Dorm Eating: Fermented Foods

Did you know that you can ferment foods in your dorm room? Yeah! It is actually super easy. You may find it easier to get these things started at home or in the all-dorm kitchen, but if you are feeling adventurous, read on for some good resources on creating probiotic rich foods in your dorm. After all, making fermented foods is much cheaper than buying probiotic supplements!

Dorm Eating: Fermented Foods

Yogurt, sauerkraut, fermented vegetables, kombucha, kefir, so many to choose from! The great thing is that all that is needed is counter space, a mini fridge, and mason jars. Well, and ingredients, too. Rubber bands, cloths, strainers, and plates (to collect overflow) may be useful for some of the recipes.

Well, the fermented vegetables need a cutting board, so we’ll start with those. Fermented vegetables, of any kind, are a great snack. They have probiotics, give a salty crunch, and will last for quite a while in the refrigerator. Get instructions for lacto-fermented vegetables – using just water and salt!

Yogurt is a fermented food that you have to be careful with. There are many types of starters, so be sure to choose a starter that ferments at room temperature (possibly near a heater, depending on what room temp is for you). You will need a matsoni starter, milk, and mason jars. This easiest yogurt recipe ever has two steps. Starters are easy to maintain and this recipe doesn’t require a ton of prep work – great for a busy student!

Milk and water kefir are probiotic beverages. I would probably recommend water kefir to college students as it is cheaper and easier to obtain (just make sure you filter it), but you can do whatever you want! Here are instructions for both milk and water kefir.

Kombucha seems to be the new big thing now. However, while I have never purchased it, I have heard the store bought versions aren’t too hot. So make your own! This will require a method of boiling water, tea, sugar, and a scoby with starter. Fancy bottle may be fun, but just a mason jar will work, too. Keep it simple. That’s what college food is about. Learn all about making kombucha here.

Do you make any of these fermented foods and drinks? I would love to hear from you no matter what stage of life you’re in, but especially if you are in college!

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What do you want to win?

That’s right! I’m doing a giveaway! Or rather, I am going to be part of a large group giveaway, which means you could potentially win a really super awesome prize!

And to make this giveaway even more enticing to you, you get to vote on what prize you would like to win! Good luck choosing, I would love almost all of these!

• $350 Pre-paid amazon gift card
KitchenAid Mixer
Canon Rebel
Vitamix
iPad Mini

Let me know in the comments and I will be sure to pass it on! You have until Friday, October 25 to vote.

 

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Getting Started with Real Food, Part 1 – Meal Plans

As anyone who has been following my Facebook page or this blog has probably noticed, but what started out as a chemical-free, green living blog has become very interested in real food. Learning about real food has not been easy, and I am gobbling up all the resources I can find. I bought multiple cookbooks over the summer, although I am struggling to find cookbooks with enough nightshade- and bean-free recipes. Currently there is a stack of 7 library books sitting next to my chair on clean eating, healing with food, and the science behind paleo. I have requested 3 other books, and have 2 pre-ordered.

Yeah, I’m into resources right now. Since I have not thoroughly read most of them yet, you will have to wait for recommendations.

I have, however, come across a few really helpful resources that are not in book form. These are nice because they are much quicker to go through and easier to put into practice. One has many videos associated with it, so it can teach me things that no book can (like how to chop stuff).

One resource that I find incredibly helpful is meal plans. Meal plans can be found from a variety of resources, and I really enjoy them. 2 months of figuring things out on my own for my elimination diet was a bit too much for me. Now, I am so happy to have found so many meal plans to choose from, adapt, and play with. With these plans, I feel good about the food I am eating. I don’t have to worry about whether I am getting a good balance as much.

While there are some meal plans I am looking forward to that have no been published yet, I have 3 resources for you that I hope you enjoy.

Real Food Meal Plans

My personal meal plans: These are the meal plans I created for my elimination diet. They are available for free, but you get what you pay for. If you wish to do a similar elimination diet, please take a look. But note that while there are links to online recipes, many of the meals listed come from cookbooks that I link to. These were also my first try at making meal plans, so I make no promises regarding quality. I enjoyed them, though!

Paleo Book Meal Plans: Many paleo books have meal plans, complete with recipes for all dishes. So that is definitely a step up from what I have to offer. Many of these plans take real life into consideration. They plan for leftovers, freezing, and batch cooking. Many of them even include shopping lists.

The meal plan that I have thoroughly read (but not tried) is the meal plan from the Paleo Autoimmune Cookbook. This is a very strict diet for those with autoimmune disease, and it is meant to act as the first stage of an elimination diet. Mickey walks you through the diet and provides shopping lists for each week on the meal plan. Her goal is to make this protocol as easy as possible. If that sounds like something you need, I highly recommend it.

