▣ Black●ut Friday ▣

Friday, November 28, 2014

Assuming that you’re not living under a rock, you know by now the far-reaching effects of the verdict of the Mike Brown case. Announced on Monday evening at the Clayton Courthouse in St Louis (just 2 miles from my house), Officer Darren Wilson was not indicted, reminding us all that America is not the angel we pretend she is. Or really, our system is not the Bible we preach it to be.
Unfortunately, we are in the midst of a national wakeup call and the national holiday season that lauds "the Bible"-we all know capitalism and Christmas go hand in hand, right? Alas, we have ourselves a Grinch. But...the Ferguson verdict is not a metaphorical Grinch. We are our own Grinches. If you recall in the Dr. Seuss story, the Grinch's heart grew when he heard the Whos singing Christmas carols after he had stolen their presents. The singing echoed up to Mount Crumpit and flooded into the Grinch's ears, mind, and soul, miraculously invigorating him with Christmas spirit. Not the spirit of materialism, but the spirit of higher power.

Sounds like something we could all use right about now. Today, the Friday following Thanksgiving, usually marks the consumer-craziness we call "Black Friday." This year, we #shutitdown and turned it into Blackout Friday. And, oddly enough, some of today's events weren't all so different from "How the Grinch Stole Christmas" and "how the Whos took Christmas back." 

I attended a peaceful protest today at the St Louis Galleria, only about a mile from my home. The protest was indeed peaceful-and very effective. We marched around the mall for about an hour, chanting protests often in sing-song; peacefully inciting mall-goers (and a ton of media) to watch or (better yet) join us; demonstrating what Mike Brown's death looked like (a symbolic 4.5 minutes spent lying on the ground for the 4.5 hours he spent on the ground after being shot by Wilson); and we shut the mall down. By the time I entered the mall at around 12:30, the storefronts on the second floor already knew about the protest and had locked their doors. By the time I left the mall at around 2 pm, it was shut down! A job well done, and a job far-reaching. Shoppers flock to the Galleria from all over-rich and poor, young and old, black and white and brown and yellow... and specifically on Black Friday, for the spirit of red & green. We're all "Who" shoppers in the greater scheme-it doesn't matter who you are~we all participate in holiday materialism. The protest reminded the Whos and the Grinches of the Galleria that the true spirit of humanity/the holidays is love and unity. 

I wish you a good start to your holidays, and remember to count your blessings, especially at the end of this turbulent year

xo  SFB

☞ Thoughts on Ferguson and "Forgetting" ☜

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

A couple years ago I took an introductory Government class about nationalism. It focused a lot on Europe in the 19th and 20th centuries, not so much on America. While we are lauded for being the harbinger of democracy, capitalism, and freedom, America has been struggling with a uniform definition of nationalism since our beginnings. One of the concepts we discussed in that class was "shared forgetting," be it in war, genocide, injustice, or inquisition. 

When we think about our Founding Fathers, we think of bright minds and progressive ideas. It’s no coincidence higher education is one of the founding tenets of Washington D.C. America is also home to some of the best universities in the world. The institution of education is part of our blood, but “shared forgetting” is part of our educational system as well. This trickles down from the leaders who run the schools to the way that we cognitively process information in the classroom. Think about when you're studying for a test: you make sure you know the “important” information. When we come across material that we don't think will be on the test, we don't pay as much attention to it. When we take the test, it's likely we will forget the information that we glanced over, as opposed to the information we studied in full detail.

While whites are able to collectively "forget" slavery, blacks don't have a choice in "shared remembering." Society reminds African Americans every day of their traumatic history in America. Conversely, society positively reinforces “shared forgetting” for American whites; whites have it good. But this failure or refusal to remember is actually a karmic debt. 

Academia aside, I want to bring up a point about American culture. As a culture, we don't always deal with our psychological issues. In decades and centuries past, we have lived without acknowledging our mental illnesses or trauma. We live today under the faces of "progress" and “success” without acknowledging the fact that we have traumatized the African American psyche for centuries. How many successful people have a hidden psychological trauma, how many people exist on the edges of "normalcy", hanging on by a thread? To quote Lewis Carroll, "are we all mad here?" 

