Saturday, December 31, 2011

Spicy Lime Cabbage

Last night I made this Spicy Lime Cabbage, adapted from this recipe from the kitchen. If there's one thing you make this week, make this cabbage - it's that good! I'm telling you! (Especially if you've made a New Year's resolution to eat healthier, this is the perfect recipe to incorporate into your plan.) Not to mention how gorgeous and colorful it is. The deep purple of the cabbage and lovely green of the avocado just look beautiful together. Without further ado, the recipe:

Spicy Lime Cabbage
1 head purple cabbage
2 avocados, diced
Juice of 3 limes
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
Salt to taste
1/2 teaspoon cayenne (the secret ingredient that made this so good!)
1/4 teaspoon honey (or sweetener of choice)
  • Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Cut cabbage into 8 equal wedges and brush with olive oil. Bake for about an hour.
  • While cabbage is baking, make the dressing: Whisk together lime juice, olive oil, garlic, salt, cayenne, and honey.
  • Drizzle dressing over cabbage when it's finished cooking, and top each serving with avocado.
  • Devour.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Neat Things

Here are a few things I've been really enjoying lately that I wanted to share with you!

This blog: Progressive Pioneer. Just her Bookshelf on the right side of her blog had me hooked!

Clint introduced me to the band Future of Forestry. It's made up of a Native American guy, a Caucasian guy, and an Asian girl. I love all their layers in every sense of the word.

Thrive: The Vegan Nutrition Guide to Optimal Performance in Sports and Life. I just got this book with an gift card I had, and it's awesome! Brendan Brazier is a professional triathlete and two-time ultra marathon champion, and he's vegan. He explains how it all works in this book. (You don't have to be an elite athlete to benefit from what he has to say. In fact, he doesn't talk much about obtaining peak athletic performance; it's more about maintaining optimal health.) It's easy to read and simple to understand. Check it out, I think you'll love it!

What new things have you discovered lately?

Friday, December 23, 2011

Elimination Communication (Part 2) . . . What's the Beeswax?

As promised, here is the second installment in the Beeswax posts on Elimination Communication. If you missed the first post, you can find it here. For those of you who are already caught up, enjoy this interview with my very dear friend and EC expert, Maggy Smith, mother to three-month-old Fern!

When did you begin EC with your daughter?
We started when she was two months old.

What attracted you to EC?
I always like to think about how parents raise their children in other cultures, where they may not have what we have or view life the way we do. I realized that I had never seen a diaper while traveling and living in developing countries . . . and I also never saw poopy moms! Also, after being joined at the hip for two months with Fern, I realized that I already knew so many of her cues for "normal" baby stuff like burping, sleeping, hunger, etc., so I started to see if I could recognize cues for peeing and pooping. The cues were basically no-brainers and so easy to pick up on. It's a simple idea, simple to execute, and I'm a simple kind of mama.

What's the most difficult thing about EC?
I think the hardest thing is when I realize Fern is doing everything short of yelling in my ear, "I have to pee!" and I still miss it . . . because I was being distracted from her by something silly like the computer or not wanting to interrupt someone to take her to go potty. It's hard when I realize how much I ignore her. If I'm too preoccupied, I just stuff the boob in her mouth when she starts to squawk without asking myself why she's really squawking.

EC is also more difficult at night. Taking her to pee isn't the difficult part, but thinking in the fog of midnight mothering and realizing that no, she doesn't have to burp, she's asking to use the potty! What the books and blogs say about EC is so true - babies do not want to soil their nest! I usually see it in hindsight, but the times when Fern is the most restless and nursing like a maniac in the middle of the night is actually when she is trying to tell me to put her over her potty!

What is the biggest reward?
Hands down the biggest reward is knowing my baby better. She is one happy girl when she tells me she has to pee, and I meet her need . . . and that makes me one happy mama.

Also, she pooped in the potty at our favorite coffee shop and just generally uses public restrooms as she desires. It makes going out in public so much easier!

What's the most common reaction you get from people who haven't heard of this before?
One friend of mine said, "WHAT?! That's amazing! I've never heard of that!" but most people generally say something like, "Oh . . . hmmm . . . that's interesting," while scratching their head. But when I whip her cloth diaper off and she poops a big one in her potty, they usually sing a different tune. Of course there are always the people who think I'm a nut in general and write this off as being nutty, but I think that if these people stopped to learn about EC, they'd be wishing they had known about it for their own children. I will say that it isn't for everyone; our culture is different than the many cultures that have communicated with their babies in this way since the beginning. In our culture, it works best for parents who want to be with their children in a more communicative way. This can still happen when both parents work outside the home, but it's an attitude centered around being together as a family, not raising a young inconvenience, which is sadly the attitude promoted in our society.

Have you noticed any changes in Fern since you began EC?
Not really. It's natural for her, and she doesn't think twice about it. Although she is very happy when I hear her and act on it. The changes are mostly in me. It's like a new tool to use to know her better. I know that when she becomes what people in our culture call "fussy," she probably has to use the bathroom! (I hate the word fussy. I believe fussiness in general is a baby trying to communicate a need that is going unmet, leading to major frustration on the baby's part!)
How does EC fit in with your overall parenting philosophy?
This is another thing I love about it; my husband and I are 24-hour parents. That includes bathroom time. Knowing Fern so well that we know when she has to pee is amazing. Fern is with us constantly. We think of her as a happy addition to the two of us, not a burden. We wear her everywhere we go - we actually don't even have a stroller! I wear her in the house almost constantly, and she sleeps next to me in bed every night. Basically we practice attachment parenting, which works well for all three of us.

