Thursday, April 29, 2010

Kashi Crazy: A Cereal Giveaway

I adore Kashi. More to the point, I adore Nicolette, the wonderful Kashi-rep who has continually blessed me with products to sample and review. My most recent package from Nicolette contained three Kashi cereals: GoLean (the original), GoLean Crunch! (in honey almond flax), and GoLean Crisp! (in toasted berry crumble).

I have already reviewed the Crisp! version of this cereal line, and I found it to be quite tasty, textured for my preferences, and my favorite of the GoLean products. GoLean Crunch! was my first foray into the world of Kashi back when I first began recovering from my eating disorder, and while it is not my favorite I still enjoy it. The original GoLean cereal is new to me, however. Sadly, because I am trying out the grain-free Specific Carbohydrate Diet in order to manage my Crohn's, I will not be able to nibble on this crunchy delight.

You, on the other hand, just might be able to test it out for me! I am giving away three full-sized boxes of above three Kashi GoLean cereals (plus a few surprise goodies). Whether you are a Kashi veteran or virgin, you can enter by doing one or more of the following:
  1. Comment below with what your favorite cereal is and why, be it a Kashi product, a hot cereal, or Lucky Charms.
  2. Visit my Amazon store and comment below with your favorite product.
  3. Visit me on HubPages and comment below with your favorite article that I've posted there.
  4. Subscribe to the Kitchen Courage feed (comment below when you've done so).
  5. Become a follower on Google Friend Connect (comment below when you've done so).
  6. Become a follower on Facebook (comment below when you've done so).
  7. Twitter this giveaway @betherann (comment below every time you do so).
Easy enough, right? Simply do one or more of the above options by 11:59 PM (ish) on Sunday, May 2! Thanks again to Nicolette and Kashi for their generous sharing of samples.

Free Shipping Over $199 at!

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

On a Whine and a Prayer

Good news -- today I felt good enough to take a shower, do some sweaty exercise, and even head to Barnes and Noble with the Best Husband Ever to blog and read! But while I was mostly pain/nausea/diarrhea-free, I also felt emotionally distressed. Somehow in the past month or so I've managed to gain a load of weight. I must be the only Crohn's person to ever gain weight once diagnosed, since one of the symptoms of Crohn's can be extreme weight/malnourishment.

Except not with me, apparently. I'm trying to be okay with that, given my eating disordered past. But I feel fat. Glad to not be pooping up a storm (for the moment), but also fat.

I'm not sure why this has happened. I suspect that a combination of disturbed eating patterns, a possibly slowing metabolism, and extended couch-dwelling are to blame. I'm normally uber-active, but today was the first time I've felt well enough to exercise since Friday. That's three days without exercise! For a girl who could not managed to take one rest day a week for a couple of years, that's mind-blowing. And it makes me feel yucky.

I'm not sure where this post is going, to be honest. It's another walk on the whiny side, I'm afraid. But I also wanted to share where I'm at, physically and emotionally.

When I can, I peel myself off the couch. Going for walks freaks me out, so I mostly keep my exercise indoors with my collection of workout DVDs. Hooping makes me nauseous, but in spite of that it's still quite fun. Can you tell in this video? Crohn's or not, I can still get my white girl dance on.

Monday, April 26, 2010


*This post contains possible triggers for sensitive folks. If you are highly vulnerable disordered eating, or are highly suggestible in this area, proceed with caution!

**Also, beware: cursing ahead! You have been warned.

Image by Ruth Gwily.

I was very lucky to have never run across any pro-anorexia (also known as pro-ana ) websites during the darkest time of my eating disorder. I'm not sure why I didn't, as I was a very Google-happy anorexic (and continue to be a master web browsing procrastinator). The only explanations I can come up with are that a) God was/is looking out for me, and b) pro-ana sites were on their way in only after I was at a much healthier place and deep into my therapy, so I was less susceptible in the few brushes I did have with these sites.

This weekend, however, I randomly stumbled across a website that promotes a lesser-known eating disorder, chew-and-spit. I read a former chew-and-spitter's blog (and it's a good one!), which is where I first "learned" of this practice. I say "learned" because I've done a bit of this myself. As the name suggests, this practice is like bulimia, but instead of swallowing the food that the disordered eater is binging on, she spits it out after chewing. Gross, right? Not only does it tend to result in weight gain instead of loss, it's horrible for the teeth, expensive, and guilt-inducing, to mention only a few of the heavy side effects.

