Thursday, September 30, 2010

Guest Post: What Makes You Feel Hoopy -- Er, Happy?

Let the guest posting begin! Since I'm off at Hoopcamp, I thought it fitting that the first post be from a fellow hooper. Meet Katelyn, a fellow Hoop City member and a blogger in her own right at Peace Love and Leener. Also, she is a talented artist and social networker -- check out the end of her post for links. Thanks, Katelyn!

“I wish I were as creative as you” is a phrase I often hear and, as flattering as it may be, it also gets very old quickly. You see, I have the opinion that everyone has some sort of creativity in them. Whether it be the arts and crafts kind of creative or BMX biking, booger art, “even mathematics” (said by a friend but I could agree more) we all are “artsy.” It’s finding what makes you happy and running like all get out with it.

One of the more recent creative outlets I have found is hooping. When I am hooping I feel free. I feel like I can forget about a bad day and just let it all go, and put that energy into the hoop. I know there are a lot of people that think it looks silly and just don’t understand. That is okay. It doesn’t have to be hooping that makes you happy. But to me, it’s way more than just exercise. It’s an exercise for my soul. We connect. I fly.

We all have something that will make us feel the way I do while hooping. My advice is to try it all, and if it’s not for you, you’ll know. Move on and try something else. So maybe you can’t turn a box of popsicle sticks into a four-bedroom, two-story, fully loaded birdhouse -- but you can make something beautiful. I promise you that.

“Even if you are on the right track, you will get run over if you just sit there.” ~ Will Rogers

"I had the blues because I had no shoes until upon the street, I met a man who had no feet." ~ Denis Waitley

"Don't wait for a light to appear at the end of the tunnel, stride down there and light the bloody thing yourself." ~ Sara Henderson

“We have all that we require.” ~ Lao-tzu, Tao Te Ching

Peace and Love,


Peace Love and Leener

Katelyn Demidow Photography

Etsy shop

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Hello From San Francisco!

I made it! I've had this unfounded desire to visit San Francisco for quite some time (only rivaled by my unfounded desire to visit Portland), and now I'm here! So amazing!

I'm staying in a sweet hostel with awesome views of the Bay, the Golden Gate Bridge, Alcatraz, and access to the wonderful tourist trap that is Fisherman's Wharf and the surrounding areas.

Yesterday I spent three or four hours wandering around the beach, streets, and piers. Of course, I took lots and lots of pictures. And I made sure to walk barefoot along the Bay beach, enjoying the cool water on my hot little road-trippin' footsies.

Then I warmed my feet right back up by trekking up the super-steep Hyde Street. It was a bit difficult, but nothing to rival the mountains of Montana. Hooah!

After all that hill-climbing, this food blogger's stomach was a-rumbling, so I began to forage for food. The scents pouring out of Bourdin, a bakery/restaurant/bar/cafe and purported home of the original San Francisco sourdough (I'm a sucker for sourdough), were too good to resist . . .

. . . as was the sourdough crab . . .

. . . and the sourdough teddy bears, turtles, and alligators. So cute! Of course I had to try some of this [adorable] sourdough bread for myself.

I ordered the half salad/half sandwich option, going for their California veggie sandwich on sourdough and a spring salad. This was delicious. Those walnuts on the salad were spiced and so yummy. Plus, both the salad and sandwich had balsamic vinaigrette, which I would like to adopt as my first "born" child.

The sandwich had pepper-jack and harvati cheeses, as well as veggies, avocado, and some sort of tomato-y relish. This truly deserves a holy yum.

Today my plan is to walk to the Golden Gate Bridge, and then walk across it and back. I'm toying with the idea of taking my collapsible hoop along, but I don't know that I feel like toting it along with my bag for a total of eight (ish) miles. I was also thinking of taking the Alcatraz tour, but it's a little pricey and I'm not sure it's something I'd enjoy by myself.