What advice would you offer to parents wanting to begin EC with their child?
Hold your baby over the potty after she wakes up in the morning, when you go to change the diaper, and ten minutes or so after nursing, after a nap, and before bed. You'll be surprised as how many times your baby will pee in the potty. Not always, but you'll see! Hold the baby against your chest, with your hands under her thighs, lifting them up closer to her chest, butt over the potty. That position is helpful for eliminating, and it is also a great cue for them to know, "Hey, it's time!" When they go, choose cue words to help them learn to connect the word with what they're doing. While Fern pees, we say "Pssssssssss," and while she's pooping we grunt and flex our stomach muscles so she feels them. Those are her cues. Soon she'll associate them with what she is doing. You can start by just using timing to learn your baby's cues and when she generally potties, but even by letting her try those times, or even just some of them, you'll start to learn her signs. And you'll see when she has a wet diaper and when you maybe could have pottied her.

Read Diaper Free for more detailed info and suggestions, and be ok with being geeked out of your mind that your little one peed in a potty! Don't be embarrassed to tell other parents how rad your kid is, cause theirs can be too! And talking about it is the best way for parents in our culture to learn about it, and to see what it could mean for their family.

Last piece of advice, don't hold your baby over the sink to potty unless you're SURE she doesn't have to poop. Learned that one the hard way.

I hope you enjoyed and benefited from the first ever Ear to the Earth interview! If you have any other questions for Maggy and Fern, just leave them in a comment. I'll be happy to pass them along and then get back to you with more of her expertise!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Marbled Banana Bread

Yum. This bread is good. And easy. And vegan. The chocolate and banana make a delicious combination. You could also add walnuts or dried cherries or whatever other additions your heart desires!
Make your own with this recipe from Post Punk Kitchen. I used olive oil where they used canola oil and whole wheat flour where they used all purpose flour, which is probably why my loaf looks darker and denser than theirs. And you should probably double this recipe and make two loaves instead of one - I wish I would have!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Oh Dreary Day

This is the second day in a row for gray, cloudy, rainy weather here, and it makes it so hard to get anything accomplished! Weather like this makes me want to lay on the couch watching movies and eating bonbons all day. (P.S., the trailer for The Hobbit came out today! I don't know how Clint and I are going to wait another whole year for the movie's actual release!) To try to avoid doing that, I instead whipped up this Wild Rice Salad with Oranges and Roasted Beets this morning and tucked it away in the fridge for lunch.
There's no cure for the doldrums like whole, fresh foods! I hope you're finding space amidst all the sweet holiday treats for some wholesome goodness like this salad.

In the continuing saga of the Ross household appliance meltdown, the part we needed for the washer arrived, so Clint dutifully went to replace the broken part this morning, only to find that the brilliant company sent us the wrong part! So now my poor husband is stuck out in the cold garage trying to rewire the wrong part to fit our washer. Something that should have taken 20 minutes to fix is now extending to an unforeseeable amount of time, and all the while our laundry pile continues its silent invasion of the house . . .

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Vegan IceDream

I don't know about you, but I'm so over junk food right now. We all like to indulge a little (or a lot) over the holidays, and every time I do, it's a big fat reminder of why I eat and love a whole foods plant based diet. The slice after slice of pecan pie, dairy lurking in everything, and processed foods I've been consuming over the past week just make me feel icky. There's no other way to describe it. Lethargic, unmotivated, foggy thinking, grouchy. Ugh. So enough was enough - it was time to eat real food again, but my biggest downfall with food is my infamous, insatiable sweet tooth! (Who's with me?!) In my desperation to satisfy my sugar cravings while still maintaining a wholesome diet, I came up with my new favorite recipe, Vegan IceDream.
So simple. So satisfying. Endless combinations and variations. Single serving size. Could it be any more perfect?

Vegan IceDream
2 frozen bananas
3 tablespoons (or more) nut butter of choice (I've never actually measured it)
Agave (or sweetener of choice) to taste
  • Blend all in food processor to the consistency of soft serve ice cream. Devour.
This is just the base. You can take it anywhere from here! In the photo above I added fair trade cocoa powder, hemp seeds, and frozen blueberries for a chocolate treat. I've topped it with my morning granola. You could add walnuts and dried cherries. A fruit syrup. Baked apples and pears. The possibilities are endless! Anything you would put on an ice cream sundae is fair game! I really hope you make this, see how easy and delicious it is, and share it with everyone you know.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Elimination Communication (Part 1) . . . What's the Beeswax?

I'm celebrating the recent arrival of our infant potty (pictured above) with a special Beeswax post about Elimination Communication (EC)! Ever heard of it? EC (also called Natural Infant Hygiene) is a way of communicating with your baby/infant about his or her elimination needs, and it goes right along with the philosophies of attachment parenting, babywearing, co-sleeping, breastfeeding on demand, etc.

I learned about EC from the book Diaper Free: The Gentle Wisdom of Natural Infant Hygiene, by Ingrid Bauer. If you're at all interested in learning more, I would highly recommend this book!

This is how the author describes EC: "Fundamentally, Natural Infant Hygiene is about responding to the needs of your baby. Everything else about it - avoiding diapers, saving money, environmental benefits, a dry bed, less work - is secondary . . . Communicating with an infant about elimination is not a linear process focused on teaching a baby toilet independence. Just as the focus of breastfeeding is to nourish rather than to wean, Natural Infant Hygiene is a way of responding to a baby's needs today, not merely preparation for future toilet use."