Holistic Squid Meal Plans: These are real food meal plans that are great for people who just need ideas and recipes to get started. The meal plans include 5 dinners with recipes large enough to provide plenty of leftovers. She also includes additional recipes to supplement the dinners. Within the meal plans she also plans out the steps and time spent in the kitchen to help you schedule as well as gives a detailed shopping list. Very useful!

Visit her sales page to get a free sample. She offers both real food (with gluten-free options) and paleo (with primal option) meal plan subscriptions for the time period that suits you. VGN premium members can get 25% off.

Stay tuned – on Thursday I will discuss another invaluable resource for getting started on real food: online courses.

PAID ENDORSEMENT DISCLOSURE: In order for me to support my blogging activities, I may receive monetary compensation or other types of remuneration for my endorsement, recommendation, testimonial and/or link to any products or services from this blog. For more information, click here.
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Sunday Reflections: How I Experience God

In previous weeks, I have mentioned being part of Christian organizations on my college campus. These are important to me, as they breed community, where people actually want to get to know you outside of the 1 hour meeting each week. For example, the org I’m currently in does dinner before and chatting for over an hour after our weekly talk.

However, I also mentioned feeling like an outsider and finding a lot of fake friends in an old org. Even in the current one, where I feel so welcome, I still struggle with feeling like an outsider. These people have been this one denomination of Christian their whole life, and they were raised in devout families. My family never went to church and I didn’t even believe in God until 4 years ago…

I just don’t know how these things work. I don’t know how to pray or sometimes even how to talk to these people. I love them, but even when we are open about our shortcomings and faith, I still feel like I’m so much worse at all of this than them.

But that’s okay. It’s okay that I don’t “feel the Lord’s presence” all the time. It’s okay that I don’t know how to pray. I’m growing and I’m finding my own way to experience not just God, but spirituality as a whole.

I will never forgot the first time I truly felt “there is something greater than this.” It was about 5-6 months after I first started to believe in a god. I was at the summer camp I went to from the ages of 14-16, but now I was 18 and a counselor. I will talk about this camp more in a couple weeks. It was during training week, so it was just counselors. Most of us were 18-20, and many of us had been friends as campers. Towards the end of the week, we were all gathered around a fire on “Main Campus.” It was night and the stars were beautiful, as one would expect up north. I was talking with friends and the 20-year-old red-head I was mildly obsessed with was playing guitar. We occasionally sang along with him. That night I was so overcome with this sense of peace and wonder. I can not describe it, but I was just so content in that moment. There was something there beyond us teenagers.

The second time was just a few months later during my first week at college. I was at a Cloud Cult concert. If you have never listened to Cloud Cult, do it. Now. Listen to their album “Light Chasers.” This album is basically entirely about the search for the meaning of life, and this is the album for which they were touring at the time. Before I found a higher power with nature, music, and friends. Now, I found it standing in a dark club with bass pounding into my chest as I listened to what is still some of the most beautiful music I know. I had new friends standing around me, but in this moment I was alone, just me and the band.

Sometimes I feel a surge of spirituality while singing a hymn or worship song, but in general I rarely feel anything in church or Bible study or while praying. I feel it in these sudden moments where I am truly living and feeling.

I do not seek out these moments enough.

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What I Learned: I Love Autoimmunity!

Actually, no I don’t. I hate autoimmunity. But I love learning about it!

Autoimmunity is something I have been aware of for a while, since I started combating my eczema with food and since my mom was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis. This semester, I have learned hypothyroidism, which I am at risk for, can be related to autoimmunity, I’ve started reading about the paleo autoimmune protocol, and I am taking an immunology class.

An assignment for my immunology class was to write a paper, about any topic, geared towards a non-science audience. I immediately knew I wanted to write about autoimmunity. But the topic was so huge! I didn’t know where to start.

I ended up writing a paper on rheumatoid arthritis. I hit 4 pages without even trying. The paper was supposed to be 3-5 pages, and I usually struggle to hit the minimum page requirement. I was really excited to write about this topic! I wrote a huge section on natural treatments, but really I only scratched the surface.

The research is something I do for fun. Right now I am learning about topics I am interested on a surface level, but my immunology class forces me to go deeper into the mechanisms. While I am not about to make my whole blog turn into an immunology class, I do hope to share more about what I am learning, starting with posting my paper (in two parts) in a week or two.