Because, as fabulous as San Fran is, it comes off feeling a little bit paltry with no one to share it with. In other words, I miss the Best Husband Ever. I thought I'd be reveling in the "freedom" of a little vacation, but honestly his company is far more precious to me than this little adventure. Maybe one day . . . what do you think about a getaway to the Bay, hubby? For now, I'll buck up and enjoy my solitary wanderings and take this lesson on love, friendship, and other people to heart.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Moon Travel

Yesterday I made good time through Montana, Idaho, and Nevada. The beautiful mountains of Idaho smoothed to the flat high desert of Nevada, which I will be all too happy to leave later today and trade for (I can hardly believe it!) San Francisco.

But the wasteland was not completely void. I passed the coolest and most unexpected national park called Craters of the Moon. Check it out:



How neat is that! Volcanoes in Idaho? Who knew! I'm hoping to make a photography visit on my return trip.

Watch for some sweet guest posts starting to go up tomorrow!

Monday, September 27, 2010

Hitting the Road

Photo by Geoff Livingston
I'm heading out of town in (hopefully) thirty scant minutes. Wow, I can't believe it! I've got plenty of snacks for the road, with the stars of the food road show being fresh grapes and a Costco-sized box of Fiber One bars. See you in Nevada!

Sunday, September 26, 2010

What's a Hoopcamp?

So what is this Hoopcamp thing that I've been writing about, anyway? I'll give you the official blurb first. According to the Hoopcamp Facebook page, Hoopcamp is "a yearly gathering of the Hoop Dance Community to share, connect, learn, and celebrate the hoop as a transformational movement tool for creative self-expression."

According to me, it's an opportunity for growth. Mostly personal, but perhaps some professional growth, too. But really, it's an opportunity for me to challenge myself, to stop hiding, and to hang out with the celebrities of the hooping world while I (hopefully) learn a lot.

And I do expect to learn. Hoopcamp is a three day retreat stuffed with workshops about all things hooping -- teaching, performance, fitness, flow, costuming, circus acts, stage persona, and more. There will even be some aerial hooping (think hoops suspended in the air) and night-time hoop jams. In a word, it will intense. But fun-intense.

I'm a little nervous. But I'm also super excited. Not only will I get to meet and learn from many of the big names of hoop dance, but I'll also be able to finally meet my online friends in person. And, of course, I will get my hoop dance on like never before.

So stand by for some super-fun blogging! I'm heading out on my trek to California tomorrow, and you can expect some road0-trip posts followed by a fabulous series of guest posts. (And, if you'd like to contribute a guest post, it's not too late! Just email me at kitchencourage (at) yahoo (dot) com.)

Saturday, September 25, 2010

The Pig of Happiness?

I came across this adorable video by Edward Monkton on the Spoiled Yogi blog this morning. It truly is enchanting, and it made me smile. But all the while I was watching this little video, I kept expecting the pig's ardor for happy living to flicker and falter. And it never did.

This left me wondering -- what does this expectation say about me? Perhaps it ties into Catholic guilt (which I personally don't really buy into, even if I was raised in the Roman Catholic church), or just a side-effect of [medicated] depression. But I really don't think that my bracing for the Pig of Happiness' stumble is so much a negative evaluation of myself, but rather a reflection of how I feel about life, the universe, and happiness.

I have tried to be the good-little-white-girl equivalent of the Pig of Happiness. I've tried to be good. I've tried to be inspiring and engaging. But because I don't feel inspiring, engaging, or good, this left me feeling cold and hollow, and probably coming across as wooden to those around me. Because I wasn't being me. Because I don't feel like spreading happiness, or dancing in the rain (usually), or seeing the positive -- at least, not on my own. Left to my own devices, I'm a dedicated pessimist.

I've been told that I give off a friendly vibe, that I'm encouraging, and that my mad hooping is joyful and carefree and -- dare I say it -- inspiring in a fun and kooky way. But I've got a confession to make -- I don't think that's me you're seeing, but instead all the good stuff of God filtering through my messiness.

