Monday, August 3, 2009

Flash Those Pearly Whites!

In the midst of a buzzingly busy summer, a couple of us girls got together for our most recent Food Group to share our thoughts about Mireille Guiliano's book French Women Don't Get Fat and to dine on fresh treats of the season. And, in efforts to honor our dear dental hygienists (I'm only half-kidding; I loved Susannah. She must have cleaned my teeth twice a year for at least fifteen years...all the way up until I went away to college, but I digress...), we finished off the night with a good tooth-cleaning/home-spa toiletry making exercise.

French Women Don't Get Fat. Thanks to Jodi's original recommendation at our first Food Group meeting back in...November...this book made it onto our list of good reads. I enjoyed listening to it on CD while drafting at work (Mireille herself read it aloud, and the accent was enough to hook me after the first two minutes). In our discussion, we agreed that the title was originally off-putting in a way, sounding a hint like a fad diet book or an overly narcissistic memoir. Quite the contrary, the author's tales were filled with practical advice for a beautiful food life, accompanied by seasonal menu ideas and reminders to eat and imbibe with intentional awareness.

Never eat while standing ~ that's a favorite rule of thumb. How often can we absent mindedly munch our way through something without taking time to savor (or perhaps make a better judgment about) what we're putting into our bodies?

Also, seasonality and seasoning are the two keys to steering clear from boredom at mealtime. Her observation that the monotony of food choice tends to push eaters toward larger and larger portions to feel satiated resonated with me. Many times a small meal, punctuated with bursts of interesting flavor or delightfully scarce specialties (think back to that first spear of asparagus in early spring...the first strawberry to finally ripen red...the summer peach at the height of sweetness...), will be infinitely more satisfying than a heaping plate of same-old, same-old food from a can or a box or a grocery store shelf. Eat what truly tastes good, and be sure to actually taste what you eat.

In the vein of French Women...Emily also brought beautiful lavender to give away along with recommended recipes from Brenda Hyde.

And now, in the midst of cucumber season, we feasted on cucumber sandwiches, cucumber-peach-jalapeño salsa, and freshly sliced cucumbers in dill...

Cucumber, Peach & Jalapeño Salsa
3 peaches, pitted and chopped
1 cucumber, seeded and chopped
1/2 white onion, chopped
1 jalapeño, seeded and finely chopped
1 tablespoon chopped mint
1 tablespoon chopped basil
Juice of 1 lime
Salt to taste
Method: Toss all ingredients together in a large bowl ~ serve

Interestingly, on a cooking tangent, I came across Michael Pollan's recent article for the New York Times Magazine entitled, Out of the Kitchen, Onto the Couch. His commentary on the changing face of food-based television shows explains that, unlike past days where viewers were inspired by the likes of Julia Child to take on kitchen tasks with gusto, men and women today are lured to watch shows as if they were sporting events and then ultimately feel their own ineptitude. The result? Westerners resort to visiting advertisers' restaurants and store end-cap product displays rather than cook their own dinner. Today, I listened to Mr. Pollan discuss his article on a radio show on NPR, and he reminded the host that despite all of the best efforts of the "green/local/sustainable/small-farm/farmers' market revolution," we won't make it anywhere unless Americans return to cooking. He explained (and I paraphrase), "Farmers at Farmers' Markets aren't selling packaged foods and pre-made meals, they're selling raw ingredients and it's up to the consumer to take them to the kitchen and cook..."

Anyway, interesting read if you have a bit of time and a cup of tea...

Back to the dental hygiene.

Emily brought supplies and instructions and guided us through making our very own Better-Than-Tom's, all-natural toothpaste! And let me say, after a few days of using it, I already notice a difference. I love the gritty, polishing texture, and the fine-tuning of flavor to personal preference can take place over the next batch or two.

Emily's Homemade Pearly White Paste
Mix together:
2 T coconut oil
3 T baking soda
10 drops peppermint essential oil*
Pinch of stevia power (a sweet tasting herbal supplement)

You can just dip a dry toothbrush into the mixture and brush away! It won't foam, and it won't pollute the waterways with toxic extras that float down the drain and into habitats within our watersheds. Best of all, coconut oil is anti-viral, anti-bacterial, and anti-fungal, so your toothbrush should actually stay a little more sanitary. (*Experiment with oils to find a flavor that works well for your tastebuds...)

We also made a yummy, smoothing sugar scrub perfect for leaving your skin soft and moisturized...but that recipe will remain a secret until the next spa-party. There were also talks about making homemade lip balm in the future...(forever thanks to Jay for his Glory Bee insider's knowledge and my very first introduction to Better-Than-Burt's-Bees all natural chapstick!).

Lastly, we discussed a few of Deconstructing Dinner's shows that illuminated the bigger picture behind such food giants as Nestle, PepsiCo, and Kraft. Visit this site and search for the "Packaged Foods Exposed" series to listen to archived episodes... Peek here to see interesting information on the acquisition of organic companies by the top 30 food processors in North America...

Announcements FYI ~ You are all invited to Genevieve and family's Harvest Festival at Pokrov Farm in Sandy, Oregon on Sunday, September 13th. There will be more details once it's closer...but save a place on your calender. The best part of the day may be the raffle for home made and farm raised goods including your very own all natural Thanksgiving turkey...

With that, au revoir! We will be taking the month of August off from Food Group in order to focus on preserving the bountiful summer harvest. If you're interested in the August 30th canning workshop, contact us at Otherwise, happy harvest and we hope to see you at the next get together in September!


Emily said...

I can't wait for the Harvest party! I hope one of us wins a Turkey. Wouldn't that be fun :)

TheReluctantHousewife said...

hey friends! i read the book but i'm so sorry i didn't make it to the meeting, we were so focused on leaving for our trip! i especially resonated with the "don't eat while" sections...driving, standing up, and especially in front of the tv...i've heard it for years in fact that consistent eating in front of the tube actually programs your body to be "hungry" while you're sitting there. no bueno!

and as a side note, i started making the lovely homemade toothpaste a few months ago and we loved the clean fresh (and not sugary) way it left our mouths! the downside is that using it for only two months eroded the enamel from my teeth so severely that they turned yellow and sensitive, it hurt to eat anything. so friends with sensitive teeth or receding gums and the like, beware :)

in the process of looking up health/veggie/lifestyle books i did come across a new book which i read in one's called Skinny Bitch and i submit it for a future month's reading. it's funny and scary all at the same time and really opens one's eyes to what we put in our bodies!


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