Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Eating at a conference-- an allergy nightmare

This past weekend I attended the Washington State Dietetic Association's annual conference. Despite the fact that it was a conference for nutrition professionals, and despite the fact that on my registration form I did check boxes for gluten and dairy intolerance, there was virtually nothing I could eat. I had to get over my chicken aversion quickly, since chicken salad ended up being the only thing I could eat at pretty much every meal. The first morning breakfast was white-bread bagels with cream cheese and "light" yogurt (i.e. full of artificial sweeteners). I think there was some kind of pastry as well. Really? A low-fiber, refined grain, artificially sweetened gluten and dairy filled bonanza? Pathetic. Thankfully my friend had a larabar and an apple in the car or I would have starved. (Granted, I should have planned ahead and brought my own food, but that's another story).

Two of my girlfriends and I stayed with one of their family members (a third friend stayed at a hotel because he is a boy and that was what was appropriate. Aren't we old fashioned? ;))

My friend's family wanted to make dinner for us the second night. It was a really sweet gesture, but everything she wanted to make for us was full of gluten, dairy and sugar. Thankfully, my friends are nutrition students and incredibly understanding about my allergies and we were able to make alternate arrangements and go out to dinner.

I just goes to show, even at a state-wide conference for nutrition professionals, you are not guaranteed healthy, real food. What is this world coming to?

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Recipe for Rage Pie

I lost my mind today over a pie crust. I was taking a cooking class at school. The instructor claims to be very into "intuitive" cooking-- where you follow a basic template but not so much a recipe. What is funny about this is he is actually the most inflexible cooking teacher I have had at Bastyr. Today was pie day. I had emailed him earlier this week about making gluten-free pie crust and he had not given me a very specific answer, but in class he said he wanted us to only do whole-wheat crust because he is not knowledgeable about gluten-free baking and he wanted us to do something he could help us with. I told him I wanted to try it anyway, since I would never make a regular pie outside of the class since I can't eat it- he said it was about cooking for other people and I said my nutrition practice is going to be centered on helping people with food allergies and we were back and forth etc. At this point other members of the class (who were all gathered watching us have this debate) started offering suggestions on ways I could make a gluten-free crust work, which just further infuriated our instructor. He turned to me and said today I want you to focus on making a wheat crust. This was the LAST STRAW for me in a very emotional frustrating week. I am always the person who sucks it up and smiles when I don't want to and takes it when my boss yells at me and does what I'm "supposed" to do. Well not today. I turned around, grabbed my stuff and left without another word. I marched upstairs to the registrar's office, withdrew from the class, got in my car and drove home. Extreme? yes. Irrational? Perhaps, but I am SO tired of being told NO. I was auditing the class for my personal enjoyment-- it was not any kind of requirement and I no longer found it enjoyable so I left. I'm still very angry and I know if I watch myself from a distance that this had less to do with pie crust and a lot more to do with built up anger and frustration from the events of earlier this week, but I don't care. I'm home early and I'm taking my chickens outside. I don't need pie thank you very much.


I spent Monday and Tuesday moping around feeling sorry for myself. On Monday two of my friends who also were unhappy with the results of internship matching came over and we laid in the rare 70 degree sunshine while the chickens scratched happily at the dirt in their outdoor pen. We cried, we complained and we took comfort in our shared misery. We also ate guacamole, chips and coconut bliss and tried to take comfort in our indulgence.

On Tuesday I had planned to get back to my life and get some work done, but I couldn't quite find the motivation in my still wounded soul. So instead I put the chickens in a box (to loud unhappy protest) and transported them outside to their temporary outdoor pen and I lay in the sun for several hours. I'm finding I actually have a pretty limited appetite and struggled to find anything appealing to eat. My brother came over to visit the chicks and somehow it was easier to tell him of my plight, since he knew very little of the process and could say "that sucks" and move on. I managed to get slightly sunburned, and some kind of insect bite on the back of my leg and it felt like summer time. In my attempt to change my own perspective I took the above pictures of where I sat, and the grass as I saw it when I was sitting.