I don't write much about God on the blog, but I have strong beliefs about Him. I call myself a Christian for lack of a better label, just to make general classification easier, but really I'd rather be a Jesus-lover, a daughter of the Best-Father-Ever who is all-loving, all-forgiving, and all-fixing. I truly believe that my survival of the worst parts of my eating disorder were at the hands of God. From the blackness of mental illness, I found myself pulled into the light, put in situations where I could positively impact those around me and where my surroundings would lead me to healing. Because of God I moved to Montana, traveled to Malaysia, met the Best Husband Ever, sister-friends, and the hoop, and more. Because of God, my life has been rich and adventurous, and when I ignore God the sun feels less warm and the world seems flat.

I know that life is better when God's at the wheel. But, too often, my stubborn, DIY American-ness takes over and I decide I can go it alone, that I can be a Pig -- er, Person of Happiness all on my own. And then I promptly crash and burn.

So when I watched this video, I wanted to believe that it's possible -- that all I need to do to change the world is change my attitude -- but experience has taught me otherwise. Maybe that's not the case for everyone, but it is true for me.

What do you think? Can you be a Person of Happiness by your own power, or do you tap into something bigger than yourself?

* * *

Announcement! I am looking for guest bloggers for part of next week (Thursday, September 30 through Sunday, October 3, ). If you'd like to guest post here about any of the usual topics (food, eating, recipes, eating disorders, exercise, balance, mental health, hooping, crazy dogs, amazing husbands, etc.), send me an email at kitchencourage (at) yahoo (dot) com.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Coming to Your City

At least, I might be coming to your city. For the first time since my trip to Malaysia in 2008, I am leaving Montana! I'm getting out of dodge -- er, make that Big Sky Country. And not because I hate Montana -- I love it! -- but because I'm about to embark upon an hoop-errific journey of epic proportions.

Yep, I've been chatting up a storm about Hoopcamp on the blog these days, and I'll be writing an all-about-it post before I hit the road, but that's not for today. Today, I want to alert all of you readers in Idaho, Nevada, and the Sacramento/San Francisco area of California that I'm headed your way! And I'd love to meet you and have you show me your favorite eats around town . . . and maybe even hoop it up, if you're game.

So if you're in Idaho, Nevada, or around San Fran and Sacramento and would like to have a blogger meet-up, shoot me an email at kitchencourage (at) yahoo (dot) com and we can chat about what's what. (And, while I'm thinking about it, us far-flung Montanans should hang out sometime, too.)

* * *

Announcement! I am looking for guest bloggers for part of next week (Thursday, September 30 through Sunday, October 3, ). If you'd like to guest post here about any of the usual topics (food, eating, recipes, eating disorders, exercise, balance, mental health, hooping, crazy dogs, amazing husbands, etc.), send me an email at kitchencourage (at) yahoo (dot) com.

Thursday, September 23, 2010


My first big time freelance publication credit in a real, live print magazine is now available on newsstands! My brief article on hooping with kids is in the October 2010 edition of Disney's FamilyFun Magazine. I'm excited! A big name publication wanted to pay me money for my words! Huzzah!

Check out my spiffy little short on the FamilyFun website here and marvel with me.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

The New and Improved Writing Space

New arrangement
New arrangement
New arrangement
New arrangement

* * *

Announcement! I am looking for guest bloggers for part of next week (Thursday, September 30 through Sunday, October 3, ). If you'd like to guest post here about any of the usual topics (food, eating, recipes, eating disorders, exercise, balance, mental health, hooping, crazy dogs, amazing husbands, etc.), send me an email at kitchencourage (at) yahoo (dot) com. I'd like to have all the guest posts in my inbox by Sunday, September 26 so I can schedule them to post before I head off to California. Thanks, y'all!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Thoughts on a Letter to Woman's Day

This weekend I hit the gym for a date with the elliptical machine. I brought my own reading material, but the gym's communal magazine collection seduced me. I grabbed the October 17, 2010 edition of Woman's Day and got down to business.

