‘Know thy food’

Fresh summer salads, information about eating healthy shared during potluck dinner

Published in Sanibel-Captiva Islander July 29, 2015 issue

Community members were treated to an assortment of healthy, fresh summer salads that were made step-by-step last week by the co-owner of The Sanibel Sprout during the monthly potluck dinners at the Community House.

In addition to teaching those in attendance how to prepare summer salads and homemade dressings, Nikki Rood provided some information about why it’s important to fuel the body with healthy foods.

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Rood, who owns the shop located near Bailey’s with her mom, moved to Sanibel from Miami three years ago when her mom was suffering from Leukemia. The two decided to work on her mom’s diet to see if that would help her health.

“I said do you want to try and tackle this and take this on and see what a plant based whole food, no chemical, diet might make a change in your condition,” she said. “She was completely game. For a month every single morning I cooked for her or prepared for her all plant based (foods.)”

In three months time, a visit to her mother’s oncologist confirmed that a plant based diet was beneficial.

“In three months she went to her oncologist and her numbers were fabulous. The guy wanted to know what she did and we just laughed all the way home,” Root said. “She has never turned back and it is now three or four years later.”

Rood, a firm believer that food is medicine, shared her philosophy with the crowd, “Let food by thy medicine . . know thy food.”

Before she took those in attendance through the preparations of chilled almond curried salad, arugula and fresh pear salad and island coconut quinoa confetti salad she shared some information about the role food has with health.

“Everyday there is new research coming out on how our food sources have been poisoned if you will,” Rood said. “This isn’t sensationalism. This is proven fact. The rash of the epidemic of chronic disease, like cancers and autoimmune disease, inflammatory diseases, it’s starting to look like the food source has been a large part of the problem. All of the problem, no. As a civilization there are many things going on. But I think if we move back towards the way we used to eat . . .good healthy nutritious organic food that isn’t sprayed and manipulated and processed and sitting on a shelf for five years before we even touch it.”

She told the crowd that there is vitality in fresh food that offers an aliveness, which translates to the body.

“When you eat it you can feel the difference between eating a fresh vibrant salad and fit and a McDonald’s burger,” Rood said. “You can feel the heaviness in your body or you can feel the light.”

The dialogue of fresh foods, she believes should continue, so people can take the power back from big farms and big agriculture entities.

“Everybody’s body is different and for me to sit up here and tell you, you should eat a certain way is disingenuous,” Rood said. “I am here to show you some healthy options and some fun ways to make some tasty foods that are really going to fuel your body instead of harm your body.”

Information about acid alkaline, and wheat and gluten were discussed while she prepared the various salads.

Lemons are a great source for acid that is good for the body. A glass of water with a slice of lemon, Root said is a great way to start the day.

She said more and more people are forming allergies to gluten and wheat because an individual’s digestive tract becomes compromised from a lifetime of ingesting various chemicals found in foods.

“You can get a heavy feeling or it can actually cause depression, inflammation,” Root said. “If you are feeling not well in many cases you may be eating an inflammatory diet without recognizing it and that will wreak havoc to your sleep cycles and your digestion.”

Outstanding weekend

Jason and I traveled to Illinois this past weekend to help celebrate my cousins big day on Oct. 4.

After Jason worked an eight hour shift, he drove us to Des Plaines, an 11 hour trip. We hit the road about 10 p.m. Thursday night and drove straight through. Yes, this man drove the entire way, which was only on about 6-7 hours of sleep from the night before. Of course I took multiple naps along the way, it happens every time we travel long distances. Every time I woke up, Jason was in good spirits singing along to the endless music coming out of his MP3 player.

We arrived at my grandparents house around 8 a.m. Friday morning, just in time to eat breakfast. This was definitely a great way to kick off our mini vacation … sitting around the table, talking and eating some great food with my grandparents, mom and little sister.

I have to admit it was great seeing my mom and little sister. I have missed them over the past months … hopefully I can see everyone else soon.

