Archive for July 2011

DEL seeks ECEAP "grads"

This fall, DEL is celebrating the 25th anniversary of the state-funded preschool program, ECEAP (Early Childhood Education and Assistance Program). We are looking for "graduates" of ECEAP to tell their story about how the program affected their education or their life in other ways.

Anyone who is interested in telling their story can contact us at or (360) 725-4392.

Typical mid-summer food plan

Part of the point of this blog is to share with others how to follow a nutritarian diet.  My meal plans vary with season, work schedule, mood.    Lately I've had a food plan/schedule that has been really pleasant.  I wish I could do this all the time.  It is so unstressful.  wow.  In the Fall, I will have to change it around so I can attend lunch meetings, but I hope to incorporate some of what I'm doing now.  So here's my schedule and meals (it varies from day to day but this is sort of an average; oh, and also, I don't get to do this everyday due to meetings and visitors at work but lately, most days):

Get up and work from 7:30-10:30 am.  Boy does that feel great to get 3 hours of concentrated work done.  All my own stuff!    When I get hungry,  I'll eat some carrots and sugar snap peas and kohlrabi (varies with season).

10:30-11 am get ready for work.

11-noon prep lunch and dinner, lately my mid-summer salad and sweet corn and steamed veggies.

12-1 eat lunch on the deck!

1-2 bike to work

2-5 work, interact with everyone, do my usual ADHD putting out fires and trying to do 1000 things at once.  But it's tolerable because I got some "real" work done in the morning.  (note, I cut my hours down to 75% time.  I've been working a lot more than that lately but that is by choice so I don't mind).

5-7 exercise

7-8.  get tomorrow's groceries at the co-op.  These days it's not too much since so much comes from the garden and corn stand.  Buy some luscious fruit and eat it right there.   This is one of my favorite parts of the day.  The fruit tastes really good after exercising!   And I don't have to carry it home on the bike!

8-9  bike home.

On the weekends, it's pretty unstructured.  I make a big batch of smoothies for housemate, usually on Sat. morning.  I tend to eat a lot of the fruit then but I've been good about not overeating it lately.   I make a big batch of beans, usually on Sun morning.   Then I pretty much like to play outside so don't do much food prep and end up eating a lot of raw veggies and boiled sweet corn.

Ah Sweet Corn is here

We've been having sweet corn for about a week now.  As expected, the first few batches were good but not great, but within only a few days, they went from a B rating to A+.   We have a corn stand from a local farm that's just a short walk from our house, so we eat it every day.  I even changed my schedule around so I can eat it at lunchtime at home.  I can't do this every day--for example, for the next two weeks I'll have visitors at work, so will be back to a 10-5 schedule (I try to work 75% time), and then eat the corn at dinner time.  And when the Fall semester starts, we'll have lunchtime meetings most days so I'll go back to 10-5 again.  But my summer schedule has been great for productivity.  I get a lot of concentrated work done in the mornings and then do my administrative work and meeting with students and other colleagues in the afternoon.  

Here's a typical lunch out on the deck.   This is what we live for.  We dream of this in winter.

Besides the corn, there a "small" serving of my mid-summer salad at bottom, and a bowl of steamed green beans from the garden with cauliflower and herbs.  If you've never had freshly picked green beans, you don't know what they are capable of tasting like.  The answer is very yummy.

Mid-Summer Salad

Almost all of my food is local now and boy is it good!   My garden is overflowing with collards and kale.  Actually I can keep up with it by making large daily salads that I will describe below.  I learned about massaging kale from some posts on the Fuhrman forums and it is a great discovery for me.  You just mash them and roll them around in your hands and it breaks down the cell walls.  Then when you soak them in orange juice and vinegar, it tenderizes them some more.  So you don't have to cook them.  Not that there's anything wrong with cooking them but I spend as little time in the kitchen as I can in the summer, and salads are faster for me to make. So here's my summer salad recipe, pretty much all local, either from local farms or my garden.  This can feed 5-6 people or 1 person (me).