I hadn't read (and sweated) long before I came across a reader's letter to the magazine. As I said, this wasn't my copy of the magazine so I'm afraid I can't quote anything. The gist of the letter, however, was to thank Woman's Day for helping her to lose weight. The woman wrote that while previously her weight had kept her doing from things that she loved, now she finally feels free to enjoy those same activities.

Of course, the reader's letter brought to mind my recent postings on the same subject of waiting to be -- or feel, which is much harder to achieve -- thin (click here and here for those posts). While I'm glad that the writer of the letter to Woman's Day is feeling good and enjoying life, reading her words also made me feel sad. And not just for her -- I feel sad for myself, and for anyone else who is hiding out until they feel thin enough to be "allowed" to truly live.

Hiding is easy. It sucks, usually, but it's easier than pulling on a pair of muffin top-inducing jeans that are already smaller than when you bought them a week ago and heading out to face the world, and to face reality. It's safer at home, where all I personally have to face is a gracious, loving husband who remains so through all my body's changes and three manic dogs.

But while I'm hiding from the world, I also hide from my feelings. That, I am starting to believe more and more, is the genesis of my eating disorder and food-related struggles. It's not about the food -- it's about using food to effectively to avoid what's really going on in my head and heart, to drug myself with either the elation of over-control or with excess. So while I'm hiding, things aren't getting better. While I'm waiting to feel thin, I'm probably not actually getting thinner. I'm just allowing unhealthy habits to tendril their roots even deeper into my life.

Back to the Woman's Day letter. I remember yoga teacher Dave Farmar saying once during a podcast class something along the lines of, "Why not just be happy now? Why wait for a beautiful butt, because one day age will take over and that mega-toned butt will be gone." (Obviously, this is not a true quote. Bear with me.) I want to say the same thing to the woman who wrote that letter -- and to myself. Why not just be happy now? Why not, indeed.

I have a prime opportunity to make good on this challenge coming up. Next week, I'll be loading my hula-hoops in the car and driving to the redwoods of California for a long weekend at Hoopcamp. I recently received the Hoopcamp itinerary, and reading the list of amazing events made me giggle with excitement. But, even while giggling, I trembled a little. Because Hoopcamp -- at least in my mind -- is sure to be populated with super-skinny, super-scantily-clad women to whom I will compare myself and, as a result, judge myself.

But I know I have to back up a pace, or at least talk back to this negative thinking. Because, as I searched for photos from Hoopcamp 2009 to back up my case, I found this photo (featuring my favorite hooping teacher, who is a professional hoop dance performer and the creator of Hoop City, Safire):

Is Safire super-skinny? Uh, yeah. (And I should add that I think she is also completely healthy, from my limited knowledge of her.) But notice the women flanking her in the background. Notice their range of body sizes. Do they exactly match Safire's body? Nope . . . but they don't appear to be having any less fun as a result. I'd bet money that they're working on their health just like me (and just like every warm-blooded American woman, it seems), but they're obviously not hiding out in their bedrooms waiting until their health goals are achieved. And if they do feel ashamed of anything (size, hair, nose, chin, lips, elbows, etc.), that shaming is likely all in their heads, as my sense of not-good-enough-ness is in mine.

Thanks for the inspiration, ladies. If I meet you (and recognize you!) next week, you'll be sure to get an extra hug from me for your examples.

As for you, lovely readers, have you been not-waiting-feel-[insert arbitrary marker of goodness here] this week? How?

* * *

Announcement! I am looking for guest bloggers for part of next week (Thursday, September 30 through Sunday, October 3, ). If you'd like to guest post here about any of the usual topics (food, eating, recipes, eating disorders, exercise, balance, mental health, hooping, crazy dogs, amazing husbands, etc.), send me an email at kitchencourage (at) yahoo (dot) com. I'd like to have all the guest posts in my inbox by Sunday, September 26 so I can schedule them to post before I head off to California. Thanks, y'all!

