Friday, July 30, 2010

How I got to where I am journey...part 2

In order to continue with the story of my journey, I need to include the spiritual side, too.  My husband and I joined a new church when my third child, Danny, was about 6 months old.  We were looking for a diverse church because we are a mixed-race family and I wanted my kids to be around all types of people.  We found Celebration Church, pastored by Stovall and Kerri Weems.  It was exactly what we were looking for and just what we needed.  The first time we ever visited, May 2007, Christine Caine was the guest speaker.  I mentioned her in my first post and the A21 Campaign.  We were very excited and blessed when we became members of Celebration three months later.

One of the things that I've learned through Celebration is how to fast.  Fasting wasn't something that I'd ever done and I wasn't sure that it was something that I wanted to do.  Celebration church does a corporate(church-wide) fast every January called Awakening: 21 Days of Prayer and Fasting.  Fasting is a way to remove yourself from the world and get closer to God.  It works because all of the things that can get in the way and hinder your relationship with God are removed.  You have to put your flesh aside and your spirit becomes your focus. "For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit." (Romans 8:5)  Instead of eating you pray, worship, and read the bible.  I learned so much about my body and spirit during that first fast in January 2008.  In order to prepare, I had to choose which foods I was going to give up.  A traditional Daniel fast is what we did and that meant eating only fruits and vegetables and giving up meat and choice food.  Basically you can't eat anything that normally makes you feel good or comes from an animal.  It's a vegan diet in a way.  I gave up fast food and junk food along with meat.  I had to learn how to read nutrition labels and I had to learn how to cook vegetarian meals.  My husband and I not only gave up meat and our favorite foods, we also gave up smoking and television.   Giving up smoking and food at the same time was awesome and crazy!  The first day of the fast was a liquid day, which meant we drank water and juice all day!  The hunger pains overshadowed the nicotine cravings and we successfully gave up smoking for 2 years after that!  We allowed ourselves grains and legumes during the days when we could eat solid food  We also ate a lot of rice and beans, fresh fruit and vegetables.  On the liquid days, we enjoyed home-made pureed soups and fruit smoothies.  We'd never been so healthy before!  I was already on a quest to be healthy and the fast gave me a boost towards that goal.  I ended up losing 6 more pounds during the fast, which meant I had lost all of the baby weight from my previous 3 pregnancies!

At the end of the fast, during the last Friday prayer and worship service, God gave me the answer to one of my prayers.  I had been asking God about whether or not to have another child and He made it clear to me that night that it was time.  A lot of people said I was crazy but I believed and trusted in His promises to take care of us and provide for our family.  Six weeks later, I found out that I was pregnant!  I received a  lot of negative feedback from friends and family as I broke the news to them about this fourth baby.  I continued to trust God and tried not to let the negativity get me down.  I was going to enjoy the pregnancy and I had already fallen in love with the baby.  I continued exercising and eating healthy and everything went really well until I was 6 months pregnant.  I injured my back picking up Danny, who was two years old at the time.  I was unable to exercise after that and my doctor put me on painkillers and steroids for the pain and inflammation.  I continued to eat healthy and the remainder of the pregnancy went well.  During this time I was working as a preschool teacher, so I had off for the summer.  I taught in the Florida Voluntary Pre-Kindergarten  program for 4 year olds and when school started back up in the fall of 2008, it wasn't easy for me trying to handle working and taking care of a family while in my last trimester.  My plan was to work up until 38 weeks and return to work in February.  The baby was due the end of November.  That was not God's plan however, and I ended up leaving work a week earlier and returning in January.

Eva Victoria was born November 19th, 2008.  She was such a wonderful baby!  Of course we barely slept during her first two months and we were stressed from having three older children but Eva made it all worth it.  We enjoyed her and we still do.  She has been a joy to everyone around us and she has melted the hearts of everyone that had negative things to say when we announced the pregnancy.  I nursed her for about five months and it was so great!  We bonded really well. Eva bonded with her daddy and her siblings right away, too!   I was devastated when I had to go back to work early and I think I experienced post-partum depression too, even though I never sought out medical help (I should have, though).  It was hard adjusting to working. I had to leave Eva, get back in to the classroom, take care of my large family.  It was a lot to handle.  I was under a lot of stress, I starting eating poorly, and I started getting sick all the time.

