Sunday, December 2, 2012

Leftovers: Chicken tacos

The other night, I "roasted" chicken in the slow cooker for dinner (supper?). The next night, I shredded the leftover meat, tossed it with Trader Joe's Green Salsa, warmed a can of TJs black beans (BPA-free can!), and whipped up a side of hold-the-mayo slaw with red cabbage, carrots, and cilantro, and served it with all the fixings (grated cheese, plain yogurt, salsa). Such an easy, quick, and delicious meal. I took a photo of the slaw on the side, but I ate it on the taco. Yum!

Hold-the-mayo Slaw (serves 4)*
1/2 red cabbage, sliced thinly
2 small carrots, grated
Fresh cilantro, chopped
Extra virgin olive oil
Juice of one small lime
Splash of apple cider vinegar
Black pepper, to taste

Mix veggies and cilantro in a bowl. Add as much cilantro as you like (we love it around here, so I always add extra). Drizzle olive oil over mixture, add lime juice, vinegar, and freshly ground black pepper. Toss and serve. 

If you don't like cilantro, dill or other fresh herbs can be used in it's place. If you prefer a creamy slaw, add a couple of tablespoons of organic yogurt.

The salad can be made a day before and left to marinate in the fridge. I ate leftover slaw today with the "super cow" beef stew I set up this morning in the slow cooker to cook while we were off getting a Christmas tree. 

*Disclaimer: I don't measure when I cook, so everything is a guesstimate.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Eat Your Veggies, the Fall Edition

Roasted vegetables are the perfect fall comfort food, accompanying roasts, poultry, fish, eggs, or just on their own. Best of all, they are super easy to make:

1. Preheat oven to 425°
2. Cut veggies* and arrange in a single layer in their own sect
ions on a baking sheet. Don't crowd.
3. Drizzle with olive oil.**
4. Season with your favorite herbs and spices (not salt, not yet), such as pepper, rosemary, garlic powder, Italian herbs, cumin...
5. Cook for 20 minutes.
6. Remove from oven and lightly sprinkle with sea salt.

Some veggies will be crisper than others; if you like them more "well done," remove those that are to your liking and leave the others for another 5-10 minutes. Enjoy!

What is your favorite roasted veggie?***

*Veggies cook at different rates. Sizes are approximate: broccoli and cauliflower into 1-2" florets then halve; carrots 1/4-1/2" slices; sweet potatoes/yams 1/2" cubes; beets 1/2" cubes; zucchini cut in half and quarter (depends on width of zucchini). Arranging them in their own sections allows "done" veggies to be removed easily with a spatula.

**Cut veggies can also be placed in a bowl and tossed with oil (~ 1 Tbsp per lb of veg), but if using beets, toss them separately to avoid turning. I'm not a fan of dirtying dishes (or washing), so I prefer the drizzle method.

***I love beets. And Brussels sprouts., wait, I love them all!

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Get Grounded

It's autumn in the Pacific Northwest, which means rain, rain, rain. I usually tend to my urban farm  chores wearing my faithful Hunter boots, but the weather has been so warm I occasionally run outside in my bare feet. The chickens are confined to their pen, so there are few "surprises" I step in, other than some really squishy mud or a slug *shudder*. I find it so much easier to just wipe off muddy feet than deal with muddy shoes, and to be quite honest, I like walking barefooted outdoors. I don't mind mud, but prefer cool green grass or warm sand on the beach. I've even made the mad dash outside in the snow sans shoes or socks.

I grew up being told to always wear shoes. For years I wore "impractical" shoes, high heels with pointy toes than may have been too small for me but, oh, they were so cute and what was a little pain? Yes, this is coming from a doctor trained in foot reflexology. Maybe it's age, but my favorite shoes to sport these days are my Acorn TEX-MOC slippers and my Hunters (of course).

