Organic Melinda

healthy living with a Latin twist


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Join me, TODAY, 9/15/2013 at 3PM est in a LIVE chat!

Join me 9/15/2013 at 3PM est in a LIVE chat!

In honor of Latina Heritage Month:

Join Melinda Gonzalez (Organic Melinda) and Kimra Luna of (www.themissfitmama.com) this SUNDAY, September 15th at 3 p.m. EST when we will discuss my book, being a vegan Latina, organic living and healthy eating on a budget.

An e-book copy of Melinda’s book, L.I.V².E. (Latin-Inspired Vegan & Vegetarian Eats): Local & Organic Recipes to Encourage a Healthy Lifestyle, will be given away to ONE lucky viewer.

Instructions to Attend:
1. Log-in to Facebook.
2. Visit WWW.THEMISSFITMAMA.COM
3. Click the link for the LIVE chat with Melinda Gonzalez.
4. Leave comments in the live feed below the chat.
5. One lucky winner will be randomly chosen to receive a free copy of my book.

Instructions to claim e-book:
1. Once winner is selected, send a message to ORGANICMELINDA@GMAIL.COM to redeem the book within 24 hours of the interview.
2. You will receive a special code with instruction on how to get your free e-book copy.

Click here to join the Facebook Event Page: https://www.facebook.com/events/516182531795598/

L.I.V².E. is only the beginning of the Organic Melinda movement. Together, we can strive to ensure the integrity of our food and urge the food industry to support small and local farms.

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Join me 9/15/2013 at 3PM est in a LIVE chat!

Leave a comment

Join me 9/15/2013 at 3PM est in a LIVE chat!

In honor of Latina Heritage Month:

Join Melinda Gonzalez (Organic Melinda) and Kimra Luna of (www.themissfitmama.com) this SUNDAY, September 15th at 3 p.m. EST when we will discuss my book, being a vegan Latina, organic living and healthy eating on a budget.

An e-book copy of Melinda’s book, L.I.V².E. (Latin-Inspired Vegan & Vegetarian Eats): Local & Organic Recipes to Encourage a Healthy Lifestyle, will be given away to ONE lucky viewer.

Instructions to Attend:
1. Log-in to Facebook.
2. Visit WWW.THEMISSFITMAMA.COM
3. Click the link for the LIVE chat with Melinda Gonzalez.
4. Leave comments in the live feed below the chat.
5. One lucky winner will be randomly chosen to receive a free copy of my book.

Instructions to claim e-book:
1. Once winner is selected, send a message to ORGANICMELINDA@GMAIL.COM to redeem the book within 24 hours of the interview.
2. You will receive a special code with instruction on how to get your free e-book copy.

Click here to join the Facebook Event Page: https://www.facebook.com/events/516182531795598/

L.I.V².E. is only the beginning of the Organic Melinda movement. Together, we can strive to ensure the integrity of our food and urge the food industry to support small and local farms.


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10 Tips on How to Balance Your Family Life

I received a Dear Organic Melinda email from a mom who wanted advice on how to balance work, school and family life. You can read my response to her by clicking here.

In order to assist exhausted mommies (and daddies), I put together this list of 10 tips  that describe some of the ways that I have tried to achieve balance as a work-from-home mother.

1.       Stop trying to do it ALL.

Many of us have preconceived notions that if we are not independent women a la Beyonce’s song paying our own bills, maintaining our own homes, and looking like we spend 15 hours at the gym every day, then we are complete failures.  There’s a reason why it takes two people to make a baby.  Nature requires, at least 2 people, to raise it.

It’s okay to leave the dishes piled in the sink for a few days and not fold the laundry as soon as it is done being washed.  And, hey, if you are taking care of a newborn all day long while your partner is working, and you didn’t shower yesterday, it’s okay to go to sleep when the baby does. No one is going to tell the Gods of Hygiene.

It is, also, okay to ask a friend or family member to please come over and watch your baby while you finish up work for a client, a report for your boss, or just take that aforementioned shower you need so badly.