I was curious to see if more folks suffer from a chew-and-spit habit, so I Googled. The first result was this: Chew & Spit -- Free Weight Loss Program! Here's a little sampling of quotes from this website:
"I am not here to sell you anything, nor am I here to offer my services. This is strictly a humanitarian gesture. I seek to free our society from the grip of the 'health food' industry, and its evil sister the media witch. I offer a simple solution to help you enjoy the food that you love, and not feel guilty about the fat and calories that go along with anything that tastes remotely good. Cast aside your shackles friends, and join the millions that will be using this new and divinely simple methodology to shed the pounds, and live healthy lives, while enjoying all the food they want."

"I am a big believer in helping my fellow man. So I don't care about making a profit from the misfortune of others. The decision was simple for me. My fellow brothers and sisters would be able to use this method to be healthy and be happy."

"I don't want any reward for the gift of a healthy fellow human being is reward enough."
Friends, family, and regular readers know that I don't curse much, both in person and on the blog. We're family-friendly around here. So you know that I mean business when I say what the fuck? I mean, come on -- seriously? Not only is this site's creator promoting a enslaving, bondage-inducing, mental and physical healthy nightmare, but s/he is demurring the obviously expected accolades of those h/she helps trap in this lie? It makes me sick!

What's more, there is a "weight loss accessories"page. That's right, you can buy your very own Chew & Spit (TM) bib, spitting bucket, and bib/bucket detergent. While this choice items are not currently available, they are "reasonably priced" and "coming soon." Thankfully, this site seems to have been published in 2007, so that promised update will probably (and hopefully) never come.

I can't tell you how angry this ridiculous website made me feel. It also made me curious (that twisted, cringing kind of curiosity) to see what the whole pro-ana movement was about. After visiting a single pro-ana tips and tricks site whose header asks, "Why be ugly forever?" my anger melted into sadness at the viewers who will die, or hurt or hate themselves, because of that very question.

WTF, people? WTF . . .
Have you ever encountered a website that promotes eating disorders for weight loss? What were your experiences? What are your thoughts now? And, perhaps most importantly, what do you think we can do about it?

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Where I've Been

I haven't blogged much this past week (she stated obviously). It's not because I've been slacking, or because I got hired to right the next Great American Novel. Nope, it's because my body has rebelled and I've spent the majority of the last 7 days trying to ignore cycles of nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and abdominal pain. Fun, right? Welcome to my [new] world.

Not too long ago I shared that some big changes led to me leaving my amazing elementary school job for a full-time stab at freelance writing. I didn't want to say much then, but now I'm ready to share. I have Crohn's Disease, which is a chronic inflammatory bowel disease,l with the starring symptoms of diarrhea and belly pain/cramping. Thankfully, my case does not seem to be too severe, but it's made life a little more . . . interesting (for lack of a better word). Most Crohn's patients manage their health with medication and even surgery in the most debilitating situations.

I also found out about an interesting diet-based management designed for folks with Crohn's and other gastrointestinal issues called the Specific Carbohydrate Diet. It's kind of a like an unofficial alternative treatment that involves excluding foods that can irritate or inflame the intestine and which are not easily digestible. You can visit the SCD site and read more for yourself (and I guarantee an interesting read!), but in a nutshell that seems to mean that I will be going dairy-free, grain/gluten-free, and sugar-free, with some exceptions. Also, I'm sure I'll be writing more about the SCD.

When I feel up to it. Which I did not this week. Browsing the internet made me feel super nauseous, not to mention typing. Needless to say I did not get much writing of any kind done this week. However, even though I had a rough week health-wise, I'm excited about the SCD. For most of the people following this food plan, their Crohn's goes into remission without medication. I am hopeful for myself.

In the meantime, I'm trying to be patient. I hope you'll be patient with me, too, wonderful readers! I have a load of emails to catch up on (the current count is 229! I don't know how "big time" bloggers deal with that amount of messages daily). Plus, watch for a cereal giveaway coming up this week and (hopefully) some hooping fun. Here's to a new week, a fresh start, and a happy belly!

Friday, April 23, 2010

A Kabocha Virgin No Longer

Would you believe that, up until a week ago, I'd never eaten kabocha? This squash seems to have won the hearts of many a health food blogger, but I could never seem to find one in the local grocery stores. A few weeks ago, however, while food shoppingI found an intriguing-looking unlabeled squash with a mottled green skin in the bargain bin. Always up for a squash-y adventure, I added it to my cart, only to later discover that it was in fact a kabocha squash! (At least, I think it was -- feel free to correct me.)

I sliced my elusive little kabocha, sprinkled on some salt and pepper, and roasted the pieces. Forty minutes and a few squirts of ketchup later, I tasted my first bite of kabocha. It was . . . fine. Not bad, but not amazing. It also made my stomach hurt both of the times that I ate some (I only consumed one half at a time). I'm not sure what all the bloggers are raving about. Am I doing something wrong? I wanted to adore the little kabocha that could, but I think I'll stick with my preferred spaghetti squash in the future.

