Monday, June 30, 2014

I'm cheap: CSA, part trois

YAAAAAWWWWWWNNNNNNNN!!!!! Good morning. I promised you breakfast. I know. Today, skip the coffee. Coffee leaves your body in an acidic state. Your best body, mind and soul can take a break from it, just for today. I promise you won't miss it.

Hello? Are you still there? Beuller? Did I lose you? I hope not. Okay. This is going to give you a jolt, but not from caffeine. This jolt is from nutrients and minerals coursing through your veins. And your body will thank you with tons of energy and no post-caffeinated crashing!

Spare parts ready for juicing!
Take your spare parts:
1. Kale/broccoli/kohlrabi stems
2. The core of a pineapple. Yes. Start saving these now too!
3. The leaves of your celery

Pineapple core is no longer tossed away.

Add in one non spare part (optional): Lemon

Throw these all through your juicer, and you have breakfast. If you don't have a juicer, you can blend them in a vitamix/nutribullet/blender/etc and strain through a nut milk bag. If you don't have one, you can use an old tshirt instead. But you should really get a nut milk bag. They come in very handy for lots of things! This is my favorite of all I've tried. It has the tightest weave!

Pineapple crushin' on some cruciferous stalks!
Pineapple does an excellent job at covering the overwhelming green taste of the leaf stems. Lemon gives it a little zing.

I know you're probably thinking "I will be starving by 9, if I had only this for breakfast". And I get that. I'm a nursing mom and have to eat 2-3 breakfasts/day. But, often times we feel hunger simply because we aren't getting all the vital nutrients we need to sustain our bodies. Sometimes I can go until 2/3 o'clock on just my morning juice. Tis true. But always listen to your body. What works for me, might not work for you.

If the idea of green juice just makes you want to hurl, you can use those stems as a crunchy veg to dip into some hummus.

So, let's see, we got snacks for the week and one breakfast out of our csa so far.

I still have a ton of kale, beets, scapes, kohlrabi, snap peas, etc. to get to. Stay tuned.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

I'm cheap: CSA, part deux

Part of our weekly CSA share.
In a continuation of this "eating on the cheap" segment, I am still talking CSAs. If you forget what we got this week, take a peek here. So, we got all this produce. Now what? Normally, when you see big leaves on your broccoli, you'd snip them and toss them. Same with kohlrabi. Maybe even with beets. But those pieces and parts are all edible. Not just edible, but delicious!

When I looked at my pile of veggie kingdom pickins', I went straight after those leaves ... you know ... the broccoli & kohlrabi ones I used to throw away. Well, not anymore. They now become my snack of the week. Chips. Yes, green/nutrient dense chips. And here's how.

BROCCOLI & KOHLRABI LEAF CHIPS: The simple version
First, cut them off your stalk.
Next, trim off the stem. The stem, if left on, will become a twig when done. So, it's best to cut them out to avoid feeling like you're eating sticks.
Make sure leaves are dry, then toss in olive oil, seasonings of your choice, sea salt and pepper.
   
Broccoli & kohlrabi leaves being tossed in their marinade.

Work the oil and seasonings into the leaves with your hands, making sure every bit of the leaves is covered.

Next, throw them on a dehydrator sheet and dehydrate overnight at 105. If you do not own a dehydrator, you can make these in your oven by putting it on low (anything under 350) and watching them closely for a few minutes. It usually takes less than 8 minutes, and they burn fast. So, keep a close eye on them.

See those in the second row? That's the brocc/kohl leaves ready to crisp!

And voila! You've got a tasty snack for the week. If you're not a vegan, you can toss in pecorino romano. I bet that would be tasty. I don't eat cheese, personally. But my mom does. So, I tried this out with her, and sent them home with her. She liked them.
brocc/kohl leaf chips - vegan

brocc/kohl leaf chips - with pecorino

While I was at it, I decided to do the same with half of my kale. Green chips don't last long in my house (mainly my fault ... and Finn's too). So, extra are always welcome.
kale about to be turned into chips ...
I keep these stored in my fridge in the summer, because we have no AC, and the humidity can sog them up again. If they do sog on you, just dehydrate them for a bit again.

I have a few kale chip recipes that I love. I love these simple ones when it's hot, because they aren't heavy with rich flavors. And, I'm a busy mom. And I'm guessing you are a busy person too. And simple reigns king in my house, yo. Sometimes, I mix olive or coconut oil with stevia or honey and cinnamon and make "cinnamon sugar" chips. Hey, don't knock it till you try it.