Yesterday it was truly back to my life as I had a full day of classes. I am so very fortunate to have so many wonderful friends who were very concerned for me. I'm not going to lie though-- it was hard to be back at the institution that did not want me. I had a bit of a meltdown during my first class and had to sit outside until it passed. It was a long and dreary day.

I am working towards changing my perspective. I am lucky to have gotten an internship at all-- not everyone did. And it is not going to be a bad experience-- I simply need to reframe my vision of the future. This will take time, but I'm getting there slowly.

Monday, April 20, 2009

When life gives you lemons

I am not, by nature, a pessimist. But I am also not one of those irritating eternal optimists that immediately finds the silver lining no matter what the situation. Last night I got some very bad news. The internship I had wanted badly, that I practically killed myself trying to be impressive to get for over two years, does not want me. Neither does my second choice, the only other internship in Seattle. Instead I am left hoping that my third choice, which is in Tacoma, two hours South of my house in Lynnwood, will have someone turn them down so they will take me. The ramifications of this are huge. First of all, there is the devastation that comes from working so hard for something and not achieving it. I can not tell you how many of my peers assumed I was a shoo-in for this internship, having seemingly achieved all of the milestones essential for entrance. It is hard not to be a little bitter, as I have given my heart and soul for two years to this place and have been given nothing in return. Secondly, there are the logistics-- South Tacoma is much too far to commute from North Lynnwood. Marc and I will have to leave our house, our garden, and very possibly, our chickens behind for 9 months. This breaks my heart. I know two years from now when I have completed my RD and I am working as a dietitian I will say that it all worked out for the best. But right now, on three hours of sleep, with puffy eyes and a broken spirit, it is hard to see that far ahead.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

The Safety Corner

There is a reason that people are called "chickens" when they are afraid of everything is because chickens are SO NERVOUS! We keep trying to give the chicks a little bit of greens and they are terrified of lettuce! This morning I put a very small piece of lettuce in the far right side of their box. They all ran to what we call the "safety corner" the far-left corner between the food and the water dish. They have been there for HOURS even though I removed the lettuce a long time ago. If it gets warm tomorrow we might let them explore outside for awhile-- if they can overcome their fear of green things long enough to explore the grass!

Everything hurts

I asked Jillian to kick my ass (through the pages of her book) and she has delivered. This morning I got up around 9 and went straight to the gym. When I got there I realized it had been 14 hours since I had eaten anything-- not the best plan. The gym was also crowded which makes circuits difficult-- oh and I was sore from yesterday. Never-the-less, I got started on day 2's circuit. It was all fine until I got to the first sprint-- each workout has 5 circuits, and in each circuit there are 3-5 exercises followed by a one minute cardio sprint. Today's involved running at a 10 incline for a minute, this after numerous step-ups and lunges. First of all, the cardio is supposed to happen immediately after ending the circuit-- a problem since the weights are on a different floor than the cardio machines at my gym. Also, it was so crowded it took awhile to find an available treadmill. I did get through the first sprint-- afterwards I was breathing so hard and my legs felt like someone had replaced my bones with cooked pasta-- I had to sit down on the treadmill for a few minutes before I could make it back up the stairs. The next circuit involved many many lunges. If I thought my legs felt weak before, this was nothing compared to the utter demolition of my quadriceps that followed-- it was all downhill from there. The next sprint I had to stop twice to get through it.

I think it would have helped if I had fueled my body before working out. It is a good thing I didn't have a busy day planned-- I have literally been vegging out on the couch all day-- every time I try and get off the couch it's torture-- it takes a couple tries to even stand up!! If this doesn't kill me it will definitely get me in shape.