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Whatcha Think?

About once a year, I get the urge to redecorate. Not our house, because my black thumb in the garden does not even begin to rival the lack of prowess I possess in interior design. No, I'm talking about blog redecoration. And the itch has hit again. If you're viewing this in a reader, I urge you to click through to the blog.

Now tell me . . . what do you think?

Personally, I like how the theme (from YummyLolly's collection of free blog templates) is fairly autumnal, and how the girl central to the image is in a rather precarious position. I identify with her dangling, which is both courageous (perhaps in a kitchen-ish kind of way!) and possibly dangerous (depending on how far off the ground she is). I kind of feel like I'm dangling in a strange life-spot right now, so the illustration resounds with me. Plus, she's wearing glasses just like me, so what's not to love about her?

Of course, there are things I don't like about the new design, too, my main gripe being that the more narrow main column does not allow for larger photographs. Overall, though, it's a nice change, and the template is clean and uncluttered.

What's your take? Do you like this new theme, or should I stick with the old one, with its white background and apple-icious banner?

* * *

Announcement! I am looking for guest bloggers for part of next week (Thursday, September 30 through Sunday, October 3, ) because I am going to Hoopcamp 2010!!! *Cue gone-bonkers excitement.*

Anyway, Hoopcamp totally snuck up on me, which is why I'm only asking now, somewhat late in the game. If you'd like to guest post here about any of the usual topics (food, eating, recipes, eating disorders, exercise, balance, mental health, hooping, crazy dogs, amazing husbands, etc.), send me an email at kitchencourage (at) yahoo (dot) com. I'd like to have all the guest posts in my inbox by Sunday, September 26 so I can schedule them to post before I head off to California. Thanks, y'all!

Friday, September 17, 2010

Book Review: Women Food and God by Geneen Roth

Have you ever read something that you've so connected to that you suspect the author has somehow managed to peek inside your mind and sort through the madness within? That's how I feel about Geneen Roth's latest book, Women Food and God. Aside from the lack of traditional punctuation in the title and the fact I think a more appropriate name would be "Women Food and Awareness" or "Women Food and Vague Spirituality," this book pretty much blew my mind.

I don't know much about author Geneen Roth. It seems that she has been working largely with compulsive eaters through workshops and retreats, although she has served restrictive eaters, too. Also, according to the book's flap, Roth has "gained and lost more than a thousand pounds" since her teen years. After reading the book, I interpret this to mean that she has lived through the black hole of dangerous obesity and dangerously low weights, so she truly knows the pervasive darkness and depression of a life lived around food and body issues.

But, since she has written many books about breaking free of such issues, I assume that she has found (and maintains) an equilibrium. Roth has somehow discovered how to live a balanced life -- starting in a disordered place -- free from the cage of eating (and not-eating) addictions).

I remember reading an article by Geneen Roth during my mad days of anorexia and overexercising before I began to receive treatment. It was in some health-related magazine that I was reading while elliptical-ing away early one morning at the gym. She was writing about compulsive eating and how to avoid such behavior, but being as I was already skilled at restricting my food at the time, I read Roth's words with a mixture of morbid, obsessive fascination and revulsion. I remember turning the page and trying to push her message of limiting overeating aside -- because, at the time, I felt that any eating was overeating. I find it amusing that the same woman whose message I reviled those years ago I now resonate with so deeply.