Do you eat kabocha? More importantly, do you like kabocha? If so, what's your favorite way to cook, season, and scarf it?

Friday, April 16, 2010


The weather is glorious today. So much so that I headed out for another run. I know, two days in a row? It's unprecedented for 2010! (These are camera phone photos of one of my favorite spots to run.) I even tried a little barefoot running, inspired by the Best Husband Ever and because I could not resist letting my naked toes revel in the grass.

I also could not resist eating my lunch outdoors, opening up the windows and letting the breeze freshen up the winter-stifled house, or starting to read a lovely (so far) novel while soaking up the sun (again). Welcome, spring. We've been waiting for you.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Only in Montana . . .

. . . can you start the week with a full day of wet and sloppy spring snow . . .

. . . and be sunbathing by Thursday.

To be fair, I only sunbathed for a few minutes between my lunchtime green smoothie and writing. See, my laptop's there on the table -- evidence! Plus a notebook and pen, which is not quite visible, in addition to some tea. The weather folks predict 70*F for tomorrow, which makes me smile.

The dogs are psyched, too. Especially Lio.

In addition to writing (and whipping up the only food that I can truly call orgasmic, coconut cream, and which I polished off this morning), I've been keeping busy . . .
  • Cleaning (the dishes, the yard, the laundry . . .): Not the most exciting update, perhaps, but essential nonetheless.
  • Hooping: I'm pretty fly, wouldn't you say? For a white girl, anyway.
  • Running: I am most excited about this one. Last week (during the brrrrisk weather) I hit the treadmill, and early these week I ran on my rebounder a couple of times. Today, however, I kicked it up a big notch. Jackson and I hit the nearby no-leash-required national forest for a whopping 8.1+ mile jaunt, spanning 1 hour and 35-ish minutes. I did 16 intervals of the following: 5 minutes run, 1 minute walk. Not only was this the farthest I've run in a long time, but we dashed (okay, maybe wobbled, unless you're referring to Jackson) along very steep and rocky bike trails. Some of those inclines were grueling. Good thing the run was totally fun, too. Fun in the sun, which has been a local rarity of late. I'm really proud of myself, and I'm even ignoring the eating disordered urge to squeeze in a quick weight session because, um, I can (but shouldn't). Take that, ED.
How's the weather in your neck of the woods?* Do you find your activity level and/or mood affected by the sun, or lack of it? I sure do, so I'm reveling in this sunshine.

*10 points to the person who can tell me the origin of the phrase "neck of the woods." Please enlighten me.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010


Good morning! I hope you are all enjoying some euphorically warm and sunny spring weather . . . because here in Montana, we are not. This morning I woke up to this:

No, that's not weird grizzly bear dandruff, it's snow. I took this photo sometime after 6:00 AM, and the snow is still falling quite heavily as I write this two hours later. It's okay, springtime will be here soon . . . right?

In the meantime, I'm keeping myself busy with writing and, of course, cooking. If you subscribe to Kitchen Courage, you should also be receiving my Delicious bookmarks as well. I use this bookmarking tool not only for myself, but to share my favorite finds on the internet. I bookmark recipes more often than anything else, but fail to follow through on trying most of these.

This morning, however, I did quite the opposite. I recently made two discoveries: May's Cacao Euphoria and Kate's Wine Poached Prune Plums. Since these concoctions both looked insanely delicious, and because both fit into my new food plan (more on that later this week) and I happened to have a few less-than-amazing plums that needed some sprucing up, I made both of these recipes. Yes, at 6:00 AM. I guess I'm a morning person.

The verdict? You must make these. Both of these, and soon. You will not regret it. May's coconut cream is better than the best frosting I've eaten, which is saying a lot because I love cake frosting. I don't care much for the actual cake, but I go crazy for the frosting. Case in point: at our wedding, the Best Husband Ever and I shared a slice of cake. I ate the frosting while he went for the cake. A match made in Heaven, wouldn't you say?

Kate's wine poached plums are also delicious. I of course had to try a bit (or two) straight from the pan, but as she recommends letting time in the fridge enhance the cooked plums' flavor, I'm holding off. I am also already dreaming of dessert tonight (my favorite maple vanilla whey protein ice cream topped with plums). If I'm feeling extra decadent I might add a dollop of coconut cream -- but since both of these recipes are about as healthy and nutritious as they are wonderful to the taste, dessert won't actually be too decadent at all.

Are you drooling in anticipation yet? On to the recipes! I've copied May's and Kate's original recipes and included my own notes and adaptations in italicized parentheses.

