Save Our Water Series, Vol. 2: Sustainable Agriculture and The Importance of Supporting Regenerative Practices

In our first volume of the Save Our Water Series, we spoke about rain barrel production and the benefits on small gardens to big farms.  Today’s volume will illuminate the myriad of important information gleaned when researching sustainable farming, and what it can do to really save our planet.

We will begin by understanding what Sustainable Agriculture is.  In short, this type of farming practice keeps the greater good in mind. It protects the environment, public health, animal health and habitat, and allows us the ability to produce good food without hindering the next generations ability to do so.

Well what is GOOD FOOD? Great question. “Good” food, in my opinion, is local(the further it travels, the more preservatives have to be used), truly organic (get your round up out my face) properly fed (grass fed, or true omnivore diet for chickens because chickens are NOT vegetarian), non hormone or GMO enhanced (screw you Monsanto and the three headed , genetically modified horse you rode in on), FOOD grown or grazed in soil that not only is rich in proper nutrient densities and ratios, but also maintains a pesticide and herbicide free grade.

Let’s break down the difference between Industrial Practices and Sustainable practices.

Industrial Crop and Livestock Production

So basically, Industrial crop and livestock production uses a type of monoculture. What is Monoculture, you say? Oh, let’s let the experts explain.

“Monoculture is a common practice in modern agriculture in which large acreages of land are planted with one type of crop, usually multiple years in a row. Often such techniques are used to supply goods to other regions or countries. Monocultures deplete the soil and crops grown in this manner become more susceptible to pests and disease than those grown in a diverse crop environment, thus requiring larger amounts of chemical sprays (i.e. pesticides). Monoculture on animal factory farms refers to the raising of one type of animal (generally chickens, turkeys, cattle, or pigs) confined in densely packed expanses, often treated with hormones and antibiotics to maximize growth and prevent the diseases that would otherwise spread quickly through the farm. These operations produce much more waste than the surrounding land can handle, and the farms are associated with numerous environmental hazards as well as animal cruelty. The government calls these facilities Concentrated (or Confined) Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs).”

Sounds AWESOME, right?

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This seems, to me, that they are operating under the notion that they are gonna treat everything like crap, just to “feed the world” chemically downgraded food that is low in nutrients, and high in toxic crap.

Sustainable Livestock Production

Farmers that use practices with sustainable focuses allow their animals to eat an instinctive, natural diet, to move freely on pasture, and to eliminate the stress and disease (hello no disease, no antibiotics needed…f*#%ing DUH) that a cramped environment produces.

People are led to believe that in order to feed more people, we must use genetics to produce food that can withstand drought, bugs, weeds, and weather patterns. That is just untrue in a lot of cases. Sure, the big companies take a hit in the wallet when these things happen, but to truly teach sustainable farming will impact our whole world.

“Regenerative Agriculture describes farming and grazing practices that, among other benefits, reverse climate change by rebuilding soil organic matter and restoring degraded soil biodiversity – resulting in both carbon drawdown and improving the water cycle.”

I cannot explain the benefits any better than Regeneration International can in their well researched list below.

A Global Shift to Regenerative Agriculture Can:

  • Feed the world: Small farmers already feed the world with less than a quarter of all farmland. > Read the GRAIN Report
  • Decrease GHG emissions: A new food system could be a key driver of solutions to climate change. The current industrial food system is responsible for 44 to 57% of all global greenhouse gas emissions. > Read the GRAIN Report
  • Reverse climate change: Emissions reduction alone is simply inadequate. Luckily, the science says that we can actually reverse climate change by increasing soil carbon stocks. > Read the Rodale Institute Report
  • Improve yields: In cases of extreme weather and climate change, yields on organic farms are significantly higher than conventional farms. > Read the Report by the UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food
  • Create drought-resistant soil: The addition of organic matter to the soil increases the water holding capacity of the soil. Regenerative organic agriculture builds soil organic matter. > Learn More
  • Revitalize local economies: Family farming represents an opportunity to boost local economies. > Read the FAO Report
  • Preserve traditional knowledge: Understanding indigenous farming systems reveals important ecological clues for the development of regenerative organic agricultural systems. > Read the Action Aid Nepal Report
  • Nurture biodiversity: Biodiversity is fundamental to agricultural production and food security, as well as a valuable ingredient of environmental conservation. > Read the Report
  • Restore grasslands: One third of the earth’s surface is grasslands, 70% of which have been degraded. We can restore them using holistic planned grazing. > See the Evidence
  • Improve nutrition: Nutritionists now increasingly insist on the need for more diverse agro-ecosystems, in order to ensure a more diversified nutrient output of the farming systems. > Read the Report by the UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food