An email newsletter arrived today that reminded me of "grounding" or "earthing," which I first learned of when I was in naturopathic medical school. Benedict Lust, one of the fathers of naturopathic medicine, wrote about the health benefits of walking barefoot way back in the early 1900s and Father Sebastian Kneipp promoted "dew walking" in Germany even before then. Recently, researchers at the University of California have been studying the health effects of walking barefoot (or indoors, connected to systems that conduct energy from the ground into the body, simulating the outdoor effects). They found that connecting to grounded conductive systems (including walking outdoors) "may be a simple, natural, and yet profoundly effective environmental strategy against chronic stress, ANS dysfunction, inflammation, pain, poor sleep, disturbed HRV, hypercoagulable blood, and many common health disorders, including cardiovascular disease. The research recommends "earthing," weather and conditions permitting, for 30 to 40 minutes daily. 

So go ahead. Take off your shoes. Wiggle your toes in the grass. Get "grounded."

Journal of Environmental and Public Health
Earthing: Health Implications of Reconnecting the Human Body to the Earth's Surface Electrons

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Handmade Halloween: Horrifying Headstones

Clever epitaphs make homemade tombstones unique. I borrowed ideas from celebrity stones: "in" was Jack Lemmon's epitaph, "That's all folks" was Mel Blanc's, and "Nevermore" was part of Edgar Allen Poe's.

It's no secret that Halloween is my favorite holiday. Perhaps it was my past life as an art student in the '80s (yes, I was goth for a brief period of my life), but I really get into the costumes and I decorate the whole house, inside and out. I tend not to be too over the top in my outdoor decor, opting for a more subtle, haunted house look. This neighborhood has always been a big draw for trick or treaters, but now that several episodes of Grimm have been filmed here, I felt I needed to step up my game. I headed to Home Depot for supplies.

Horrifying Headstones

  • 1 Styrofoam Insulation Sheet (1/2" x 2' x 8')
  • 1 can Stone Textured Spray Paint
  • Sharp knife or saw
  • Assorted Acrylic Paints and brushes

Cut tombstone shapes from stryofoam board using a knife or thin bladed saw. Do this outside, as it gets pretty messy. First, I plotted out the general size of the tombstones and marked with pen on the plastic my initial shapes. I cut out the rectangles first and then cut out the domed top.

Peel off foil and plastic protective skins from the styrofoam. Using a sandpaper block, sand down the rough edges. Wear a mask, because styrofoam dust gets everywhere. Dull any "sharp" corners and edges. Remember, these tombstones have been sitting out in your front yard for ages and are weathered and worn.

Next, line up tombstones on a tarp and evenly apply stone textured spray paint. If you spray each stone individually like I did, you may run out of paint (I ran out of paint), so try and do them all at once and get a light, even coating, then go back and add more "texture." The paint will need to dry overnight if left outside in a garage in the Pacific Northwest. It may dry faster in a drier environment.

Once dry, the fun begins! I applied black and green splotches to the sides of the stones to look like moss and mildew, using a piece of sponge and acrylic paint. After researching epitaphs online, I sketched the designs using chalk, then I painted the final art using latex acrylic paint.

One sheet of styrofoam will make four assorted sized tombstones. Dowel rods can be inserted into the bottom of the stones as supports to prop them up in the yard. Happy Halloween!

Friday, October 5, 2012

Life is a Journey

Sneak preview: Life is a journey, not a destination
I almost titled this post "How I Spent (the end of) My Summer Vacation," but as I don't exactly take summer vacations...

Except this year I did. Well, you might call it a working vacation, if one can take a vacation during a sabbatical. I have spent the last month in Tok, Alaska, taking care of my 6 year old niece while my sister was away. For those who aren't in the know, my sister is Aliza Sherman Risdahl, social media and tech diva, and she travels quite a bit for work. September was a busy month for her so she called in the big guns to help out at home. That would be me. 