We're not insane, we're not dysfunctional, we're not "inhuman"-no one is. There is deep-seeded anger and pain,  as we have compartmentalized and denied trauma on both ends of the spectrum. This lack of recognition has erupted in bursts of revolution, animosity, and "insanity" throughout the years when triggers like Mike Brown remind us of this trauma. We should not feign "being OK" when it is not the reality.

I liken this to academia because in the sense of thinking, remembering, and using these verbs to change, learning is a cognitive process. It can be inhibited by trauma. When you repress, ignore, or "forget" trauma, you are not "healing." You have to uncover it, relieve its memory, and understand it.  White Americans neither acknowledge this trauma/ its lingering effects, nor have we ever been traumatized to the same caliber. We don’t try to empathize; instead we ignore.

To "dismiss" the legacy of slavery, of the fact that we stole the land from Native Americans, of the fact that we inflicted oppression for centuries, is the biggest problem of all. It is an action, that we as humans, fail to recognize, fail to study, and fail to change. Indeed, this history is very much alive and present, as witnessed in our institutions, in our "tests"(the Mike Brown trial), and in our lifestyles

In the way that society is structured today, white Americans may ask how to educate themselves. If an institution, a trial, or an economic system, do not provide justice, what does? My answer to this is information, specifically art and pop culture. We make art to tell our stories, show our feelings, our experiences, and sometimes our spiritual motivations. Art connects us on a human level.

Educate yourself on African American culture. Whether you read W.E.B. DuBois, listen to music, look at websites-consciously educate yourself. The power of the Internet gives us access to a huge range of information, but remember that lots of media are institutions that protect the status quo. Do not consume the information to feel ironic, to fetishize it, or to subsume it under your own human experience: consume it to understand it. Pop culture may reinforce what's "cool" but recognize the intentions and feelings behind the material you are consuming, not its "otherness" or "novelty." And most importantly, don't "forget" the material you've studied. Just like when you take a test at school, you very well know that forgetting the information sets you up to fail. I urge this to all young Americans-most of you have Internet connections, so unlike your parents and grandparents, you have access to this information. 

White Americans will never fully understand the black American experience, but if you have the privilege of education, or if you consider yourself a proud American, you have no excuse to ignore the part of your nation's history that has been silenced under centuries of trauma. 
 xo  SFB

☼ It's (Not) Always Sunny in St. Louis ☼

Monday, November 17, 2014

But when it is...I document it! 
Happy Monday! 

Well, just as the weather channels predicted last week, snow has hit St. Louis. It began Saturday evening and lasted well into Sunday. It took me about 20 minutes this morning to heat up my car to defrost the ice off the front windows. It's not here quite yet, but soon enough I'll be walkin' in a WINTER WONDERLAND..
Did I mention I'm still obsessed with Alice in Wonderland? I watched the original Disney movie over the weekend because I'm actually still 5, and even though I get more of a spring-y vibe from the animation, Wonderland is season-less. And also sunless, at many points. 

I'm trying to be optimistic about winter's arrival. I usually have trouble during transitional times between seasons, when life feels in limbo. Luckily I captured some of the last moments of "true fall" in STL over the past few weeks. Have a good week, & remember, the sun will come out tomorrow (or you know, eventually). Thanksgiving is just around the corner.  
PS: SO excited for the upcoming remake of Annie this Christmas! Talk about an all-star cast. 