We Can’t Afford Healthy Food

This is a legit concern as health food stores are quite pricey when it comes to organic food. Finding your local farmers market (yes, they have them in cities all the time) or finding a crop sharing organization such as Agriberry here in Virginia and Maryland, helps keeps the cost of truly organic farm fresh foods down.  It also provide the added benefit of having your family eat what is in season, which requires less industrial farming interventions.

 

In small towns, like ours here in Virginia, farmers markets supply these local farms a venue to sell the fruits of their hard labor. We utilize these markets for produce, and have a gone in for several years on purchasing a cow sharefrom a local SUSTAINABLE farm here in Orange, VA called Renewed Pastures Farms.

Farmer’s Market Setup

The owners, Jason Goforth and his wife, invited the family and I to tour the farm and see exactly what the farm does to remain sustainable. We could even see how the cows live and graze if we wanted to!

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‘Sup, Jason?!

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In the health food store, a pound of Grass-fed meat is roughly $6-$8 depending on the store and the company. Over time if you are an avid beef eater like we are, the tax, price for gas for the trip, the packaging, and price fluctuation in the market adds up quickly. So, we do a cow-share with some friends of ours. We get 1/2 a cow that is cut to order and will last us roughly 8-12 months. At less than $8 per pound, we get filets, flank steaks, London broils, and even or ground beef allotment for a STEAL compared to grocery store. And Jason delivers it right to our deep freezer!

So we have local (within 100 miles), preservative free (freezing is their only method), and true sustainably farmed meat that our family can rely on for an unbeatable price.

How can we NOT afford that?

*** Check out this PDF on Grass-fed Cow Market News.***

The simple truth is this, we have to support our farmers who work their butts off to uphold truly sustainable farms. They rely on us to purchase their products, be it produce or meats, in order to keep their higher standards up. So let’s get out there and support our local folks!

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Friday Faves: Summer Grilling

With Fourth of July festivities behind us, summer grilling season is officially in full swing. And nothing quite says summer like the unmistakable smell of dinner on the grill after a day in the summer sun. So…. who’s grilling this weekend? We are!

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So let’s take a look at what’s cooking, good looking. Here’s a sneak peek at some of the all-time favorites from our Lockers to Littles summer grilling menu.

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Dry Rubbed Baby Back ribs with Raspberry Chipotle sauce

These are the only ribs we will ever make in our house ever. again. They are total summer perfection with all the flavor and just enough kick. The rub is from Food Network chef Jamie Deen (Yep, that would be Paula’s son, so you know he’s legit. You can link to the original recipe here.) We give it our own twist by teaming it up with Raspberry Chipotle sauce for the perfect blend of spicy and sweet.

For the rub:

  • 1 tablespoon paprika
  • 1 1/2 tsp brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp finely grated orange zest
  • 1 1/4 tsp salt
  • 3/4 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 4 lbs baby back ribs

For the sauce:

  • 1 bottle BBQ sauce of choice
  • 1 cup fresh raspberries or raspberry preserves
  • 1 can chipotles in adobo sauce

OR

  • Robert Rothchild’s Raspberry Chipotle BBQ sauce

In a small bowl, stir together all ingredients except the ribs. Rub mixture all over both sides of the ribs. Wrap ribs in foil or plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 (or up to 12) hours.

