Saturday, July 31, 2010

Jammed Adventures

Yes it is that beautiful time of year in Seattle. The sun is out, the air is warm, and FINALLY, the garden is yielding beautiful foods for your eating pleasure. Not only do you have fresh home grown food, but way more than you could possibly eat before it goes bad. What to do? Preserve it!!! Yes, I did it, for the first time ever in my life, I made jam. Globs, yes globs of it! That is what it turns into, globs of delicious, sugary goodness that will last you through the year when you are craving something that reminds you of summer in the cold, bleak February month when spring is just around the corner, but still too far to see.

I am excited about my jam experience. It was a hot sticky adventure, but well worth it. I personally do not have a garden, so my adventure began at the farmers market. It is berry season. All the berries I could imagine were available for purchase in bulk. My jamming adventure was inspired by my friend Susie "with an S" when she brought over the first strawberries in honey preserves for a wonderfully delicious early summer dessert. I was like, "I totally want to do this," thus, my journey to preserve all things delicious has begun.

Naturally, I decided to enlist the help of my good friend Michelley because last year she taught me how to make canned pumpkin bread and canned zucchini bread (which we will be doing again when these crops come in season:). Unfortunately my friend Michelle had never made jam either, so what else would you do in this situation but but a book on how to do it. What a great experience! We were two newbies in the kitchen, crushing berries and apricots.

After skimming our how to book,"Preserve It," By Lynda Brown. We decided that even a couple of cooking novices could do this, which we are not. We were further lulled into a very nice sense of security after we took 3 lbs of apricots and made apricot jam without a hitch. WOOP! We are officially intermediate preservers. We graduated ourselves from novice, patted ourselves on the back and set out to make a mixed berry jam that contained a combined 8-9lbs black berries, raspberries, and blueberries that were obtained from the Ballard Farmers Market. We should have measured because this is where it got interesting. We were following the recipe when we realized we added too much lemon juice to our berries, now we needed to off set the lemon flavor. We scoured her kitchen and opted to add some over ripe plums Michelle had lounging in her refrigerator. Ahhh! Problem solved. Let's relax and enjoy some food while we simmer the berries; we had been at this for 4 hours now. LET THE CHAOS ENSUE!!!

"Hey I think the berries are boil...s&$t, f&^k! The berries boiled over, quick turn off the stove, WAIT! OUCH! Hot sugary berry juice preserves all over the stove, WAIT! OUCH!! F*&K!! Quick grab that towel... WAIT, It's White!!! Whatever, hand it here!! The smoke detectors!" At this point every smoke detector in the house is going off (sorry upstairs neighbors). After about 4 1/2 minutes of absolute mayhem, the house was filled with the caramelly smell of burnt sugar and smoke that was somewhat suffocating. We both had various burns from splattered boiling sugary berry goodness, and we needed lavender (FYI: It's to soothe the burns. Never can or preserve without it).

Finally, the smoke detectors were quiet and the clean up begins. About 45 min later, the mess was contained and cleaned up (wish BP worked that fast, but I digress). Anyhow we were left with a relatively cooler mix of potential berry jam that now needed to be corrected because the loss of part an unknown amount of the recipe. Reheat and taste, that's the perfect place to begin. Now we needed more sugar... now it was too liquidy...CRAP!!!! Add pectin to thicken, simmer some more. Phew, it passed the set test, we are ready to jar and seal.

After 7+ hours our jam was resting and setting up. Michelley and I were sticky as hell and reeked to high France of lavender, but we were happy and satisfied. We felt our canning adventure was a great success even if we were convinced we would be sticky for the rest of our lives. It was a great fun experience that we plan to repeat quite a few more times this season. Michelle would like to do every recipe in the whole book, while I would settle for making some pickles, mango chutney, apple butter, and red pepper jelly. We'll see! For now our canning adventures are to be continued :)

Tuesday, June 1, 2010


WHOA! WHOA! WHOA! Hold the presses! What do you mean there is no such thing as a "free range chicken?" well at least not as it pertains to the idea that it elicits in the mind. When a chicken product says "free-range," it elicits the idea of chickens running around happily on a farm eating there usual diet of grubs, bugs, and feed, just being little chickens...sorry to shatter your day dream, well my day dream anyway. Apparently, that is not the case. This week I was shocked to learn that "free range chickens" are no more free ranging (if I can coin a phrase:) than most other chickens. This week in my Whole Foods Production class I was informed that all "free range" means is that the chickens are not kept in cages, and they have access to the outdoors. If left to my own optimistic ideas, I would give the benefit to the chicken cooperation's and drum up a mental picture of a big opening into a field for happy chickens. Wrong again!