May's Cacao Euphoria

1/3 cup + 2 tbsp packed coconut cream*
2 tbsp cocoa powder (Ghirardelli) (I omitted this)
1/8 tsp salt
1/2 tsp vanilla extract (I used what is seriously the most exquisite vanilla of all time)
1 tbsp agave nectar** (I used honey)

With a hand mixer or stand mixer, cream together the cream, cocoa, salt, vanilla and agave. Mix for two minutes until light and fluffy.

(I actually used my hand mixer for the first time in years. Why was I so afraid of it before?)

Slather on everything you eat.

*To find coconut cream, open a can of cold, regular coconut milk. The solid top layer is the cream.

**Substitute 2 packets of NuNatural’s stevia, if desired.

Kate's Wine Poached Prune Plums

Wash, split and pit any quantity of prune plums- I used a full container from the grocer; it probably had about 1-1/2# in it. In a deep skillet, combine 2 T. chunky fruit jam of choice (I used Thomson’s Sweet Cherry Preserves) (I used Smucker's Simply Fruit Blueberry Spread), 2 T. red wine (I used a syrah) and 2 T. of water. Heat gently to melt jam, stirring to combine everything. When warm and a few bubbles have been seen around the edges, add as many of the halved plums as you can, cut side down. Cook gently, without stirring, for about 5 minutes. Turn plums over. Cook about 2-3 more minutes and remove to a bowl. Add remaining plums and cook, adding to bowl when done. Pour any juices over the plums and gently turn to coat the fruit. Allow to sit as long as you can. The more time, the deeper the flavor. Chill in fridge.

So . . . which recipe are you going to try first?

Monday, April 12, 2010

Yoga Winner(s)

Let's cut right to the chase -- it's time to announce the Om This! winner! If you're a new reader (welcome!), I challenged our little community to commit to some form of daily yoga for the last week. This could entail a full on 90 minute practice or a simple meditation/prayer time. I'll confess that a number of my om efforts involved the Wii Fit. Apparently, I don't have what it takes to score well in the Wii Fit's lotus challenge, in which you sit quietly and try not to flinch at distractions. Did I fail? Evidently . . . but I still reaped many benefits from my daily yoga, regardless of Wii Fit's rather callous judgement.

We've set a new record! Kitchen Courage has never seen a more successful challenge in terms of participation and enthusiasm; there were a total of 18 entries the Om This! page. Wow! Out of those 18, the random number generator chose a single participant to win the elite YogaDownload membership:

Congratulations to Junghwa, who said, "I love yoga as it helps me focus on breathing and letting go." Junghwa, please email your full name and contact information to me at escagnel04 (at) yahoo (dot) com, and I will forward it on to Emily at YogaDownload so she can hook you up.

Thank you to everyone who participated. I was gratified to learn that a number of you experienced positive things after doing yoga regularly. Here are a few of my favorite comments:
  • Clara said, "I have gotten more laid back in real life and on my mat. Yoga also calms my mind and body... I feel better overall!"
  • Bhakti Omwoods said, "Regularity enables structure. Without structure in my life, I find myself wasting time, not accomplishing much, and living in a more confused state as I'm not focused. With structure everything falls into its place more easily. I can monitor my physical, mental and spiritual progress each day as I have the previous day, week or year to compare with. I am more aware of what is worthwhile and stay focused on that. As a result I am peaceful and more of me can be engaged in practical spirituality, which for me is what it's all about."
  • Katherine said, "Yesterday I did so much more mental, meditative yoga than ever. I really focused more on calming my mind than on my body and I think my muscles relaxed as a reaction. It was a great feeling. I am so glad you did this challenge."
Thank you to everyone who participated! I know it sounds cheesy, but I really think we all won this yoga challenge. You all kick as -- er, asana.

Question: will you continue to practice yoga regularly now that
Om This! is over?

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Poll: How Do You Approach Comments?

I've been thinking hard about blogs and comments lately. Many blog owners reply to their readers comments directly on that same page. Other bloggers reply by email. Some bloggers -- like me -- barely reply at all.

Do you think me callous and uncaring? Please don't -- I read every comment as soon as I receive email notification about it. I don't reply to each comment, however, because I feel like the original commenter won't revisit the page to read the reply. Why? Well, because I hardly ever read others' comments on the blogs I subscribe to, and I never revisit a page where I have commented.

Maybe I'm in the minority, though, and in error. I don't want you, my amazing readers, to feel neglected or that I don't care about your thoughts. I do! I value your input and responses more than I can express. And I'm more than willing to change my thinking on comments and their replies.

~ ~ ~

Om This Update: I've decided to extend the Om This! challenge for one more day. Also, there may just be a bonus runner up prize . . . so post your entries here today!