So, every morning I wake up my niece, make her breakfast and lunch, and get her to the bus stop on time. When she comes home from school, I sweep her off to her Native beading class, then return home to prepare dinner. After dinner, I make sure her homework is done, entertain her (or at least I find myself entertaining), then make sure she gets to bed on time.

I now can add child rearing to my list of life lessons. I've also learned how to drive an ATV, cook wild game (sheep burgers! moose stir fry!), clean moose hide, and I'm honing my knitting skills. If I were a Girl Scout, I'd give myself a badge. My actual reward was a week off from all of my busy-ness to explore Alaska. 

Me on the four-wheeler. ©leahsherman
Tok, Alaska, Sled Dog AND Social Media Capital of the World. ©leahsherman
Waiting for the school bus with the 6 year old. ©leahsherman
Me and moose hide (not for the faint of heart). ©leahsherman
Alaska, the beautiful. ©leahsherman
Matanuska Glacier. ©leahsherman
Close up of glacier. ©leahsherman
I have a zillion more photos of my Alaskan adventure week, a handful of which you can find on my Holistica Healthcare Facebook page. It's nearly impossible to take a bad landscape of Alaska, the state is so gorgeous, the lighting is near perfection. 

In addition to my day-to-day work, I've been designing pin-able photo quotes for a few of Aliza's clients. This has inspired me to create a few for Holistica and I've been tweeting, pinning, and posting as I come up with them. 

This is today's quote:

Fact: Sir William Osler, famed physician and brilliant diagnostician, is so reknowned for his aphorisms they are known as Oslerisms.

My "journey" as a super-Auntie ends next week and it's back to Portland and the urban farm for me. I miss my life back in Oregon, but my experiences here have enriched my life as a person and physician. I can't wait to return and resume my Alaska life lessons.

Here are the rest of the Holisti-quotes (working title) to date. Feel free to share them, just leave the little cow and credit in the bottom corner. And be sure to let me know what you think!

Was Voltaire a fan of naturopathic medicine?
Ain't that a fact!
This quote is one of my favorites.

Friday, August 31, 2012

The Friday Four: The Free Food App Edition

True confession: I'm an app junkie. When I first got my iPhone, I swore up and down that I would never load up my phone with useless apps. At that time, I happened to be in my second year of residency, so I filled my phone with useful medical apps, such as ePocrates and Pepid. I still use those for work, but now I have a bunch of apps for when I travel, some for when I shop, several for social media, and even a game or two.

A couple of months ago at a friend's birthday dinner, a few of us were sitting around the table comparing phone apps. I remember thinking, "Hey, this could be a good post on my blog" but never got around to writing it. Thinking others might be as interested in what this naturopathic doctor has on her iPhone, I've decided to make this Friday Four about my four fav free food apps.

Holistica Healthcare: Four Fav Free Food Apps 

1. Dirty Dozen by Environmental Working Group
Are you worried about pesticide exposure when eating fruits and veggies but just can't financially afford to buy everything organic? What 12 organic foods do you absolutely want to buy? You might be surprised by the number one choice. I refer to this app every time I am in the grocery store. And, looking on the bright side of things, they also have the Clean 15 list.

2. Locavore by Hevva Corp.
Find farmers' markets and seasonal foods for your area. This app simply rocks.

3. ShopNoGMO by Plum Amazing
Includes tips to avoid GMOs, a guide to browse with non-GMO products, and a list of favorite foods that you can edit.

4. Whole Foods Market Recipes by Whole Foods Market Inc.
Another confession: I use this app when in Trader Joe's or New Seasons, too. This app has recipes for all courses, including many for special diets and even kid-friendly ones. We all know I'm lousy with following recipes, but it helps in a pinch when at the store and forgetting what ingredients are in fajita spice mix or ideas for a different type of meatloaf. There is also a feature where you enter three ingredients you have on hand and a recipe pops up! Cool.

Last night, I checked my emails before bed and found an article in the newsletter from Dr. Sara Gottfried: Top 5 Health Apps I Love. Dang, perfect timing! Dr. Gottfried is an integrative MD, a gynecologist from Berkeley, CA, who is an expert on women's hormones. You can follow her on Facebook and Twitter.

What are your favorite health related apps?

Friday, August 17, 2012

The Friday Four: Summertime Food Edition

Watermelon/Mint Slushie Fresca

Summer food is either made in a blender or it's cooked outdoors. No air conditioning does not lend itself to cooking inside when the temperature creeps up into three digits. Fortunately, Portland only has a week or so of extreme weather, then it goes back to pleasant, mild temperatures before the rains come.

This week's Friday Four features food. The first two can be made with a blender. Yay! No stove required!*

1.  Watermelon/Mint Slushie Fresca
A bit thicker than Agua Fresca, thinner than a smoothie, this recipe can be made with no added sugar. I used limeade because I didn't have any limes around the house, but feel free to substitute fresh lime juice for a less sweet, tangier drink. This recipe makes approximately 16 oz of slushie.

1 cup ice
1 teaspoon chopped mint, plus extra for garnish
1 tsp lime juice or splash of limeade
cubed watermelon (approximately the amount to fit loosely in a 16 oz glass. I made biggish cubes (1"x2")

Crush ice in blender. Add mint and lime(ade) and pulse a few times. Continue to pulse and add watermelon. Pour into glass, garnish with mint, and enjoy!

2. Classic Summertime Gazpacho.
I've posted this recipe before. I know there are many variations of gazpacho, including some that call for tomato juice instead of fresh tomatoes, but I stick with this tried and true recipe.

My family lived in Madrid, Spain when I was little, and summer in Spain meant gazpacho in the fridge. My mom gave me this recipe. She isn't a fan of blending the cucumber into the soup, she only uses it as garnish, but I blend in just a little. I'm sure gluten-free bread can be used in place of Italian bread, but I leave out that part of the recipe ever since giving up the gluten.

*This recipe does require using the stove to peel the tomatoes.

3 medium, ripe tomatoes, skin removed and cut into wedges (plus extra for garnish)
2 green peppers, seeded and sliced (plus extra for garnish)
1 cucumber (set 1/2 aside for garnish)
1 clove garlic
1/2 onion
2 TBSP extra virgin olive oil
2 TBSP tomato paste
2 TBSP red wine vinegar
4 cups water

Add all ingredients, except 3 cups of water, to blender. Blend, slowly adding the rest of the water. If you like thicker soup use less water or add pieces of Italian bread to the mixture and blend some more.

Serve chilled. Garnish with diced cucumber, green pepper, tomato, and bread cubes.

3. Fennel Salad
The yummiest summer salad ever. And one of the easiest. Goes with everything, from barbecue to salmon. I've seen similar recipes using zucchini, summer squash, even radishes!

1 large fennel bulb, cored and thinly sliced (use a mandoline if available)
juice of 1 lemon
splash of apple cider vinegar
2 TBSP extra virgin olive oil
dill, to taste
dry, aged cheese, such as parmesan/reggiano or asiago

Toss fennel in salad bowl with lemon juice, vinegar, and olive oil. Sprinkle with dill, toss. Mix in cheese right before serving (again, to taste). Serve chilled (it's better after sitting awhile in the lemon/vinegar/oil mix).

Salmon with grilled zucchini and fennel salad.
4. Grilled veggies
Veggies are delish, and grilled veggies are even more delish. No major prep work is needed, just a bit of olive oil and freshly ground pepper, then cook en papillote or directly on the grill. Works with asparagus, sweet potato, zucchini, you name it, it can be grilled. I tend to use foil when cooking in a packet; just keep an eye on the veg so as not to overcook.

