~ SOUL FOODS ~

Eat the Rainbow - Whole Living Seasonal Foods

Everything you get in life starts with consumption; it starts with the food we eat.

When we eat foods like carrots, potatoes, parsnips, radishes, onions, garlic, beets, rutabaga ~ anything that ROOTS itself, can have a positive grounding effect for our root chakra.  I love that these vegetables grow within the deep, dark, quiet ground.  To me, they are soul foods, the essential embodiment of their earthy energy.   Like the root vegetables themselves, we can find comfort nestling into our own internal root core and help us to be comfortable in our individual aspects of darkness.

A healthy ROOT CHAKRA vibrates at the color RED, so red foods have the same type of connection and grounding effects for us as well.  They are supportive of our wellness and provide the vibration needed to help balance the first chakra, which in turn sets a positive foundation for the six that follow it ~ Sacral, Solar Plexus, Heart, Throat, 3rd-Eye & finally the Crown.  Nutritionally, these root chakra supporting foods usually have high levels of Vitamin C, a nutrient utilized by several body parts the root chakra watches over ~ like bones, teeth, skin and adrenals. Some red foods you could try are tomatoes, strawberries, apples, cranberries, raspberries, red pepper, pomegranates and cherries ~ yuuuuum, cherries!  Try freezing seedless cherries for an absolutely amazing healthy summer treat.

Are you feeling out of touch with your body?   Try getting back in touch with this old friend of yours by listening to its secrets, and observing its natural rhythm rather than forcing an imposed rhythm of your own.  Determine if there are certain foods that your body instinctually needs by simply asking your Self what it needs.   You may only hear whispers at first, but practice trusting the response you’re given.  Make notes about whether some foods make you feel “grounded” or “ungrounded,” good or bad, light or heavy, etc.

If we, perhaps unintentionally, tap into our inner-child or adult- wounding with the unsolicited help of our red & rooted relatives, we may unearth some causes of eating disorders.  Don’t panic.  It is simply a discovery that our eating choices may be connected to some of our buried feelings.  Instead of running backwards and hiding ourselves in the shadow of unhealthy food choices again, we can choose self-induced healing by standing our ground, facing the revelation head-on, and developing a plan to excavate the pain.  This is what I call “Reveal & Heal.”   If you decide to give it light, love, and set an intention to heal it, you will be gifted with a new perspective and will no longer feel the need to stuff yourself or your feelings.  It’s one or the other ~ right? ~ us or them.

It boils down to a choice of consuming according to our bodies’ needs not wants.  And if we’re taking this question into consideration before we chow down, we’ve already won half the battle!  We would be intentionally supporting the idea of life versus unintentionally supporting death.   This is a discussion I had recently with my husband Mark that just really stopped me in my tracks.   What has been your choice of foods and style of living? Alive or Dead?   Wow, huh?  This question really hit into the center of me.

Let me lighten the mood now that I’ve dropped the “D Bomb.”  Bottom line is that it’s important to practice checking in with our personal trilogy ~ mind, body, soul ~ on our food choices and reasons for those choices.   What are you fulfilling with each choice?  What language does your body use to tell you what to eat and when?  Do you hear what it’s saying?   Are you even listening or do you turn the other cheek because you don’t want to feel the feelings & emotions associated with the thoughts & memories that are coming up?

It is not easy to choose healing, however, simply starting with healthier foods will ignite clarity, engage common-sense-thinking and provide a stability to support you on your journey to natural whole wellness.

Meet My New LOVE, Cuban Oregano!

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There’s something even more wonderful about a co-op exchange than getting free produce in abundance, eating whole healthy homegrown/homemade foods, or meeting new friends … and that’s falling in love with a fruit, veggie and/or herb that you’ve never heard of or tasted before.  For me, that happened recently, it was love at first sight and CUBAN OREGANO won my affection!
 
 
‘Huh,’ you ask, you’ve got a crush on an herb?   Well…uhm…the answer is yes!  It seems to happen every once in a while, someone will contribute something unknown and the energy surrounding the newbie brings a fresh perspective.  I am fascinated!  I literally feel elated!  I mean really, what’s not to love?  It’s got soft thick fuzzy fleshy leaves and each one is super-duper deliciously aromatic!  
 