Also, Love Street Living Foods is having a special two day sale. Enter the coupon code "11APR12" on the checkout page to receive 10% off your entire order plus 3 free samples. Indicate which samples you would like in the "order comments" box at checkout -- I highly recommend the raw organic vegan chocolate coconut spread. The offer lasts until midnight EST on April 12 (that's tomorrow!).

Saturday, April 10, 2010

There's Something Hairy On My Mat . . .

Happy Saturday! Today is your last day to enter the Om This! challenge. As you can see, there is much yoga to be had in my house. What pose do you think this is -- sprawling snoozing dog? Canine corpse pose? Napasana?

Friday, April 9, 2010

Thin French Toast

I just realized -- Kitchen Courage just hit 20 Google followers! Welcome, new reader(s)! Learn more about the woman behind the blog here.

In honor of Friday Firsts (and it really is still Friday for a few more minutes in my corner of the world), I wanted to get back to basics and share a simple recipe. The local Costco sells delicious whole wheat sandwich thins, so of course I stocked up. The only problem with buying these in a thrifty bulk package is a) there are so many for a two person family to eat before they spoil, and b) the Best Husband Ever doesn't like them, so really it's all up to me. I froze half of the package and then began to eat my way through the other half, using the thins mostly in sandwiches.

When sandwiches started to get old (and that took a while -- these thins are great!), I decided to get a little adventurous. While I was never a fan of French toast as a kid, recent encounters with local restaurants' specialty banana bread French toast have led me to rethink my position. With the last of my sandwich thins, I created my own version of French toast for breakfast. I think I hit the jackpot with this recipe, which was delicious, satisfying, simple, and easy. What do you think?

Thin French Toast

2-4 T liquid egg/egg replacer (or 1 egg, beaten)
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp vanilla (I used this insanely amazing raw Madagascan vanilla)
1 sandwich thin

Whip the egg, cinnamon, and vanilla together in a small bowl. Set a greased skillet over medium heat. Separate the sandwich thin into two pieces and dip each into the egg mixture, coating the bread completely. Lay the sandwich thin halves on the skillet and pour any remaining egg mixture over the top of each. Cook for 4-6 minutes, flipping halfway, or until both sides of the thins are browned and crispy. Serve plain, with fresh fruit, or drizzled with maple syrup.

Serves 1.

~ ~ ~

Om This! Update: Only one more day of the 7 day yoga challenge! Be sure to record your progress in the comments section of the Om This! post for your chances to win an elite YogaDownload membership. Today I got my yoga in with some quick stretches after some butt-kicking strength with Jackie Warner (ouch) and running via rebounder.

Have you heard of rebounding? A rebounder is a fancy word for trampoline, usually a personal-sized one. I picked up a rebounder from Wal-Mart's clearance section and have been using it to make my stomach feel better, give my lymphatic system some love, and exercise in a fun and low-impact way. And rebounding really is fun. Remember that rebounding video I promised you? Check it out here, and don't laugh too much.

Happy Friday (for the next 10 minutes) and happy weekend!

Thursday, April 8, 2010


Jillian, you've failed me. You've kicked my butt so many times while we shredded, banished, and toned our zones together. I thought you liked being my DVD drill sergeant, my svelte and snarky sweat-inducer. I thought our relationship meant something . . . until I watched Yoga Meltdown. The trust is gone, Jillian. The trust is gone.

Maybe I'm being a little melodramatic. Or extremely, obnoxiously melodramatic. Jillian Michaels' new yoga DVD isn't as awful as I'm making it out to be. There are actually a lot of good qualities to these two 30 minute yoga workouts. They are both challenging and work your muscles, abs included. Jillian is her usual sassy self, urging her audience to push themselves and make the most of each move. The pace is not so quick that a beginner would be lost and frustrated trying to keep up. Overall, these are two solid workouts.

Which is what I think is wrong with this DVD. Jillian gives us two good sweat sessions -- but are they yoga? Because I think of yoga as effort combined with relaxation, strength joining flexibility, sweat meeting breath. Yoga Meltdown has all the effort, strength, and sweat parts down cold, but aside from throwing out a few reminders to breathe, Jillian is not exactly the embodiment of yoga bliss.

Then again, she doesn't try to be. Jillian does admit -- at regular intervals, if memory serves me correctly -- that she is still learning yoga. But if she's not a yoga expert, what is she doing producing a yoga DVD? While her pacing is fine for a yoga newbie, I don't think she gives enough instruction on safe posture and alignment. Even as a more experienced yogini I found myself tempted to muscle through difficult poses in response to Jillian's cuing in these workouts. Bad form can lead to unnecessary pain or even injury.