Someday, I'll do a post on just kale chip recipes. I've tried a TON, and I have a few that'll win the hearts of even the most DIE HARD veggie loathers. I promise. 

So, now I have a pile of stems from my broccoli and kale. (DON'T TOSS THESE!) They are going to become breakfast tomorrow.Yes, breakfast.
Breakfast plans?
I will save the broccoli stalk too, once we eat the florets. I keep them in a container in my fridge and let them pile up over a month-ish. I'll explain that one later. My basic idea for you, is how to use every part so that you can get the most bang from your buck. Life is expensive. Feeding growing offspring is ridiculously expensive. And nobody wants to work 80 hours a week. Little things like this add up over a month and can shred your grocery bill. I call it "youponing". I'm not a couponer. There are rarely coupons for things that I use or eat. So, I had to find a different way to save. And I'll be peppering those ways throughout this blog as long as I'm alive and kickin. (Which will be a very long time with all these greens! Lucky you!)

Thursday, June 26, 2014

I'm cheap.

Cheapy cheaperson, here. Yes, tis true. If I were a hip hop artist, my name would be "Thrifty Cent". I'm frugal as they get. I'm not cheap in the gratuity sense, but cheap in the "if I can find a way to do this myself instead of spending money, I will" way. If I spend a dime on myself, I writhe in guilt for days. When you've lived an entire life of financial struggles, you end up this way. But, this fact is what triggered me to start this blog in the first place. Being broke has its perks. For one, you know every free spot in town. You enjoy every moment of just laying in the grass under a tree with your kid. You become thankful for every bite or a full fridge. And, you learn how to DIY. And I am stubbornly DIY now. I actually like my creations so much, that, if I won the lottery tomorrow, I'd still make them instead of buying them. Lastly, you find a use for every last thing that you do buy ... or grow. 

When I began the NovaNalu blog, I wanted it to cover 3 things: Eating, praying and loving. So, I want to spend the next few posts talking about the "eat" part and how to obtain foods on the cheap. Namely, produce. Why? Because produce is the most expensive part of a grocery trip, aside from meat. 

I want to give you ideas of how to use every part of your produce, even the extra bits you'd normally throw away. I'll even throw in some snack food ideas, to keep you from buying pricey snack foods too. NN is NOT a foodie blog. So, if you're not into this sort of thing, stay tuned, and I'll give you some love in the next post or two.

For today, I will talk about CSAs. For those not familiar, CSA stands for "community supported agriculture". In a nutshell, it's locally grown foods from smaller farms that produce a variety of items for you to pick up each week at a specified location. CSA season is now through summer and a little into fall. There are a few CSA options out there. LEAF has several options. Fresh Fork is another local Cleveland CSA. Some offer only veggies and fruits, some have meats and dairy included. We do the City Fresh CSA available through LEAF. 

City Fresh has a single share (feeds 1-2) for $15/week and a family share (feeds 3-4) for $28/week. Also available is a "limited income" option for those of you (us) who aren't as financially blessed. The limited income option is only $9/week for the single and $16/week for the family share. It doesn't take much to qualify. We didn't even have to prove our income. They just basically have an honor system and go on faith. And I like that. It makes me feel like we are a community, and we are taking care of each other. And it gives those less fortunate an opportunity to feed their family nutrient rich foods for pennies. Beats the ramens, anyday! 

Here's a sneak peak into our share for the week. We got: kale, broccoli w/leaves, kohlrabi w/leaves, snap peas, dill, beets w/greens, onions, lettuce, garlic scapes, a qt of strawberries, apple butter ... I think that was it. I didn't get them all in one shot, because I was super ambitious in creating things with it. But here's some of what we got. 
A few of the goodies from CityFresh this week.

These snap peas could fit into the "love" category instead of the "eat" category...and the "dessert" category instead of the "veggie" category. 

Kale. King of greens. Can I get a witness?

So, you see, we got plenty of eats for one week. Not bad for $16. And even at $28, it's a steal. 

Over the next week (CSA goes from Thurs to Thurs) I'm going to share a few tips on how to use each bit of these yummy greens. 

With a happy belly, 
Steph

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Lucky you.