Friday, April 17, 2009

A journey to my core

Once upon a time, these were my abs. When I was in undergrad, had a 20 year old’s metabolism and I would have classified myself as a “gym rat.” I worked out an hour a day, 5 or 6 days a week—some days I went more than once. Eight years of full-time work and school and I definitely am missing those abs—and I think it’s safe to say my husband does too—I rediscovered this picture when it appeared as his wallpaper on his computer. These days, I spend the majority of the day sitting—at work, in class, writing this blog— at most I get to yoga a couple times a week and the gym once every couple of weeks. I would be rather mortified to show you what is going on down there now-- lots of sitting has made those abs go into serious hiding.

I should mention I am very picky about workouts. I come from the school of “go hard or go home.” I don’t even do easy yoga—it’s Bikram yoga in a 110 degree room or I’m not interested. I am not one of these girls that dinks around with the 3 pound weights for 2 sets of ten and then reads a magazine while walking on the treadmill. I get BORED unless I'm challenged. I get annoyed in aerobics classes that require coordination (a trait I sadly do not posess) and I don't care to be yelled at by a well meaning drill sergeant. I need loud cheesy pop music in my headphones, a gym that is not too crowded, and I am good to go.

To aid me on my new quest to rediscover my abs, I have enlisted the help of Jillian Michaels, ass-kicking trainer from the Biggest Loser. Since I don’t think she is willing to fly to Seattle and workout with me for free, I purchased her book “Making the Cut”. This is not a book for the faint of heart—I did the first workout today and it was NO JOKE. The dainty bobby pins I used to hold my bangs out of my face were no match for the rigors of Jillian’s program—within the first ten minutes my hair was sticking out in every direction and sweat was dripping off my nose as rapidly as it does in Bikram yoga and I assure you the gym was not 100 degrees. There were some things I simply could not do—20 squat thrusts after I’d already been pushing myself for 30 minutes? No. I think I got through 8 before I collapsed in a heap. One full minute of mountain climbers after so many pushups my arms and shoulders were jelly? Um, no. I did the best I could and powered through it for an hour and I can safely say I haven’t done a workout so hard in at least two years. It was hard and I sweated and swore and silently cursed Jillian—and I had a really good time doing it!

The trick for me will be consistency. Every once in a while I get inspired and workout 6 times in one week and then some how I end up not working out at all for 2 more weeks. My schedule continues to be busy, but I am realizing that there is never going to be a time in my life when it is going to be easy to fit in a workout—I’m just going to have to make it a priority and stop making excuses. Jillian’s program is 30 days and I am determined to seriously improve my fitness (which is at an all-time low) and maybe find those abs I lost along the academic highway.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

A recovering vegeterian's dilemma

I was a vegetarian (near vegan) for at least three years, and I did not eat beef for more than 12 years. This was partly for health reasons, but also because my heart hurts when I think about animals dying. To some degree this is an over-sensitivity due to my largely city-girl upbringing (my parents grew up in the country and thanks to many visits to the small town where they grew up I can point out a meat vs. milk cow, but that's the extent of my farm skills). I have had only two pets in my life, both cats. One had to be put to sleep when I was in high school due to complications from feline leukemia, which devastated our whole family. The other lived to be a cranky old lady and died peacefully in her sleep. I never experienced the "circle of life" stuff that kids growing up on farms experience.

I gave up being a vegetarian when I stopped eating gluten. Partly because I was dealing with severe anemia and having cravings for meat (which I never had before) but also because there are only so many food restrictions I can deal with at one time without going insane. It's hard enough to find gluten and dairy free food in restaurants-- add vegetarian to that and you are guaranteed nothing but a bowl of lettuce in many restaurants. It got to be too much. So I compromised by committing to only eating pasture raised, organic meat knowing that at least the animals will have had a happy and healthy life and are more likely to have been killed in a humane way. Plus, healthier animals = healthier meat.