For the sauce, I love this Robert Rothschild prepared raspberry chipotle bbq sauce made with simple, fresh ingredients, or you can make your own raspberry chipotle sauce by adding raspberries (or raspberry preserves) and chipotles in adobo sauce to any BBQ sauce and adjust the heat to taste with red pepper flakes and honey.

When ready to cook, preheat the grill to medium heat. Arrange the ribs on the BBQ and brush generously with raspberry chipotle sauce. Reserve any extra sauce. Grill for 40 to 45 minutes, turning occasionally (and sipping requisite summer beverage of choice). Cook until the meat is browned and crisp on the outside. Serve with remaining sauce on the side (and lots of napkins).

Recommended Bev Pairing: A light wheat Beer such as Hoegaarden or Bell’s Oberon

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Grilled Lobster with Garlic-Parsley Butter

If you like lobster in the slightest, stop what you are doing right now and make this recipe. Credit for this recipe is fully given to Saveur, and we have changed nothing because it’s perfect.

  • 8 tbsp. unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 tbsp. finely chopped parsley
  • 1 12 tsp. crushed red chile flakes
  • 4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1 lobster (about 1 to 1 12 lb), halved
  • 14 cup olive oil

Combine butter, parsley, chile flakes, garlic, lemon zest, salt, and pepper in a bowl; set aside. Transfer lobster halves, shell side down, to a baking sheet; crack claws and place them on the baking sheet. Drizzle halves and claws with oil, and season with salt and pepper.

Heat a charcoal grill or set a gas grill to high; bank coals or turn off burner on one side (see “Grilling 101”). Place lobster halves, flesh side down, and claws on hottest part of grill; cook until slightly charred, 2-3 minutes. Flip lobster over and using a spoon, spread lobster with the garlic-parsley butter; continue grilling until lobster meat is tender, 3-5 minutes more.

If you’re dealing with live lobster, learn how to humanely prepare your lobster here. Please don’t boil.

Recommended Bev Pairing: A crisp Sauvignon Blanc, or a smooth Unoaked Chardonnay

 Tyler Florence has always been a go-to for me in the grilled meat department. He nails it with this bacon wrapped scallop recipe. The spicy Sriracha Mayo is the perfect sweet heat compliment to the saltiness of the grilled scallop with bacon.

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 pound large scallops
  • 1/2 pound thin-sliced bacon
  • Extra-virgin olive oil
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 cup good quality mayonnaise
  • 1/4 cup hot chili paste (recommended: Sriracha Hot Chili Paste)
  • 1 lime, juiced
  • 2 tablespoons chopped cilantro, plus more for garnish
  • 2 heads Bibb lettuce, washed
  • 3 avocados, sliced

Instructions

****Pssst…the recipe calls for a broiler but the smoky flavor that the grill can add to the scallop is divine!*******

Heat a charcoal grill or set a gas grill to high; bank coals or turn burner to low on one side (see “Grilling 101”).

Wrap each scallop in a piece of bacon and secure it with a toothpick. Place the bacon wrapped scallops onto grill, drizzle them with olive oil, and season them with salt and pepper. Grill them away from hottest part of grill for about 10 to 15 minutes until the bacon is cooked through, turning halfway through.

Make the spicy mayo by combining the mayonnaise, chili paste, lime juice, and chopped cilantro. Stir well and refrigerate until ready to use.

To serve, carefully peel away the lettuce leaves and line a large platter with the lettuce cups. Top each with a bacon wrapped scallop, 2 slices of avocado, and a spoonful of spicy mayonnaise. Garnish with cilantro leaves.