2.       Get your partner/child’s father involved!

Sure, he might not change the diaper as well as you do, and he might leave dishes partially dirty when he washes them, but if I learned anything from my survey and personal experiences is that Daddy (or Mommy #2) is essential to your overall well-being!

While most women play with baby dolls in a seeming wave of culturalization towards motherhood, most men do not have the same experience.  Chances are that his baby is the first baby who he has ever taken care of.  This leaves some men feeling inadequate, and if you point out his flaws in child care, you are going to add to those feelings of inadequacies.

Let him/ her know how important s/he is to raising your child. Say thank you when s/he cleans the house, takes out the garbage, or whatever.  The Ms. Independent claim is a myth that we need to deconstruct because it only leaves women with MORE work to do.

Remember, children need a father figure in their lives (whether biological or not), so be sure to facilitate that experience for them.

3.       Make time for yourself.

I have struggled A LOT with this one.  Because of my family history, I have serious issues trusting others to babysit my daughter. For the first year of her life, I was so adamant about making sure that all of her needs were met, that I forgot about my own needs.

I gave up a lot of my passions, and I found myself, one day, wondering who I was anymore.

I started to carve out space for myself by hiding in the bathroom as soon as my partner came home from work. Yes, the bathroom. I’d go in to pee, and just sit in there for an hour to be alone with my thoughts.

Then, I joined a gym and left my daughter with her father 2 hours a day just to unwind and take care of my mind and body, which leads to Tip 3.

4.       Exercise.  

I know that with everything you have to do, exercising just does not necessarily seem like a priority. But, it really needs to be.

Most gyms, these days, have a free daycare with your membership.

If you cannot bear to leave your baby with someone else or you cannot afford a gym membership.  There are tons of DVDs online that have Mommy and Me workouts.

There are, also, parks with tracks and your neighborhood.  You’d be amazed what a 1 mile walk or jog will do for your mental health and energy levels.

Find ways to incorporate exercise into your current lifestyle so that it does not become another item on your To-Do list.  You can use an exercise ball instead of a chair in your office. I’ve seen quite a few office workouts online, too.

5.       Set specific work hours.

This is a challenging one for us work-from-home moms, because we tend to work while the kids are napping and sleeping. Many of us don’t have our own offices or any staff.

Lately, I have been working almost around the clock on my cookbook, and I have to tell you that I am tired and cranky.  And when I am tired and cranky, the entire household is tired and cranky.

My baby cannot rile me up enough for me to really, truly want to play with her, and I am mad at my partner for relaxing. So, please, set a daily schedule of when you can blog, advertise, write, etc, and learn from me.

For mothers who work outside of the home, do NOT answer emails or phone calls when your work hours are over.  The drawback of the technological boom is that people constantly have access to us.  When you clock out, let your work day end.

To the stay-at-home moms, you, too, get to go off duty. Pick a time every day when it’s mommy time and no one can ask anything of you, which brings me to the next tip.

6.       Turn off all of the technology for at least 1 hour a day!

Yes, I know, how blasphemous, right? Imagine not checking your email, business reports, analytics, or Facebook account for a whole hour!

Many of us are super addicted to our gadgets. How could we not be? We are incredibly reliant on them for work, family relations, and to answer questions we just don’t know the answer to, like how to make vegan cheese from scratch.

However, we are robbing ourselves and our children of quiet time and not really giving undivided attention to the important and necessary tasks of our day.

Sometimes, I am on my phone blasting out emails, editing, and advertising, and then my daughter walks up to me asking for a hug.  In those moments, I realize that she is more worthy of my time than a blog post, so I give it to her.  I try to be more mindful of spending more quality time with her.

7.       Stop pressuring yourself so much!

Related to tip number 1, I urge you to stop being so hard on yourself.  All we can do is our best at any given situation, and for type-A personalities or over-achievers, like myself, we think our best is perfection.  Perfection is a myth.  It’s okay not to give your all to every task that comes your way.

8.       Hug and Play with your children.

This tip and tips 3 and 5 can go hand-in-hand.  My daughter gets a thrill out of me using her as a chest press or holding her while I do squats. Sometimes, after seeing me do squats, she does squats with me.  It’s got to be one of the cutest things I have ever seen.