 
The resume of this amazing herb is vast and even packs a few interesting surprises regarding its heritage ~  like the fact that Cuban Oregano is neither Cuban, nor Oregano!  It is actually of Middle Eastern origin, and is a member of the Mint family!  My online research reveals that the leaves are used not only for their culinary seasoning in Caribbean, Indian, Malaysian (and now American) protein and veggie dishes, but it also has many medicinal purposes as well!  It can be made into a tea for respiratory challenges and digestive issues or mixed with sugar and boiled down into syrup for coughs and sore throats.
 
Another attraction is that it is a succulent herb which can reach up 10-20 inches in height.  In many gardens it is grown for its appearance more than its use… yet another reason to let this beauty be a star if you’re attempting to be the proud owner of an edible landscape!
 
 
I’ve read that I should consider myself lucky to have met this wonderful Cuban cutie, and to that I say… “I DO!”  Apparently it’s a rare find; and now that I have found it, I am never going to let it go.   This is a long-term commitment, and fortunately, it loves to propagate so my prediction is we’ve got a beautiful future together!
 
 
So I’m going to crush it, chop it, marinade it, stew it, boil it, bake it & propagate it!   Then REPEAT + SHARE with friends at a produce cooperative exchange and watch someone else fall in love with it too!
 cuban oregano2
 
Sending you all Love,
Shannon

My Past, Present & Future of Food

fruit basket

Most mornings in the past, I was fighting off cravings of bagels loaded with cream cheese, and visions of creamy specialized coffees dancing in my head!  The closest I was coming to fresh produce was passing the yogurt fruit parfaits while waiting in line to pay for my blood sugar spike via carbs & sugar.  After having been on a 30-day whole-foods-only detoxifying cleanse (TheWhole30.com) twice in the last 6 months, today I received proof that I am finally making new choices by habit…and  therefore my partnership with food is confirmed as changed.

My present choices are not without challenge, however!   Being a full-time employee and commuter, if I don’t get on the road 5 days a week prepared with a well-thought-out breakfast and lunch planned & packed ahead of time, I put myself at risk of having to make decisions on the fly.  This is all well and good if I have been getting 8-hours of sleep, eating healthy, cooking at home, preparing meals, etc. , because my conscious mind and deep intentions will drive me to the grocery store to buy a ripe mango rather than a ham & cheese croissant at the cute little corner cafe.   But God forbid I don’t get enough sleep, I’m irritable, late for work… and hungry all at the same time ~ I’ve hit a moment of weakness ~  those fresh plums and good intentions turn to sugar-laced-lattes and doughnut holes!   Even when my super-willpower is alive & well, and I walk into a convenient store with my chest puffed out on a mission for an Orange, I still must conquer a challenging quest whose journey weaves through multiple rows of chips, candy & cookies looking for the possibility of a fresh fruit basket at the end of any given isle.

Nonetheless, this morning I walked the mile fearlessly; made 3 go-rounds with defeat welling up inside me before I spied out of the corner of my eye a small bowl at the counter which was filled with yellow bananas and red apples, .89 cents each.  The ‘ahh-haa’ moment of relief kicks in and I know I’ve been saved ~ I’ll pay whatever the price!

The conversation with the store manager is  also a significant priceless moment.  Because of my  hunt for fresh choices, he’s prompted me to share my opinion on how it takes changing a life-long habit to make new choices, and that if you do it long enough those are the things you begin to crave.  I’m hoping from his perspective, he’s received a message too ~ ‘people DO chose fresh whole foods rather than just snack bags of crunchy carbs!’   I’m secretly hoping that I walk away and the Universe offers him a bigger basket to hold an additional selection or two…for people just like us.   Afterall, “the Universe is a funny mo-fo” and honestly it could happen!

In my future I see total success of converting my cravings from unhealthy to healthy, especially with the help of the Garden Angels Produce Cooperative monthly exchange!

Everything in life starts with consumption.  If we’re eating fresh, whole & organic, so too will be our minds and bodies ~ supporting our performance with balanced emotions, clarity and overall wellness.  If the food we survive on is fast, preserved and processed, we no longer need to wonder why we feel anxiety, muffled thoughts, bad memory, are tackled by illnesses, and feeling no energy to get through another day in our own perspective of abuse.