About 1/2-1 lb of kale and collards (total)
About 1/2 lb of cabbage (or less, our local cabbage just happens to be really good right now)
1 small cucumber, peeled and chopped
1 small summer squash (pattypan is my favorite maybe because of the name), chopped
1-2 cups fresh cherry tomatoes

...and/or other local vegetables in season
juice of 1 small-medium orange
4 Tbsp vinegar (I've been using riesling raisin and spicy pecan, half and half)
1/2-1 oz seed mixture
fresh herbs if you have them (optional), e.g., dill, cilantro, chives, basil
a day's serving of beans or edamame

Clean and cut up the kale and collards.  Then smash and roll and try to pulverized in the hands.  Or massage it, as they say.  This darkens it and makes it have less volume and tenderizes it.  Add the vinegar and orange juice, mix it up and let that tenderize it some more while you chop and add everything else.    I do the herbs next so they tenderize too.  Then the cabbage and seed mixture to mix get those all mixed in.  Then the cucumber, squash and beans.  Save the tomatoes for last so they don't get mushed in all the stirring.    If you can get local cherry tomatoes, you'll be happy!

Here's yesterday's salad:

I think it has some cauliflower (not local) that I needed to finish up.  I don't plan on getting anymore cauliflower and broccoli from the store as I have enough food from my garden--my grocery bills have gone way down!  I have a broccoli stalk in my garden that's ready to harvest!   I've got cauliflower plants too but don't see anything in them yet except big leaves.  I'll be able to eat the leaves from all my plants in addition to the kale and collards:  brussels sprouts, kohlrabi, cauliflower, and broccoli.  I did buy this cabbage from the store:
It is locally grown and it's sweet!  (well, if your taste buds aren't desensitized by the standard American diet).  It also has an unusual shape.

It's official! Washington will apply for Race to the Top

Governor Chris Gregoire has made it official: Washington will apply for the federal Race to the Top-Early Learning Challenge (RTT-ELC) grant competition. If successful, our state could receive up to $60 million to help build an early learning system that prepares children for success in kindergarten and beyond.

Governor Gregoire notified the U.S. Department of Education and U.S. Department of Health & Human Services last Friday, July 15, of Washington's intent to apply. She designated the Department of Early Learning (DEL) as the lead agency for Washington's application. DEL has created a webpage to keep the early learning community informed about progress on RTT-ELC.

RTT-ELC is meant to help states raise the quality of early learning programs so that children start school ready to succeed. The draft guidelines issued earlier this month show that successful states will demonstrate use of state early learning guidelines, kindergarten entry assessments, and quality rating and improvement systems. Washington is moving forward with all three:

  • We are in the process of reviewing and revising our early learning guidelines (which have been called the Early Learning and Development Benchmarks). 
  • We have finished piloting our kindergarten entry assessment program, WaKIDS, and will begin rolling it out more broadly in the 2011-2012 school year.
  • We have finished a pilot of our QRIS in partnership with Thrive by Five Washington, and are beginning to take it to scale around the state to help child care providers improve the quality of care they offer to children and families--and help families understand what quality looks like.
In Washington, we are at a critical juncture for creating a statewide early learning system--despite the budget crisis, we've found federal, state and private funding to support early learning. We have a 10-year state Early Learning Plan, and strong partnerships with the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction, Thrive by Five Washington and other public and private entities. This grant would help push us to do even more--and that's a welcome push!

Green and Gold Dessert

If I called it peas and corn and vinegar, you wouldn't want it.  But just try it once with exactly these ingredients:

1/2 cup Sno Pac Organic sweet corn (the sweetest frozen corn I know of)
1/2 cup sno pac organic peas
1/2 tsp D'angou pear vinegar

Combine the corn and peas in a bowl.  If frozen, microwave 30 seconds to thaw.  I like to eat mine partially frozen but you might like yours warm so microwave however long you want.  Stir in the vinegar and mix it up.   Now eat some.  Doesn't it taste good?  Isn't it surprising how good it tastes?

Oh the Produce!