I love the gentle, caring, and communicative nature of EC, and the fact that your baby can be toilet independent by one year of age! But how does it work? Basically, just as mothers learn their babies' cues when they're hungry, need comfort, etc., the EC mother learns her baby's signals for elimination needs as well. When your baby needs to go, you hold her over a potty, make the cueing sound you've established, and she goes right into the potty! But don't take my word for it - our little peanut is still cooking, so I haven't gotten to put it into practice yet. But my dear friend Maggy has! She has agreed to an interview to share with us about her experience with EC with her three month old baby Fern. Stay tuned for Elimination Communication (Part 2) for her expert advice!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011


Time is ticking away! Baby ________ is almost here and my anticipation is mounting daily, if not hourly! I've been frantically reading last-minute books, packing hospital bags, resting some each day, discussing middle names, spending time with Clint (he's off till spring semester!), and all in all just tying up loose ends. These are some of the results of all the activity.

This adorable cloud and raindrop mobile came straight from Maggy. She made one just like it and gave me all her leftover supplies. Now that it's up, I see that I need to add one or two more raindrops, but how cute is it?

I made that changing pad cover with leftover material from the curtains and a scrap of fabric Maggy gave me. Those little fabric baskets toward the corner hold all her diapers, and Clint installed the picture frame shelf my parents brought from my old bedroom which I can't wait to fill with photos of our baby girl.

I made this bunting out of a wool blanket I had and scrap fabric. I think it's so fun and celebratory!

There are a few more things I've made, but that's all I have photos of now. More coming soon!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Dig In

I added a new feature to the blog today! There's a new tab at the top called "Dig In, Learn More." It's a list of my favorite books, articles, documentaries, and other resources I've learned from and would recommend to others. Most of them are related to subjects we frequently discuss here on Ear to the Earth. Browse through it sometime and let me know what you think! I hope you find something that interests you!

Monday, December 12, 2011

Soap Nuts

Ever heard of soap nuts? You can see what they look like there, in the picture. I just got some in the mail today, from my favorite website ever, YumUniverse. Soap nuts are actually a fruit with a shell that contains saponins. Saponins are plant glucosides that create a soapy substance when mixed with water. They make suds! All you have to do is put 5 or 6 soap nuts inside one of those little muslin bags shown in the photo and toss it in with your laundry  - that's it! They'll last for 5 or 6 loads, then you can compost them! No packaging, no chemicals, no mystery ingredients, no waste. Just soap nuts. (You can read more about them here.) I purchased a large kit, which contains enough soap nuts for 185 loads of laundry, and it cost about $30 with shipping and everything. Now that's my kind of cleaning product. I'll be adding a couple drops of lavender and lemon essential oils to the muslin bags to give my laundry a fresh scent, but you can use any combination you like or leave it scent-free. I ordered these back in November or something, but Heather (founder of YU) was out of stock, so as a thank you for my patience she threw in two dryer pillows for free! Just another reason I absolutely adore YumUniverse. It smells like there's lavender and calendula in there - two of my favorite herbs! Now off to a test load of laundry . . .

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Grandma Susan's Birthday Dinner

Well, yesterday was Grandma Susan's birthday, so we had her over for dinner to celebrate! (Grandpa Jake had to work, so he couldn't join in the festivities.) I was super excited about the menu, and the scents emanating from my kitchen were nothing short of glorious. I've been trying not to make so many soups lately, but I just couldn't resist this Vegan Cream of Broccoli Soup. "Vegan and creamy," you ask? Well yes, the creaminess comes from cashew cream, not scary processed vegan dairy substitutes, which means this soup is so packed with nutrition it's not even funny.

Now a good soup is certainly nothing to scoff at, but let's admit, you're not going to win any beauty awards with  plain bowl of blended mush. But these Curried Lentil, Spinach, and Brown Rice Balls are another story. Impressive, eh? They're actually not difficult to make at all and are full of nutritional goodness as well! The only suggestion I would add to the original recipe is to pop them into a warm oven for a few minutes before serving. By the time you finish forming them they're almost to room temperature, and a lukewarm dinner isn't very appetizing.

And finally, the birthday dessert was Lemon Cheesecake Cups. I rarely post recipes that have no nutritionally redeeming value because I want to spread health and spur others on in making better choices, not spread sickness and disease, but I'm also not against a completely superfluous treat now and again! And birthdays are perfect times for these treats! So, let me share with you this completely delectable dessert. If you love lemon and you love cheesecake, you're in for a real treat!

These are actually better the next day, so it's a great dessert to make ahead! This made 11 muffin cups for me. It would have made 12, but I had to test for quality control along the way :)

Lemon Cheesecake Cups
1/2 cup graham cracker crumbs
1/4 cup finely chopped nuts (I used walnuts)
1/8 cup sugar
1/6 cup butter, melted

16 ounces cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup sugar
2 eggs
2 1/2 tablespoons lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 cup sour cream
1/8 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 1/2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • In bowl, combine crumbs, nuts, and sugar. Stir in butter. Press into muffin tin and set aside.
  • Beat together cream cheese and sugar till smooth. Add eggs, beating on low speed just till combined. Add lemon juice and vanilla; beat just till blended. Pour into crust.
  • Bake at 335 degrees for 30 min or till center is almost set. Remove from oven and let stand 5 minutes. Combine topping ingredients; spread over filling. Return to oven for 5 minutes. Cool an hour and refrigerate overnight.
  • (Next time I would probably line my muffin cups with parchment paper or something. These didn't come out very cleanly. I'm not one to turn down cheesecake just because it's a little rough around the edges, but it would have been more presentable with a cleaner release from the muffin tin.)

