“Chicken Parm” Stuffed Summer Squash

Yup, you guessed it that most of my recipes for the time being will include:

1) Squash    and

2) Chicken

I have to think of some way to utilize the fresh food I am growing and raising!

Next year I have to better plan my garden. I think this year my thoughts about it were “grow ALL THE THINGS!!” and I basically planted as much as I thought I wanted of everything.

This leads to an overwhelming surplus of one type of food at one time. I hate wasting food I feel infinitely guilty throwing extra squash to the pigs. I know it’s better then throwing it away but I can do way better next year on the planning front.

Recently I have come into boundless amounts of squash and cucumbers, which I have been preserving and pickling. I have even been pickling some of the extra zucchini to make relish. This is my first year doing this so hopefully I’m doing it right and we don’t die of botulism when we eat all this stuff later in the year.

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pickles

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It’s hard to believe this is how people used to eat…growing everything in the summer and preserving it for the winter. Totally something we don’t take into account today. We can get any fruit or vegetable any time of the year and quite frankly it’s unnatural. We are spoiled with being able to make strawberry pie in the winter never stopping to think if that’s normal. We would get sick of eating potatoes, winter squash and carrots all winter like people used to do.

Anyways, since locally sourcing my meat we rarely get chicken anymore, except for in the summer (since it’s a SUMMER meat…who would have thought…). Now that I have 33 fresh ones in the freezer I finally get to get creative with chicken recipes…..first up: stuffed squash! Killing two birds (ha, pun totally intended) with one stone…using up the squash and chicken. This was super tasty with or without cheese!

Chicken parm Stuffed summer squash

Prep time: 15 mins / Cook time: 10 mins/ Serves: 2

 

stuffed summer squash

1 large summer squash (zucchini will work too)

1 large, cooked chicken breast (approx 4-6 oz), diced

1 cup tomato sauce (mine was homemade!)

1 small onion

2 cloves garlic

handful of fresh basil, chopped

1 tbsp coconut oil

1/2 tbsp Italian seasoning

salt and pepper to taste

handful of mozzarella and parmesan cheese (optional)

1. Pre-heat oven to 375. Carefully cut your summer squash in half lengthwise. Scoop out the insides gently so you are left with a hollow shell.

2. Rub with coconut oil, season with salt and pepper. Place in a baking dish in the oven while you prep the rest of the meal.

3. Heat up some coconut oil in a large skillet on medium. Throw in the garlic and onion and let soften. After about 3-4 minutes, throw in your diced, cooked chicken breast.** Season with the Italian seasoning, salt and pepper.

4. Pour in the tomato sauce. Simmer on low for 5 minutes until everything is incorporated. Then, throw in the basil.

5. Take the summer squash out of the oven (hopefully at this point it was in there for roughly 15 minutes). Carefully (it will be hot!) spoon the chicken mixture into the squash shells. Sprinkle with cheese if using.

6. Turn off the oven then turn your broiler on high. Place the squash under the broiler for another 5-8 minutes until the cheese has browned.

chicken parm stuffed summer squash

summer squash with cheese

** Alternatively, you could start with raw, diced chicken breast, add the chicken to coconut oil in the pan, let cook then add your garlic and onions. This will add about 5 minutes on to the prep time.

What gardening lessons have you learned?

What are your favorite ways to use squash?

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Broiler Chickens: Start to Finish

If you’re thinking about raising broiler chickens for meat to start your homesteading journey…..I have some tips as a first time novice. First off, you have to get the book Pastured Poultry Profits by Joel Salatin. This was the model we followed. If you Google this method you will find lots of information. Doing this for the first time, there are many ways I think we can do it better next year…so if you get the book and still want to jump in, here’s some tips from a beginner!

{I am really unhappy because I typed up this ENTIRE post yesterday, and last night the power went out and I must have lost it all! But right now I am procrastinating going to the dump…and it’s pouring out…so I guess I will type it up again!}

We ordered the chicks from Cackle hatchery. They came exactly when they said they would come. One was dead on arrival. The first mistake we made was that the brooder was not big enough. It was probably sufficient for about a week and a half then it became apparent the chicks needed more room. It was at 14 days (the soonest the book says to do it was 12) that we put them outside on the grass.