Children do grow up way too fast, in my opinion, especially when you’re a busy mom.  Make sure not to lose out on this special time of their lives.  If you have a toddler, kick a ball around with them. Remember that children require affection and physical touch in order to be emotionally healthy adults.  Go shopping with your teenager.  Call your college-bound child and ask them if they want to go hiking.

9.       Ask for and Get Help!

Seeing a psychologist, speaking to a friend, getting a support network of mothers are excellent ways to unwind and make sure you are mentally and emotionally healthy.

Often times, feeling unbalanced is a sign that you are neglecting some of your own needs and/or you are not sure how to cope with the added responsibilities and pressures of having a child and being a professional.

I struggled with post-partum depression after my daughter’s birth, and a wonderful psychologist really helped me overcome that difficult time.  I also speak to friends and family when I am overwhelmed.  And, of course, sometimes asking for help means ordering take-out.

10.   Take a 5 minute break. 

When you are feeling overwhelmed by it all, just take a short break.

Put your head in your hands and just breathe.  You’d be amazed how much of a difference this can make, especially in the middle of a toddler tantrum.

Remember to relax, because in the words of James Howe, author of Totally Joe, “Life is short and there will always be dirty dishes, so let’s dance.”


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Mothers, we are NOT super heroes, and that’s okay.

Dear Organic Melinda, 
How do women balance working/going to school and doing various other things while raising a family? I think I’m doing okay but could do better. It’s hard.