Coop Part Deux

We added to our chicken coop a week or so after building it. As there wasn't a way to access the inside of the pen without dragging it away from the coop, we decided (after several chicken escapes) to create a couple of hatch doors. We also elevated the coop because the Pacific Northwest is rainy, our yard gets mushy, and we want the coop to stay as dry as possible.

The reclaimed lumber came from The ReBuilding Center in North Portland. We also picked up a window as one of the two hatch doors. When I went back the next day to pick up a mate for the window, all of the matching ones were gone. Lesson learned: if you see something you want at The ReBuilding Center, buy it then and there. I brought back some 2x2s and we fashioned a screen door for chicken access door #2.

Basically, we built a box large enough to support the coop and pen. The box was framed for two access doors and we wrapped hardware cloth along the inside. Spring locks were added to the doors for security and the coop and pen were secured to the box.

I may paint the top part of the pen, leaving the reclaimed lumber in its natural state. The chickens seem to be happier in their new pen, as the coop creates a shaded area for them to roll in the dirt.

Old-growth lumber from The
ReBuilding Center.

Coop access door #1.

We built a box.

Coop access door #2.

Pen on box.

Coop & pen. And the ladder I made.

The finished product!

Friday, August 10, 2012

The Friday Four

I just plumb forgot to write a Friday Four last week. No excuses. This week I'll be quick, I have a lot of housecleaning and laundry to catch up on. Tending to a chicken with a prolapse is hard work (don't ask).

Here are what I consider my top "favorite," or in this case, the most important links of the week that I posted on Facebook or Twitter:

1. When Partner has Breast Cancer, Men Find a Different Way to Cope. Via USNews Health.

2. The Latest Mammogram Controversy: Density. Mammograms may not be catching breast cancer in women with dense breasts. Additional imaging is needed, be it ultrasound (affordable) or MRI (expensive). Via The Wall Street Journal.

3. Tai Chi Benefits People With COPD. We already know it reduces anxiety, depression, chronic pain, improves balance, lowers blood pressure, increases energy...have you signed up for a class yet? Via WebMD.

4. Tweeting for Student Health Care Coverage. Arijit Guha (@Poop_Strong) is a rockstar. 'Nuff said. Via NY Times.

Okay, that's it from me. Oh, one more thing (two more?): I have a Tumblr page and I'm on Pinterest. The links are in the right hand column if you want to follow me (not to mention "Liking" me on Facebook!).

What was your favorite health story of the week?

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Chickens & Watermelon

How do chickens stay cool on a 98° day? Lots of shade, plenty of water, and a slice or two of cold watermelon.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Coop Du Jour

Where do I begin? Do I start with the tearing up of the lawn in the formal English garden to put in raised beds? Do I tell of the conversations where we dream of a not-so-urban farm? I guess I start with the text message.

July 12, 5:43pm
I received a text from the S.O. asking if we wanted to inherit three chickens that belong to The Kid. The hens were living on a horse ranch south of town, but the owner of the ranch no longer wanted to deal with chickens, so there was a mad dash to home the girls.

My response "Okay." Of course I wanted chickens. I have wanted chickens ever since I gave my hens to my neighbors when I moved to Indiana over two years ago. But I know the daily work and the overall expense that raising chickens entails. I know the early morning chores. I know the odds of breaking even after spending hundreds on a coop, food, and other supplies. I also know the entertainment value of watching chickens do chickeny things, not to mention the joy of collecting the eggs ("hey, we made food!").

"We need a coop with a run." I texted. "But, yeah!"

During dinner, we compiled a list of everything we would need for the chickens. A secure coop with a secure run, waterer, feeder, bedding, food, hardware cloth. I sketched out ideas for the perfect coop, but we had one in mind that we had seen at Coastal Farm and Ranch earlier this year.