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The chicken pen was a Salatin style, floorless frame surrounded by chicken wire with aluminum on top. The book says you can put 70 chickens in a 10X12 pen, and we had 33 in a 5X5 pen. I’m not gonna lie it got pretty cramped in there the last week or so…so a bigger pen might be needed.

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We (my husband) constructed the pen out of materials we already had; old pallets and chicken wire laying around the farm. The idea is that you move the pen every day so the chickens have a fresh patch of grass. The next mistake was just putting the pen in our backyard that had already mowed grass. One reason was because it smelled AWFUL while laying by the pool and another reason was that the grass wasn’t long enough to support the chickens in becoming efficient foragers. This lead us to have to supplement with more grain than I would have liked.

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me feeding chickens…snap chat edition lol

We used Agway’s Meat Bird Feed, which wasn’t organic, but we just tried to do what we could starting out. The organic kind was twice as much and we weren’t trying to sell them as organic or anything so it didn’t really matter. The feed was not medicated. The issue was that we did not build the automatic waterer that he outlines in the book, and our feed trough was not nearly big enough towards the end. So we ended up having to go refill the feed and water 3-5 times a day! That’s a of time…especially since the book boasts you will only have to spend 1 min per pen each day. So next year we have to figure something out for the food and water. It made it really difficult if I was going away for the day because my husband works long hours and the chickens are supposed to be on feed all day long.

And…..then came the hard part. In just 6-7 short weeks the birds were ready! It’s hard to believe that they grow so fast. This Jumbo Cornish Cross breed is specially designed to grow fast for commercial meat production. This is another great thing about meat chickens if you’re thinking about doing it. They really don’t monopolize a large length of time (like pigs or cows).

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So when it came to the processing I really tried to “chicken” out (HA PUNS). I called around to places seeing how much it would be…but in the end it wasn’t worth it to take the birds somewhere for the amount we had. So together my husband and I processed all 33 birds. I never thought I could do it! It was probably the most physically, mentally and emotionally draining thing I have ever done in my life. I didn’t actually do any of the killing, but I cleaned and gutted all of the birds. We thought everything was going to go nice and smooth since we had borrowed an automatic chicken plucker from a friend….until it died on the second bird!! Things were looking bleak at this point…..I had no idea how we were going to hand pluck 30 more birds. But we just pushed through and got it done.

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I can’t explain the feeling of accomplishment I experience looking in the freezer at the end of the day. Knowing that I fed, raised and processed all of this food and I won’t have to buy chicken from the grocery store. People (including me, before this experience) have absolutely NO idea what goes into obtaining their food and it constantly baffles me that we are always trying to save money on food and get the cheapest deal. Like I said with gardening, knowing all the work that goes into providing food for myself would lead me to believe $10 for a tomato is a great deal…… $50 for that chicken would be money well spent! I honestly do not want to know what goes on in conventional slaughter houses that would allow me to purchase chicken at 1.99 a pound; and I can take solace in knowing even though I had to do the dirty work my chickens had a better life than a chicken that sells for that much.

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And it tastes good!!!

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Spicy Sausage and Peppers over Zucchini Noodles

The zucchini onslaught has started in my garden. I think I planted enough to make myself pretty sick of zucchini in about a month…..so I’ve started thinking of ways to use it up and not let it go to waste. I already attempted to freeze some and I don’t think it’s going to turn out that great….have you ever frozen zucchini? My guess is it’s going to be really watery….I guess I could probably use it for a soup.

I have plans for zucchini bread, and my husband really likes it grilled, but I decided to put my spiralizer to work and make zucchini noodles! A great substitute for regular pasta. And for the sauce? We get a yummy plain ground pork from our farmer that I can easily add spice to for variety. The sauce is a spicy, sausage-tasting, Italian meat sauce that gives great flavor to the zucchini noodles.

Before I get to the recipe- we got a dog!!!

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Anna is a 6 month old German Sheppard, redbone hound mix that we adopted from the animal shelter.  She is quite a handful so far! Hopefully I can Google and read enough on dog training to make her more obedient but right now she is very hard to contain.

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She can jump right over that fence. At least she’s potty trained already. The cat’s having a hard time accepting the situation.

Anyway- advice for a new dog would be appreciated! On to the recipe!