Best,

Evita

 ~~~~~~~~~~

Dear Evita,

The day that you sent this question to my inbox, I was immersed in a conversation with another working mom, who was incredibly exhausted.  As an anthropologist trained in research methods and analysis, I did a short questionnaire in a few Facebook groups with high concentrations of working mothers in order to provide you with a full answer, which is divided into 2 blog posts. See here and there.

The first trend that I noticed was that many mothers are absolutely exhausted.

The second trend was that mothers who felt balanced or never really thought about balance exclaimed on how incredibly wonderful and supportive their partners’ were in day to day activities.

The third trend was that some mothers, even with supportive partners, were overwhelmed by work demands as their bosses had increased their work hours due to the declining U.S. economy.  These mothers often struggled with guilt about being away from their children for 45+ hours a week.

A forth trend was that stay-at-home mothers were fed up with people assuming that raising a small child is easy, and therefore, they had no right to be tired. These mothers struggle with raising a baby, taking care of themselves, and then having to cater to a partner’s needs. Many of the pressures came from the fact that this group of women does not bring income into the household, and, therefore, her perceived duty is to maintain an impeccable home.

The fifth trend, which builds on the forth trend, was that work-from-home mothers were even more exhausted than mothers who worked outside of the home, because their lives, too, were perceived to be easier since they got to work while wearing pajamas.  Often, people would make comments like, “but you were home all day!”

Did Feminism Fail Us?

While I read the tales of exhausted mommies and reflected on my own daily struggles with balancing raising my daughter, maintaining a home, and working on my start-up business, I began to wonder if the feminist movement had failed me and, in turn, all of us.

The dozens of books I had read on the status of women throughout the world, who still struggle with owning their own bodies, life choices, and futures, ruminated in my head.  Was Marx right? Did the oppression (read exhaustion) of women begin with the nuclear family?  What about Ortner’s ground-breaking piece, which suggested that the oppression of women was directly linked to birthing and lactation? Are we still caught in the age-old split between the public and domestic spheres?

It appears that, in many ways, while women have gained access to higher education in the U.S., entered the workplace, and became mom-trepreneurs, the majority of child-rearing and household work continues to fall on the shoulders of mothers. But, does this mean that we are still oppressed, and that feminism really did fail us?

In some ways, yes, I believe it did, because the expectations for women, are, now ten-fold what they are for men.   And forgive my hetero-normativity for a second, but it also appeared to me that men’s roles have not drastically changed in the last 50 years as women’s have.

In all of the frustration of Betty Friedman’s Feminine Mystique, I, immediately, wanted to blame patriarchy (read as my partner) for the fact that I am so exhausted or society for expecting me to do so much.  That is, I am expected to have the dishes clean and the house and the baby, and, yet, never complain or look tired or feel exhausted.

Then, I ran across THIS ARTICLE, on a book written by the president of my alma mater, Barnard College.

And, I thought, YES! This is it! Tell it like it is Debora L. Spar.

Lay the pressure off of your shoulders!

The first part of your question, Evita, that stands out to me is that you “could do better.” By whose standards?  Why do you think you even need to do better in the first place?  Who or what is making you feel inadequate?  Are you trying to be a Super Woman?

Forget about doing better. Just do your best.

As Debora L. Spar points out, there are various factors that play into our feelings of inadequacies about ourselves as women, mothers, partners, workers, and friends.

The hard truth is that each of us, in spite of our posters of Rosie the Riveter and social-conditioning, just cannot do it ALL.  We need help, and there is nothing wrong or weak about admitting that you need help, and getting it.

I often feel exhausted and I want to scream, pull out my hair, or run away.  Let’s be honest, at some point, most new moms have missed their pre-baby life.  It’s not because we don’t love our babies or we aren’t grateful of having babies or the life we live.  It’s because it’s been 6 months since you had a full night’s rest, you cannot remember if you showered, today, and you’re hungry but too tired to cook.

Yes, the house is messy, and you need a shower. I know you want to look sexy for your partner when s/he comes home. And, now, the baby is screaming, crying. Oh, no, don’t touch the electrical socket! Ahhhh, take that out of your mouth!

But,just forget about it all for a second.  Sit down with your baby, don’t care about the dishes or the gum in your hair, and read my post 10 Tips on How to Balance Your Life.


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What do you mean by Organic?

Recently, a friend asked me what I meant by living an organic lifestyle, so I thought it would be a good idea to write a blog explaining my answer to this question.

The word organic derives from the Greek word organikos, which is related to organs.  In chemistry, the word organic is used to describe all items that contain the element carbon.  Following the development of a raise in consciousness about food, the word organic has become synonymous with food that is grown in a natural and chemical-free way.  In other words, it is food as nature “intended” it to be.

When I speak of organic food, I am not just discussing food that has the label USDA ORGANIC.  Actually, I have learned that there are major politics involved in USDA labeling that favor the wealthy as the process, especially in the state of New Jersey, is really expensive.  In an interview with one farmer, he explained to me that all of his products are organically grown, but in order to pay for the labeling, he would wind up going bankrupt.

For me, being Organic Melinda is about living life as naturally as possible.  That is, I aim to avoid synthetic chemicals in my food, the products I put on my body and clean my apartment and clothes with, and I aim to live a lot closer to nature than my urban existence allows at the moment.