Sunday, December 4, 2011


Well, our baby is due next month. "Hooray!" and "Ahh!" at the same time! It suddenly seems like there isn't enough time left to get everything done, so in between frequent resting breaks I've been chipping away at the ever-growing, never-diminishing, Baby To-Do list.

Make blackout curtains: check. Paint wall behind curtains: check. (I mixed the green color myself from the guacamole we used in the dining room and didn't get it quite as light as I wanted. I meant to make it the same green color as in the third picture, so it may eventually get repainted. For now though, I have to move on to other things.) You can also see the adorable rug Grandma Darla (my mom) got us while she was here and the quilt that was made for my sister when she was a baby. We don't have a mattress for the crib yet, but we probably won't use it for the first six months or so since our baby will be sleeping in a co-sleeper attached to our bed. More on that later.

Grandma Darla also brought down this antique buffet with the idea to turn it into a dresser/changing table. Here's the "before."

Re-paint buffet: check. Here it is now. Do you love it as much as I do? It's easily my favorite piece of furniture in the house. I keep trying to find excuses to go into the room just so I can look at it.

There's so much more on the list! Fun things like "finish mobile" and not so fun things like "find pediatrician." Fun or not though, they all must be accomplished SOON!

Wednesday, November 30, 2011


I have to say this may have been my favorite Thanksgiving ever. My parents and brother came from Indiana and stayed with us for the weekend, and Clint's dad joined us for the Thanksgiving day meal. The whole weekend was such a fun, relaxed time, just soaking up the treat of spending time together, which happens far less than we wish since we live so far away. Plus, it's just such an exciting time for all of us since our little girl is due in 5 weeks now!

It seemed to be an especially good time with my mom. I've never seen her so excited before, and it's so neat to share this time and experience with her. My view and understanding of her and our relationship has opened up to me in a whole new way! I appreciate now more than ever her mothering of me and understand so much more now the love of a parent for a child, something impossible to comprehend until becoming a parent yourself.

Truly, the time spent together was the best part for me, but I can't blog about Thanksgiving without touching on the food! I helped my dad get the turkey in the oven. It was my first time serving a whole turkey so he majorly helped with that. We also had a big spinach salad with grapes, red and yellow bell peppers, pecans, beets, and what I'm adopting as the Ross House Dressing. Recipe below. We also had sauteed green beans with leeks, a vegan twice baked sweet potato dish, pumpkin soup, and rolls my family brought down from an Amish bakery. For dessert we had vegan pumpkin cupcakes from a local bakery that are to die for. Everyone loved them.

It was a small menu because there were only six of us, and I didn't want to be so worn out from cooking that I couldn't enjoy the day. We all managed to stuff ourselves though and a good time was had by all!

Ross House Dressing
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons sugar
Juice of 1 lemon
1-2 cloves crushed garlic
1 squirt yellow mustard

Monday, November 21, 2011

Lemony Quinoa, Broccoli, Arugula, and Feta

Yum. That's a photo of my lunch from today. I had a little bit of a blood sugar thing this morning after eating only pineapple for breakfast, so this hearty, warm salad was just what I needed! It's Quinoa with Roasted Broccoli, Arugula, & Feta from I didn't have any arugula so I subbed chopped collards. I love the flavor combination of the lemony dressing with the roasted red pepper broccoli! And you can have it with or without the feta. (I had one bowl each way.) This was a quick dish that I'll definitely be making again!

And, surprise! A baby bump photo :)  We're 33.5 weeks along. I took a photo of the huge jar of granola I made for my parents' visit to send to them because I'm so excited to see them, and then thought I'd throw in the bonus of the bump for good measure. She's moving around like a wild woman every day now!

Friday, November 18, 2011

Soup and Study

Potatoes have been taking over my kitchen! I've gotten them every week for the past four or five weeks from the CSA, and I finally put about a third of them to good use in this soup loosely adapted from PUREmama blog.

Potato Leek Soup
3 leeks, sliced
6 medium sized potatoes
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup water
3 cloves garlic, pressed
1 cup almond/cashew milk
2 1/2 cups water
1 teaspoon sea salt
Dried thyme, parsley, and salt to taste
  • Boil potatoes till soft, about 20 minutes. Heat oil and water in large saucepan and add leeks, garlic, and 1 teaspoon salt. Saute/steam until soft, about 15 minutes or until your potatoes are done cooking.
  • Add almond/cashew milk and dried herbs to the leeks and simmer a little longer. Meanwhile, drain potatoes and roughly chop them up. Add them back into saucepan along with leek mixture. Add the water and blend with hand mixer.
Simple, easy to prepare, and delicious! Goes well with a yummy salad!