You woke up today. You're breathing. Your kids are alive. You're alive. You have a place to live. You have enough food to sustain you. You are free. You are loved. You are.


I wake up almost every day thinking this same thing. It's part of my life practice.

I have this dear friend who has seen me in bitter days ... the days shortly after losing my daughter ... the days after losing my job ... the days after losing my flipping mind ... and she always said I had emotional work to do. I had pain I had to let go and work through. In the immediate moment when those words escaped her mouth, I wanted to punch her in hers. I wanted to think I had it all together and that I was not a mess or struggling or anything abnormal. I wanted to think that I was fine. I wanted to think it so bad that I truly thought I was. But how could I be? I had 36 years of stuff I had to release. I had never released anything. Nothing. In my whole life, I never released a damn thing. Now my daughter just passed away, and I lost my job to some strangers in India. I spent most of my 20s and early 30s partying way too much to know anything was wrong...until I did notice. I was confused as to who I was and who I was meant to be. And now I have emotional work? Emotional work .... what the hell is that? I had no idea. But I was about to find out.

In the days surrounding my daughter's open heart surgery, I had a lot of family struggles. It was almost as hard on me as my daughter's heart defect was. Then I met this friend (you know...the one I wanted to punch), and she changed my life. Lots of people changed my life, but this is where I feel there was a true definitive turning point. For some reason, I talked to her. I talked to her like she was a therapist. I felt like she was a soul sister. I went to her place of business to find a job, and I left with a life change (and a job!). In a time where I lost my first child, didn't feel like I could talk to many of my "friends", struggled with family issues, and didn't know why the hell this happened to me; I turned to a stranger. That stranger is now one of my greatest friends and allies.

Sometimes things happen that make no sense. And sometimes the sense comes later. But during the journey, we meet people. You never know when or where they are going to show up, and they often show up at the least expected times. But they show. You know why? Because you have a path. Because I have a path. And our paths are meant to cross exactly when they finally do.

I spent 3 years emotionally releasing. I meditated. I practiced yoga (and cried in savasana almost every time). I saw healers and reiki masters. I didn't talk to many people. I just released. Ugh. Pain came out. It came out hard. But I was left with such clarity, it allowed me to finally live.

Why do I say all this? Because, had I never lost my daughter or that job or both, I would not have met this person. And this person is the one friend who has been 100% honest with me and told me when I was being a total douche. When I was completely engulfed in ego. And what I needed to do to get out of it. The best advice anyone's ever given to me, came from her. She told me to practice gratitude. That is when I finally realized what emotion I was left holding onto. I noticed every thought, and replaced it with gratitude. And holy smokes, did I have to replace a LOT of thoughts.

Gratitude. It is a lovely word. It really is. And I remember the morning after talking to her ... waking up angry at the world and what it handed me, and thinking "okay gratitude....I'm mad. But I'm going to try you out. Thank you for shining the sun today. Thank you for my children. Thank you for somehow bringing us money, even though I just lost my job. Thank you for figuring it out for me. Just thank you for providing." And what I noticed was that the more I went on with the "thank yous", the less angry I became. And I swear that shit worked like a charm. Within 24 hours, things were coming to us. Provisions out of nowhere. It just happened.

So, I kept doing it. I was manifesting the crap out of my jobless life. My kids needed summer clothes. I put it into the universe one night, and then BAM, the next day (I'm not lying. Ask my hubby. It's insane) some random house my husband was working on had these two angel ladies bring two bags of clothes and toys for my kids from Kohls. It must have cost $200+. They just met my husband and went shopping for my kids. Strangers did that. I gave back a thank you note and promised to pay it forward, one day, when I could...in some way.

The manifesting will be in a different post. But I wanted to talk about gratitude. It's something that escapes us in this busy life. But it's oh oh oh so uber important and magical. When you practice it, it manifests your life. Not the dull parts, but the sparkly rainbow parts that make you feel like a kid again. It brings magic to the day and keeps you glowing from the inside out. So, Rebecca Reynolds Wallack, thank you for being a mentor in my life. I began this post, not knowing I was going to talk about you, but I am. Because you're a person who, with love, altered my life. I know there are a TON of people to thank in my life, and I promise to get to all of you! But the change in my life started with my daughter and then Rebecca. So, I found it fitting to begin this blog with the major changing points of my life.

