hurt since I'm used to non-dairy milk (but it tasted so delicious!) and b.) this granola was ridiculously tasty so I ended up eating it as a dessert for a few nights. It never made it to breakfast!

On to Plan B: breakfast burritos! Again, a technicality, but we bought some locally made tortillas and they got the job done. I could've made tortillas since Badseed sells locally grown and ground flour, but honestly, I didn't want to mess with it. Local and organic eggs, peppers, onions, bacon (!), potatoes, and jalepenos made a perfect filling.

I did do something with local flour, though: gluten-free blue corn muffins!

1 3/4 cups finely ground corn meal (grown and ground in Kansas)
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp salt
2 eggs (farmer's market)
1/4 cup butter (Shatto makes and sells local butter here in Kansas City)
3 Tbs honey (from our CSA)
1 cup milk (Shatto and Good Natured Family Farms milk comes from Missouri, and the Hy-Vee organic brand comes from Iowa)

Mix dry ingredients well, then stir in the wet ingredients until everything is evenly moistened. Bake at 375 for 12-15 minutes.

That being said, we both went for our habitual breakfasts on a few of our earlier mornings. Like I said, this has been a humbling endeavor. But quite a tasty one!

Thursday, August 9, 2012

All this Time

Yesterday was a weird day. It started off fine, but by the afternoon I started getting really anxious. I felt like I was never in the right place at the right time the whole rest of the day. I was having trouble prioritizing and consequently felt unsettled. I was driving to a meeting at church that I was unsure I wanted to attend and, of course, I was running late. Then this song came on the radio. Every time I hear those opening notes, I feel like God is tapping me on the shoulder and bringing me down to earth and into the moment again.

But the peace was very short-lived and I was anxious throughout the meeting. There was a spectacular thunderstorm going on and I wanted to be on a porch somewhere watching it blow in instead of listening to this lady talk really really slowly. (Also, I'm starting to notice that I get really anxious when I'm in rooms that don't have windows. Lovely. Let's just pile on the neuroses here.) So I was driving home with tears on my face because everything makes me cry these days, and I happened to look to the left and what I saw seriously caught me by surprise.

{Whenever I bring clouds over the earth and the rainbow appears in the clouds, I will remember my covenant.} Genesis 9:14
 I'm not sure why I was so shocked to see it, except for the fact that the cool wind blowing when I left church made me think of my Study Bible's commentary on the story of Noah. In reference to Genesis 8:21-22, it said that every change of seasons is a reminder of God's covenant. Then to see a rainbow on the way home... wow. Not to mention the fact that it was a gorgeous, vivid rainbow streaking across a multi-hued sky. And I could see the rainbow end-to-end as I was driving home. (Of course, I didn't have my camera in my purse. Otherwise I would have pulled over right then and there to photograph it.)

God is so faithful.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Local Pig

It's pretty easy to get locally grown, pastured beef here in Kansas City, but other meats are much more difficult to find. Last Saturday, I figured this challenge merited a long-awaited trip to the Local Pig.

I know. I can't believe I just said that. Since eliminating gluten and falling in love with Body Pump, though, I've started eating more meat again. I'm still very pro-veggie, and my meals are still plant-based, but I probably average about one serving of meat a day now, and I feel so much better. More energy, faster recovery, yada yada yada. BUT. I'm really picky about the source.

Local Pig serves only hormone, steroid, and antibiotic-free meats. They have a map in their shop showing where each item came from.

And if I had any doubts about walking into a butcher shop, the atmosphere inside completely dispelled any worries I had. I never thought I'd find such a place cozy, but it was. The shop was full of reclaimed wood and small, crafty details.

 You can tell the owners and employees take great pride in their work and in their workspace. We asked about some "old-fashioned honey" on a shelf, and an employee practically ran over there to give us a taste.

We ended up spending $35 for easily more than a week's worth of meat for the two us. We bought two chicken breasts, a pound of roast beef for sandwiches, 2 sausages, and 1/2 pound of bacon. The roast beef was by far the most expensive item (that alone cost $18) so if we eliminated or replaced that with something else, our bill could've been much smaller.