It goes even better with this Isaiah study I've been doing. My friend Kelly told me about Precept Upon Precept Bible studies a long time ago, and I've really been dying to do the Isaiah one ever since. Well, one day not long ago, a delivery man showed up with the complete Isaiah set - Kelly had sent it to me as a way to bless us with our baby on the way! I seriously couldn't have asked for a better gift, and I'm so thankful for all the generosity and love friends and family have showed us during this special time. This study by far and away the best one I've ever done. If you're looking for an in-depth, Scripture-based study, I can't recommend Precept Upon Precept studies enough! Has anyone else ever done one? What's your favorite method for studying the Bible? I would love to hear what everyone else is doing!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Just Checking In

My sincerest apologies for the cyber silence! I have much to share with you: my new favorite salad dressing, an amazing potato soup recipe, an update on the wonderful baby shower I had last weekend, curtains I made for the baby room, etc. But to tell you the truth, we're in rough shape over here at the Ross household! Clint has been sick for over a week now. He just can't seem to shake this virus! He has a cough that's preventing him from sleeping at night, which is why I think he can't seem to get well. We're hitting him with every herbal remedy I know, but without any rest his body can't get ahead. Then today I had my blood drawn at a prenatal appointment and passed out. And I mean out. They had to snap two of those sticks under my nose to wake me up! I had a very nice dream while I was out though. It was all very dramatic and humorous, but I feel pretty lousy now. Oh well, at least the blood sample is done and over with. We are at 33 weeks today . . . nearing the end! She's moving around a lot and hopefully getting ready to come out soon! I can't wait to share this special time with my parents and brother when they're here next week for Thanksgiving. Then it will be full steam ahead to finish getting everything prepared for the birth! It seems like there's still so much to do and learn!

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Before and After

Remember this ugly dining room with the hideous wallpaper?
We scraped the wallpaper off and found a very damaged wall underneath. So we had to patch the walls with sheetrock mud and then sand it down. If you've done that before you know how big of a mess it is!  Oh, and did I mention the people who hung the wallpaper caulked over it? So we had to cut it from the caulking and then re-caulk after sanding down the sheetrock mud. Finally, finally, I got to paint it!

And now here is our fabulous guacamole-colored dining room!
It looks great, and we are enjoying it so much! Now I just have to get my yellow shutters hung on the wall, and it will be complete. It makes the ugly wallpapered kitchen look even worse now though - that's the next project on my list . . .

Monday, November 7, 2011


Love this man.

Love this baby.
Sweet face
Little foot

I'm a rich woman.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

The Coco Blue and Seed Sharing

I couldn't figure out what my problem was yesterday. I could eat and eat and not feel satisfied. No matter how much I ate it felt like my body still wasn't getting what it needed. Then I realized. I needed fat. I've been eating so many raw fruits and veggies lately, which offer plenty of fantastic carbs and protein, but there hadn't been a good source of fat in my diet for a few days. I also felt like I needed some berries. I've been eating lots of green and orange colors lately, but no blues or purples. So I made this smoothie and finally felt satisfied.

The Coco Blue
Frozen banana
Frozen blueberries
Coconut milk
Chia seeds
  • Blend it all up and enjoy! Mine made two large servings.

The combination of the avocado and the coconut milk contributed their healthy, plant-based fat to this smoothie and made me feel much better. The smoothie is really thick and filling though. If you're looking for something lighter, try subbing coconut water for the coconut milk.

Remember my beautiful heirloom Long Island Cheese pumpkin that I made into the most delicious Thai-Spiced Pumpkin Soup last Friday? Well I saved its seeds to plant in my garden this spring, and I would love to share some with you too! If you would like a few of these glorious little seeds to grow in your own garden, just let me know in the comments section. I would be happy to mail you a few! While you're at it, become a follower of my blog if you're not already.

(31 weeks pregnant today! Can't wait to meet this little person! We'll get our first glimpse of him/her at our next appointment on Monday, then we'll actually be able to settle on a name. So exciting!)

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Greens and Shoes

I just can't get enough greens lately. They seem to be all I'm craving - it's great! Over the weekend I made Emerald City Salad, Monday I made that Creamy Millet and Kale Salad, I've been eating lots of plain old greens salads with whatever toppings I have on hand, and yesterday I made this Massaged Spinach Salad, adapted from a recipe in my favorite cookbook based on what I had on hand. Isn't it so colorful and pretty? Doesn't it make you feel good just looking at it?
Massaged Spinach Salad
Big bowl of spinach or kale, chard, etc
Baby salad greens
1 teaspoon salt
Purple cabbage, chopped
1 apple, diced
1/3 cup toasted sunflower seeds
1/3 cup raisins or currants
Red pepper or purple onion, diced
1/4 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • Place spinach and greens in large bowl with salt. Massage salt into greens for about two minutes. Add cabbage, apple, sunflower seeds, raisins, and red pepper.
  • Combine olive oil and apple cider vinegar. Toss with salad ingredients.
  • This gets better after sitting in the fridge for a while!

Here's a question for you: Are you a shoes on in the house or shoes off in the house family? We're the shoes off type of people. (Well I am. Clint prefers shoes on, but he so kindly respects my preferences and doesn't wear his inside.) I don't like shoes in the house because they drag in all kinds of chemicals from everywhere they've ever been. Before long, we're going to have a little person who basically lives on the floor, crawling around on and quite possibly licking the carpet. I don't mind good old dirt, but I'm NOT ok with pesticides, herbicides, and other miscellaneous chemicals. And that stuff gets into the carpet and stays there! Now, if you're a shoes off family, how do you handle visitors who leave their shoes on in your house? I don't want to offend anyone who comes to see us, and I haven't figured out a tactful way to ask people to remove their shoes without feeling like I'm singling them out. Suggestions anyone?