Recommended Bev Pairing: A crisp and light Rose to compliment the heat of the recipe

Proscuitto-Wrapped Grilled Brie with Pineapple

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Photo from Food Network

Hold the phone, Food Network. You’re grilling cheese with pineapple and wrapping it in Ham? Holy delicious sweet gooeyness, this app will tell the other cheese on your cheese board to step up their game. My favorite grilled appetizer recipes comes from the Food Network’s Show: How to Win Summer

Ingredients

  • One 1-inch-thick slice pineapple, peeled and cored
  • One 8- to 12-ounce wheel Brie or Camembert, cut in half horizontally
  • 8 slices prosciutto (about 8 ounces)
  • Crackers and bread, for serving

Instructions

Prepare a grill for direct and indirect heat: For gas grills (with 3 or more burners), turn all the burners to medium-high heat; after about 15 minutes turn off one of the side burners and turn the remaining burners down to medium. For charcoal grills, bank one chimney starter-full of lit and ashed-over charcoal briquettes to one side of the grill. Set up a drip pan on the other side to avoid flare-ups. (Be sure to consult the grill manufacturer’s guide for best results.)

Grill the pineapple over direct heat until golden on both sides, about 5 minutes per side. Let cool 5 minutes, then place on the cut side of one of the cheese halves. Place the other piece of cheese on top with the cut side touching the pineapple. Lay the prosciutto slices out on a work surface so they overlap in the middle and look like the spokes of a wheel. Put the cheese and pineapple round in the middle of the prosciutto and bring up one slice at a time to cover. The cheese and pineapple should be fully wrapped in prosciutto.

Grill over direct heat until starting to turn golden and crisp, about 3 minutes. Flip with a spatula and cook until golden and crisp on the other side, about 3 minutes. Move to indirect heat and cover the grill. Cook until hot throughout and gooey, 5 to 8 minutes more depending on your grill. Serve immediately with crackers and bread.

Recommended Bev Pairing: A deliciously smooth white wine blend or if you’re a beer person, try a Farmhouse Saison brew such as SmartMouth Alter Ego.

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Photo by Foodie Factor on Pexels.com

Grilled Asparagus with Curried Dill Sauce

We are rounding out the end of asparagus season depending on your climate and this one makes an excellent grand finale for the spears.

  • 1-2 bunches of medium to thick speared asparagus
  • 1/4 C olive oil
  • 2-4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • Juice of 1/2 lemon (set aside other half)
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

*As soon as you get home from the store: Trim bottom 1/2 inch off asparagus and place in a bowl of water in a sunny window. This will plump them up so they’re crisp. If you’re on a time crunch, use warm water. Can be left here for 1 day.

Combine all of the above in a gallon baggie or in the bag in which you brought the asparagus home. Squish around to mix. Make Sauce (see below)

Heat a charcoal grill or set a gas grill to high; bank coals or turn burner to low on one side (see “Grilling 101”). Place spears crosswise to the grill on the low side; cook 2-3 minutes and flip. Cook until just starting to char, 3-5 minutes more. Remove to platter, do not cover.

Curried Dill Sauce

  • 1/4 C good quality mayo (we love Sir Kensington’s) or Greek Yogurt
  • Juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 1/4 tsp curry powder
  • 1/4 tsp dried dill – crushed in your hand before adding or 1/2 tsp fresh finely chopped dill
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Mix together and chill. Serve with Asparagus. Works equally well as sauce for steamed artichokes, fish, or broccoli rabe.

Recommended Bev Pairing: A crisp Sauvignon Blanc (a Sancerre if you can find) or Pouilly Fume

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Photo by Tookapic on Pexels.com

Grilled Peaches with Creme Freche

This is one of the universe’s most delightful summer desserts and it’s not even that bad for you! Winning!

  • ~6 medium firm, but not hard, free-stone** peaches (1 per serving)
  • Avocado oil or coconut oil
  • 1/2 pint Creme Freche (or plain whole milk yogurt if you can’t find but you’ll need to add more honey)
  • Zest of 1/2 lemon or lime plus ~1Tbs of juice
  • 2 TBS Finely chopped fresh mint
  • 1/8 C good quality honey

**free stone peaches will twist off their pits when halved – as at the store if they know which ones work, or if they’ll cut one for you to test

Heat a charcoal grill or set a gas grill to high; bank coals or turn burner to low on one side (see “Grilling 101”). Halve peaches and remove pits. Brush skin and face with oil (if using coconut, you’ll have to warm it to liquid). Grill peaches over high heat face down for 2 minutes. Turn skin side down on low heat area of grill and cook until softened and skin is starting to easily pull away – about 6-8 minutes more.

