Category Archives: This is me!

Inspired by middle school students…

Welcome to my blog!

I’m a young professional, or at least I like to think of myself as such… I’m currently in my second year of teaching science in an urban school district in Western New York… wow, it’s really weird saying second year, time surly does fly when you’re having fun! Very happily, I am teaching 7th grade science this year at an expeditionary learning school. Expeditionary learning is an outstanding program that I feel very honored to be a part of. Each year, my team of seventh grade teachers and I plan a learning expedition – a series of case studies and projects for each content area that all link to a big idea that is authentic and relevant to our students. This year I came in as a newly second year teacher and first year teacher in expeditionary learning and hit the ground running – and I still haven’t stopped. I’m sprinting, with lactic acid built up to my ears, but I deeply love the challenge.

Our expedition this year is titled: “Hungry for Change: From Needs to Actions”. You have to say it in a deep formal voice to get the full effect, which is pretty darn awesome. Our students have been excitingly sprinting with me through various topics from manufacturing and marketing of food, to nutrition labels, to remaking recipes, learning about fiber’s secret weapon for your body, to understanding the true science behind type 2 diabetes, to the crazy complication of the human body and how it can insanely maintain homeostasis (or at least try to), to neurological communication in the brain specific to America’s addiction to processed sugar. Remember, I said, seventh graders. [Applaud here]

So, why am I blogging? My twelve- and thirteen-year-old students have more than inspired me throughout this expedition by making serious changes to their own and their family’s lifestyles. Many students have stopped drinking Brisk (yes, I took on that challenge and conquered it with my fist high in the air), limited their processed food intake by visiting the corner store much less frequently, fearlessly tried new fruits and vegetables, eaten more fruits and vegetables on a daily basis, started shopping at the public market, and eating less dairy and meat. One of our projects for the expedition being led by the math teacher and myself is teaching students how to remake recipes for optimum healthiness. Specifically, students are decreasing fat content, increasing fiber and micronutrient content, and eliminating unhealthy ingredients such as white sugar, white flour, butter, and cream.

Now, I was a fortunate person to grow up with fabulous women in my family who taught me how to cook healthy and flavorful meals. Healthy to me growing up was very similar for you I am sure… it meant a large portion of meat, a starch, and a small side of vegetables. All three food groups included meant we were healthy and getting all of the essential vitamins and minerals that we needed. Oh and don’t forget the glass of milk! Which in my case frequently came from my aunt’s farm down the road – the real stuff! It wasn’t until I moved to the city from my small farm town that I had the gigantic transformation in so many different aspects of my life and specific for this blog, started to research more and more about the foods I was eating.

The nutritarian lifestyle caught my eye as I watched Forks over Knives and began reading book after book: The China Study, Eat to Live, and Eat Right to name a few. I guess the fact that I befriended many health nut friends didn’t impede this journey in any way either. Everything I read made perfect sense to me, from a biological standpoint, socio-emotional, sustainable and ecological. Food from the earth itself is what I am meant to eat, not anything that is produced in a factory full of chemicals that wreak havoc on my body. So for just over a year now, I have been living a nutritarian lifestyle- eating no processed foods, no bovine (dairy products and beef), very limited meat (only chicken, turkey, and fish – organic as much as possible) and eggs on a very limited basis, always organic. My daily meals include massive amounts of fresh vegetables, mainly green and cruciferous, fruits, whole grains, legumes, and nuts and seeds. Eating this way brings me comfort in many ways -feeling physically healthy and happy, taking power over my health specific to disease and cancer (something very close to home for me with my mother being a breast cancer survivor and over 10 family members surviving and dying from other various cancers), and personally supporting my local economy by purchasing local farm fresh foods on a weekly basis – again close to home growing up with multiple family members running their own farming businesses.

So again, why blog about it? Well, my students have done such an outstanding job making changes in their lives and sharing those changes with their families, friends, and community members. But here I am, enjoying my healthy cooking everyday but not sharing it with as many people as I could. So I plan to share with you, whomever you are, my weekly healthy recipes and some information here and there for why these foods are so good for you. Please remember that I am a teacher, a very dedicated one, so I do most of my cooking for the week on Sundays, leaving me time for lesson planning, grading, meetings, and the gym during the week. Warming up delicious food in the oven for 10 minutes takes much less time than cooking an entire meal when I’m exhausted and starving at 6 or 7 at night during the week.

I hope that you enjoy my recipes, my banter, and humor as you read my blog. Here’s to a healthy, happy, fruitful life!