Apparently, the chickens can live in a warehouse cage free with no designation for individual space inside. Additionally, there is no regulation for the size of the outdoor area that the chickens have access to. A 5x5 square outdoor area would be suitable enough to call a chicken free range. WHAT? That isn't very free range to me. Not when warehouses have thousands of chickens running around. Apparently my Utopian idea of free range chicken translates into "pasture raised" chickens, which I do not recall ever seeing. What a shame! I was sad to hear that for all my efforts to eat chickens that at least had a happy life, I ended up being blinded by a play on words :( I suppose it is still a better choice than warehoused chickens, but for me, I now know that if I cannot find "pasture raised" chickens, I will buy organic when possible.

What is an Organic Chicken?
Organic chickens get all the benefits of being a "free range" chicken, plus, they get individual space regualtions and are fed a diet that is all organic with no GMO's (genetically modified organisms). Better yet, I am considering buying directly from the farm. Specifically, an organic farm that looks at the farm as a whole organism and treats there animals humanely. Please look at that word HUMANELY! According to the American Heritage Dictionary: Humane means- "Characterized by kindness, mercy, or compassion." Isn't that what all living creatures deserve. After all, you are what you eat. If you eat poorly raised, poorly treated, nutritionally depleted food, then what are the building blocks that make up your body. I will get on my high horse about this later, but for now, get educated about what you are eating. For more information check out these links.

A farming model for the future! Out with the new and in with the old!
Thank you Crown S Ranch for reminding us that we have responsibility to the living creatures that serve as our food.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Only SO SO Healthy Alternatives

I have decided to expand my exploration of healthy options from fast food restaurants to include those that are available in the restaurant industry too. I decided to go to a quaint looking restaurant near my work in Wallingford. For all of you non-Washingtonians, it is a neighborhood in Seattle :) The Varsity Inn Restaurant had a reputation for their breakfast menu, but they have recently started serving an extended lunch and dinner menu. While there, I took a long look at the menu to see what was available. Omelets, biscuits and gravy, cheeseburgers, salads and sandwiches. Your typical restaurant menu. I noticed that they had the option to order any of sandwiches with the choice of salad, french fries, or soup which, is impressive because there in no up charge for the healthier choices of soup or salad. Unfortunately on this memorial day weekend, soup was unavailable. Apparently, it is only served during the week because no one could possibly want it on the weekend during Mother Nature's extended rain festival in Seattle, but I digress. That was disappointing because that was the main choice I was hoping for. Without my healthy soup option this only left salad. Not for me, it's way too cold.

Anyhow, as I continued my menu evaluation looking for other healthy choices, a few things stuck out. For healthy alternatives they offered a mini light menu with like 4 choices, in addition, they offered a garden burger option, soy with your cappuccino, and egg beaters...EGG BEATERS (GROSS). I decided to ask the server a simple question. "Do you serve egg white omelets?" PAUSE: "Let me ask." PAUSE: "Nope, only egg beaters [for $.50 more]." Again, I reiterate, gross! Who wants to eat powdered eggs when you can remove 99% of the cholesterol and fat from an egg just by removing the yolk! I am just saying, Mr. President of the Varsity Inn Restaurant, I would gladly pay you a whole $1.00-$1.50 more for the extra trouble of an an egg white omelet, hold the egg beaters, Thanks! At least they are making a bit of an effort, which is better than most restaurants. For me, I chose the standard cheeseburger and french fries with extra pickle and a mocha cappuccino with soy. It was all pretty good. Oh well, I guess you can't eat healthy 100% of the time. Sometimes you have to have a caloric splurge :)

Monday, May 10, 2010

Exciting Changes in Midwestern Health

I got this amazing e-mail from my aunt today. She read my blog: Thanks for the support Aunt Arlene LOVE YA:) Anyway,she has informed me that she KU, that is University of Kansas Medical Center has just started an integrated medicine program that includes acupuncture. YESSS! FINALLY! I never thought this day would come. When I left the Kansas City area 7 years ago, there was no natural medicine or alternative medicine to speak of. I know this may be a shock to all you west coasters, but the Midwest absolutely does not have medical insurance options that cover alternative medicine ***SHOCK****.

When I left in 2003, I had just met my first massage therapist who was a transport from Nebraska that had a private practice, and she was considered "different" by some even though she was a very lovely respectable woman. At this time, neither massage nor acupuncture had ever entered my radar as a career option because there was no schooling available and no demand for the field. Chiropractic care was still considered wuwu medicine and people only dabbled with it at best. Flash forward!

In the few times I have been back to visit my home states (Kansas City is in BOTH MO and KS), a couple massage schools finally popped up, and now I am hearing that a fantastic medical university has started offering alternative, integrated care. I am so thrilled. I give 2 points (no pun intended:) to the acupuncture program now available as an integrated medical choice. Way to be a Midwestern pacesetter KU! I am now very proud that I considered you as an option for college :)

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Healthy Fast Food

So as promised, I have made it to Subway to try their brand new egg white breakfast sandwhich. I am not a pork eater, so I ended trying just the egg and cheese sandwich on an english muffin and I will say it was not bad. You can add vegetable fixings to it so I had my sandwich coupled with tomatoe and onion and paired it with subway apples and yogurt for a whopping 265 calories. Yes, that's it. A well rounded, satisfying breakfast that included fruit, veges, dairy, grain, and protein for an amazingly low caloric value for under $5.00. Yes, it's true, you can get a relatively healthy meal for under $5. I was suprised. Honestly, I would prefer to make this dish at home because I prefer whole grain english muffins,which was not an available option, and the apples were prepackaged, so I did not feel they were ripe enough for my taste. That being said, it will sustain you and give you another healthy option when you are running around like a chicken with its head cut off.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

More Healthy Fast Food Alternatives

So apparently there is a fast food movement going on. FINALLY! On the same day I stopped at the Starbucks I stopped at Burger King. Hey it's a long ride from school to home and I had too much water to drink, LOL. What can a girl do? As walked in, the fragrant scent of french fries caught my stomach's attention. My stomach started growling like a lion in a cage. It dawned on me that I had been so busy with school, I had not eaten much that day other than my coffee and danish. I was famished, but I am making an effort to eat healthier and to stay away from corn fed beef--more on that later**.

Back to my BK experience. After much debate in my head, I decided to see what kind of salads BK had. While waiting to order, it came to my attention that BK corporation had put together a 650 calorie menu. That is a relatively healthy caloric intake for lunch. Granted, it is primarily fried, but it is a step in the right direction. What caught my attention next was far more astonishing. While perusing the menu, I notice the most amazing thing. BK had partnered with Morning Star Farms and was now carrying a vege burger. WOOP! Guess what I ordered, a vege burger with extra extra pickle and whopper fixings! It was delicious. No corn fed beef for me. Thank you BK for giving us health bugs something other than salad to order at a fast food restaurant for a reasonable price.

On a rather interesting note, that night when I got home, while watching my favorite show (Two and A Half Men), Subway put up an add for their brand new egg white breakfast sandwich. I will have to make time to try it just to see if it is as good as my other healthier fast food alternatives. I will keep you posted.

**[Watch the documentary "King Corn" for information. It's really good and just presents information for you to form your own opinion. It is not trying to beat you over the head or be persuasive one way or another.]

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Fast Food Alternatives

I had an awesome experience today with traditional fast food that I would like to share. It seems that the masses are speaking with there buying power and big corporations are starting to listen.

Here's the story, I was on my way to school yesterday morning and dying for a latte. Starbucks ran this "Thank You Seattle" campaign where they sent out a coupon for $1 off 4 different drinks. Since I had one, I decided to stop there; lets face it $4.50 for a Grande Late is expensive on any budget, especially a students:) When I walked in, I order a my "fancy pants" drink and while I am waiting, this awesome looking golden brown cheese danish starts cavorting with my stomach. They tag team my brain and I guiltily buy the danish. That must count as a dairy serving right, it has cheese on it:) Anyway, when I get my danish, the paper bag they serve it in not only announces that it is made from recycled paper, but it announces that Starbucks has taken more crap out of there food. Here's what the packaging said, "We’ve removed the high fructose corn syrup and artificial trans fats, flavors and dyes. Your food not only tastes better, it is better."

I was thrilled about my food choice. Two years ago, Starbucks stopped using milk from cows that are treated with rBST Hormone and now they have added this lovely food change. For more nutritional information, check out there website

I already consider Starbucks a pretty responsible cooperation because of there service work, donations, fair trade coffee, and recycled paper products. Anyway, I felt better about my food decision. If I don"t have time to go to my local coffee shop and have to buy coffee from a corporation, I feel even better about buying it from here. Thanks Starbucks.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

This was the year my life changed, forever.

I was not really sure how to start this blog, but one story consistently kept coming to mind. A story of synchronicity and proof to me that a divine path does exist for each and everyone of us. This is the story of how I became a healer. It is a story that I reflect on regularly and am still inspired by. It gives me solice when I question the difficult path I have chosen. The path of a future doctor.

If someone would have told me when I was 16 that I would go to school to study natural medicine, I would have looked at them like they were nuts. Natural Health? What is that? You see, I grew up in MO--Missouri (yes, "The Show Me State":). Natural health did not exist. The closest thing we had to a Naturopathic Doctor was mother's book of Home Remedies. If you got sick or did not feel well, it was the apple cider vinegar cure, gargling with salt water,  or a trip to the local M.D. As you can see, not a lot of choices. Now let's flash forward to age 23. This was the year my life changed, forever.

I was living in Independence, MO. I was going to college to study Biology, but since I was 10 years old,  I had always wanted to study Marine Biology and Ecology. I wanted to save the world from global warming. I wanted to recycle and to clean up air pollution. I wanted to be "green" whatever that meant. I wanted to be healthy and make compost, whatever that was, but it sounded good for the environment. I dreamed of solar panels and recycling. 

Unfortunately, at this time, MO had NO programs like this for there residents, much less there college students, so I decided that I wanted to go to University of WA in Seattle. I read they had a fantastic Marine Biology/Ecology program and even better, it seemed like it was far far away from the conservative Midwest.  I decided to plan a trip to Seattle to visit the college.

Just a few short weeks before I was to depart, I injured my back. It was the most dire pain I had ever been in. Deciding that the Apple Cider Vinegar Cure was probably not the answer for this particular ailment, I went to the doctor and got a wonderful cocktail of narcotics and muscle relaxers. I soaked in epsom salt baths (one of the only other natural remedies I knew), but got minimal results. Nothing got rid of the pain, but the drugs did make my brain numb enough that it truly did not care about the pain.

 On my merry little way I went, doing the best I could to get through. Trying to stay awake in classes while under the influence of these heavy drugs,  trying to wait out the pain, but I could still barely tie my shoes without wanting to pass out. My hope was that being on vacation in Seattle would ease the pain because I would have time to relax, so off I flew for Thanksgiving break.

I arrived in Seattle to a cool, damp city of rain and fog, and it was the most beautiful thing I had ever seen. Everything was fresh and green, recycling bins were everywhere. People truly cared about the environment besides me. OMG! Seattle truly was my Emerald City, ironically, I spent a good part of my youth in Kansas, LOL. I knew I was moving here regardless of any decision the UW made. 

Anyway, the day after I arrived, my back pain had eased some. It was Thanksgiving Day and the friends I was visiting decided a nice walk in the park would do us good before we gorged on the great Thanksgiving feast. While on the walk, I slipped and fell on my knee (Seattle is a lot more damp than what I was used too). It was the most excruciating pain I had ever experienced, short of a tooth ache, but I digress. My friends offered to take me to the emergency room, but not even narcotics touched the pain. Through a tear soaked face I begged them to find someone who could fix this. I did not care who or how. The next day was the beginning of the death of all the plans I had been making since I was a child.

I awoke the day after Thanksgiving in 2002, barely able to move and definitely not able to bend over to tie my shoes. My friends excitedly announced they had found me an acupuncturist that had agreed to stay late and work on my back. "An acupuncturist?" I exclaimed while visions of Pinhead** enter my mind. "Aren't they the weird people who stick you full of needles? Doesn't that hurt?" My head was trying to wrap itself around this idea. Defeated by my pain, I sigh, "Whatever, I guess the pain can't be any worse than what I feel now."

That evening, I walked in and was introduced to the specialist. I look around and decide it looks clean enough and the needles are individually packaged, so they're most likely sanitary. This was promising, then comes the 5 page questionnaire. 

"Why did he need to know about my last menstrual cycle, and what color it was? What difference does it make if I get hot during the middle of the day? Really, he wants to know about my bowel movements *sigh*. My regular doctor doesn't even know this much about me. I just want my back to stop hurting." 

Finally, I complete all the paper work, and he says for me to get on the table face down and take some deep breaths. He proceeds to inform me that I have a damp constitution. My kidney chi is apparently deficient.

"What the heck does that mean?" is all I can think, but I reserve my question. 

Finally, he tells me that I will feel a series of sticks, but there should be minimal pain, if any at all, and the needling begins. As scary as the needles seemed in my mind, they were hair thin, and I barely felt them.  He hooks me up to electrodes and puts a heat lamp on me. All I am thinking is, "This better work because this really seems crazy."

I emerge from the office 1.5 hours later feeling tingling throughout my body and a slight decrease in pain. He tells me to stay by the fire and keep heat on the low back where the pain is. He further tells me that he's not sure if 1 treatment will work, but he hopes that it will make my trip a little better. He had no idea what a trip he was about to send me on. 

After following his directions to the letter, I woke up the next day and did my usual morning routine. It took about 10 minutes for the sleep to wear off and for me to realize that I was completely pain free even though I had slept on an air mattress all night. I was SHOCKED! "What the heck was going on? Three weeks of pain and now I can tie my shoes, no drugs required?" I was dumb founded. Who knew that needles could do all of that? I did not know what to say. The rest of my trip was fantastic. No reemergence of the pain. 

When I got back to MO, I told everyone including my very skeptical parents who were Licensed Practical Nurses. They couldn't believe it either. Eastern Medicine had succeeded where Western Medicine had failed. It was unbelievable.

The next week, I went back to school and got an assignment to do a case study on a field of work I was interested in. I decided that since I had wanted to study Marine Biology since I was 10, I probably knew enough about it, so I chose to research Natural Medicine. For this paper, I also had to interview someone in the field of work I was interested in. I knew two people. I had literally just met a massage therapist by chance, and remembered the acupuncturist in WA. They both agreed to be interviewed. As I did my research on this field, I started feeling completely betrayed by the government and pharmaceutical companies. I was completely shocked to find out that there was a whole school that taught natural medicine. People could be treated with herbs and botanicals that don't have crazy side effects? The statistics on accidental pharmaceutical side effects that lead to death and overdose shocked me and made me sick to my stomach. I could not believe that there was this very beneficial holistic health industry that had been kept from me my whole life. "How could there be a healthier way to treat people, and we not know about it?" It is 2002 after all. My research took me down Alice's rabbit hole. Confused by everything I learned, I decided to become a massage therapist to learn more about natural medicine. I decided it would be a great trade to help me pay for college and it would only take 1 year, which was perfect because I needed residency in WA. Because of what I learned, I got interested in health and nutrition. Eventually, I decided to go to school to become an acupuncturist. This is how I became a healer.

In the end, a severe back injury started me on a journey that never would have begun had the Universe not synchronized. Had I not come to Seattle with severe pain, I never would have been able to meet an acupuncturist, they did not exist in MO. Had I not gone to the acupuncturist, I would have never learned about holistic health. This would have kept me from doing research on the topic. In turn, I would not have become a massage therapist to further my education, and I would not be going to Bastyr University to become a future doctor of America. I would have probably stayed in my Biology degree and after I got rejected by the UW, I probably would have decided to stay in MO. It's amazing to me to think of how different my life would be if it weren't for that injury or for that acupuncturist. This definitely was the year that changed my life because it was the year that I found my calling.

**Pinhead is a character from the 1987 horror movie Hellraiser

Tuesday, April 13, 2010


None of the information mentioned in this blog is meant to take the place of any doctor's advice, recommendations, or diagnosis. This blog is for educational purposes only. Please understand that I (Ms. Shandalla Rigby) am not a practicing physician. I am a student studying at Bastyr University with a lot of information that I would like to share therefore, I am not qualified to diagnose or treat anyone outside of my scope of practice. Thank you for being advised of this.