While peaches cool, combine Creme Freche with juice and zest. When peaches have cooled to room temp, serve with a dollop of Creme, sprinkle of mint and generous drizzle of honey across the top.

Recommended Bev Pairing: A mellow chardonnay, Fume Blanc or sweeter dessert wine if you like them.

Eat, drink and be very, very merry friends!

xoxo, Lockers to Littles

Kristy, Au Naturale: Survival in the woods, aka tent camping with kids.

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Camping is one of those activities that our family has always enjoyed doing together. Being in nature, grounding ourselves, and slowing down for a weekend has been really effective in helping us reconnect and bond when daily  life seems so busy. We camp with extended family as well, which, for us, has always been an amazing time.

Our camping journey started in a tent for seven people. There were only two of us and a puppy, so that made it roomy and doable. Our spacious luxury camping getaway quickly became a cramped space when we had our first kiddo.

When little #2 came around, that seven person tent turned into a giant canvas bag of emotions!

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So, we bought a Pop-up.

 

Now at least we had a roof overhead, a stove, and heat and air conditioning!

“What a step up!” we thought until even that became cramped with “baby stuff” and then the space above began to feel like more like this…

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Our camping nights started to become very very difficult. It was almost like going back to newborn stages for the first two nights every time we took a trip.

8 pm: Honey, the cloth diaper blew out, we need to go to bathhouse to hose the baby off.

10 pm: Mommy, I have to potty

Midnight: Dangit, now I have to pee

1am: diaper leaks onto mattress

3 am: Mommy I have to potty (again)

Suffice it to say, we…never…slept.

Now that we are GLAMPING it up in a tag along trailer with a bathroom, queen bed, and kitchen, I can look back and give a list of all the things necessary for tent camping with tiny kids. (If you’re not wanting to totally give up on it like I admittedly did)

Kristy’s no bull survival guide to tent camping with kids:

A large tent: 

Don’t want to pay $250 for a large WATERPROOF tent? Well, sorry Charlie, you’re gonna be cold and wet in a cheaper one. They can leak, not hold up in the wind, and have a tendency to be crackly and loud when the wind does blow.  Better investments equal better experiences in my opinion. This tent is big enough for your overnight bags, the essential change of clothes needed for any accidents, and extra towels/wetbags for any messes or laundry. Dew will make everyone damp and miserable even if you’re not rained on while camping.

A Sleeping Pad

Content_Team_081417_71478_Choosing_Sleeping_Pads_lg.jpgIn addition to a specific sleeping bag meant for outdoor slumber, you’ll need a buffer between you and the ground. TRUST ME, even if the beautiful weather during the day is warm, the ground at night gets cold! Putting a pocket of air between you, your littles, and the ground can help insure a better night sleep for you all. You can also use a camping pad, or an air mattress (but good luck trying to get the kiddos to sleep when you’ve basically just blown up a bouncy house in a tent!)

Pillows

One of the things people don’t usually think of, is how bulky pillow can be in the car ride and especially in a tent. They make specific camping pillows that have their own cases for storage when you’re out and about during the day and need more room in your tent to move around.

Proper Footware

What shoes you will need for your kiddos depends on time of year, and typography of your campground. We usually do a water based (crick, creek, or lake) campground so our kids can explore, fish, and collect shells and rocks. So we select our favorite Keens that can be amphibious. They are also great on hiking trails that aren’t too rocky. You’ll want an option that’s easy to slip on and off for those bathroom breaks.

Fire Utensils

Whether you’re roasting hot dogs or marshmallows, let’s be real…who knows who has let their dog pee on a stick nearby! I usually resort to bringing my washable Roasting sticks for all things S’mores related.

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For fire stoking, do yourself a favor and have a proper set of fire gloves incase you need to adjust any logs or one goes astray.

For cooking, we use this adjustable tripod that cooks veggies, meats, and will even toast bread right over the fire! It breaks down and goes right back in the box as well for easy traveling.