I like Jillian Michaels. Well, sort of. Mid-workout I find myself harboring quite a dislike of the metabolism queen, but I like what she does to my heart, endurance, and muscles. Jillian knows what she's doing in the aerobic and sculpting arenas. Yoga is not her forte, it seems, and while Yoga Meltdown may be yoga inspired, it's not truly yoga to me. I think Jillian should stick to her strengths and leave yoga alone.

What do you think? Have you tried Jillian Michaels' newest DVD, Yoga Meltdown? Am I being too hard on her?

~ ~ ~

Om This! Update: Okay, after hassling Jillian about how she's taking the bliss out of yoga, I feel more than a little hypocritical about issuing a yoga challenge, especially one called "Om This!" Sorry, everyone. Nonetheless, my recent yoga-ings have been more flowing than the challenge's name implies.
  • Wednesday -- I did Lotte Berk's Muscle Eats Fat workout, which incorporates elements of classical dance and hatha yoga. It wasn't my favorite thing ever, but since it was only a library rental I don't feel that I wasted anything in trying something new.
  • Thursday -- Today I did a 90 minute Baptiste podcast class from Dave Farmar. I'd love to one day attend a live class with Dave Farmar. For now, though, my living room yoga is a good place for his RSS sweaty asana bliss.
How are your om efforts going? I want to give a shout-out to Katherine, who has been the most regular Om This! participant and who has faced brave/difficult challenge of opting for yoga over cardio -- twice! I know how tough that can be for some people (like me). I'm really inspired by how she chose to listen to what her body needed (some evening yoga) instead of hauling herself through a potentially damaging cardio session. Go Katherine!

Don't forget to post your entries in the Om This comments. Two more days to go and then I will reveal the winner of an elite membership to YogaDownload (where, incidentally, you can find some sweet Dave Farmar classes in audio and video). Yoga on!

Sur La Table 120x240 11.27.07

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

A Bowl Full of Mystery

I cannot for the life of me remember why I took a picture of this salad. I uploaded the photo anyway because it looks pretty and delicious. This salad may be based on the recipe in my article Marine Minerals, but I could be wrong. Besides, I thought it would be nice if this food blog's [mostly] Wordless Wednesday post featured food for once.

Thanks for voting in last Wednesday's non-food photo poll! It was fun to see people's responses. According to the results, nearly 60% of the voters preferred the color version over the black and white photograph.

~ ~ ~

Om This! Update: Yesterday I did some bouncing meditation on my rebounder, which helped calm both my mind and belly (embarrassing video to come). Did you practice any form of yoga (meditation, yoga session of any length, chair yoga, mindful breathing, etc.)? If so, be sure to post a comment on the Om This! challenge page for your chance to win a year-long elite membership to YogaDownload.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Walk Like a Neanderthal

Did you know that tomorrow is National Start! Walking Day? The American Heart Association is encouraging folks take up daily 30 minute walks in an effort to fight and prevent heart disease. I really enjoy walking, for many of the same reasons that I like yoga -- it helps ground me, gets me moving mindfully, taps into my spiritual self, and gets me outside (okay, yoga really doesn't do that last one, but you get the idea).

I'm particularly fond of hiking, especially if the pup(s) I take are obedience during the climb. One of my favorite local climbs just opened up a few weeks ago. During the winter the city asks hikers to only walk to a certain point to preserve the rest of the area for deer and elk herds to graze undisturbed. From March until December (I think), though, you can hike to the top. So last week Jackson and I made our first peak trek of the season. It was glorious, if chilly.

It's interesting that Start! is kicking off tomorrow. I have been reading about the benefits of extended low intensity exercise (like walking) combined with weight/strength work and a diet that's lower carbs and higher animal fats. Fellow bloggers Heather, Maggie, and Polly already follow a similar health "plan," for lack of a better word.

Heather is a particularly strong supporter of this type of diet and exercise routine. A recent post of hers lead me to like-minded websites whose authors point to evolution as an ideal guide for modern fitness and health. Mark Sisson of Mark's Daily Apple calls it "primal living" while Dr. Kurt Harris of PaNu prefers "paleolithic nutrition." What does it look like? Sisson says that the rules of living 10,000 years ago remain the same today:
  1. Eat lots of animals, insects, and plants.
  2. Move around a lot at a slow pace.
  3. Lift heavy things.
  4. Run really fast every once in a while.
  5. Get lots of sleep.
  6. Play.
  7. Get some sunlight every day.
  8. Avoid trauma.
  9. Avoid poisonous things.
  10. Use your mind.
(From Definitive Guide: The Primal Blueprint)
That all boils down to doing large amounts of "easier" exercise, doing weight/strength training, doing a small amount of high intensity training (like intervals), and eating like early humans ate (i.e., almost no carbohydrates/grains + more animal fats). Is your head spinning yet? Mine is . . . but I can see more than a little validity in what these guys are talking about. I encourage you to visit the above sites for more information, as well as check out Girl Gone Primal's science page. All of these pages offer a remarkable wealth of information on the subject.