The produce this time of year is glorious.  I love how something comes into abundance for a few weeks, and just as I've had enough, like the local asparagus, it goes away, and something comes to replace it, like local sugar snap peas and snow peas---fabulous!  (I don't think I'll ever get tired of those though).  For the last several weeks, berries have been on special, switching from strawberries, to blueberries to raspberries and back.  Oh so good!   And this week it's the Washington cherries.  Next week starts the sweet corn.  It is so good, we eat some every day for the entire season.  Fresh figs are also in season but I've been enjoying the berries and cherries too much.  Maybe in a few days I'll get tired of cherries and try the figs.

In preparation for sweet corn season I've changed my schedule around.  I work from home in the morning, eat lunch at home on the deck, bike in for the afternoon and evening activities, stop at the co-op on the way home for tomorrow's groceries, buy and eat some delicious fresh fruit right there, and then head home for a late dinner.  As a result, I only eat two meals, lunch and late dinner.  But lunch starts early, around 11, because I nibble during food prep.   This works great for many reasons:  I get a lot of concentrated work done in the mornings; it's summer so we don't have much going on socially at work and I'd rather eat lunch at home on the deck than alone in my office; summer in Wisconsin is fabulous and our memories of winter don't fade easily so I like to make the best of it; I'm not too full or too hungry when I exercise at 5-7 pm; I am hungry when I get to the co-op and have my fruit which tastes fantastic as a result; I don't have to lug dinner to work on my bike; because dinner is late, I don't go to bed or wake up hungry (or too full).    This doesn't work during the school year, but is a nice change of pace in the summer.  Since sweet corn season starts next week, we will change our plans this week and eat lunch downtown at everyone's favorite hangout on the lake (call "the terrace").

lunch on the bike path

So today I was riding my bike along the bike path like I've done for the past 15 years, and I passed by some people eating berries from a tree.  They said, "These are good!"  so I stopped and asked what they were.  They were mulberries from a mulberry tree, and it turns out there are a few more of these trees on the bike path.  Well, these were fantastic!  Perfectly ripe and sweet, and there were tons of them!   I felt like a wild animal who struck it rich.  Like a bear discovering a giant honeycomb.  I just stood there and ate a ton of berries.   How could I be so ignorant all these years and not know that at certain times of the year, I can stop on my bike every day and eat a ton of mulberries?!    

Then I got home and decided to continue the feast and ate raspberries in my backyard.   I'll have to reserve more time on my bike ride for mulberries.  I may not even need to buy berries this week, just have my raspberries and mulberries for breakfast.

Here's a picture of the mulberries:

Here's the mulberry tree for future reference (so I can remember what they look like!):

They do stain your fingers.  My mouth seems okay from this distance:

 I told housemate I want a mulberry tree and she said, no, they are too messy.   harumph.

Creamy Orange Sweet Potato Sauce

This is so decadent tasting, it's hard to believe it's both healthy and easy!  I had it with steamed kale but I will have to think of other things to eat it with!   It reminded me of Hollandaise sauce.  It even looked like it because I used an oriental yam, which is yellow.

1 medium sweet potato
2 Tbsp pignolias (mediterranean pine nuts)
1/2 cup fresh squeezed orange juice
1 Tbsp riesling raisin vinegar

Peel the sweet potato, cut into cubes, and steam or pressure cook until tender.  Blend everything including cooking water in a high-speed blender until really creamy!  Pour over something.  Here it is with steamed kale:

I bet this would be good with asparagus!   Do you have any other suggestions?

New immunization law goes into effect July 22

Our state has one of the highest school immunization exemption rates  in the nation. A new law that goes into effect on July 22 aims to help ensure families claim exemption for reasons other than convenience--and the law affects child care providers.

Senate Bill 5005, passed by the 2011 Legislature and signed into law by Governor Chris Gregoire, says that if a parent or guardian wants to exempt their child from school or child care immunization requirements, they must first get information about the benefits and risks of vaccinations from a licensed health care provider. The provider must sign a certificate of exemption form, which parents must give the school or child care provider to exempt their child.

The law does not change vaccination requirements for school and child care entry.

Learn more about the benefits of immunizations, and about the new law, by visiting the Department of Health Immunization Program online

creamed vegetables

Yum!   This is good.  I made some kale and sweet potato sauce for dinner tonight and had way too much sauce so added it to tomorrow's veggies.