It actually does start with food, friends; and the Garden Angels were born to promote sustainable food efforts on our level of group and community interaction.   If you’d like to jump-start your New Year resolutions, consider joining Garden Angels for a year of “Grow & Exchange” because it honestly does create a healthy change in many aspects of life.

In 2015 I aspire to grow, exchange and eat whole healthy food!

I wish you all Peace & Love,

Shannon

Garden…or is it Guardian…Angels? You decide.

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I find it AMAZING that it was almost 4 years ago I wrote an email to a magazine editor to ask about freelance writing opportunities.  She sent me a vast amount of information, and my vision locked on to one specific topic in particular, a column” called “City of Angels” featuring articles about what’s going on in communities around us.  I didn’t know why, but I couldn’t waste a moment, I felt compelled to go check out the online magazine and read the column immediately!   Somehow what I stumbled across was a back-issue article called, “There IS such thing as a FREE lunch!”  I felt the synchronicity touch down when I read the title, and my feelings were excitedly confirmed when I finished the article ~ the community produce-trading project/idea I had dreamed about and had recently built a garden for is not only alive, but well … it’s kickin’ up its fertile soil in LA County!!  I clicked on a email link and proceeded to inquire about a possible group in Long Beach.

So much for the freelance writing ~ huh? ~ I am starting a neighborhood produce co-op!

I decided to take her blog-written  advice and start sending out emails to family and friends who I thought might be interested in a group of our own.  By the time I had received a reply to my initial inquiry, I had a handful of names on my list and noted the items they grow.  When I read the response, “Shannon, There are people in your area interested, but no one has actually started a group…”  I said, “YES!  Okay, I’m soooo on it!  I am meant to start this group!

The following week, I named the co-op Garden Angels after all of the people who had shown up in the right place at the right time to help me build, grow, and share my beginners garden – I had referred to them many times as “my garden angels.”   Without these angels of the past, as well as the angels of the present and future, none of this would be possible, so I knew soul-deep that I had to make this about them!

I continued to receive member requests to the tune of about 2 per day, and by the time our very first Produce Exchange in March of 2011 sprouted up, we had 25 members and 15 actual participants!  Wow, huh?!  I was blown away by the support and good energy that had surrounded this group and its kind-hearted exchanges of bountiful treasures culminated by hard work, care and loving energy of the spirits behind it.

So here we are… 4 years and 44 exchanges later!     A feeling of anticipation, joy and excitement still find their divine-right  places inside of me every month on exchange day.   And I am absolutely thrilled to facilitate growth in this upcoming New Year of exchanges.  The original vision 4 years ago was not limited to a gloriously fun-filled, healthy-minded community contribution endeavor; it included socialization, networking, education and outreach.  We are a group not only of trade, but positive energy and love… which, my friends, is the point of it all. 

Peace & Love, Shannon

Garden Angels Celebrate their 100th!

 Green Apple on a Tree Branch Cover For The iPad Mini

Congratulations to the Garden Angels of Long Beach in reaching over 100 members who exchange the fruits and veggies of their labor with other members  consisting of friends, family, and community neighbors.

The “Angels” have been a real Godsend for beginners and experts alike, their networking has been absolutely positive!  It is wonderful making connections, sharing information, and trading recipes along with tips and tricks of gardening, cooking and more!  Learning about and supporting ideas in sustainability is a golden ticket to more and more people who are opening their minds to this awesome, healthy way of living.

Last Saturday we had a small group exchange some bountiful backyard harvesting and home-made goodies.  Eight people received Green Apples, Sweet Basil, Lavender, Big Jim Peppers, Spearmint, home-made Relish, Pickle Chips and Tsukemono (Japanese cucumber pickles); along with home-pressed fruit leather and some very delicious baked cookies!

I’m very excited to have reached our 100th membership this week!  The exchanges are an event which usually takes place on the 1st or 2nd Saturday of each month.  Rain or Shine, 8 people or 80; we sort, count and evenly distribute contributions into the reusable bags of each participant, resulting in a big beautiful Farmer’s Market style bag of produce and home-made goodies for each participating member  ~ all for FREE?  Yes, FREE! 

If you’d like to join The Garden Angels Produce Cooperative Exchange, just send me an email and I’d be happy to add you to the membership list so you can receive the monthly invitation.  You can participate as little or often as you’d like or your garden will allow.

Write me an email saying, “Shannon, I’d like to join you!”  GardenAngelsCooperative@yahoo.com 

I look forward to hearing from you!

Next milestone, 200 members….and we’re off and counting!

Growing Garden Angels Style!

 

Growing your own food is a very fulfilling experience! Just a basil or tomato plant in a pot can enhance a connection with the earth and the sustainable side of life. Gardening calls you to the outdoors.

When I heard the call over 2 years ago, I dug up my yard to design and plant a huge 10-bed garden plot filled with a large variety of veggies; I planted 4 fruit trees to reside in the same atmosphere as my huge grandfather avocado tree; and then I started a free small community produce exchange.  Monthly, I invited friends and neighbors to exchange the over-abundance of my garden with the over-abundance of theirs.  Ninety-eight members later, we’re still growing strong!

Today I have a smaller manageable five-bed, above-ground, pallet-style garden; a small “orchard” consisting of a total of nine fruit trees now, an “herb island which I adore;” and multiple edible potted treats to pick.   

When the Garden Angels got together last Saturday we exchanged:  zucchini, romaine lettuce, elite lettuce, yellow beans, green beans, thyme, onions, kale, loquats, artichoke, rosemary, swiss chard, and mealworm poop! (fertilizer)

You can begin growing by taking action in baby steps. There are many experienced gardeners out there to assist as you choose seeds or small plants to start your food garden. As you learn you become more than a just a spectator, you become an intentional participant of the seasons and cycles of our earth and its bigger purpose.

No matter how large or small the size of a garden, you can benefit from growing your own food.  Doing so creates a sense of freedom.  We harvest much more than just the food, we also get a nice sweet taste of the good life.

IT’S RAINING KUMQUATS!

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Garden Angels were at it again!  Our May Mom’s Day Exchange was a wonderful way to share the fruits of a mom’s labor in the garden with community friends and families.  Just like the last two years, we were blessed with the abundance of goodies to put together a Special Mom’s Day  Basket to give to a much-deserving and grateful mother as a surprise for her day tomorrow.  What a joy it is to put together a gift for a stranger and not expect a thing in return!  We should all try this once-a-month; right?
 
This Saturday we exchanged:   Banana Chia Muffins, Sage, Chives, Kale, Onions, Rosemary, Grapefruit, Tangerines and Kumquats!  
 
What to do you do with a Kumquat you ask?  So did I.  I will share a recipe that to me seems like it would be absolutely DE-LISH ~ with the sugar complimenting the sour tang of this tart fruit, how could you say anything but “uhm, yuuuuuum!.”  
 
Ridiculously easy to make, candied kumquats are half condiment, half candy. You can use them on salads, pork, chicken, cheesecakes, or even with chocolate ice cream. Or you can do what I do, which is to sneak a couple out of the fridge and just eat them straight. Sticky gooey goodness.

CANDIED KUMQUATS

Candied Kumquats

INGREDIENTS

  • 4 cups of roughly chopped kumquats (roughly 1-1½ lbs.)
  • 1 cup of water
  • 2 cups of sugar

METHOD

1 With a pairing knife roughly chop the kumquats. Discard any seeds you can that are easy to get too, but they’re edible so don’t fret if some get chopped up or stay in the fruit. Feel free to leave any small kumquats whole.

2 Heat the water and sugar over high heat until it comes to a boil. Simmer for 4 minutes. Add the kumquats and simmer for 10 minutes.

3 Drain the kumquats through a sieve set over a bowl. Return the syrup to the pan and simmer for 5 minutes to reduce the syrup. Combine the kumquats and 1/4 cup of the syrup together.

Serve or jar and refrigerate. Can be stored for up to two weeks.

Would you like to contribute your fruit tree or veggie garden harvest(s), join us for the next Exchange.  It takes place in Long Beach and it simply takes sending an email to me, Shannon, at GardenAngelsCooperative@Yahoo.com saying “add me to your invitee list, I’d like to participate!”  And it will be a done deal!  All this and it’s FREE too.

In the meantime, get your hands dirty! 🙂  ~Shannon~