We hung out for a while and had some great conversations, while going down memory lane.

I love looking at old photo albums, I learn a little more about our family each time.

An incredible memory for all of us was a trip to Gatlinburg, Tenn. in 1999. A trip where all of my aunts, uncles, grandparents and cousins gathered to celebrate my grandparents 50th anniversary. We had so much fun that trip, endless great times were had. It was great looking through those albums because our memories were triggered of what those days entailed.

Next year my grandparents will celebrate 65 years. They are truly an inspiration for all of us, they have so much love for each other and for each and everyone of us.

Before Jason and I headed to our hotel to get ready for the wedding, grandpa and I had a conversation about my grandmother. The amount of love this man has for his wife took a hold of me as he shared how she was doing. The great part of their story is my grandparents met when they were little kids, more than 80 years ago. I love seeing them together, they have something very special, truly special.

Friday afternoon kicked off the fun filled weekend. My cousin Pat got married at a beautiful church in Glenview to his stunning wife Karen. The service was beautiful and the reception was a lot of fun.

Whenever you get my crazy Italian family together many laughs will always be had.

I will always remember walking out of the reception into the hallway and spotting Pat. We instantly gave each other a hug as he expressed how happy he was that I came. Pat was glowing, his whole face lit up as he talked about his wife and how beautiful she is. It was great to see how happy he was, how in love he was.

Saturday was also a ton of fun. Aunt Lisa put together a beautiful party for everyone to get together again before we all left and others went back to work. The amount of food spread out on the U shaped tables was endless, snacks of every variety was laid out before us. This beautiful afternoon and evening was another great way to catch up and get to know a few of our new family members.

I love being a part of such a large, loving and fun family. I’m glad Jason was finally able to meet my mom’s side of the family.

I am beyond grateful to have Jason in my life. All the driving he did, so I could spend time with my family, was incredible.

Another weekend full of memories, another weekend I will always remember.

Sneaky kitty

Leo, our kitty, absolutely loves “people” food.

As soon as you turn your back he’s constantly trying to find a way to enjoy whatever you are eating.

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Tonight was no different as I left a bag of Chex Mix open next to me on the couch. When I turned around he had his paw in the bag trying to maneuver a tasty treat to enjoy. This little stinker is too smart for his own good.

Unfortunately for him, I caught him before he was successful in getting a piece of food this time.

Warm deliciousness

I finally found a cure for my coldness, which had taken a hold as soon as I left the house this morning . . .

As I stepped outside to head to work, the crisp air sent me straight back into the house to dress a little warmer for the day ahead. Once I turned the car on it reveled that the temperature was 49 degrees, which instantly gave me the chills.

While I drove to work with heat filling the car, the thought of moving to a colder climate consumed my thoughts. How am I going to handle 20 and 30-degree weather if my body cannot handle the 40s? That thought was instantly answered with warmer clothes, lots of blankets and hopefully a newfound tolerance of cold weather, haha. Many of the apartments and homes we have been looking at include a fireplace, which will be nice to have, another way to keep me warm.

Those thoughts then were instantly erased with . . . I look forward to the colder months every year . . . what are you worried about?

The opportunity to witness seasons once again – winter included, even if that does include snow – is one of the main reasons I am looking forward to our move to Tennessee. It will be fun to experience a new climate.

Although the heat was already warming the office once I arrived, thanks to my thoughtful co-worker, my body and fingers remained cold making it hard to type. As the hours ticked by, the coldness never went away . . . which lead me to the perfect solution . . . soup.

As I took a bite of my first spoonful of warm homemade tomato basil soup from the deli, my body instantly thanked me as I warmed up. I’m always excited to see the soup grace the deli’s website every week because it is the best tomato basil soup in town.

What a wonderful cure, spoonfuls of pure deliciousness.