Spicy Sausage and Peppers over Zucchini Noodles

sausage and peppers

Serves: 3-4 /Prep time: 15 minutes /Cook Time: 20 minutes

2 cups prepped zucchini noodles (I used this tutorial)

1 lb ground pork, plain

1 jar clean tomato sauce (or homemade)

1 large red pepper, diced

1 large white onion, diced

1 clove garlic, minced

1 jalapeño pepper, minced

1 tablespoon fennel seeds

2 tablespoons fresh herbs ( I used sage and basil)

1 tablespoon dried Italian herbs

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 black pepper

1 tablespoon coconut oil

1. Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Cook the pork until no longer pink, about 5 minutes. Take the pork out of the skillet with a slotted spoon and set aside.

2. With the pan still on, add your coconut oil and heat.

3. Add the onion, pepper, garlic and jalapeño. Cook until softened, about 3-4 minutes.

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3. Add back in your pork, season with a little salt and pepper.

4. Pour in the jar of tomato sauce.

(You could use a 28 oz can of tomatoes here…or 3-4 cups of homemade sauce. I stopped buying canned tomatoes because of the various health risks; and organic, BPA free is expensive. I found this awesome, local, all natural sauce I’ve been using that’s inexpensive and has clean ingredients. It does have sugar but a small amount. I figure it’s better than buying conventional canned tomatoes.)

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5. Add all your spices and mix well.

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6. Let the sauce simmer for 10-15 more minutes. Serve over the noodles.

 spicy sausage and peppers over zucchini noodles

Yum! I love sausage and peppers!

What brand of canned/jarred tomatoes do you buy?

Any advice for a first time dog owner? Training tips?

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My Mix Protein Powder {Review}

I’ve DEFINITELY had my share of different protein powders….they were one of the first things I started eating regularly when I began eating healthier. My opinion on them has since changed…but I’m not all against protein powders.

Obviously, getting your protein (and nutrients) from a delicious, whole food source is always the better option. That’s why I kind of shunned protein powders when I started eating Paleo. However the protein powder I used to buy was loaded with nasty stuff. Once I started making the ingredients list a priority I allowed protein powder back into my life again. Truth is, not all of us have time to fry up some eggs or breakfast sausages in the morning. Even if I do have time to make breakfast (and I do….because it’s summer) I find myself not wanting a full blown meal for lunch during the summer so a nice protein shake is perfect.

I was lucky to receive a free sample from the site My Mix Nutrition. If you haven’t heard of it, definitely check it out. They offer completely customizable protein powder mixes that fit virtually ANY type of diet- vegan, Paleo, soy-free, etc.

When you first visit the site, you’ll enter some information about yourself, and then you can build your own personal, customized protein powder. It’s awesome!

***Disclaimer: I received a 5 serving sample of My Mix Protein Powder at no charge. All opinions are my own.

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Then you can choose from a whole bunch of different add ins- from supplements for bones and joints, extra vitamins and minerals, energy boosters and weight loss support.

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Finally, you get to flavor your mix!

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Here’s what I went with:

 

Andrea’s Protein Powder:

*Hemp Protein

*Repair and Recovery- L-Glutamine

*Weight Management- L-Carnatine Tartrate

*Functional Support- Joint Supplement

*Chocolate flavor

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I thought it was awesome that the protein powders are completely customizable. I went with hemp protein because I wanted to try something different than whey- plus I didn’t have any information about whether or not the whey protein was from grass-fed cows so I wasn’t too keen on it.

Verdict? This hemp protein powder was FAR more palatable than ANY other hemp protein powder I’ve ever had. You could definitely still taste the earthiness of the hemp, however. When I first found this company I could have SWORN they had egg white protein powder- which I’ve really wanted to try. But when I went to get my sample it was nowhere to be found. I’d be curious to see how the regular protein powder tastes- I’m sure it’s delicious.

I made a couple of different combos with this mix. I always throw in a banana, coconut milk and ice. This day I added some blueberries and kale. I have no shortage of kale!

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hemp protein shake

It was good- interestingly enough I actually found the protein powder a little heavy on the stevia. Putting the kale in definitely helped out.

Overall, I love the idea of being able to customize your own protein powder. It tasted good and I’d be interested to try the whey protein powder as well.

What’s your favorite protein powder?