What do you think? Are you ready to go primal -- or have you already? I can't say I'm ready to give up my grains completely, but I do see the value in swapping out carbs for fats. Maybe after Om This! is over, we can do a primal living challenge together . You down?

Speaking of Om This!, how has it been going? In spite of feeling sick yesterday, I did 20 minutes of Wii Fit yoga and felt better afterward. Don't forget to comment here with any yoga-like activity you do (plus your other methods of entry like Twitter, Facebook, etc.) for more chances to win a fabulous elite membership to YogaDownload.

Monday, April 5, 2010

"The Best Cookies I've Ever Eaten"

Did you have a good Easter? Ours was pleasant and quiet -- my kind of holiday! Our day consisted of sleeping in, church, lunch made by the Best Inlaws Ever, and a lovely hike/wander with the dogs. The Best Husband Ever and I finished up the day by watching a movie that he had long been recommending against my rather surly resistance, Life With Father. Was it good? Sadly (for stubborn me? for the super-patient hubby? I'm not sure . . .), it was a sweet movie and perfect for Easter, too. As my husband said, it's a classic. I recommend it, especially if you're a fan of older films, tasteful humor, and/or a young Elizabeth Taylor.

Before all that Easter goodness went down, however, I did something else. Something . . . tasty. As you might have guessed from the above photograph, I baked cookies! Tasty and healthy cookies, too, not to mention endorsed as "the best cookies I've ever eaten." Pretty glowing recommendation, isn't it? Too bad I'm the one who said it -- or, in reality, thought it. But I really do think it's true, although you should take into account the fact that I'm not really a cookie-eater. I'll say it again, these cookies were good, and completely unlike any cookie I've ever heard of.

A short while ago, a hooping/writing/reading/blogging pal, Traci, mentioned a cookie recipe that incorporates tahini. That's right -- tahini. She asked if I would like to take a gander at the recipe. I think you can guess my reply. The original recipe was for sunflower seed cookies. I didn't have any sunflower seeds on hand, though, so my version went something like this:

Maple Tahini Cookies

1/4 cup tahini (I used raw)
1/3 cup maple syrup*
3/4 rolled oats
2 T pecans, chopped
2 T dates, diced
sesame seeds

Preheat the oven to 350*F.

Using a fork, cream the tahini and maple syrup together in a mixing bowl until well blended. Add the oats and stir until all of the moisture is absorbed and the oats incorporated. You may have to use a little extra maple syrup. Add the nuts, dates, and sesame seeds to your preference (I used about 2 tsp), stirring well. Feel free to use different nuts and/or dried fruit, although I recommend keeping the sesame seeds to complement the tahini.

Grease a cookie sheet. Drop Tablespoon-sized spoonfuls of dough on to the cookie sheet. Press the tops gently with the back of a spoon to flatten the cookies, but be sure that the dough does not separate into smaller pieces.

Bake for 15 minutes, or until golden brown. Cool on the baking sheet for about 5 minutes, then remove the cookies to a rack to completing the cooling. At room temperature these cookies are amazingly crunchy.

Makes 12 cookies.

*Feel free to substitute sugar free maple syrup for half of the pure maple.

~ ~ ~

Om This! Update: I've been having a singularly yoga-less weekend! Well, that's not completely true. On Saturday I did about 10 minutes of post-workout yoga with my Wii Fit. Sunday (yesterday) was my scheduled rest day, but I ended up hiking with the hubby for about 2 hours, which felt very blissful and yoga-like to me. See, yoga can be anything! Truly. How have you been doing? Don't forget to enter to win a free elite YogaDownload membership by clicking here!

Sunday, April 4, 2010


Happy Easter! I hope you have a blessed and beautiful day! Hopefully you won't spend too much time on the computer today (the same goes for me, too) but if you are trolling the net you should definitely check this out: How Jesus Saved the World. I am amused.

Saturday, April 3, 2010


When I first began investigating nutritional yeast, it seemed that the majority of nooch-eaters favor to sprinkle their supplement over a bowl of hot popcorn. I can't say that I'm really a popcorn fan -- I hate how the scraps of kernel shells lodge my teeth and throat -- so I opted to try eating nutritional yeast in other forms first.

But I was curious. Could nutritional yeast really add a nice flavor to plain popcorn? Eventually my curiosity won out and I bought a few bags of microwave popcorn that were as close to plain as I could find without spending an arm and a leg and possibly a kidney.

