Quality of Life.

Apple-pear tree in the garden.
When I moved to Wyoming years ago, I felt I was going back in time to my childhood. I grew up in Argentina and Brazil with an Argentinian father, and medium rare steaks were what we ate for lunch- and dinner. I was happy to find meat, bacon, and eggs from local Lander area ranches, and was introduced to game as well. It quickly became my nourishment of choice, especially during the long snowy winters. 

But I began to notice over time that my clothes were becoming tighter... and tighter... and the weight on the scale was increasing. I first chalked it up to muscle, and age. But it became clear after a while that there was a trend. I had forgotten how I used to eat. 

I was 15 when my parents separated. My father left for a different woman and a different country, and so my mother was free to run the household and kitchen as she pleased. As a true Brazilian, she scraped the Argentinian meat, potatoes and pasta to reintroduce rice and beans as our daily staple. She also became involved with macrobiotics, and quickly learned how to use all sorts of grains, beans, vegetables, fruits, seeds and nuts as a way to maintain our health. We did not go to restaurants very often, and did not have access to much packaged, processed foods back then. We drank water and fruit juices. Desserts and snacks were made at home, we learned to bake cakes and Brigadeiros, and make popcorn in the afternoons. Cereals, potato chips, donuts, fast food, none of that existed in our world, and sodas like Coke and orange/grape Fanta were considered fancy treats for kids birthday parties. I remember when the first Dunkin Donuts opened in São Paulo, and my sisters and I rushed to try some. We all threw up after eating them, we just weren't used to it, the sugar and grease. 

This is how my sisters and I grew up and learned to eat. And eventually cook.

With my mother and sisters, '22. 
I am now so incredibly grateful for what my mother taught us while in Brazil. I had no idea when
 I came to the States to study, and eventually work, that food and cooking would become such an important way for me to be grounded and connected to home, my upbringing, and the earth. 

When I married and became pregnant, food and cooking instinctively became my way to connect to my mother, traditions, and background to raise our kids. I wanted them to grow healthy and strong, so I devoted myself to learning everything I could on food, cooking, gardening, and clean, simple good living. And I started to write about it as a way to catalog recipes, ways of cooking, and experiences around it all.  

It was no coincidence then, as I struggled to understand what was happening with my body years later, that my daughter was the one to replant the seed in my mind. She had cut all animal foods from her diet, in defense of animal rights and the environment

Around that time, I had watched "Seaspiracy", and subsequently "What the Health". I was inspired to look at my eating habits again. 

It has now been a year since I started eating this way.

I did not think I had that weight in me, but I lost 17 pounds, not being any more active than I had always been. But it did make climbing, biking and running easier, and more fun really. My periods had become irregular the previous year, and hot flashes were wreaking havoc on my sleep. I saw my periods become regular again, and the hot flashes went away. The only change I had made was my diet.

I felt energized and awake whenever I ate, instead of the usual sluggish, sleepy feeling. 

I was surprised to find I did not crave or think much about meat. I did not miss that heaviness. And I 've come to find out I do not like how I smell when I eat it; I feel like there is something rotting inside me. So I just stay away from it. I do crave goat cheese! I love the consistency and taste, so I eat a bit of it here and there, especially when I cook with friends.

I can tell my taste buds have changed. Vegetables, grains, beans, seeds, nuts, they all taste wonderful and feel very satisfying to eat. And the varieties are endless. All the colors, shapes and sizes of grains, beans, seeds, nuts. Parsnips, rutabagas, turnips, radishes, carrots, beets and potatoes of all colors and sizes, cabbages, greens of all kinds, mushrooms, radicchios, garlic, onions, peppers... and fruit! There is just so much to explore. And they all taste delicious, especially when they are fresh. 

Getting started with collard greens.

As fate has it, a home with a garden then came into my life again, through a deer friend. Blackberries, raspberries, apples, tomatoes, kale, spinaches, collards, cucumbers, and squashes. Basil, rosemary, sage, oregano, thyme, peppermint. It is so incredible to get back from work, and go check on how my cucumbers are doing! I could never grow them in Florida, they were always eaten up by the grass hoppers. In Boise, they are perfect! 

This garden is such a happy place, with all the fruit trees, bushes, vines, flowers, spiders, humming birds, owls at night. It is just incredible to see these vegetables grow from the dirt, and flower, and give their fruit which nourishes us. It is truly a miracle that it happens, when you watch these plants slowly grow and flourish, day by day. Those are all such simple and incredible gifts from the ground, from the earth, from nature.

When I garden, I am in nature. When I cook and eat its fruit, nature is inside me. I become part of nature and the universe, and nature and the universe are also inside me. Past, present, and future all become one, to which I am connected timelessly. The food I eat now, is what I planted yesterday. How I cook now, is what I draw from past traditions, family, culture, friends, and life experiences. And finally, what I cook and eat now, is what will make me tomorrow. How I connect to the ground, the earth, and the universe.

Quality of life. 

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