I have to end here for now...the kids need me:-)
To Be Continued...

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Recipe of the Week: Non-GMO Bacon and Cheese Quiche

IMAG0065, originally uploaded by The Cooking Activist.

Libby’s Bacon and Cheese Quiche

You don't need all organic ingredients to make this a non-gmo dish. If you would like, you can get organic flour, salt, and seasonings.  Sea salt has less sodium than table salt and, in my opinion, it tastes better.

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
¼ tsp sea salt
1 stick cold unsalted organic butter, cut into pieces, plus 1 tablespoon
3 to 4 tablespoons very cold water, from the refrigerator

I usually make my dough by hand but I have also included directions for using a stand mixer.

By Hand:
Place the flour, butter, and salt in a medium sized bowl. Using 2 knives, with 2 hands, cut the butter into the flour in a scissor-like fashion until it resembles coarse crumbs. Add water to mixture 1 tablespoon at a time and gather the flour and butter crumbs into a ball.  Be careful not to overwork the dough because the butter can start to melt and the dough is very delicate.  If it gets too wet or sticky, sprinkle a little flour over the dough.

With Stand Mixer:
A stand mixer will work but can also turn the dough into a paste if you aren't careful.  In the bowl of a stand mixer, with a dough hook attachment, combine the flour, salt and the butter and process until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. While the motor is running, add water in tablespoon increments until dough comes together to form a ball. If the dough is too wet or sticky, sprinkle a little flour over the dough.

Transfer dough onto a lightly floured surface and shape into a 4-inch flat disk. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour. The dough can stay in the fridge for up to 3 days or it can be frozen for up to 1 month if you wrap it well to prevent freezer burn.  I typically use plastic wrap and a freezer bag when putting dough in the freezer.  When you are ready to use the dough, take it out of the fridge and roll out the pie crust, with a floured rolling pin, on a lightly floured surface to fit a deep 9 or 10-inch glass pie plate. Start in the middle of the dough and roll gently out toward the edges.  The dough needs to be circular in order to fit into the pie plate.  Place the dough in the pie plate and crimp edges decoratively, if you want. Refrigerate at least 30 minutes. Makes one bottom crust.

Quiche Filling
4 organic eggs
1 ½ cups organic cream
4 ounces chopped organic bacon
¼ tsp sea salt
¼ tsp nutmeg
½ tsp thyme
1/8 tsp pepper
4 ounces shredded sharp organic cheddar cheese
1 (9-10 inch) unbaked pie shell(recipe above)

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with foil and place the bacon slices on the sheet.  Place the bacon in the preheated oven and cook for about 10-12 minutes or until bacon is crispy and lightly browned.  Remove the bacon from the oven and place the pieces on a plate to cool. Turn the oven down to 375 degrees.  Break the eggs into a medium bowl and add the cream.  Using a wire whisk, hand whip eggs and cream until mixed well.  Add seasoning to eggs and stir.  Gently mix in the cheese.  Once the bacon has cooled, break the strips into small pieces and add them to the egg mixture.  Pour the egg mixture into the unbaked pie crust.  Bake for 45 minutes or until the top is golden brown and firm to the touch.  Serve.

Recommended Sides: Potato salad and/or spinach salad.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

How I got to where I am journey, part 1...

Yesterday was my first blog post!  I am new to this so I am going to try to be a bit more coherent today. :-)
I need to go back a ways to explain my motivation in tying together organic food and modern day slavery.  I don't need to start at the very beginning, I will start my story 4 years ago.
I had my 3rd child, Danny,  4 years ago, 2006,  and I was very unhealthy and overweight.  I loved all the bad stuff...sugar, fast food, and TV.  I was not physically active and I didn't take care of myself.  Throughout my first 3 pregnancies, I ate, a lot!  I loved McDonald's, buffalo wings, pizza, and tacos.  I drank soda instead of water, I ate candy instead of fruit, and french fries were my vegetables.  My idea of exercise was watching the contestants exercise on the show Biggest Loser while I was eating chips or ice cream. That 3rd pregnancy did not go well.  Danny was born almost 4 weeks early because my health was so bad.  My blood pressure sky-rocketed and it became an emergency situation.  I was 36 weeks pregnant and he had to be born quickly because we were both in danger. He ended up being the smallest of my 4 children and my recovery after having him was slow.  When my son Danny reached 1 I had not only not lost any weight, I had gained weight after he was born!  Around Thanksgiving, 2007, my mom took some pictures of me with my oldest daughter.  I was horrified when I saw the pictures.  I couldn't believe how bad I looked.  I very rarely let anyone take pictures of me and I didn't know what I looked like.  The image I saw in the mirror wasn't realistic, I guess.  I decided that I needed to do something about it, so I bought some exercise DVDs and started to change my eating habits.  The first thing to go was soda and fast food.  Everyday, before the changes, I ate take out for lunch and I snacked continuously throughout the day at work.  I worked in a preschool and there was always a birthday party going on!  Lots of doughnuts, cupcakes, cookies, chips, candy, etc. It's almost impossible to eat healthy in that environment.