I popped my bag of fake-buttered popcorn, poured it into a bowl (feeling very surprised at how much a single serving bag made), and sprinkled some nutritional yeast over it. Here I encountered a problem. The nutritional yeast flakes fell off the popped corn and collected uselessly in the bottom of the bowl. Hmm. I decided to spray the popcorn with cooking spray, then reapplied the nooch. The spray did the trick and I dug into my lightly nooched popcorn.

It tasted good! I didn't expect to like it, but I really enjoyed my popcorn. I'm not sure how much flavor the nutritional yeast added, though. I had trouble distinguishing between it and the fake butter. I'd like to try some true plain popcorn, made on the stove, but I'm a little scared. Plus I have no idea what I'm doing. How do you make popcorn? Can you give me a tip?

~ ~ ~

Om This! Update: Have you yoga-ed yet today? I haven't . . . but it's only 7:30 on a Saturday morning and I've already submitted 3 articles and blogged, so I'm feeling pretty good. Don't forget to post your yoga progress on the Om This! page in the comments to earn entries for the YogaDownload membership giveaway.

Want a badge? How about this one:

Feel free to use the badge and link back to Kitchen Courage or the giveaway page.

Happy Saturday!

Friday, April 2, 2010

Om This: A Yoga Challenge

Recently I've been doing more yoga. A lot more, actually. Especially when you consider how much yoga I've done in previous months (none). Back in November I shared that I was getting back into a regular practice, the promptly abandoned my efforts.

In the past couple of weeks, though, yoga has crept back into my life. I did not plan this, it just happened. All of a sudden I found myself doing regular yoga podcast classes from Dave Farmar, YogaDownload, Eoin Finn, and more. What's more, I've been enjoying these full-on 60 to 90 minute flows-come-glorious sweat sessions. I think I've managed to get on my mat every day for the past week or so, and it's left me feeling more centered, limber, and strong than I have in a long time -- or perhaps ever. It's a different kind of strength than that involved in running a race or climbing a mountain or hefting bales (I've done all three more than once). Yoga strength, for me, goes deeper and seems to seep into the core of my body and my mental well-being. I'm starting to think that everybody should do more yoga.

You'll understand my delight at the synchronicity that led Emily from YogaDownload to contact me with a generous offer for you, my amazing readers. I wanted to share yoga, and now I can -- I am giving away one free elite membership to YogaDownload's online yoga classes! This will provide unlimited access to YogaDownload's huge range of quality (and I really do endorse them) audio and video classes, normally worth $89.95 US.

Before I get to the details on how to win this fabulous prize, I want to issue a yoga challenge. Throw down the gomukhasana gauntlet, if you will. Join me in getting on the mat for any kind of yoga practice -- daily. The beauty of this challenge is that it can mean many different things. Perhaps you'll do an hour-long class, or maybe you'll partake of one of many 10-20 minute yoga classes available free online. Maybe you will meditate/pray, or devote a few moments to chair yoga at work. I enjoy getting yoga teacher Katrina Ariel's free breathing exercise in my inbox each morning. Yoga can mean so many things!

Are you with me? Will you commit to practicing yoga (whatever that might mean to you) every day for the next seven days? I'll be posting my progress here, and I hope that you'll join me. It will be fun!

Back to the contest. To enter, simply comment below with a response to this question: How do you think a regular practice is (or can be, for those who don't do yoga regularly) valuable to you?

After you do that, you can also earn entries by doing one or more of the following (1 entry per extra, and be sure to comment when you've done one):
  1. Follow Kitchen Courage on Facebook or via Google/Blogger (widgets to the right).
  2. Subscribe to the Kitchen Courage feed.
  3. Tweet! Post this via your Twitter account: Om This! Take the #yoga challenge to win a free @YogaDownload membership! @betherann
  4. Link to this post on Facebook.
  5. Post a link to the challenge and giveaway on your blog.
  6. Do yoga everyday for the next week (April 3-10), and comment here each day with your daily yoga venture. (Yep, that means 7 entries for participants in the Om This challenge!)
I will announce the randomly selected winner on Sunday, April 11.

In the meantime, enjoy another YogaDownload treat. From now through April 5, get 35% off your entire YogaDownload order with the coupon code KitchenCourage. Thank you, Emily!

Get your entries in! You, too, can experience the fun and funky bliss of a daily yoga practice, just like me:

Unless, of course, you value your dignity. Yoga can be fun without acting like a goof, I promise.

On on unrelated note -- did you know that today is Good Friday? Today Christians remember Jesus' crucifixion and death. In foodie-land, that could very well translate to hot cross bun day.

Happy almost-Easter, and happy yoga-ing!

Updated to add a participant icon. If you use it, please link back to this page. Thank you!