Then 5 fluffy, funny baby chickens came into my life. One of my classmates asked me today if I was still going to keep eating chicken. In order to make eating meat okay for me again last summer I had to disconnect myself psychologically to some degree from the source. Now the source (or at least the source's relatives) are sleeping in a box in my living room. I am having nightmares about hawks, raccoons, snakes and other predatory creatures hurting my babies and yet I am somehow supposed to cook their cousin for dinner? I don't know how to resolve those feelings. I am not going to go back to being a vegetarian but I also might not eat chicken again for awhile....

Monday, April 13, 2009

Food Allergies and Me: an asthma odessy (part 3: goodbye to sugar)

On March 2nd of this year I went sugar free and began a true elimination diet/detox. I already don’t eat gluten and dairy, but for 3 weeks I also eliminated eggs, soy, citrus, peanuts and nightshades while consuming a protein shake with nutrients that are specifically supposed to support detoxification. It was very boring—I ate mainly yams, greens, salad and protein shakes every day for almost 3 weeks. Peanuts got reintroduced a week early when Marc and I went out for Phad Thai. Over time I learned was I’m fine with eggs, citrus, peanuts and nightshades, but I am NOT fine with sugar. Sugar makes me a crazy person. The more I eat, the more I want. It causes wild mood swings, makes me overly emotional, and if I consume it in high quantities, I wake up feeling hung-over. There is a particular brand of gluten-free brownie mix that is so bad that within a few hours of eating them I am inevitably on a mood-roller coaster. (Needless to say I don’t buy those anymore). What I can tolerate is small amounts of agave nectar.

Agave is a sweetener made from a cactus (the same plant used to make tequila). There is some debate amongst the natural health community about how “natural” agave really is due to the amount of processing required to extract it from the plant. I admit that many of my Bastyr classmates regard agave with some scorn and would definitely recommend honey or maple syrup in its place. However, honey, despite its healing properties has a very high glycemic index and it gives me a tremendous blood sugar spike. Maple syrup is somewhere in between agave and honey for me. Agave nectar is often recommended for diabetics because of its small effect on blood sugar and low glycemic index. It can be used similarly to honey since it is a liquid sweetener like honey. However, it does not behave like sugar in baking and it definitely requires some trial and error to get things to come out well. Elana at Elana’s Pantry does beautiful things with agave.

The inclusion of some small amounts of agave helps retain my sanity and makes it so that I can still sometimes have treats, like yesterday’s chocolate pie and a personal favorite, Coconut Bliss, which is ice cream made from coconut milk and agave. It also means that when I buy a pint of coconut bliss I’m happy eating a small serving and don’t feel impelled to eat the entire pint in one sitting like I used to with a pint of Ben and Jerrys or even Rice Dream.

Over the past two years I’ve learned that I am very allergic to gluten and dairy and intolerant to more than a smidge of sugar. What I do eat: grass fed organic meat and poultry, wild fish, eggs, legumes, LOTS of veggies (especially greens) fruit, almond and soy milk, nuts and seeds, olive and coconut oil, and non-gluten whole grains such as quinoa, rice and millet. It’s been a long road figuring out what works best for my body and to some extent it’s still a work in progress, but I have come leaps and bounds from where I was even just a year ago and I continue to experiment and challenge my limits every day.

Food Allergies and Me: an asthma odessy (part 2: gluten)

During my second quarter of graduate school we learned about food allergies and sensitivities, and how to do an elimination diet. On an elimination diet, you eliminate a food, or number of foods (the usual list is dairy, gluten, soy, eggs, corn, citrus, and possibly nightshades which are the most common allergens) for two or three weeks and then add them back slowly, one at a time to test for reactions. It was February, I had spent the Christmas holiday in a haze of overeating wheat products. I had discovered an unbelievable pear-walnut bread made my a local bakery and I think I was probably eating 4 or 5 slices a day, on top of other wheat containing products and I felt lousy. I actually thought I might be coming down with bronchitis. Two years before I’d had the flu which turned in to bronchitis and I was sicker than I’ve ever been in my life and coughed all night every night for two months. I was terrified that I was about to repeat that hell. I felt not only some wheezing, but pressure on my chest, as if a very large cat was sitting on my breastbone (I used to have a 20# cat named Socks whose favorite place to sit was right there, so I can assure you I know how this feels). In the back of my mind I had a suspicion that wheat was an issue for me, as I had gone without it for awhile in Eat to Live which is a low grain vegan diet, and noticed a reaction reintroducing wheat, but I have to admit I was in denial. If you thought dairy and I had a love affair, that is nothing compared to the passionate relationship I had with wheat.

I love bread—I really do. I grew up spoiled with wonderful bread from Great Harvest Bakery, a local Seattle institution that makes whole grain delicious breads fresh every day. My best friend and I would walk there from her house because they give free samples—and not just a taste, but huge, warm slabs of bread with plenty of butter to smear into it. My mom also makes amazing bread and around the time of my gluten discovery was going through a phase of bread experimentation—all of which were delicious and wonderful. This does not even begin to cover my love of baking, especially cookies, which I have done almost weekly since I was about 2 years old at my mother’s knee. Gluten was an essential part of who I was. However, when I decided to do an elimination challenge, I did not really comprehend the implications of what a diagnosis would mean.

I decided at this point only to eliminate gluten—we were in the middle of the hardest quarter of our academic careers and a full-elimination diet requires more cooking and preparation than I was prepared to do. If it hadn’t been for the constant near-bronchitis feeling I probably wouldn’t have even done this much.

** I should note here, that what wish I had done at this point was get a blood test for Celiac Disease, prior to eliminating gluten. The test only measures whether you have anti-gluten antibodies in your blood stream. You have to be eating gluten for it to work. To get this test now I would have to start eating gluten again and it could be awhile for those anti-bodies to rebuild if I did have Celiac. Thus, I probably will never know if it is just an allergy or Celiac disease.***

For two weeks I avoided all wheat, rye, barley and spelt. I ate more quinoa and rice, potatoes and squash and said no to bread, cookies, cake and their friends. And my lungs began to clear. By the end of two weeks my congestion had resolved and I was no longer terrified I was about to plunge into serious illness. The time came to test, and I chose 100% Rye bread, so that I could test whether it was gluten or simply wheat causing my symptoms. I sat down and slowly ate one slice of rye toast. Within 10 minutes I was coughing and wheezing. It was rapid, dramatic and unquestionable—I had not just a sensitivity to gluten, but a serious allergy that impacts my ability to breathe.

What I was not prepared for after this discovery was the grief that followed. Wheat was part of my identity—it was present in very important parts of my life. I could no longer just spontaneously go to any restaurant without fear of contamination. I could no longer eat a piece of wedding cake or a cookie from a bake sale unless it was labeled “gluten-free.” Bread became no longer enjoyable, as gluten is an essential part of the rising process and anyone who has had gluten-free bread will tell you it just is not the same. The devastation came in little chunks—small realizations every day of things I could no longer eat, places I could no longer go because of this allergy. I am incredibly lucky to have been a graduate student at Bastyr, with a cafeteria that often has gluten-free options, wonderful friends who understand food allergies and who always make me (and other gluten-free friends along the way) allergen free options whenever we eat together, and who never make me feel like I’m the odd man out.

It has been just over a year since my discovery of my gluten allergy. I have come to terms with it and I have discovered some wonderful products and recipes that have filled that hole in my life. I even went on a gluten-free, dairy-free road trip with my friend Laura. What helped most of all was having a number of patients in the Bastyr clinic whom I was able to help with their food allergies—I became known amongst my friends on my shift as the go-to food allergy expert, which helped me form a new gluten-free identity of sorts. I had no idea that my entire life would change just by giving up bread for two weeks, but it did and I am a healthier happier person because I went through that experience, and a much better nutritionist as well.

Part three will explore my recent attempt at a full-elimination diet, and my discoveries about sugar.

Food Allergies and Me: an asthma odessy (part 1: dairy)

The picture has nothing to do with food allergies, but aren't we cute?

My journey with food allergies began in college. I had struggled with asthma on and off since high school but couldn't put my finger on the cause. It was diagnosed as exercise-induced asthma, but I still had fits of wheezing at other inconvenient times-- like during choir practice. It seemed like some times my throat would close up and I would wheeze, and though I had an inhaler it didn't seem to help all that much.

When I tell people I don’t eat dairy at all, sometimes they think I must not have liked it that much, because they couldn’t possibly give up dairy. So let me just tell you that dairy and I had a long, tumultuous relationship and it took me over three years to finally break it off.

I grew up on cheese and crackers as a favorite snack. My brother and I never could get enough milk—we chugged it like baby cows—often and in large quantity. Marc and I had Friday night pizza dates for years. Mexican food is one of my favorites, and was I willing to give up the delicious ooze of cheese on their bean burrito? Not me! And I won't even go into the love affair with ice cream passed down to me by my dear father-- ice cream was a near nightly affair at our house for awhile-- even the cat loved it and waited like a furry little vulture for her chance to lick our bowls.

In college I tried a number of different diets including one that suggested eliminating dairy. I felt amazing for several weeks. When I inevitably went off the diet (as is what happens when people go on "diets") I noticed an immediate resurgence of my asthma symptoms. However my family was getting very heavily into raw milk at the time and I firmly believed (and still do) that it was a very healthy food and I really enjoyed it so I continued on dairy for awhile.

It wasn't until I read Eat to Live by Joel Fuhrman that I completely gave up dairy. Dr. Fuhrman's book is a very strict mostly vegan, plant-based plan that I followed for about 3 years. It is a very healthy diet for those whose bodies do well with veganism-- unfortunately I was not one of those people and became incredibly anemic. The restrictiveness of the diet (which is not only vegan but also very low grain, only allows whole nuts and seeds, no oils and a few other tough choices) made it nearly impossible for me to have a social life. Right around the time I started grad school in nutrition I started moving away from the Eat to Live plan. But a number of dietary indiscretions on my part told me that dairy = asthma attacks. Mucus builds in my throat and my lungs constrict. Later I get overwhelming fatigue that leaves me feeling like I’m wearing a lead suit, and it last for days. An experiment this Fall with raw goat milk told me that my symptoms have progressed to milk burning my esophagus all the way down as if I had swallowed something covered in little needles and extreme stomach discomfort. Thus, dairy and I had to end our relationship. After the last incident which left me feeling like I swallowed a sword, dairy no longer held much appeal, though I do miss our pizza night dates now and then, it is more for the convenience than the cheese.

Part two will follow with my journey through gluten-intolerance.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Coconut: Friend or Foe?

Coconuts are more than just a tropical fashion accessory. Today at lunch when I was telling my in-laws how I made Elana's pie (see my previous post for the link) they were stunned that I had made pie with coconut milk. In their minds coconut is not at all heart healthy due to the amount of saturated fat it contains. This opinion about coconut oil causing heart disease is largely due to studies performed in the 1970s and 80s using hydrogenated coconut oil (trans fat) which we all know is very bad for our cardiovascular system. Coconut in its natural form is a great source of Lauric Acid which has anti-microbial properties and contains a high percentage of Medium Chain Triglycerides which our bodies use readily for energy, rather than storing as fat (though, of course, any excess of calories can ultimately lead to weight gain from any source). Research from this decade shows coconut oil to be beneficial for cholesterol levels and triglycerides.

Coconut oil is also a very heat stable fat, able to retain high temperatures without becoming damaged (unlike unrefined plant oils which need to be used under low to medium heat only.)

So no need to fear coconut, coconut milk, or the oil, just buy high quality, unrefined products. And as a family member once asked me, no, this does not mean you can go out and stock up on Almond Joy candy-- whole food sources only please!