Because Geneen Roth has apparently lived inside my brain. She knows what it's like to be me, somehow -- probably because none of us disordered eaters are as alone as we think. There are so many quotes that I'd love to share from Women Food and God, but the one that struck me most is this:
When you believe without knowing you believe that you are damaged at your core, you also believe that you need to hide that damage for anyone to love you. You walk around ashamed of being yourself. You try hard to make up for the way you look, walk, feel. Decisions are agonizing because if you, the person who makes the decision, is damaged, then how can you trust what you decide? You doubt your own impulses so you become masterful at looking outside yourself for comfort. You become an expert at finding experts and programs, at striving and trying hard and then harder to change yourself, but this process only reaffirms what you already believe about yourself -- that your needs and choices cannot be trusted, and left to your own devices you are out of control (p.82-83).
When I read this, something in me broke a little. I wanted to cry tears, and I wanted to cry out, "Yes!" because this is the root of my eating disorder. At least, I think it is. From a very young age, I've always tried to be someone else, to fix myself -- and by "fixing," I wanted to erase the very base of my self and my personality from the planet. During the worst times of my battle with anorexia and restricted eating, I remember telling the Best Husband Ever that I couldn't be home alone during the day because I couldn't trust myself not to eat everything in sight. As a result, when I wasn't substitute teaching (which I was doing less and less anyway because I just couldn't handle being in charge of a class of rowdy students with my tank running on empty) I spent my days in coffee shops, where I inevitably shivered away over my coffee and computer because I was too thin to maintain my own body temperature.

But that's not true. My body was not made to be starved, but rather made to hold that part of me that is truly me. It is the vehicle my soul is using to jet around this life. It is a gift from God, and it tells me what it needs and when, if only I'll listen.

So I'll try. When that negative eating disorder voice starts to snark at me, I'll talk back -- literally. It is nearly impossible to separate the disordered voice from my own thoughts right now, so these past few days I've been trying out one of Roth's suggestions -- to respond with positive self-talk and rebuttals when the negative words start flowing. And, so far, it's been working. I've been able to find my way back to morning time with God, to wind my way out of the tangled maze of crazy I've gotten caught up in this summer. I'm not out yet, but I'm on my way.

All that to say -- I really, really liked Geneen Roth's Women Food and God. She's got some powerful stuff to say, and powerful experiences to share. And, as awful as being trapped in the flat, false life of disordered eating, it's good to know that we're not alone in here and that there's a way for us all to grope our way to freedom.

If you liked my post and are interested in checking this book out, I'd love it if you'd click on one of my links to the book's Amazon page. I get a [tiny] 4% commission for every sale. Also, find more mind blowing quotes from Women Food and God on my Goodreads page.

Have you read any mind blowing books about health, eating, body image, and/or freedom?

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Year Three

It's our third anniversary today! Hard to believe. In honor of the day, I thought I'd share some funny photos from our wedding. Enjoy!
Groom + groom's guys.
They look like they're flashing me, but they're really shielding me from the view of my soon-to-be-Best-Husband-Ever before I jet down the aisle.
We had an outdoor wedding, and the rain held off until just after the ceremony finished.
Cutting the cake.
Cake. Obviously.
We had an alcohol-free wedding . . . but that doesn't stop this photo from cracking me up.
The Best Husband Ever dances!
My preferred tune is the chicken dance.
What? What?!
Happy anniversary, hubby.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

The Faithful Dress

Day 44 / Hopeful
I took these photos in spring 2007 after two separate teaching interviews. This morning, I wore the same outfit to another interview. Somehow, in spite of all my weight fluctuation and body perception shifts, some clothes still fit. My wedding ring still fits. Jeans, of course, are a different story, but then I've never felt comfortable in them.

I don't know what I'm trying to say, exactly. Maybe I'm just trying to encourage myself. I don't know that today's interview went all that well. But it's something that I tried, right? I felt (and still feel) pretty down after the interview, but did not slink home to hide and/or self-medicate with food. Instead, I'm now sipping a latte in a local cafe (where somehow out of the fifteen-ish patrons, I am the only female), blogging, emailing, and (hopefully, soon) noveling.

Part of me still feels weepy. But I bet that a good portion of that has to do with the fact that I'm wearing eye makeup, which I only apply for special occasions. It makes my eyelids feel heavy and my skin break out. No, thanks!