Are you interested in any aspect of autoimmunity or immunology that you would like me to address? I would hate to bore you with my geeking out. 🙂

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Homesteading Love

One of my life dreams is to homestead. One day I would love to live in a small house on a few acres. I want to raise chickens for fresh eggs and goats for milk (and they eat buckthorn!). I want a large vegetable garden for fresh vegetables produced in ways I trust. I want to get honey and beeswax from the bees my fiance (who will be my husband then!) tends. Not me, because I’m afraid of bees. I want to make food from the earth and preserve it for the winter.

white chicken

Chickens! (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This dream is a long ways off from fruition. I have the rest of the year in undergrad, then four or five years of professional school. I will have to work for at least a few years before we’ll be ready for a full time homestead. But I can dream and read about other homesteaders.

Here are some fun homesteading posts I’ve enjoyed from other bloggers:

General

Life on the Farm Ain’t Laid Back from The Elliot Homestead

Your Custom Homestead (click for my review) by Jill Winger

Gardening

DIY Spinning Composter from Weed Em and Reap

Attracting Beneficial Insects to Your Garden from Yearning and Learning

Where to Buy Seeds from Five Little Homesteaders

30 Minute, 30 Dollar Raised Bed from Five Little Homesteaders

Preserving the Harvest

Water Bath Canning Tips for True Beginners from Five Little Homesteaders

Super Simple Refrigerator Pickles from Five Little Homesteaders

How to Render Lard from Yearning and Learning

Goats

Guide to Raising and Milking Goats from Weed Em and Reap

Chickens

Raising Backyard Chickens from Live Simple

5 Insider Tricks for Easy Backyard Chickens from Blue Yurt Farms

Building a Chicken Coop from Scratch from Live Simply

Do any of you homestead? Or would you like to some day? I’d love to hear your story!

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Clean Eating Update

I started my elimination diet at the end of May and completed it about 60 days later. For a few weeks, I did a very good job of only eating real food with clean ingredients. Towards the end of the summer, though, things started to go down hill. I returned to school with a determination to eat well. That lasted, oh, a week.

I really struggled with the lack of options in my school’s cafeteria. The pasta was white, and the only nightshade-free sauces are cream-based. The tortilla and Asian lines are filled with nightshade spices. The “home” line (usually my favorite” almost always has potatoes or tomato sauces. The “grains” line, the go-to line for clean food, always has tomatoes in it. The soups always have tomatoes.

Curse you, tomatoes, for being so healthy for people without sensitivities!

What does that leave me? A few types of fruit, yogurt, salad, roasted broccoli and zucchini, two types of meat, and sandwiches with questionable bread. On the weekends I can have eggs.

So, yeah, that didn’t happen. I quickly started eating white pasta and desserts again. I had low energy and I didn’t feel good about myself, especially since I was gaining weight, but I couldn’t stop. I had awakened the carb monster again. My eczema thankfully didn’t flare, but it I had a few patches that stopped healing. And by last week, my eating was getting so sloppy that I started to notice problems with my skin.

I had been planning on detoxing over my fall break and then testing potatoes, but my eating had become enough of a problem, I decided to just stick to the detox. I ate clean meals that I had prepared at the end of the summer – stews, soups, and smoothies – as well as some meat and spaghetti squash I made up. I didn’t feel great, but I felt better about myself and I noticed changes in my body that made me feel better.

I have only been back at school for two days, now, but my will power has already triumphed a few times. I haven’t been perfect, but I have avoided the foods most dangerous to my self control.  I am feeling good about myself, and I really hope to continue improving.

More than anything, I am looking forward to finally having my own place, and being able to prepare my own food.

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Dorm Eating: “Kitchen” Space

Today I thought it would be fun to show you my “kitchen space” in my dorm room. When you are as restricted in space and equipment as a dorm room, you have to get creative!

Here is my “pantry.” We have the same type of desk in most of the dorms, so I have made a habit of keeping all my food in the large bottom drawer. Highlights: all of my oatmeal ingredients, dried fruit, peanuts, and apple cider vinegar.

Dorm PantryMy dishes just live on my desk:

Dorm CupboardOf course, I have to have a dorm fridge. I would probably recommend buying one over renting one. While it depends on the price to rent through your college versus the price of the fridge you would buy, buying a fridge will likely be cheaper than renting for 4 years.

What I did was even better, though. Will’s sister graduated from college the year before I graduated from high school, so I was allowed to take her old mini-fridge to school. Buying/borrowing used is a great option!

Right now it is just being used to store extra beauty supplies, cheese and chocolate.

Dorm Fridge

Oh, look! An apple I forgot about!

And here is my work space: the top of my fridge. Here is where my hot pot, filtered water pitcher, tea, and mug hang out. It’s a small space, but it serve my purposes. 🙂

Dorm CounterI hope you enjoyed my “kitchen” tour! One day I’ll have a real one to show you!

 

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