 xo  SFB

Veggie Tales: ☃ Radishes Au Gratin ☃

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

90s kids, hopefully you are familiar with Veggie Tales. Religiously imbued yet absolutely delightful, the series stars some stellar veggies, from Larry the Cucumber to Bob the Tomato to Jimmy & Jerry Gourd. I can't think of anything more wholesome than adorable vegetables singing biblical tales with squeaky voices. You hear that, kids? BigIdea Entertainment wants you to love God AND eat your vegetables....simultaneously? Why not. 
Alas, here is how this throwback is applicable to my Keto aims for this blog: So, vegetables contain carbs, which, as a general rule of ketosis, I must keep track of. Unfortunately, this means I am limited in my veggie consumption. (But am I deprived? No.) My # 1 staple is spinach, but most other veggies I tend to incorporate specifically as accents to dishes. Rarely do veggies take the main stage. I am therefore chronicling my own Veggie Tales series of all veg-based dishes.
These will stveggies as the leading actors in each "foodie theatrical production." Behold, my 1st Veggie Tale:  
Radishes Au Gratin
It started with a rumor. I'd been hearing great things about radishes all over the Keto Blogosphere. I'm not entirely familiar with radishes, but having heard that they can take on a potato-like consistency, I figured they had potential to be scalloped "faux-tatoes". Here's the skinny I learned about radishes: if you boil them before you fry/bake them, they starch-ify!. But at only 2 net carbs per cup, they are very keto-friendly (miraculous, right?!) Always a winter favorite, anything au gratin is creamy, heavy, & perfect for a cold night. It may not be winter yet, but with 30 degree temps outside, WINTER IS COMING. The End. (Yeah, I knocked off Game of Thrones, sorry I'm not sorry.)

(Makes 2-3 servings)
  • 1 lb radishes chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 6-10 brussels sprouts
  • dash of pumpkin spice, cayenne pepper, salt & pepper 
  • 3-4 slices of bacon
  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 6 oz grated Gruyère (or really any hard cheese)

  • Chop the radishes into thin slivers & boil for 7-10 minutes. As they boil, brown the bacon; set oven to 400°F. Chop up the brussels sprouts & garlic cloves as the radishes boil. After the bacon is cooked, take it out of the pan and chop it into smaller bacon bits. Add back into pan.

    Once radishes are boiled, fry them with bacon & remaining bacon grease. Add the garlic & brussels sprouts. Add spices. Pan-fry & stir to taste, adjusting spices & heat as needed. Once the vegetables are browned, add the heavy whipping cream and reduce flame; let simmer.
    Stir until the vegetables, bacon & cream have formed a caramelized-like consistency.

    Add cheese & bake for 15-20 minutes. Serve immediately!

    • ·       Enjoy! Also, note the RADISH JUICE I drained on the right. (Don't worry, I only drank the wine)

     xo  SFB

ผัดไทย (Phat Thai)

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Hopefully by now you have figured out that all recipes & meals posted will be keto-friendly (with a few exceptions, for very special occasions when I voluntarily kick myself out of ketosis). I will explain in more detail the science behind ketosis in a paper-crafted infographic, but for now just know that anything tagged "Keto" optimally entails very few carbs & a creative variation of yummy fats. 

Reddit's Keto Recipes sub is great for inspiring recipes, interesting ingredients, & keto "hacks"/adaptations for easy home-cooking. I came upon a thread recently about Pad Thai, one of my favorite pre-keto indulgences. Coincidentally, keto-adapted pad thai is nutritionally more fitting than a regular pad thai recipe (with less emphasis on fats) to its authentic name in Thai,"Phat Thai." Keep calm & Keto on, and do enjoy those phats fats.  
-packet of Shirataki noodles (I really like House Foods brand)
-Soy sauce
-Nut butter (preferably peanut, I had sunflower seed)
-Bok choy (center)
-Chicken (or other protein)
-half a lime
-liquid Stevia
-Coconut Oil
-Coconut milk 
-Thai "Noodle sauce"=mixture of fish sauce, coconut milk, garlic, chiles, sugar, ginger (available at international grocery stores)
{optional: sriracha, garlic powder, additional vegetables or spices}

When I made this, I kept it pretty light, as I had already fulfilled most of my Keto "macros" (refer to this if confused), but the recipe is easily adjustable. (Add more fats/sauces/ingredients if necessary.)