Ingredients for sauce:
1 medium sweet potato, peeled and chopped
some cauliflower (1/4 of a head?), chopped
2 Tbsp black fig vinegar
1-2 Tbsp pignolia nuts (or walnuts or cashews or any favorite nut or seed)

Whatever you want!  I had on hand:
broccoli, cauliflower, asparagus, red cabbage, onion, and mushrooms
A cup of beans would be a good addition too.

Herbs or spices:
I used what is growing in my garden:  dill, basil, cilantro, and rosemary.  I'm not a good judge of spices and herbs, but I thought the dill added nice flavor.

Steam or pressure cook the sweet potato and cauliflower (separate from the veggies).

Steam or pressure cook the veggies.

Blend the sauce ingredients in a blender.  Pour over the veggies and stir up.

I will have this over lettuce.  Sounds weird if you aren't a nutritarian but lettuce is a great grain substitute.  Here are tomorrow's meals all ready to go (have to leave early to meet colleagues at a working breakfast and then to my job).  The creamed veggies on lettuce are at bottom left and right.   Normally this time of year (summer) I'd have a bunch of sugar snap peas and kohlrabi too but the store was out today.

Socializing with SAD friends

I had a tough time last week being a nutritarian and I was caught off guard about it.  Lots of old friends came into town for a conference.  We were surrounded by SAD (Standard American Diet) food all day long.  We entertained house guests and fed them what they wanted and took them where they wanted to eat, i.e., SAD food.  It was an absolute SAD extravaganza, with more cookies, ice cream, popcorn, beer, bratwurst (local favorite) than you could ever want, all day long.  I wanted to enjoy myself and felt I needed to eat SAD food to do it.  I found myself bored watching them drink and eat ice cream.  These are my friends.  Do I really require SAD food to enjoy their company?  This is sad!   I realized I've closed off a lot of my social life in order to live in my nutritarian world.  I don't want to do that.  I want to socialize.  My new goal is to enjoy the company of other people in SAD environments, since that's what the vast majority of social environments are.  I'd like to give it a try anyway.  We have a favorite hangout called the Terrace.  It's an outdoor place on the lake, and it's very informal.  I can bring grapes and other treats and enjoy eating those while others are drinking beer and eating ice cream, right?  (It's famous for it's beer and ice cream, and popcorn too).

Quick Banana Bread

A while ago I posted a recipe for Instant Banana Bread.  Here's a slightly more complicated version.  It's verging on too complicated for me but I have a really low tolerance for complicated recipes.  This still qualifies as simple and in the "lazy chef" category.  You can make as little or much as you want, which is what I like about it because I would be too tempted by a full loaf of banana bread.

some manna bread, multigrain is good.
some sliced ripe banana
some dates pitted
shot of vanilla (1/4-1/2 tsp depending on taste and how much bread you are making)
sprinkle of cinnamon (1/8-1/4 tsp)

Here's everything in a bowl:

Grind it up in a food processor.  Smash into a pan.  I didn't make much so my bread is going to be sideways--it's only about 1/3" thick in this pan:
Bake in the oven.  Here's where I wasn't sure what to do.  I did about 300 degrees for about 15-20 minutes.  I wasn't trying to cook it, just heat it and dry it out a bit so it would be more bread like.  I cut this into 3 pieces that looked like slices of banana bread!  It was pretty good.  Let me know if you try this and like it or have suggestions for improving it.

Super Easy Date Nut Balls

I posted a while back a recipe for Date Nut Balls.  But these are a little too complicated for me and dirty too many dishes.  I've become the "Lazy Chef."  I find that easy recipes can taste as good as complicated ones.   I came up with a real easy way to make these.  It requires coconut date rolls, which are smashed dates rolled in coconut shavings.  The key is, someone has already smashed up the dates for you.

some nuts and/or seeds (I used raw cashews)
coconut date rolls
optional:  a little vanilla and/or some cocoa powder

Grind up the nuts in a blender or coffee grinder--can be as fine or chunky as you want.  mash into the coconut date rolls and roll into balls.  It only takes a few minutes and it's easy to clean the blender/grinder.  How easy is that?!   It's super good.  You can make as little or much as you want.  Here a photo I snapped after eating too many of them: