A Day at Underwood Family Farms

alpaca llama

Hi everybody! April was visiting for the weekend, and we knew we wanted to enjoy the sunshine while getting activity at the same time, so we headed up north to go berry-picking. Have you ever seen a sillier looking animal?! I think not. This alpaca was one of the many beautiful flora and fauna we saw at Underwood Family Farms in Moorpark, California.


April and I headed out to the fields, with a cute little red wagon in tow. I got quite a workout from this haul…


It was only the second day of the season, so most of the crops were still small and young. However, we did make it out with about two pounds of strawberries.


Picking my own fruit made me realize how grateful I am for the people that do this back-breaking work every day to make sure we have fresh fruit and vegetables for our table. It’s hard work – all the bending, squatting and picking. These strawberries were tricky too, because a lot of them were perfect ruby red on top and then white on the bottom, so it took awhile to find the perfect berries.


April and I also made sure to pick some kale, which she turned into juice and I’m about to turn into chips. Yum! Picking it this way was much cheaper than buying my usual bundle at Whole Foods.

On our way out, we stopped by the farm stand and picked up some tomatoes, bell peppers, squash and mushrooms which we turned into kebabs for dinner that night. While it’s not realistic for me to pick my own fruit and veggies every day, it was a fun break from the usual routine of loading up my cart at the grocery store.

Have you been to a pick-your-own farm? To find out where one is near you, visit PickYourOwn.org.


April’s first week of detoxifying

Dinosaur kale.  Roma tomatoes.  Carrots.  Spinach.  Apples.  Lentils.  Onions.  Celery.  Chives.  Pears.  Yogurt.  Brown rice.  Parsley.  Bananas.  Broccoli.  All organic.  All delicately placed in my reusable mesh produce bags for their first time ever being used, the same bags that I found removed from my car outside of my smashed-in back window three months ago.  It felt nice to finally use those bags and I’m so glad whoever broke my car window didn’t decide they needed them for their own produce purchases.

Making a conscious choice to finally use those mesh bags instead of the typical plastic ones is something I have been meaning to do for a very long time.   Even though I have had the bags for months, for some reason I never got around to using them.  I knew they were better for the environment but taking that extra effort to actually remember them just didn’t happen.   I had the tools, I just didn’t act.

Until now.   Coincidentally, I used the bags for my purchase of all the vegetables and fruits I would be needing for something else I had been wanting to do for a long time: a detox.

I used to babysit for a raw vegan woman who would talk about the benefits of eating non-processed and raw foods.  She also had all sorts of interesting books that would fill my head with ideas that maybe my constant headaches and digestion problems are caused by more than just the way my body works.  The past month I have had a dramatic increase of headaches, probably because of my body slowly adapting to going to school full time and taking classes like Algebra that keep me always searching for the elusive “X”.

Because of those headaches and knowing that I could use all the help I could get for my weight loss, I decided to utilize some more things I have had for years:  two books by Linda Page,  one is called “Cooking for Healthy Healing” and the other is “Healthy Healing“.  Both books are a bit old but the logic of a detox remains the same over the years:  Eliminate the potential toxins entering your system and eating specific foods that will help expel the toxins already in your system.

When you think of the word “detox”, you might automatically think of something like the Master Cleanse , a hardcore and dedicated cleaning process where you consume lemon juice, cayenne pepper, and maple syrup for a period of time.   My detox is not that hardcore.  I’d love to be able to try something like that but until I have a full span of time where I don’t have to do anything but sit around a house watching reruns of Community and sitting online, that kind of detox just isn’t going to happen for me.

The basic idea of a detox according to Linda Page is to eliminate all the processed foods from your diet and eat and drink foods that will help your body perform at it’s best.

For example, today I made something called “Potassium Essence Broth” that was created for almost every health problem and has a substantial amount of minerals and electrolytes, including a nice 713mg of potassium per serving!  That’s nearly twice the amount of potassium as in a banana and will help get me to the recommended amount of 4.7mg a day!

Of course this broth didn’t do much to keep me satisfied so I also enjoyed my first glass of homemade vegetable juice ever!  I was so proud of my juice and amazed because it was actually quite delicious.  I combined two carrots, two tomatoes, half a red peppers, a small handful of spinach, kale, and parsley along with a clove of garlic and some sprigs of chives.  The results were a zesty and garlicky party on my tongue.

There are a few other recipes I made today to get me through the week, including a “macrobiotic soup” that is supposed to help me with stress exhaustion and weight control.  It’s made with wonderful carbs like lentils, brown rice, and split peas but sadly lacks immense wonderful flavor.  Too bad.

Have any of you ever done a detox before?  Would you ever do one?  How long do you  think I’ll last without a Red Bull or Coke?  The goal is to get through this week and once I hit Sunday, I’ll ease up a bit and let myself have some caffeine. Maybe by then my cravings for that liquid nectar of the Gods won’t be so intense.

Until next time, enjoy your Monday and I hope we all have a healthy week!

Much love,


A merry merry christmas

Hello everyone! Hope you had a fantastic Christmas (if ya celebrate). Matt and I celebrated Santa’s arrival by heading up to Petaluma, a little town north of San Francisco where both sets of parents live.

We woke up bright and early at 8 AM at Matt’s parents to open gifts. Santa generously gifted us with a beautiful Cuisinart juicer… which we’ve already used to make fresh orange juice, and my favorite, apple pear juice. This will be making frequent guest appearances on the blog in the next couple of weeks! Matt’s dad surprised Shirley, my mother in law, with a month long cruise to Tahiti and Fiji to kick off their retirement next year! Here she is after she opened up her gift – a mini cruise ship!

So cute!

After gifts at the Currans, we headed over to the Lofgrens to celebrate Christmas there, too. My dad made bacon egg cups – bacon cooked in a muffin pan, filled with a whole egg and baked with cheese on top. It was a protein-packed, heart attack of a breakfast – and an enjoyable one, at that. Here’s the recipe!

 After breakfast we opened gifts from the Lofgrens, and we scored all sorts of great things like a pair of calf-high boots, an adorable olive oil and vinegar cruet, underwear and cute sweaters. Everybody spoiled us – as they do every year – and despite the mountain of new stuff we got, I was reminded all day about the generosity and love that’s so abundant on both sides of our families. We are truly, truly lucky!


After gift opening was complete, we (the kids) saw the Muppets at the $3 theatre (WOCKA WOCKA!) and then we headed back to the Currans’ house for an amazing dinner of prime rib with Yorkshire pudding, creamed spinach, creamed corn and potato wedges. I made a pecan pie for dessert, and we also had some of my mom’s homemade fudge and kolacky, a Czech jam cookie. Matt’s dad is also quite the cook and I consider it a huge bonus that I married into such a food-loving family – now I’m surrounded by foodies on either side!

After dinner we headed back to the Lofgrens’ house where we had to play the annual game of Monopoly. The game started off slow for me, and I was bored within five minutes, assuming I’d be monopoly-less and broke after my second turn around the board. However… I scored $1200 from the free parking kitty, and before I knew it, I was rollin’ high – and claimed the official title of REIGNING MONOPOLY CHAMPION.

I woke up the next day with a raging stomach ache thanks to my celebratory feasting, and then it was back on the road to return to Los Angeles. I had a vacation day from work today but tomorrow it’s back to the grind. This was a wonderful Christmas holiday with both of our families, and now, with a few days left of work until the new year, I’m beginning to reflect on 2011 and think about small changes I can make in 2012. I hope you had a wonderful holiday, too – what was your favorite memory?