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Food Blogging Photography Tips {Guest Post}

 

Two posts in one week!?!? What is this?? Well, I can’t give myself all the credit. I have the pleasure of introducing my friend and fellow blogger Lauren for a blog post today on food photography. I reached out to Lauren to write a guest post about this because…let’s face it…we’ve all seen my food photography. Even though my grandfather was an excellent photographer I guess it doesn’t run in the family. I try!!! Hopefully using these tips will make me better.

Anyways, on to the guest post. Lauren is my friend from high school and runs the blog What Lola Likes. I did a guest post for her blog about Paleo yesterday- check it out!

 

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Hi readers! My name is Lauren Garcia, aka Lola of whatlolalikes

I am a Phoenix based lifestyle blogger on food, fashion, and fitness. Andrea and I go way back to first meeting in middle school. From sleepovers to being weekend warrior mall rats; it’s fun to think back on a time when life wasn’t all about careers or paying bills. Although Andrea and I went to separate colleges and I moved across the country, we stayed in touch and I am so happy to be able to guest post on her blog today.

A little bit about myself. Over three years ago in April, I married my husband; becoming determined to really learn my way around the kitchen. Re-creating delicious plates and being inspired by chefs like Giada de Laurentiis, cooking has become so therapeutic and one of my favorite ways to pass free time. Around that same time, I began to think about health and being my happiest self. I started to make exercise a part of my daily routine while training for half marathons and always staying on top of making time for the gym. Most importantly, I have focused on completely changing my diet, which has made such a change in my overall health these past few years. Everyone has their ups and downs when it comes to eating healthy, but it’s getting yourself back on track when you see yourself really starting to slip that will make the biggest change in your overall lifestyle.

As a hobby, I do enjoy taking photographs. I may not know everything about photography but I do know I have improved my #foodporn photo taking skills by just changing a few key elements in my presentation. A few I will share with you all today.

Please note: Husbands/fiancés/boyfriends/friends may get irritated with your photo shoots after each meal is prepared. They will learn to live with it.

1. Use natural light. This is the best advice I can ever give you. Place your plate next to a large window or better yet, do what I do, and go outside. I first learned this easy photo fix when I was living in an apartment, so going outside was pretty comical when people drove passed me. But… you have to do whatever you need to do to get that picture perfect!

 

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Use white plates. My wedding photographer actually gave me this idea and then I started to notice the trend myself. It makes such a difference. If you do not have white plates (which I did not at the time- probably the only person who didn’t register for white plates for her wedding), then use a white paper towel or copy paper if possible.

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Show the process. I like to show the people interested how the food is being made. When taking photographs of the complete meal, consider adding some of the dry ingredients next to the plate.

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Garnish your plate. There is nothing prettier than something that looks like it is out of a magazine or gourmet restaurant. Make the plate look mouthwatering.

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Clean your plate. Make sure that white plate is spotless, meaning no splashes or crumbs are left behind. Spot cleaning may be necessary.

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Angle your lens. Get up in there or take a photograph standing directly over it. Play with the angels for your desired

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Put a filter on it. Especially when using something like Instagram to showcase your foodie efforts, adding a photo filter can make all the difference.

Thank you for taking the time to read this! Feel free to head over to my blog to check out my most recent posts at www.whatlolalikes.com.
 
Instagram: whatlolalikes
twitter: whatlolalikes_
 
Be Kind,
Lola

 

Do you consider yourself a novice or expert with food photography?

What tips helped you learn?

Happy Fourth of July!!!!!!

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How to blanch and freeze kale + a recipe

Well it seems like I have been getting a solid one blog post a week for the last month or so. I’m okay with that. Still really busy with the farm and animals! We put the baby chicks outside yesterday!

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More on that in a separate post. Now that SCHOOL’S DONE!!!! I should have more time for blogging…if laying by the pool and binging on Netflix don’t take precedence.

I don’t know if I mentioned this on the blog or not…but my garden is doing great! I am about up to my ears in kale. This would be fine if it weren’t for the fact that I also joined a CSA. Guess what’s in season there??!!? Lettuce and kale!! I hate wasting food so it seems like such a waste to just compost it or give it to the pigs. I decided I would try preserving it so I could have some when it is not in season. I try to get kale organic and my normal grocery store never has it. So whenever I want it I have to go to Wegmans and it’s usually pretty pricey. I’m happy this year I’ll have an abundance in my freezer.