Healthy Easter

I'm famous for my fancy salads in my family. Whenever there is a potluck meal it is just a given that I will bring salad. Today was no exception. Often I make sweet salads with fruit in them, but I was feeling more savory today, so today I focused on asparagus (my favorite Spring treat), olives and avocados.

The recipe below is approximate as I tend to just throw things together and then taste.

Savory Spring Salad

(all ingredients were organic:)
4-6 cups mixed greens
2 small tomatoes, seeded and chopped
8 stalks of asparagus, blanched and chopped
1/2 cup kalamata olives, pitted and halved (reserve juice)
1/4 cup green onions chopped fine
5 medium carrots cut into thin circles
1 medium avocado, diced (do this right before serving so it doesn't turn brown)

Dressing (I did not measure this stuff-- it was just to taste, so amounts are approximate):

1/8 cup olive oil
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1 T maple syrup
1/8 cup juice from olives
1/4 tsp salt
splash of grapefruit juice
freshly ground black peppper

Toss all ingredients lightly and serve

I noticed that the left over salad was most of the non-lettuce ingredients-- all the heavy stuff sunk to the bottom of the bowl, so don't over toss this!

I also made Elana's gluten and dairy free chocolate pie filling (amazing!). I put it in a gluten free pie crust I had bought, but next time I'll try making her crust too.

We had ham and salmon, rice with mushrooms, rolls (not for me!), and fruit salad too. I was impressed that my in-law's church had gluten-free communion wafers-- I was picturing going up for communion and having to hold the bread for the rest of the service because even a bite of gluten gives me an asthma attack!

I admit normally I wouldn't have bought asparagus, as I like to wait until local asparagus is in season, but this was a treat-- I did make sure to at least get domestic asparagus-- hopefully it was trucked from California rather than flown.

Happy Easter to all who celebrate it-- to those who don't: enjoy the start of Spring and it's new beginnings-- perhaps the new growth of Spring can inspire us all to better ourselves and care for our bodies as we should.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Experiments in Poultry

The chicks: (clockwise from left): Miss Kitty, Skittles, Olive, Muffin and Liz Lemon.

My husband and I have been talking about getting chickens ever since we moved into our house nearly 4 years ago. He is allergic to all of the normal sorts of pets, and I was dying for a source for fresh eggs that didn't require a 20 mile trek to the farmer's market. Last weekend my fortunately handy-husband got to work building us a chicken coop and today was the day we got our new babies.

We drove to Stanwood (about an hour North of our home in Lynnwood) to meet a man named Tim we found on craigslist (really, is there anything you CAN'T find on craigslist?) Tim breeds chickens and sells coops and supplies. He sold us 5 darling little chicks and directed us toward the local feed store. Our poor chicks complained bitterly about being bumped around in a cardboard box on my lap on the drive, but eventually they settled down and took a nap. It seems they like the radio, especially Britney Spears.

At the feed store we only found one kind of chick food, called scratch. I had a bad feeling about this because I had read that scratch is like candy for chickens-- you give it to them as a snack but it's not meant to be their main food. Sure enough, we got home and looked it up and our new babies were having candy corn for dinner. So back to a closer feed store where we got them some more nutritious feed.

It will be 4 or 5 months before our baby chickens are old enough to start feeding us-- until then their chicken "playpen" is dominating our living room. We are enjoying their silly antics and the sweet sound of their peeping.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Welcome to Plum!

Welcome to Plum! Plum” has many definitions. Obviously it is a fruit, but it also means “to examine closely or deeply” and “An especially desirable position, assignment, or reward.” All of these things apply to health and nutrition—a focus on fruit (and vegetables), and a healthy diet is its own reward.

About me: I am a graduate student in nutrition. My nutrition philosophy is whole foods first, preferably local, organic and sustainable whenever possible. Plum will follow my experience in whole foods, including cooking, shopping, and the latest in health research as well as fitness, gardening, herbs and more. Always bringing you the “plum” tidbits to help you on your journey to reaching your health potential.