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Introducing . . . The Beeswax

I'm thrilled to introduce to you a new feature on Ear to the Earth called The Beeswax. (Isn't my husband creative? He came up with the title and the idea.) The Beeswax is a column dedicated to sharing reliable information on controversial or confusing subjects. It's meant to be educational, informative, and hopefully eye-opening. The first Beeswax post was published earlier today, and it discusses the flu shot. I hope you learned something new from it. All of the Beeswax posts will be archived in one place, which you can get to by clicking on "The Beeswax" tab at the top of the blog, which contains links (or a link for now) to all the topics discussed. (You may also notice that I added a "Recipes" tab too, so now you can easily find any past recipe I've posted.) If you have any suggestions for topics you would like to see addressed in The Beeswax column in the future, please drop me a line! I'd love to hear from you!

The Flu Shot . . . What's The Beeswax?

Remember when I won this book, Super Immunity from Meghan Telpner's blog?
Well, I've been reading it and want to share some important info with you about a subject that can be really confusing . . . the flu shot. Everywhere I go I see signs to "get your flu shot here." "Flu shots available today." Everywhere. It's rather annoying really. And now that I know a little more about it, it's actually more than annoying; I might even call it malicious. Why? Doesn't the flu shot reduce the number of cases of influenza? Reduce complications of influenza? Reduce the transmission of influenza? And doesn't the vaccine accomplish all of these goals safely? Well, the CDC claims it does all of this, but does it really? According to Dr. Fuhrman, the answer is a resounding "NO!"

He explains that any intervention has a benefit-to-risk ratio that needs to be taken into consideration when determining treatment options, and the flu shot is no exception. In weighing these factors, we also need to keep in mind that the flu is most dangerous to those who are sickly and poorly nourished; those who are healthy have little to fear from the flu.

The vaccine is designed every year based on scientists best guess as to what strains of influenza will be most prevalent the following year. On their best years, the shot only covers 10% of the correct viruses. So how well does that really protect against the flu?

The Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews examined fifty studies involving over 70,000 participants in an effort to gain a more thorough understanding of the vaccine's efficacy. Their analysis revealed that the vaccine does not affect either the number of people hospitalized from influenza or days lost from work due to the virus. None of the vaccines showed a significant effect in reducing the risk of complications of the flu among healthy adults. That doesn't sound very effective to me. The researchers also found that about half of the trials they studied were funded by vaccine companies and often included only ideal viral-matching conditions. They also found widespread manipulation of the conclusions in those studies.

Fuhrman writes, "The fact that the flu vaccination is heavily promoted by government and medical authorities, despite the marginal benefits, fuels distrust of the entire medical/pharmaceutical/ government health complex, which reeks of collusion and conflict of interest. The situation is reflective of a foundational problem with health care today: governmental authorities shaping our personal medical decisions are heavily influenced by commercial interests wielding political donations, by powerful lobbyists, and by industry-funded experts," (p. 50). Almost all of the members of the CDC's Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices have financial ties to the vaccine industry. That doesn't sound like a very balanced committee to me.

So what does the benefit-to-risk ratio of the flu vaccine look like for you and your family? Serious complications and death from the flu can and do occur, but those who are most in danger include those over seventy-five, those with chronic medical conditions, steroid-dependent individuals or those on other immunosuppressive drugs, those with significant immunosuppression, infants and toddlers under two who were not breastfed, and those who smoke cigarettes or whose food intake is primarily junk food.

Our society loves the flu shot because it's like a get out of jail free card. We like to think that we can build health by ingesting all of these modern medicinal substances, but the fact is, you can't buy health. You have to earn it! "Our bodies are highly resilient and self-repairing, but medicines cannot enable us to escape the biological laws of cause and effect. When we damage ourselves with exposure to toxic, disease-causing diets, we develop disease. Medicines cannot drug away the cellular defects that develop in response to improper nutrition throughout life," (p. 44). The most effective (and delicious) thing you can do is eat a whole foods plant based diet!

Monday, October 31, 2011

Creamy Kale Comfort

Have I told you about this yet? My obsessive love for a simple dish called Creamy Millet and Kale Salad from my favorite food blog, YumUniverse? It's one of my all time favorites. It's easy to make. And it's kale, which is basically the most wonderful food on this planet.
I made it for my lunch today as a comfort food because I was all wound up about the prenatal appointment I was about to have. I woke up at one in the morning and couldn't get back to sleep because of it! Pathetic. I thought a warm, familiar food might help calm me down before I got to the clinic. I was wrong. I was wound as tight as a spring on the drive there! (I was worried that I would have high blood pressure from how jacked up I was, but I practiced my yoga breathing before they checked it and I guess that worked.) The only thing that alleviated my psychological turmoil was prayer. Duh, I should have known. The kale was still delicious; it just doesn't have the magical calming powers I was hoping for.

All my anxiety was silly anyway. The appointment was great, and I love love love my midwife! We're on the same brainwave about everything, and I feel loads better after finally having a real appointment. I thought this clinic was going to be weird and not supportive of natural childbirth, but the midwives are all about it and even have a wonderful water birth option I've chosen to do. We got to hear Baby Ross' heartbeat, and he/she was having hiccups at the time too. So cute. I finally feel relaxed and confident about this final stage. I hadn't realized just how stressed out I was until that weight was lifted. You know what I mean?