We woke up early and drove to Coastal to pick up supplies for the ladies. The coop we wanted was gone. The others were outrageously expensive and cheaply made. All of the locks would need to be replaced and the coops needed to be predator-proofed. Fortunately, the dog houses were right near the coops, and there was one that was just under $100. With a few mods, it could be the perfect hen house for the girls. We grabbed some hardware cloth and a waterer and headed home to start the Extreme Coop Makeover.

When the S.O. went to the local hardware store for hinges, locks, screws, and wood, I swung by the Urban Farm Store for the rest of the supplies: Portland Layer, a metal feeding trough, oyster shell and grit. We finished the coop around 9pm. We were exhausted and the hens were relieved to not have to spend the night in the dog crate.

Enjoy the pics below, but this isn't the end of the story. Remember, I drew what I thought would be the perfect coop for our backyard farm. This coop was a wonderful start, but in order to open and shut the door and reach the food and water, the pen had to be dragged to and fro. Not an easy task should there only be one person around to care for the girls (such as a house/pet sitter) and this coop had to be easy

Coming soon: Coop Part Deux.

The girls in the dog kennel, on the ride to the big city.

The Perfect Home for Every Dog,
or chicken.

One plank was removed from each side
panel, to allow airflow through the coop.

Hardware cloth was stapled to the
inside of the side panel.

And voila! One side wall of the coop
is ready.

View of side panel and front of coop.

All the walls are up. Time to put in a floor.

1/2" hardware cloth was attached to the
bottom, using a side plank for support.

The coop came with 3 floor panels.
We used one for the floor under the 
nest box and one for the door.

The roof was attached with hinges along
the front wall, so the inside of the coop
can be easily accessed for eggs
and cleaning.

I later switched the door hinge so it
swings from the top.
Here comes the run. Most of the wood came from
scrap in the basement.

The (almost) finished coop and run.

Friday, July 27, 2012

The Friday Four

To say it's been crazy around here is an understatement. I'll be writing a blog about it soon, but the short of it is we are now owners of three adult chickens. The past two weeks have been a whirlwind of coop building and vet appointments. Yes, we took a chicken to the vet. Don't judge.

I've decided to get my foot back in the world of the Holistica blog by posting links to a few of my favorite articles from the past week. If you follow me on Twitter, you may have seen them already, or maybe you meant to go back and read them but forgot to. So, in no particular order, here are The Friday Four:

1. I'm a huge fan of online and app trainers and workout trackers. The New York Times has a personal training program that prepares runners for that big race, whether that means a 5k or a marathon. You pick your skill level and what method of training you want to follow. There are multiple trainers to pick from, unless you're doing a 5k, where there is just one option.

New York Times Run Well Training Program

2. Written by two naturopathic doctors, Food That Grows is a new cookbook that celebrates real, whole food. From making your own mayonnaise to roasting the perfect chicken, the recipes are simple, healthful, and delicious.

Food That Grows, by Tanda Cook, ND and Sarah Marshall, ND

3. And speaking of food, cucumbers rock.

Cucumber recipes from The New York Times.

4. Ionic footbaths. Bunk. That's right, you cannot detoxify through the soles of your feet by soaking them in a magic bath. Sure, it might feel great, but researchers the Canadian College of Naturopathic Medicine and The University of Toronto analyzed the water before and after the baths and...well you read the article and see for yourself.

Study Debunks Ionic Footbaths

Have a great weekend, y'all. I'll update you on the urban farm in a couple of days.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

New Year

It's hard to believe it's almost February! I finished the two year, hospital-based, naturopathic oncology residency in the Midwest at the end of December and have spent the last month re-acclimating to life in the Pacific Northwest. The job hunt is in the back of my mind (perhaps I should start moving it a bit more forward?), but I'm still trying to decide whether to join a practice or start my own. Decisions....

As I haven't posted anything in a while, so I figured I'd post links to my Facebook and Twitter pages. So much easier to post just a few words instead of an entire blog entry.

Follow/Fan/Like as you wish!

Holistica Healthcare on Facebook
Follow Holistica on Twitter