I had already pre-panfried my chicken, but that should be done first if you're starting with raw meat. While this pan-frying is happening, you should be washing, draining, & drying out your Shirataki noodles. These buggers are super low-carb & virtually calorie free (they're like spiralized tofu, if you've never heard of them) but here's the deal: they STINK (as in smell like fish!). Luckily they take on whatever flavoring & smell they are cooked with, but they do require some extra prep. So, fry your meat & drain your noodles.  
After the meat is done, it's time to fry the noodles. Add some more coconut oil to pan if needed and throw the noodles on over medium heat. Add 2-3 tbsp of soy sauce, a tbsp or so of coconut oil, & 2 spoonfuls of the Thai "noodle sauce." (Use this sparingly, as it's about 1 carb per tbsp.) Let the noodles fry & eventually add the chicken back on. Lower the heat. Next, concoct the sauce: add 1/2 cup soy sauce, 1 tbsp of nut butter, a few drops of liquid stevia, another tbsp of coconut milk, a dollop of sriracha, the lime, & another tbsp of "noodle sauce" to a saucer. Throw the bok choy in the pan for about a minute. Then add the sauce & stir fry. Add 2 quail eggs to fry (perfect size for a small portion!) if you want, as well.
 Add 2 quail eggs to fry (perfect size for a small portion!) if you want, as well. 

  xo  SFB

▓ Checked & Balanced ☯

Monday, November 10, 2014

I may prefer October to November (what can I say, I'm a Libra!) but November is lovely for its cosiness & quickly apparent botanical transition from autumn towards wintertime. October may be the height of fall, but it's November when the real decline & decay occur. I love going with themes so I told myself I would read some seasonally appropriate fall-unto-winter literature this month, namely Robert Frost & Henry David Thoreau. I may be in the Midwest, not New England, but I think it's safe to say there is a little New England spirit in every American in the fall (cough, Thanksgiving).

It's supposed to freeze in Saint Louis this week-as excited as I am for the upcoming holiday season and some selective winter attire (which I can't wait to showcase), I strongly dislike the cold. I would be happy as a clam if the 50-degree, pumpkin-carving, leaf-crunching harvest extravaganza was the only season. I'm enjoying it while it lasts, and so are my favorite fall clothes:   

Zipper details

Blazer, Necessary Objects.
Shirt, Uniqlo.
Skirt, taikonhu at Anthropologie.
Tights, Urban Outfitters.
Boots, Bottega Veneta

Perhaps, or perhaps not, you wondered why this post is called "Checked & Balanced"? Like I said, I'm into themes, and it fits into the fact that November is Election Month. I'm not going to talk about politics, but I will say this:  
 Always vote! 
If there's one thing that will hurt you, me, & society, it's apathy.
As a resident of STL, I live pretty close to Ferguson, the hotbed of discontent & injustice of America today. We're all waiting this week on the Supreme Court ruling of the Mike Brown case, but let's all pray that justice is served.  

 xo  SFB 

☁ Food, Glorious (Keto) Food ☁

Thursday, November 6, 2014

An Introduction to Keto

Time to talk about one of my favorite (& luckily for me, absolutely essential) things in life:

Starting September 1st, 2014, I reupholstered my sugar-laden diet in exchange for the Keto/Primal lifestyle. Basically, I eat minimal carbs (no more than 30 grams daily), high FAT,

and moderate protein.  

I'm still relatively new to Keto, but as a member of the Primal/Paleo Living community, there are tons of awesome resources online for recipes/tips/studies (check out the #ketogirl subreddit, a blog with darling keto-friendly desserts, & this impeccably designed keto blog)
As a foodie, it's kind of a pain to go out to eat when I'm not exactly sure of the ingredients & nutrition of my dish. But, as someone who used to get frozen custard/yogurt MULTIPLE (I'm talkin' like 4 times) a week due to her "sugar "cravings" (cough, addiction) I am no longer weighed down (literally though, I lost 5 lbs!) & am in control of my food. + I get to be super creative in the kitchen.

Some of my latest "concoctions":

Keto sushi: smoked salmon, avocado, boiled quail egg, cream cheese, and seaweed wrapper


Cauliflower Crust Grilled Cheese with brie, bacon, & pumpkin  

Up Next: Avocado Fries!

Ingredients: crushed pork rinds (bowl), 1 egg, salt/pepper/cayenne/sriracha, and avocado 

Mix ingredients & bread 'em. Pop them in oven at 450°F for 15 minutes. 

There you have it: a couple of keto ideas to get you started on the Keto Diet. Looking forward to sharing more :) 
xo ♡SFB