In fact, I felt so relieved that I came right home and made these Vegan Cow Pies and promptly devoured two of them.
I have no idea what proportions I used, but I combined oats, cashew butter, coconut oil, vanilla, and fair trade cocoa powder in a saucepan over low heat till it was all melted together and tasted good. Then I scooped them out into little "cow pies" on a nonstick surface and, like I said, ate two :) If you have a sweet tooth and need something pronto, this is the perfect treat to make. Quick, easy, and not too unhealthy. And with that my friends, I'm going to go pass out in exhaustion till dinner.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Thinking of Thanksgiving (yes, already)

Last year my family came down to visit us for Thanksgiving, and they're repeating the trip this year! I couldn't be more excited! Whenever I cook for people, I view it as a fun challenge to make a meal that surprises my guests with how delicious healthy eating can be when done well. I try to prepare at least one dish (although I usually struggle to limit it to only one!) that's completely out of the ordinary - something that people don't think they'll like but end up really enjoying. My family has a pretty healthy diet, and they're not picky about food at all, so I don't have a monumental challenge to overcome this Thanksgiving, but there's always room for improvement and expanding of horizons!

Anyway, I've already been thinking about the menu. To add to the challenge, I don't want to spend all my time in the kitchen. (That was my mistake last year.) I want to spend as much time with my family as possible. I also want to use as many local and seasonal ingredients as possible. I'll definitely be making the Thai-spiced Pumpkin Soup I made for our guests earlier this weekend, but I've had no other flashes of inspiration so far. I need help! Does anyone have any suggestions or go-to, plant-based Thanksgiving recipes? If so, please share!

Friday, October 28, 2011

A Feast!

We're having friends over for dinner tonight! I love hosting dinner parties, probably because I love food, and I think it's the perfect connector between people. I also love when my house is perfectly clean and everything is in its place :)  My only problem is that I tend to go too big and end up over-doing it. But I guess that's an ok problem to have. Tonight I'm keeping it simple enough and getting as much as possible done ahead of time. The menu includes Goat Cheese Cashew Encrusted Chicken, Emerald City Salad, Thai-Spiced Pumpkin Soup, a dinner salad from fresh CSA produce I'll be picking up this afternoon, and Vegan Cocoa-Coco-Nut-Nut Cookies. These are some of my favorite recipes, and I'm excited to share them with you!

Goat Cheese Cashew Encrusted Chicken
However many chicken breast you want
Salt and Pepper
Dijon mustard
Goat Cheese
Crushed cashews (original recipe calls for macadamia nuts, but two stores were out of them so I subbed cashews)
  • Preheat oven to 400. Lightly oil shallow baking dish and season chicken all over with salt and pepper. Place in baking dish and brush Dijon mustard on top. Cover with a generous portion of heavenly goat cheese. Crush cashews and sprinkle over goat cheese. Cover and bake 20 minutes. Uncover and bake 5-10 more minuted, until cheese is golden brown and chicken is cooked through.

Emerald City Salad is from my favorite cookbook I talk about all the time. It's a warm salad that involves wild rice and kale. What more could anyone want?

Here is the Thai-spiced Pumpkin Soup recipe. I'm using my heirloom Long Island Cheese pumpkin and saving the seeds! It's going to be extra good. (I'm glad Clint doesn't like pumpkin - more soup for me!)

Vegan Cocoa-Coco-Nut-Nut Cookies (adapted from this recipe by Sketch-free Vegan Eating)
2 cups gluten free flour blend (recipe immediately below)
  • 2 cups brown rice flour
  • 2 cups oat flour (I didn't have this so I used whole wheat flour, making mine non gluten free)
  • 1/2 cup buckwheat flour
  • 1/2 cup ground flax
2 teaspoons non-aluminum baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup cocoa powder (buy fair trade!)
1 cup sucanat
3/4 cup coconut oil, melted
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 cup water
Two handfuls chopped walnuts
1/2 cup shredded coconut
About 6 ounces vegan chocolate chips
  • Preheat oven to 350. Combine dry ingredients in one bowl and wet in another. Gradually add dry mixture into wet mixture. Stir in nuts, chips, and coconut. Scoop heaping tablespoonfuls onto cookie sheet and flatten a bit. Bake for 5 minutes, rotate cookie sheet, and bake 5 more minutes. Makes 24 cookies if you don't sample any of the dough!

Oh, and here is a photo from my trip to Maggy's! It was taken right before I hopped in the car to head home, and we were both trying not to boo-hoo. I miss those two girls like mad! And I'm totally jealous that they have another guest right now :)

One last piece of news - we are at the 30 week mark! Yup, I'm 30 weeks pregnant and think I'm starting the whole nesting thing. (Clint thinks I'm always nesting, but he hasn't seen anything yet!) I have such a strong desire to get everything perfect before the baby arrives. I have somewhere around 10 weeks to achieve it!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

The best lunch ever

Carrot pate with sliced avocado in a collard wrap. Kale chips.

Now back to tearing down this wallpaper. Ugh. It's even more of a mess than I thought so I probably won't get the painting done today. Boo - that's the fun part!

Fall Fabulousness

Yesterday my mother in law and I went to the mountains to take in the fall colors and "get away" for a little bit. The leaves were beautiful, the sky was crystal clear, and the weather was perfect. I always find time in the mountains so refreshing, don't you? Just look at those colors.

We were gone the entire day and did lots of different things, but my favorite part of the day was stopping at a produce market on the side of the road. Barrels and barrels of apples of every kind! Monstrously huge turnips and collard greens! Tomatoes! Beets! All variety of seasonal produce! And . . . pumpkins! I got a bag of fresh, crisp, glorious apples, and promptly ate one as soon as we got back to the car. The juice was practically running down my chin and I couldn't have been happier.