I did a lot of research online about what foods are healthy, my mom and my sister have a lot of knowledge about healthy eating too, so they gave me advice. I counted calories, eliminated fast food, soda, and desserts.  I started bringing Lean Cuisine meals for lunch, I packed healthy snacks like granola, trail mix, and Kashi bars.  I exercised every night after work at 4pm and I was keeping my portion sizes small at dinner and not eating after 8pm at night.  It worked and I lost 28 pounds, it took about 10 months!  I felt great and I looked great!  I started going to the hair salon, wearing makeup, and buying more fashionable clothes.  Before I just wore T-shirts and jeans everywhere, with no makeup and with my hair in a ponytail.  Shortly after I lost the weight, I became pregnant with my 4th child and although I was happy to have another baby, I was upset that I was going to have to gain weight!  As a direct result of the changes I had made in my diet, my fourth pregnancy went really well!  I gained weight like I was supposed to, I ate very well.  I did crave Zaxby's hot wings and Larry's subs, but I was able to enjoy my favorites and still eating healthy the rest of the time.  When Eva was born, she was over 8 pounds, the biggest of my kids.  She was very healthy and still is.  Unfortunately, my health took a turn for the worst after she was born.

To Be Continued...

Monday, July 26, 2010

My Cause - Modern Day Slavery

I was introduced to the A21 Campaign ,, a couple of years ago, by it's founder, Christine Caine.  She spoke at the women's conference, that is held by my church every year, called Shine,  Christine Caine lives in Australia and she is one of the most dynamic and passionate speakers I've ever heard.  Her passion is Jesus Christ, and her heart is drawn to the hurting and enslaved women and children around the world.  My church, Celebration Church, supports so many wonderful organizations and I wanted to be involved in one.  I prayed and asked God what can I do?  At the Shine conference this year, Christine Caine was there talking about the A21 Campaign again.  I knew that I needed to get involved somehow.  My church hosted the Be Her Freedom Run in November of 2009.  I walked the 4.7 miles but I came in last.  The run is coming up again this fall, and I really wanted to be able to run this time, and not come in last!  The opportunity came up to join with a group of people from my church to train for the run.  I jumped at the chance to do it!  The group is called The Malinka Project, and we are raising money for the A21 campaign and training to run the 4.7 miles this fall.  Also as a supporter of the A21 campaign, another way that I make a difference is by fasting and praying on the 21st of each month.  This is the website for more information:

There are so many good organizations out there fighting modern day slavery.  I've been following an organization called Shoe Revolt, . Sarah Jessica Parker is one of the celebrities that has donated shoes to this organization.  The grand opening is August 1st, 2010.       Shoe Revolt’s profits, generated from the sale of shoes, will be donated to Girls Educational and Mentoring Services (GEMS), fund transitional housing, create scholarship opportunities and provide much needed mentoring and support for victims."  

Sex-trafficking isn't the only kind of slavery out there.  Slaves are forced to work in a variety of industries such as clothing and farming.  Stop Traffick Fashion is a good site for buying jewelry and clothes made by survivors of human trafficking, .  The Organic Consumers Association supports Fair Trade, , which raises awareness for slavery of and abuse of farm workers.  This is one of the reasons why I started buying organic food.

The links that I've posted will take you to websites that can give you information to the social injustice around the world.  These types of things don't just happen in other countries, but they are occurring in the United States and every country around the world.  The purchases you make, whether for food, clothing, and other products help fund the companies that take advantage of and enslave human beings.  Ignorance is not bliss, ignorance is a crime that condemns others to live the life of a slave.