My cure of course gave me another solution … I will just have to keep the cabinets filled with soup and find recipes to make it from scratch as we go through our first winter in NE Tennessee.

Homemade

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Although my boyfriend typically spoils me with a wonderful meal every night when I get home from work, this past week the roles have changed.

Due to him taking on a second job and working about 70 hours a week, I decided to make sure he had a meal every night already prepared, so when he arrived home from working a double all he has to do is warm it up and enjoy. I figured that was the least I can do for this man who is working doubles almost every day just to give us an opportunity to achieve our goal.

I love and admire his determination to make things happen. He is a man who does not sit still, but rather takes action.

The appreciation I received last night as he was warming up the honey chicken I made from scratch and taking a bite of a corn muffin was incredible. His gesture only makes me want to continue to surprise him with a new meal every night.

It has been a ton of fun finding recipes every day and duplicating the meal for us to enjoy. The best part is tasting the creation I threw together and wanting seconds because it tasted good.

Tonight I made baked ziti with chicken, which was incredibly easy to throw together, put in the oven and forget about until the buzzer went off. Food that is made from scratch, instead of already prepared, always tastes a million times better. I always feel so much better once the meal is finished because I know every ingredient that is thrown into the recipe.

I think I may have found a new joy, which I’m sure my boyfriend will be thrilled about . . .

Maybe it is time for him to be spoiled for a while . . .

One happy momma

Little jars filled with sunflower seeds to be planted once the baby is born.

Little jars filled with sunflower seeds to be planted once the baby is born.

Various shades of pink filled the kitchen and living room as everyone gathered at my parent’s house this afternoon to help spread the joy of a baby girl soon entering the world.

My mom was the star of the day as she opened her house to all of our friends and Dorene’s family members for the shower. She had every dish needed to plate all of the food
we were serving, as well as the space. My parent’s home was the perfect setting for such a wonderful day.

As I made some last minute stops this morning, the entire baby shower came together as pink balloons were tied near Dorene’s seat in the living room, a sign “It’s A Girl” was hung above her seat and adorable crafts came to life.

Once Dorene arrived with her children, what we envisioned and planned for the past couple of months slowly came to life as things were checked off the list. Her daughter was incredible as she made the delicious punch, finished the brusheta, scooped this, found a spot for that  and helped with any other job I threw her way.

Room on the kitchen table became sparse as all the platters were placed in their specific spots for everyone’s enjoyment. Pink plates, cups, napkins and utensils were also in arms reach.

Although everything looked amazing our angel food cake and strawberry skewers were the highlight of the table, due to the adorable girly decorations that topped the stick.

Long time friends were reunited, as well as the start of new friendships forming as everyone arrived with gifts in hand for the guest of honor.

My mother’s kitchen, no matter the activity, event or holiday, is always the gathering area. The baby shower was no different as everyone stood around the table and the counters as they caught up on each other’s lives.

Once the food was tasted and conversations shared, the party traveled to the living room as everyone gathered around to watch Dorene open her presents. As items were taken out of bags or unwrapped, stories were shared of when their children were young, or how awesome that particular gift was. Pictures were snapped to remember the moment the gift was opened to share with those who were not able to make the shower.

A trivia game was given to everyone, as well as a scramble game to test the guests’ knowledge of how well they knew everything baby. The winner of the games went to a guest who has no children and absolutely loved the smell of the pink candle.

As people began to leave, little jars with pink tissue paper were given to them with instructions to plant the sunflower seeds within once the baby is born.

Laughter constantly filled the rooms of my parent’s house throughout the afternoon deeming the baby shower a success.

I am beyond thrilled that this day was successful and the guest of honor enjoyed herself throughout the entire shower. The baby shower I planned and hosted went off without a hitch, which is an amazing feeling.

I will never forget how excited Dorene was to have this baby shower, along with the smile that constantly lit up her face throughout the day.

Friendships, no matter how long, fill your life with so many unexpected happy moments that enrich your life.