Just as we were leaving the market I spotted this beauty:
It's an heirloom Long Island Cheese pumpkin. I wish this photo would show its beautiful color more clearly because let me tell you, it's gorgeous. I'm going to use it to make the mouthwatering pumpkin soup I had at Maggy's and then save the seeds to plant in my garden. I can't wait to grow my own Long Island Cheese!

Today my goal is to finish removing the hideous wallpaper in the dining room and replace it with paint - guacamole colored. It's going to look so great! Especially next to those delectable apples . . .

Monday, October 24, 2011

Still Alive

It's been two weeks since I've posted, but I'm still here! A lot has been happening since my last post - I visited my best friend in Virginia to help her take care of her newborn (pictures coming soon, right Maggy?); my wonderful husband installed a new operating system on my computer, so it was out of commission for a couple days; and we just celebrated our birthdays over the weekend - Clint turned 31 and I turned 25!

On the food front, I've been working to stock my freezer with good things to eat for after the baby is born. I don't know anyone here who eats the same food as me, and I'm going to need all the nutrition I can get during that time, so I'm stocking away! So far I have two different soups, salsa, pesto, hummus, peeled bananas to throw into a smoothie (Maggy's genius idea), and some vegan carrot muffins. I only have two more months left to load it up, so I still have a lot of work to do! What are some of your favorite meals to stock in the freezer?

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Two Made-Up Dishes

I mixed up a big batch of dry pancake mix the other day, so I thought Clint and I might have pancakes tonight. It's a quick and easy supper that can be quite healthy with the right ingredients. When Clint got home he wasn't hungry for pancakes though, so I had to come up with a Plan B. I wanted something green, vegan, and healthy. I also wanted to use up some produce, and suddenly things just started happening. I'm not sure exactly what happened and I'm not sure exactly how it happened, but I'm pleased with the results!

I made some Stinky Walnut Cheese Crumble from the YumUniverse Dairy Freedom eGuide. The recipe is as close as you can get to plant based, non-dairy, soy-free blue cheese. I'm not a big blue cheese lover myself, but for some reason I wanted a sharp taste, so I gave it a whirl. I topped a bok choy and arugula salad with that "cheese," some dried Michigan cherries, and a lavender vinaigrette from Vintage Remedies. There were a lot of strong flavors, but somehow they all worked together and suited my taste quite nicely! I think I'll have this salad again for lunch tomorrow.

Then I decided to make a sort of vegan basil alfredo pasta sauce. It was good, but not quite as good as I imagined, so the recipe posted below includes modifications I will try the next time I make it! If you try it, please let me know any improvements you would make.
Vegan Basil Alfredo
2/3 cups cashews, soaked
3/4 - 1 cup water
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 garlic clove, minced
Basil, however much you want
  • Blend all in food processor or blender. Be careful if you use a food processor - the water will probably seep out! Pour over favorite pasta. I think it would be extra delicious with the addition of some sundried tomatoes . . .
A word of caution: This dinner is full of sharp and strong flavors, which can lead to some, ahem, strong breath. "Breath of a funk" as my dad would say :) I wouldn't recommend eating any of it before going out in public!

Monday, October 10, 2011

Pumpkin Coma

Wow. Let me just say it again, wow. I just drank about a 32 oz pumpkin smoothie. I meant to only drink 16 oz, but it was so good I went back for the second half. Now I'm going to have to roll myself around like a big orange pumpkin for the rest of the night - I'm stuffed! My friend posted the recipe on facebook the other day, and I knew I had to make it, and soon! I'll share the recipe with you too, but beware - I only recommend making it when you have someone to share it with, otherwise you'll end up drinking the whole thing like I did and putting yourself in a coma too!

1 cup pumpkin puree (homemade is of course best but organic canned pumpkin will do in a pinch)
1 frozen banana
1 cup coconut milk (I didn't have any coconut milk, so I just used 2 cups almond milk)
1 cup almond milk
Handful of pecans
2 tablespoons agave or a sprinkle of stevia
A little bit of cinnamon, salt, and vanilla, all to taste
  • Whip it all up in a blender and share with your favorite person in the world. They'll love you for it!

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Rich, Creamy (and vegan!) Butternut Squash Soup

I'm becoming more and more of a soup fan each year, and when I received two butternut squash fresh from the field in my CSA share on Friday, I had to make my favorite butternut squash soup. It's so good that even some who aren't squash fans may like it. Plus, it's super quick and easy.

Butternut Squash Soup
2 butternut squash, baked and skin removed
2 cups vegetable broth
14 ounces coconut milk
2 teaspoons dried cilantr
1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • Place all in soup pot and blend with hand blender. Warm on stove and garnish with fresh cilantro if desired.
I had the soup with my kale chips for lunch today. One of the best meals ever. The only thing that would have made it better is a warm slice of sourdough bread . . .

Speaking of, here's the sourdough update from yesterday.
Day 4 5:00pm
On Day 4 you refresh the culture. I added 1/4 pound lukewarm water and 2 ounces whole wheat flour. Now, for Days 5-9 fermentation will continue pretty much on its own, and there's not much I do to the culture. Regular feedings don't begin till Day 10.

Thursday, October 6, 2011


I chose to write my last herbal mini research paper on yarrow. My friend Becca and I got a yarrow plant and split it from the Forsyth Farmers Market in Savannah before I moved, so I wanted to know more about this herb that is now proliferating on my deck. My favorite use I discovered: break off a stalk and stuff it up your nose to stop a nosebleed. Awesome.

And the sourdough update - it's alive and growing twenty-four hours later!
Day 2 6:15pm