Freezing kale seemed like a complicated job before I did it…but it really wasn’t.It’s simple to do and will definitely be worth it.

First, I cleaned the stems off the kale and tore the leaves into pieces.

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Then I brought a large pot of water to boiling. I also set up another large bowl with cold water and lots of ice. When the water boils, plunge the kale (I did two batches) into the water and boil for 2 minutes.

Immediately take out the kale and put it into the ice bath to stop cooking.

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I let it sit in the ice bath for about 2 minutes, then I took it out and laid on a paper towel.

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I used the paper towels to squeeze some of the moisture out, then I bagged it up and popped it in the freezer!

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Expect to use the kale much like you would use frozen spinach. I could sauté some onion and garlic and heat up the kale and mix into a casserole….like the following recipe!

I made this recipe with fresh kale, but I will definitely be saving it for later in the year when I’m looking for something to do with all this kale I froze…

Kale Quiche with Coconut Flour Crust

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1 large bunch of kale, stemmed and torn into pieces

1 bell pepper, diced

1 large white onion, diced

2 cloves of garlic, minced

1 tbsp coconut oil

6 eggs

2 tbsp coconut milk

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 tsp black pepper

1/4 tsp cinnamon

1/4 tsp garlic powder

1/2 tsp garlic salt

1/4 tsp onion powder

1 coconut flour crust ***

***I used this recipe and pre-baked the crust for 15 minutes

1. While your crust is cooking, heat your coconut oil in a large sauté pan. When warmed, add garlic. (Oven should be set to 350).

2. When garlic is fragrant, add the peppers and onions and sauté until softened, about 5 minutes.

3. After the veggies are cooked, add your kale (do it in batches if necessary). It will seem like a lot of kale but it will cook down.

4. Mix the veggies around to reduce the volume of kale. Add a tablespoon or two of water, put a cover on the sauté pan, and cook the kale down for about 5-8 minutes. Add 1/2 tsp of garlic salt and 1/4 tsp of onion powder to the veggies. Also salt and pepper to taste.

5. While the kale is cooking, crack your eggs in a bowl and mix the coconut milk in. Add the rest of your spices.

6.When the veggies are done, quickly add them to the eggs, mix around, and then pour the entire mixture into the prepared pie crust.

7. Bake for 45 minutes or until the quiche is set in the middle. (depends on your pie pan size-mine was very deep).

Of course I decided to bake that on the hottest day of the summer so far. Why?? It was good nonetheless!

How do you preserve your veggies??

Kale- fad or tasty food?

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Why I don’t feel restricted on Paleo

The Paleo Diet. I HATE that phrase. I don’t like Paleo being called a diet. I don’t like when I see it splayed across magazines with a claim about weight loss. And I wasn’t thrilled about Dr. Oz touting it as a new weight loss diet.

Paleo is not a “diet”. For the record, I’m not on a diet. Diets are restrictive. Diets are temporary. I’ve been on a diet before. I meticulously tracked every calorie I ate and exercised for hours a day. Guess what?!? I lost weight! Duh. When you eat next to nothing and exercise all day and turn down plans to go out with your friends and ice cream with your husband you’ll lose weight. But along with the lost weight came anxiety, injuries, and overall miserable-ness.

When I started eating Paleo, not only did I physically feel better, but I finally had the mental freedom to stop obsessing over the calories I ate. When I undertook the Whole 30 in January, I finally stopped constantly obsessing over the number on the scale and the volume of food I eat. When you eat real food MOST of the time, there is no need to restrict, obsess and count.

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There is a stigma about Paleo in the HLB community- just as there is starting to become a negative attitude about any diet. I agree whole-heartedly that extreme restriction is unhealthy and the diet mentality is harmful. I am with most people on that. Many people think that the Paleo diet is no good because it is restrictive- you can’t have grains, dairy, sugar, alcohol or processed foods. But I do not, ever feel restricted. Why?

1. I don’t restrict myself with whole foods.

Whole, nutrient dense foods make me feel good. It’s very easy to eat enough to be full and then stop. There are no unnatural sugar cravings, food with no breaks and hangry episodes. I am able to eat three large meals a day and a snack at night and not really think about when my next meal is.