Lighting

You’ll obviously need flashlights for when you’re walking around at night. We always have these solar lamps hanging around as well, for use inside the tent as well as around the site itself. Kids and adults alike do well with headlamps as well. Just make sure you teach your kids not to shine it at your eyeballs.

Snacks

Overestimate the snacks you bring – basically double what they would go through at home. Pick things unlikely to melt/squash like nuts, dried fruit, whole grain crackers and peanut butter, etc…. One of the worst possible camping situation is running out of food. While you’re at it, pack yourself some extra adult beverages.

Cooler packing hack: Prep ahead of time by freezing water bottles, juice boxes or pouches, and squeezable yogurts. Use these along with ice packs and bags of ice. These will keep things cold in there for longer and also be nicely chilled when your kiddos or yourself want to eat them.

And the Piece De La Resistance

The Toilet Tent

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I cannot stress to you enough how important this little bugger is. You think, “Oh, we are camping, there’s a bathhouse right there that I’ll walk to” or “I’ll just pee in the woods cause I am woman hear me roar!”

Awesome thought. Really, it is.

HOWEVER, 9 times out of ten when your kid wakes up, you wont want to trek the 100 yards to the actual toilet when they are freaking out about the dark walk or first thing in the morning when the entire campground is sleeping and your kid is screaming that they have to go.

This tent is taller as well, so you can change in it without the hassle of ducking, if you’re tall like my family.

Putting The Fun in Family Time

We like to stay at campgrounds with lots of activities. Crabbing on piers, shark tooth treasure hunts, easy hiking, wagon rides with water balloon fights, splash parks, gem mining, local watering holes and breweries with picnic style seating can be all great things to look for. When hanging fireside, though, we always love to add magic to the experience of being outside and away from home as a family.

These amazing fire color packets change your campfire into a magical rainbow of colors that can spark the imagination of even the curmudgeonist of curmudgeons.

I hope this helps some of y’all get your family out and exploring your area or surrounding areas in order for more tiny humans to learn to appreciate and love this earth that sustains our lives. I know I am awed by the majesty of its landscapes, and weather patterns every time we go.

Oh, and no light pollution of rural campgrounds equals amazing star gazing! (Throw in a little romance for you and your partner as well!) Or some educational constellation spotting with your science kid! (There is an App for that)

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Night breezes seem to whisper “I love you”

 

Kristy, Au Naturale: Making Fitness Fun Wherever You Are

Alright Alright. I have waited long enough to talk about it. So let’s do it. Guess what? I Crossfit. And what’s the first rule of Crossfit?

               Always talk about Crossfit.

And boy, oh boy, did I ever uphold that rule! I’m pretty sure people ran for the hills when they saw me coming because, “She’s gonna tell us how many pull-ups she did yesterday”

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Yup….that is exactly what I would have done;) But now, I have learned the power of balance and FUN in adapting workouts to fit into the life of all that wish to have fitness be a priority in their lives.

It seems about time that I share some of my hubs’ and my favorite Crossfit Workouts. I do this so you can know that not only is Crossfit for everybody, but it can also be adapted and scaled down for every BODY. 

I’ll give y’all (that’s right I am a Virginian) two versions for these adapted workouts. The first version will be the Crossfit prescribed workout. The second will be adapted for the at home motivated fitness junkie.

You should of course only do these if you know you are medically safe to do so – if you’re not sure, ask your healthcare provider. And for Pete’s sake, use good form!!!! Not sure what good form is? Invest in a few personal training sessions or CrossFit Gym sessions (you might just get hooked like me).

Kristy’s Most Favoritest Crossfit WOD Ever

“Annie”

download (5).jpegWhat you’ll need: A jump rope and a yoga mat. Oh and some Chamois Butter  just trust me and buy it. High Reps=hello sit-up chafe. 

Oh and also if you’ve had kids……..These little life saver Poise Impressa protection things are Ah-May-ZZZING protection for those 150 reps of jumping. And yes, you will probably pee on yourself if you aren’t using them, let’s all just be real.

