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.