2. I don’t miss grains, dairy, and especially processed foods.

I didn’t really drink much milk (unless it was in cereal), I tried oatmeal one time when I was craving it and it was bland and disgusting, and I don’t crave processed foods or fast food at all. I don’t buy them. They are not an option. Sorry, but I don’t crave McDonalds or Oreos. That’s not food to me. Bread? That’s not anything special. Who needs bread when I can have fried plantains or sweet potatoes?

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Fried plantains= happiness

3. When I want to indulge, I do it.

Yes, I miss ice cream. So guess what? When I really have a craving….I get it. I am learning to do the same with alcohol. I used to try to go months and weeks without having a single drink so that when I finally allowed myself one I went overboard. Now I have a drink or two if I want one. This usually ends up being once or twice on the weekends. I find that when I allow myself to have something when I want it, I don’t obsess over it and over do it.

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So this is how the Paleo diet works for me. Am I 100% Paleo 100% of the time?? No! Who is? Aliens??? I consider my lifestyle to be healthy. That’s why it upsets me when people bash is and say it’s way too restrictive and fosters unhealthy eating habits. I don’t agree. This lifestyle actually HELPED me emerge from unhealthy disordered eating habits.

Do you think it is too restrictive?

Do you think Paleo fosters disordered eating?

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Homesteading Updates

Hi there! It’s been awhile since I updated you all on what’s been going on with all of the homesteading adventures. Things are coming along quite nicely, and it’s pretty much the reason I haven’t been blogging much in the past month….very busy with chickens, pigs, gardens and of course this guy always needs some attention as well..

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Frank loves to help blog!

So, we ended up getting two groups of chickens, and finally integrated the two groups. They are doing just fine together. The rooster is fixing to become supper. He constantly attacks me; running at me at full speed when I’ve turned my back. I’ve learned to carry a stick/shovel whenever I am doing errands around him.

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They love dust bathing under this tree. All in all I don’t mind having the egg chickens. We have ten chickens and average 4-7 eggs per day. I think they all don’t lay because they are getting old. It’s hard to tell which ones aren’t laying….unless I put a hidden camera in there or something…lol. Next year I think we will get some chicks so they are more efficient layers.

Speaking of chicks, in the next couple days we are set to get 35 meat chicks!!!! We built a Salatin style moveable chicken pen. Basically you put feed and water in the pen and move the pen every day so they have fresh forage. This is just the frame, but since then we have put chicken wire all around and aluminum on top. If you want to know more about it I suggest Pastured Poultry Profits by Joel Salatin. I forgot to take an updated picture!

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The pigs are doing well…getting fat. We built them a waterer that I read about online and it works awesome.

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pigs2My garden is doing sooooo good. I read all last year about organic gardening and confused myself so much. I got so scared I had to do everything perfect….that’s not the case. I’m not the best gardener but if I can do it, believe me, anyone can.

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Tomatoes…I planted way too close together! Woops!

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Kale

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First harvest of kale.

Soooo…now you see what’s been keeping me so busy this last month. It goes to show that you shouldn’t be scared to try something just because it’s hard. My husband and I had no idea how to do any of this stuff last year at this time….we basically rely on Google and a couple of good books. If you want to do something…..just go for it! You will learn as you go. If something scares you you should probably do it.

What new thing have you tried that you were initially scared of?

What are some of your biggest gardening problems and solutions?

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Teaching Omnivore’s Dilemma

I spoke last year at this time how I was spreading the real food word in my classroom by teaching the YA version of Omnivore’s Dilemma. I got to do it again this year!!! I can’t even begin to express how exciting it is to me to come to work and teach my kids about Joel Salatin. It’s surreal, really (after 3 months of learning about the Holocaust it’s also a nice refresher).

Last year my school allowed me to get copies of the actual books (as opposed to copying just a few of the chapters like I did last year). Unlike last year, my kids were REALLY into the book and its message. They totally got into it and were absolutely repulsed by the realities of our current food system. They shared stories about their own families growing, raising or hunting their own food as I beamed with pride. They admitted to turning down fast food more than once during the unit, and I couldn’t help but smile.

The book is actually a NYS Common Core Module for 8th grade (which makes me SOOO happy) but I didn’t follow the module exactly how it’s played out (ain’t nobody got time for that). The integral message, objectives and standards of the modules still stuck, however, and the book presented students with four “food chains” to study.

Industrial

Industrial Organic

Local Sustainable

Hunter-Gatherer

In the end, they have to pick which food chain would best sustain America’s economy, environment, and the health of our people. Not an easy task! Each food chain has it’s pros and cons, however students had to analyze each one to determine if the pros outweighed the cons.

Teaching what is very near and dear to my heart was amazing fun. I used some work from the modules as well as some of my own ideas to make students excited. Some of my favorites are:

“Parody” advertisements for processed food.

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Micheal Pollan would be proud

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We also made flow chars illustrating the difference between the industrial food system and the local sustainable food system.

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I love it!

We also watched Food Inc, a documentary on the industrial food system featuring the author Micheal Pollan and my idol, Joel Salatin. The students loved it and even though I was nervous about showing it because of some graphic images of animals on feed lots, there were no problems and I think it really enhanced their understanding of the book.

 

Lastly, students have to do a presentation on which food chain they feel would be the best for America. This hasn’t gone that smoothly….the software we are using has some issues and yesterday I felt like I wanted to pull my hair out. But…..we will get through it. Here are some of the presentations that have already been finished.

Industrial Organic Food Chain – Created with Haiku Deck, presentation software that inspires

 


Local Sustainable – Created with Haiku Deck, presentation software that inspires


Local Food – Created with Haiku Deck, presentation software that inspires

 

I absolutely love teaching this topic! And it makes for a fun end of the year. I think the kids see that I am really passionate about it and they get into it. Plus I get to talk about my piggies and chickens and that amuses them!

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Technology in the classroom can be a pain but I guess there are worse things…..

What do you think about learning about food in the English classroom?

Have you read Omnivore’s Dilemma?

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Reflections on 2013-2014 School Year

I wanted to write about my reflections from this school year..more or less to nail down some concrete goals for myself. Often times I end up feeling like I’ve done everything wrong and I have so many things to fix. At the end of every year you just want to start all over again and “do it perfect next year”.  That’s one of the things I love about being a teacher! You always get to ‘start over’ the next year and get better!  I really need to start thinking about what specificially I want to improve on in my teaching, instead of feeling overwhelmed and inadaqute and just getting frustrated because I can’t do everything. I know I wil never be perfect and I will always be improving, but writing down goals is definitely helpful in order to give myself some direction.

If plan A didn't work. The alphabet has 25 more letters! Stay Cool

First, I know I need to work on curriculum. I need a solid curriculum that covers all the standards.  I need benchmark exams or assessments that asses certain standards and then track them for students throughout the year. I know there is no way I am going to hit ALL the standards, but I’d really like to nail down certain standards that go with certain activities, and then a clear assessment of those standards in order to track student progress. My school has a program called eDoctrina that can electornically monitor student progress towards specific standards that I can use for this. I can use the skill based rubrics I came up with last year. I don’t know why I didn’t use those more this year. They just kind of fell to the wayside once I became busy….

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If i am going to have definite units that include and teach certain skills, I need to develop assessments for those skills. Not saying we need to be testing all the time but (like I had intended) I should be using these skill based rubrics to grade most student classwork instead ofd doing a number grade or the check (+, -) system. If I grade using these rubrics, enter all of the rubrics into eDoctrina, and consistently track student progress towards these standards, I will have more accurate grading.

Another thing I have to work on is getting the kids to understand these standards and knowing where they fall with them. I need to really make sure I have the target statements more for the kids than myself also. Once I know the specific standards and everything that goes with the lessons then it will be easier to let the kids know, and they can be able to track their own progress.

Very True

As far as AIS, I really would like to nail down something concrete but it doesn’t look like it’s going to be that feasable because of the current schedule. I can probably start out the year exactly like I did last year, using the reading workshop, and then focus the students in on the “sign posts”. I will have to look more at that book this summer and come up with a tentative plan for AIS. Again, I need measureable goals and standards that ME AND THE KIDS know about to work towards. Not sure if I’ll be able to get this situated by next year….but it is a goal.

Overall I think this year was good considering the whole module drama and trying to figure out my place with them. At first I was really resistant to the though of doing the modules but now I understand more about the goals of the modules and know how to work around them to get my students to reach the same goals.

 

 

 

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