I see human beings as being part of the animal kingdom and I do not exactly subscribe to complete distinctions between man and nature.  I actually believe that our material separation from nature is the cause of many of our physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual illnesses.  I know that when I hike, go to the beach, or spend a long time surrounded by trees, waterfalls, and sand, my spirit feels renewed.  Any anxiety or bad feelings that I feel, immediately, go away when I surround myself with nature.  That is a testament to me that we need to live closer to the earth as we once did pre-concrete.

I am a poet and a writer at heart, and I have always felt a deep connection to the world around me.  So, being organic also takes the connotation of being my true and authentic self.  What does that really mean?

Well, personally, I love to hug trees. It makes me happy, so I do it. I like to twirl like a ballerina at random moments, so I do it. I try to live in the moment as much as possible.  My teachings have taught me that much of the anxiety of our times is related to worrying too much about the future or thinking too much about the past. So, in true Buddhist fashion, I try to stay in the now as much as possible.

I avoid modern medicine, most of the time. I try to move away from medical interventions and rarely take any prescription medications.  I strive to do the same for my daughter.

So, for me, being organic also meant experiencing the pains of child birth, stalling medical intervention as long as possible, performing vaginal birth, and breast feeding my daughter.

But, what is most important for my readers is to understand is that I do what feels RIGHT for ME and I research to ensure the best possible decision making processes for myself and my family.

I am a vegan, because I do not separate myself from animals. I believe they have a right to life, to love, to feel, and have experiences.

You have to do what feels right for you, and as a blogger and woman on my own journey, I can only provide an example of what it might mean to be organic.


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Which Diet is Right for me?

Dear Organic Melinda,

I recently learned about GMOs and have been trying to eat/cook/drink non-GMO and organic. However, I am overwhelmed with all the information I have been reading that sometimes even contradicts each other.

Also, there are so many “diets” (blood type/paleo/vegetarian/etc) so how do I know which I should do? I have also found so many recipes but I don’t have time to cook every single meal from scratch so I get very discouraged because it seems like too much work. I would love simple meals and snacks that take little time to prepare. What would you suggest?

Sincerely,

Debt Free Annie
www.debtfreelikeannie.com

Dear Debt Free Annie,

First, I want to start by congratulating you on your journey towards becoming a healthier you.  I, too, was very overwhelmed in the beginning.  When I discovered that most of the soy in the world was genetically modified with RoundUp Ready, I was terrified.  “What had I been putting into my body,” I thought.  But, let us start with baby steps.

  1. Keep following my blog.  Over the next few weeks, I will post up a list of food items that contain GMO ingredients or are suspected of doing so.
  2. Start by purchasing non-GMO Project verified foods.
  3. Buy at local farmer’s markets from farms you know and trust that do not use GMO crops or chemical pesticides.  I will, also, be providing a list of non-gmo farms in the New Jersey area in the next few weeks.
  4. As you familiarize yourself with which food items actually contain GMOs, you can simplify your life by buying organic produce.   Click here for my blog post on How to Eat Organic on a Budget.

Now, let’s move on to your second question.  Which diet is best for you?

Diets tend to ebb and flow with the times.  What was popular ten years ago is not the “in” thing, today.  When approaching a new dietary lifestyle, you need to do what makes the most sense for you and your family.  My first piece of advice is to eat WHOLE foods, which are foods that have not been processed, come in a box, or contain synthetic chemicals.

The premise of many diets, such as the blood-type diet and the paleo diet is to get back to a base level of real foods.  Many people lose hundreds of pounds on these diets, which make them appear to be miracles, but it is a lot simpler than that.

If you were consuming a lot of highly processed foods with added sodium, oils, and sugars, and you replace processed foods with fruits, vegetables, and lean meats, of course, you are going to lose weight! It doesn’t take a lengthy scientific explanation to see why this would be the case.  Our bodies can more easily digest food in its natural state, and the elimination of added sugars and fats reduces our caloric intake.  The paleo diet and blood-type diets also emphasize exercise and sleeping in healthier cycles.  These, too, contribute to dramatic weight loss.

So, what are your goals? Do you want to lose weight? Do you want to eat healthier? Do you want to help save animals and not contribute to the factory farming industry?

All of these questions can influence your dietary choices.

I have chosen the vegan lifestyle, because I am not comfortable with taking the lives of animals.  Furthermore, I do not want to contribute to the cruel industry of factory farming where animals live in miserable conditions and are tortured their entire existence.  I believe that, because I do not feel comfortable taking the life of an animal, I have no right to consume its flesh.  This is my opinion, but it might not be yours.

So, how do you know which diet is right for you? I suggest that you sample the ones that interest you for 30 days, and see how your body reacts to each. This will be a better indicator than any advice I can give you.

I tried a vegan version of the paleo diet and eliminated all grains.  Through trying paleo, I discovered that I am gluten intolerant. After a few months, however, I began to add some grains back into my high-raw, vegan diet.

You might find that your dietary lifestyle fits somewhere in between two diets, where you borrow from both as mine did.

The goal should be to live a long, happy, and healthful life.  I know this process seems overwhelming, but just take it one day at a time.

I hope to help guide you on this journey as I embark on it myself.

For healthy and easy snacks, you can look forward to my upcoming cookbook, which will be released by summer’s end.  The recipes will be simple and not require many exotic ingredients.  You will learn over 30 easy recipes to help your family eat more fruits and vegetables and live a healthier lifestyle.

I hope I have answered all of your questions.  If you have more questions, please email me at organicmelinda@gmail.com.  I will be answering questions every week from one lucky reader.

Best,

Organic Melinda