So far we've tried the chicken, bacon, and roast beef. We put the sausages and half of the bacon in the freezer for later. The verdict? Outstanding. The roast beef made me crave a big old sandwich on artisanal bread like Ross has been eating this week. The chicken was so much better than store-bought with the crispy skin on the outside, and the bacon was much thicker than we were used to but also really flavorful. A little bit went a long way.

Needless to say, we'll be back.

Monday, August 6, 2012


Last August, overwhelmed with the bounty available at the farmer's markets, I vowed to dedicate a month this summer to eating only local food. Well, life happens. When this August rolled around I was still really interested in the idea, but with a busier schedule than ever looming ahead of me, I knew a month-long venture wasn't in the cards. Yet every spring I'm practically giddy for this time of the year, so I don't want to let this abundance pass me by.

Let's rewind. Three summers ago, I read Animal, Vegetable, Miracle and Omnivore's Dilemma and they truly changed the way I ate. Rather quickly, I stopped buying processed 'diet' foods and started buying whole foods. Local and organic? Even better!

That summer, I made my first solo trip to the farmer's market and with one bite of a local Texas Cannonball watermelon, I was sold. Local food tastes better. It supports the local economy. It decreases dependance on fossil fuel. I could honestly write a thesis on this, but I won't (hmmm can I somehow relate this to my nursing education thesis? Just kidding... maybe.)

Those two books opened my eyes to the rather freeing idea that food could be friend and not foe. The following summer, I finally read In Defense of Food which was almost a synthesis of Pollan's previous book and the logic behind Kingsolver's autobiographical novel. Since then, Ross and I have gone to countless farmer's markets and joined 2 different CSAs.

This summer, I still wanted to try to go just one week without depending on the grocery store. I figured spices and tea have been traded for centuries, so we would keep those. But we could otherwise live on all things local for a week! Ross hesitantly agreed that it would be a fun challenge. We're one day in and it has been fantastically stressful. I mean, our lives are already fantastically stressful right now, so I'm not sure why I decided to throw a wrench in and change everything about our eating habits for a week. Because that's never stressful.

Actually, I know why I threw it in the mix. It's because I honestly didn't think it would be that different. I already buy and consume a boatload of farmer's market produce each week. A few tweaks here and there, and it won't be too different. I conveniently forgot that I'm gluten intolerant. I would love to get a loaf of bread from a local bakery or, better yet, buy a bag of locally grown and ground flour from Badseed and make my own bread for the week. And pancakes for breakfast. And muffins for snacks! This challenge wouldn't be difficult at all. Those recipes all just need some combination of flour, eggs, butter, and honey, all of which can be found from local sources.

With gluten out, I decided to adapt my favorite cornbread recipe and indeed, I made a decent cornbread muffin with all local ingredients. Success! But I ate one and got a stomachache. I figured it was a fluke and tried it again the next day: stomachache. Ross was totally fine, so I figured the culprit was the local milk (I normally use coconut milk with this recipe). I guess I can no longer stomach dairy even in baked goods. And when you eliminate the local milk, yogurt, and cheese that's available, you basically have a lot of meat and veggies left. Which is fine. Great, actually. I feel best when I eat lots of veggies and protein. But I'm used to bringing weird lunches to work, but this is a less traditional work week and I didn't want to cart around 5 tupperwares of finicky food to my STABLE class or to my new clinical site with its unfamiliar routines and break rooms.

All that babbling to say, I stand corrected. Eating locally is harder than it looks. We actually did spend a little less on groceries this week, but it's going to take A LOT more time to prepare all this food. Historically, leaving the farm and working away from home certainly fueled the move toward convenience foods and now, more than ever, I understand why. While I don't eat many 'convenience' foods like Hot Pockets (but yum) and Hostess cupcakes, I have underestimated the convenience of oatmeal and bananas for breakfast, nut butter on a spoon for a quick snack, and (gluten-free) pasta for an easy dinner on a busy night.

It's been humbling to realize I rely more on 'the system' than I originally thought. Nonetheless, I remain more committed than ever to supporting local farmers who still want to make fresh food available and accessible in this economy.