What's your take on makeup? Yes, no, sometimes, always?
Day 42 / Professional

Monday, September 13, 2010

NOT Waiting To Be Thin

Waiting to "feel thin enough" stinks. It means not going for walks (I went on two this weekend!), missing out on my youngest sister-in-law's birthday party (I went, with tea!), copping out on church (I did . . . again, sadly), letting the last beautiful days of summer pass by unrecognized and unsavored (I did some hermit-ing these past few days) . . . . All that to say that this weekend I worked to defy my self-imposed rule to wait to "feel thin enough" to do life-things. Obviously, there was both success and failure, but I'll keep plugging along. And, if you don't mind, I'll indulge in a little self-back-patting while I'm at it.
Handmade hat
This weekend I crocheted two hats (only one is pictured) and a cowl that fits strangely and needs a button.
Yorkshire cowl
Guess what everyone is getting for Christmas . . . !

I also signed up for a six-week drawing course at the local adult education center, and checked in with a new yarn shop to fill myself in on when their group knit/crochet sessions are. And I even broke out the Moleskine drew in spite of my rusty skills.
Potted garden
I sketched some of the potted plants that are (amazingly) still growing on the back porch, using a graphite pencil.

While I did cop out of a few [important] things, I also avoided avoiding others (how's that for a confusing sentence!). Small steps, right? Also, I just nabbed an interview tomorrow for a half-time tutoring position at one of the local schools. Send good job ju-ju my way if you think of it!

Here are some fabulous women who are definitely not "waiting to feel thin" to take life by the horns. Thank you for the inspiration, ladies!
  • You already met Traci of yesterday's guest post (thanks again, Traci!), but I just had to mention her again. Her hooping kicks butt.
  • Catina Jane is working on her weight, but that doesn't stop her from hooping, making beautiful paintings and jewelry, and teaching art classes while she's at it.
  • SparkPeople member Karvy, who writes a Spark blog called Running While Chunky, is a new discovery for me, but I love her attitude. She's not waiting to be thin to run!
What I especially appreciate is that all three of these women are losing weight through a nutritious food plan and moderate exercise, not fasting, crash dieting, or overexercising. Rock it!

Who inspires you?

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Guest Post: It's All Greek . . . Yogurt

Hello, readers! I have a special treat for you -- a guest post from a blogging/hooping friend, and a how-to on making your own Greek-style yogurt. I can hear you cheering from here! Seriously, though, I'm excited to introduce Traci, one of the most encouraging women on the blogosphere. Thanks for writing, Traci.

When I saw Beth’s adorable photo of Cody with a container of‭ ‬Chobani‭ ‬Greek yogurt on last week’s Wordless Wednesday post,‭ ‬I asked if‭ ‬Beth had ever tried making her own version of the tangy,‭ ‬creamy dairy treat.‭ ‬That led to a‭ ‬how-to‭ ‬request‭ ‬from‭ ‬Band Geeks Go to Fat Camp‭!‬,‭ ‬which led to this,‭ ‬my first ever guest blog post.

Let me start by saying I’m not a food blogger or the healthiest eater in the world.‭ ‬I’m a big‭ (‬formerly W size-wearing‭)‬ girl who always liked food more than moving and self-medicated with chocolate when life got hard.‭ ‬I’m working on changing that,‭ ‬though‭…

Beth and I met online through‭ ‬Hoop‭ ‬City‭ shortly after I started hoop dancing because it’s way more fun than any other form of exercise I’ve ever tried.‭ ‬Let’s put it this way‭ – ‬I’m still doing it after‭ ‬8‭ ‬months,‭ ‬ while every other method I’ve attempted has lasted two or three at most.