For anyone who doesn't know Rebecca, she's an amazing health coach, raw foodie, thai massage therapist, tuning fork afficionado and a friend. Check her out. Full Circle Wellness With Rebecca
 
Rebecca tuning my babies with her incredible tuning fork talents. Look how enthralled they are!
6 month old, Nova, completely zenning out to the vibrations.

Namaste, y'all!

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Credentials & disclosures ... blah

Before I get to all the fun stuff this blog is going to offer, I have to lay down some truths to protect myself. I am not a doctor. I don't pretend to be. Anything I say, I say because I have found it to be true for myself and/or those I have around me. You know...just in case someone tried to hold me liable for saying "this juice cleanse cured this rare form of allergy I had" and they went on a 6 month juice cleanse, which shut their liver down, because they were trying to get rid of hay fever. It sounds so silly, but I have to say it to protect myself and my family. Before trying any new diets, supplements, foods, etc. ... please check with your physician first (it'd be ultra cool if your physician was a holistic one! You get extra points for that in crunchyville, you know). Always listen to your body and practice common sense. I'm not giving advice in my blog. I'm simply sharing what works for me, for my family, for our lives. So, there. I said it. Boring stuff over.

I hear the word "credentials" thrown around so much. I'll be honest, other than a 5 year degree in Visual Communication Design from Kent State University, I don't have any ... legally. That degree helped me become a good artist, but I have no med school related letters attached to my name. However, I feel like I have a heck of a lot of "life" credentials. There are some things they can't teach you in school. No really....there are....like, well, how to cure yourself from a 14 year skin allergy without medicine; how to deal with the (cringe word) "death" (I'll explain the quotations later) of your first child; how to alter the entire course of your life to make it work for you, how to smile through the storms and manifest your divine destiny. They can't teach you that shit. I'm a swearer. I swear. You might as well know that now. There will be some thrown in when I mean business. And I do.

So, even though I'm not a doctor, psychologist, teacher, or whatever else earns the term "credentials", I do have some that are from the biggest school of all ... LIFE. And life is never a bitch. It merely smacks you square in the jaw and says "wake up, you're on the wrong path, do something about it." And that's what I'm doing now. I'm doing something about it. I've been an artist my whole life. I got thrown into graphic design in school because they said it was the only way I'd make money as an artist. I didn't even know what it was back then. That was in 1996. Now it's 18 years later, and I have had jobs at companies fold one after another. Layoff after layoff after layoff. You know what that says? You're on the wrong dang path, girl. Change.

... Enter NovaNalu. I had the name. I had the logo. I had the desire. I just didn't know what the heck it was supposed to be yet. And it will probably change as I go. But I woke up on my 38th birthday (which was just June 9th) and knew I had to get this blog going. I had to take my products to the public. And I had to talk about how to get back to our truest and happiest selves via a back to basics approach, while saving the planet, whom we owe everything to.

So, there you have it. Now we can get to the fun stuff. Righteous!

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

NovaNalu in a nutshell ... where do I begin?

It's been15 years, thousands of hours, a little sickness, lots of heartache and a desire to see the ways of society change, that brought me to create NovaNalu. I believe in a peaceful planet. I believe in good health. I believe in uncovering the truth. I believe in art. I believe in healing from within. I believe we have all we ever need inside of us. I believe in a different way. I believe in the "new wave". I see it coming. I'm living it. It's easier than you think. And I am sharing my journey and knowledge with you.
Presenting, NovaNalu: A lifestyle, a place, a thing, an idea, a resource (of knowledge/tips/products/art/classes/support) to help ... you know ... just to help. Life is tough sometimes. Let's get over that fact and move on to the happy parts. I have a "one love" philosophy ... a "village" approach, if you will. I believe it takes a village to thrive. Some have gotten lost in our careers, possessions, or thoughts. We can get so busy that we forget to take care of ourselves on the most basic levels. Occasionally we lose the concept of living simply and simply living. Well, I'm going to dig into the simple life ... the stuff that builds who we are ... the stuff that feeds our bodies and souls ... the stuff that keeps us thrivin! NovaNalu is a blog, social media, classes, artwork and a product line. The blog will contain lots of the little things I do to help live this big crunchy life on a tiny little budget, the ways I manage the daily stressors, the truth behind closed corporate doors. My product line is sustainable and can be made right from your kitchen cupboards. And my support is always here to help you on your journey. From my tribe to yours. Namaste!