The point: We do these repetitions on a metabolic conditioning scale. The way it works is the clock starts, and you want to get in 50 reps of double unders then sit-ups. Then, you do 40 and 40, 30 and 30, and so on…..FOR TIME.

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You said do what?

Don’t have double unders? No problem, just triple the amount of single unders (standard jumping rope) you have to do.

50-40-30-20-10 reps of

Double unders

and sit-ups

Annie at home”

What you’ll need: Your body and a yoga mat

50-40-30-20-10 repetitions of:

High Jumps

and Sit-ups

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Record your time. And repeat in a couple of months and see if you can can get a faster time!

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My Husband’s Choice

“Nancy”

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We are back into the METCON here, but this sort of run/weight training is amazingly efficient in reaching your anaerobic thresholds. Threshold meaning the point when you “feel the burn” but you keep moving through anyway, fighting the urge to quit!

5 Rounds for Time:

400-meter run (roughly a quarter mile)
15 overhead squats

Men: 95 lb (with weight plates and a barbell)
Women: 65 lb (weight plates and barbell)

Crossfit.com explains this workout of the day, or WOD, perfectly.

“This benchmark couplet is meant to be light and fast. Reduce the load on the overhead squat so you can perform all the reps unbroken and still run fast.

Intermediate Option
5 rounds for time of:
400-meter run
15 overhead squats

Men: 65 lb.
Women: 45 lb.

Beginner Option
4 rounds for time of:
400-meter run
10 overhead squats

Men: 45 lb.
Women: 35 lb.”

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“Nancy at home”

What you’ll need: A 1/2 mile route and free weights (you choose the load)

NO weights?

Find a heavy object in your house or use your baby/toddler for Mom/Dad-ercise!

5 rounds for time of:

1/2 mile run

15 air squats

OR

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OR 15 baby thrusters (shown below)

These are some fun ways to “dip your toe” into the world of High Intensity Interval Training to see if it is for you. But trust me, it is.

Enjoy rocking out and sweating massive amounts of High Intensity Awesomeness!

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I mean, who can argue with that?

At Home with Christiana: Our Daily Bread

When I started this post, it was just going to be my favorite homemade bread recipe, which I am frequently asked to share. But as I started writing it, I wanted to share what led me to begin baking my bread at home, whenever I can.

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For the Love of Bread

After spending a glorious year living in Europe, I fell in love with bread. Like Oprah-style shout it from a mountain-top type bread love. Yep, you heard it… the food that almost every diet-conscious American has been told to break up with, is. my. jam. And while I can agree that a bread-centric diet is not a good idea, I’m going to rebel against the system here and argue that bread, REAL bread can be a part of an otherwise healthy and balanced diet. 

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The Scandinavian Effect

I lost my Americanized fear of bread about 15 years ago, when I was living and studying in Denmark. Scandinavians are some of the healthiest, happiest people on the planet and I observed them eat bread (really good bread) all. the. dang. time. Now, the Danes typically ride their bikes or walk to the bakery … things we Americans could for sure do a little more in our lives. But they eat bread nonetheless. And, another key observation was that Danes went to the bakery for bread. Fresh out of the oven, you can smell it from the sidewalk, real bakery bread. NOT pre-packaged, preserved, pre-sliced, pre-everything bread from the grocery store. This led me to a hypothesis. Maybe the worst part about our bread isn’t actually the carbs but all the other STUFF, the stuff that really doesn’t need to be there at all. 