So when I found out Beth has a blog,‭ ‬I checked it out.‭ ‬That same quirky humor and positive outlook I saw in her hoop videos was evident here,‭ ‬so I started following Kitchen Courage,‭ ‬which is why you’re reading this.‭ ‬ Now,‭ ‬on to the food part of this post:‭

Greek yogurt is made in much the same way as regular yogurt,‭ ‬with one extra step:‭ ‬after the milk is heated and cultured,‭ ‬it’s put into cloth bags and allowed to sit until all the whey has strained out.‭ ‬This gives it the extra tanginess and thickness we associate with this sour cream of the‭ ‬Mediterranean.‭ (‬For more info,‭ ‬there’s an‭ ‬ad-intense yet informative article at WiseGeek.)

Greek-style yogurt,‭ ‬similar in texture and taste,‭ ‬is‭ ‬easy to make from regular yogurt.‭ ‬I can’t remember where I picked up this method‭ (‬probably on a Food Network show‭)‬,‭ ‬but I can attest that it is not complicated in the least.‭ ‬All you need is a container of regular yogurt in the brand of your choice,‭ ‬a colander or large tea strainer,‭ ‬a lining material‭ (‬muslin,‭ ‬cheesecloth or paper towels all work‭)‬,‭ ‬a bowl in which to catch the strained liquids,‭ ‬and a plate or cookie sheet under the bowl‭ ‬in case of‭ ‬drippage‭ (‬trust me,‭ ‬it’s better to have to wash a plate than to‭ ‬sop up whey liquid from a cold‭ ‬refrigerator‭ ‬shelf‭)‬.

I’ve made this once before using a‭ ‬store brand‭ ‬yogurt,‭ ‬but for the purposes of this post,‭ ‬I’m using‭ ‬Dannon All Natural low-fat plain yogurt.
Put your lining material into the colander or strainer in a single layer with the edges hanging out.‭ ‬Place the strainer device into a bowl large enough to hold it,‭ ‬then put the yogurt into the strainer.‭ ‬A couple of gentle taps of the strainer will help settle the contents and even them out,‭ ‬or you can use a knife or spoon to smooth out the yogurt.‭
Fold the edges of your lining material over the top of the yogurt,‭ ‬then put the whole contraption onto a plate or cookie sheet and pop it into the refrigerator.‭ ‬If you use paper towels,‭ ‬you may want to drain the bowl and put a fresh layer of towels into your strainer after an hour.‭ ‬After two hours,‭ ‬all the liquids‭ ‬should‭ ‬have strained into the bowl.

Once the whey liquid is completely strained,‭ ‬you have a thick,‭ ‬creamy Greek-style yogurt that can be eaten plain or jazzed up with the add-ins of your choice‭ (‬honey,‭ ‬fruits,‭ ‬granola,‭ ‬cocoa powder and sweetener,‭ ‬etc.‭)‬.
It also makes a great ingredient for any recipe with sour cream or yogurt,‭ ‬especially‭ ‬the Greek cucumber dip‭ ‬tzatziki‭ ‬or the Indian version called‭ ‬raita‭.‭ ‬I haven’t made the tzatziki recipe,‭ ‬but I can vouch for the raita‭; ‬it’s very good and an excellent cooling sauce for spicy curry dishes.‭ ‬If you don’t have hothouse cucumbers,‭ ‬regular ones work just fine,‭ ‬and for the sugar,‭ ‬I substituted stevia.

So there it is.‭ ‬Have fun with it‭ – ‬experiment with yogurt types,‭ ‬add-ins and recipes,‭ ‬and let Beth and me know how it comes out.

If you’ve enjoyed reading this,‭ ‬you can find more of my writing at Tracings‭ and Circular Praise‭.‭ ‬Meanwhile,‭ ‬here’s a hooping video for your entertainment:

Find more videos like this on Hoop City - Hooping Community

Thanks again, Traci! I encourage you to check out her blogs. I'm a subscriber to both, and she shares wisdom, struggles, and successes from her writing and hooping endeavors. For more of what I think of as her "heck yeah!" hooping, visit Traci's video page on Hoop City.

Have you made your own Greek yogurt? Do you have a special method or favorite Greek yogurt recipe?

Want to guest post? Email me at KitchenCourage (at) yahoo (dot) com.