Pre-packaged bread additives

white and beige medicine

While I love bread, I don’t love the growing list of unrecognizable additives on most of the pre-packaged bread on our grocery store shelves these days.  Traditional homemade bread is made from very simple ingredients; flour, water, yeast, salt, sugar. Commercially-made bread, though, often includes a long list of additional and potentially dangerous ingredients including, to name a few:

  • azodicarbonamide – a chemical compound also used to make yoga mats, shoe rubber, and synthetic leather, gained publicity after a food blogger petitioned Subway to remove it from it’s food in 2014. Also found in hundreds of packaged baked goods including breads from Starbucks and nearly every other fast food chain.
  • potassium bromate – a dough strengthener banned by every industrialized country except the US and Japan, a suspected carcinogen, shown to cause cancer in lab animals.
  • ammonium sulfate – like the cleaning and fertilizing ammonia kept in the child-locked poison cabinet, ammonium is often used as a bread preservative/dough conditioner in packaged bread.
  • sulfur dioxide– regularly used in packaged bread as a preservative and bleaching agent. Increases bread shelf life. May cause asthma symptoms. 
  • L-Cysteine – an amino acid which shortens baking time of commercially made bread. Sometimes derived from human and/or hog hair, and feathers. Barf.

Along with mono- and diglycerides, artificial sweetenters, a variety of dough conditioners, and other bread-making shortcuts that provide pre-packaged breads with quicker manufacture times and longer shelf lives. Basically, while we weren’t looking, bread in this country became an industrial success and a dietary disaster.

Back to the Basics

Once I started to research my hypothesis, I became completely freaked out by packaged bread. None of us really want the additives, the preservatives, or the whatever-ives… we just want the basics. You know, real bread.  But unfortunately that’s often not what we’re buying. 

human holding a bread
Photo by Flo Maderebner on Pexels.com

So I started looking for easy, accessible ways to make my own bread at home.  But bread can be notoriously time consuming and gadget laden, with bread-maker and bread-hook and 3 hour prep-time recipes galore. That doesn’t usually jive with the busy lifestyle of modern families. After years of searching, experimenting, I give you my go-to homemade bread. It is based on a Genius Kitchen recipe originally, but modified a bit. You’ll have homemade bread on the table in one hour or less, start to finish. 

This is literally the easiest, quickest, holycrapwehavecompany bread, EVER. No lead time required. No yoga mat chemicals, guaranteed. Homemade bread on the table in one hour – start to finish. Grown ups love it, kids love it, (my kids even request the nutrient rich “green stuff” on top). Win. 

Nani’s Herb Bread

(Serves 8. Makes two large baguettes)

bread food fresh hands

Ingredients:

For the bread:

  • 2.5 cups warm water
  • 2 Tbsp yeast (regular or quick-rise)
  • 1.5 Tbsp unbleached sugar
  • 2 tsp table salt
  • 4 Tbsp olive oil (reserve 1 Tbsp for topping)
  • 6 cups unbleached all purpose flour

For the herb topping: 

  • reserved olive oil
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh herbs such as rosemary, basil, parsley, oregano, thyme
  • 1 tbsp chopped garlic (if desired)

Directions:

  1. Pour warm water into a large mixing bowl, then sprinkle the yeast and sugar on top of it.
  2. Let it sit for about five minutes, until the yeast mixture looks frothy on top. (as pictured.)img_6876.jpg
  3. Add the flour, salt and oil and stir until combined.
  4. Once combined, knead the dough until it forms and comes away from the sides of the bowl easily. Add a bit more flour if it’s sticky. It should look something like this. IMG_6877
  5. Cover and let the dough rise in a warm place for about 30 minutes.  Don’t worry if it doesn’t completely double in size.
  6. While your dough rises, preheat the oven to 375 degrees, and gather your herbs.  To make your herb topping, roughly chop herbs and garlic (if desired).  Add reserved oil and garlic/herb to mortar and mash with pestle. Dried herbs can be used if fresh are not available.
  7. With floured hands, remove the dough onto a floured surface and divide it into two equal balls. Hand stretch them into baguettes or create the loaf size/shape of your choice. Place on a lightly oiled cookie sheet. Spoon oil/herbs over bread. Bake both loaves for 35 minutes, or until golden brown. 
  8. Serve warm. We love to slice ours into thick hunks and serve with dipping oil.  MANGIA! MANGIA!img_6883.jpg

fullsizeoutput_658Christiana is a Navy wife and mother of 3, attorney and former realtor, world traveler, home renovator and decorator, yogi, fitness enthusiast, and recipe and fine wine explorer.