Inspiring you to make healthy food and choices one step at a time

April 27, 2010

Got Energy?

Do you need more energy? Like our cat, do you feel like you want to take naps during the day? Do you need a caffeine fix in the morning or afternoon just to make it through the day? Do you feel like you can't exercise because of a lack of energy? Let's look at a very short list of why there could be a deficit and go over a very basic plan to increase your energy...

1. Lack of sleep
2. Poor eating plan
3. Lack of exercise

These three are the most common reasons the average person has a lack of energy. Let's briefly look at each and explore possible remedies.

1. A lack of sleep is usually remedied by getting on a regular sleep schedule, eliminating caffeine in the afternoon and evening, and increasing your energy expenditure during the day. Here are some other common and uncommon helps from

- Following the same routine every night
- Apply hot packs to the spine and have a hot footbath before going to bed.  (ooh, that sounds good!)
- Take a ripe banana and mash it. Add roasted cumin seeds to it and mix properly. Consume this mashed mix before going to sleep. (a healthy substitute for the midnight snacker)
- Increase in the consumption of vitamin B foods such as whole grains and nuts. (Which leads to our next culprit of energy...)

2. A poor eating plan can certainly deprive your body of nutrients that supply constant energy throughout the day. We need to eat properly balanced calories. What do I mean by that? We want nutrient dense food, not empty calories. Afternoon snacks are the biggest culprit. What constitutes empty calories that perhaps we think give us energy to keep us going the rest of the day but actually zap us? 

caffeinated soft drinks (diet or not)

candy bars/pastries

granola bars with sugar/corn syrup (supposed to be healthy, right?)

energy drinks such as Monster, Red Bull (look here for adverse affects)

specialty coffee drinks/black teas (I know these are delicious, but have you actually looked at the calories and sugar levels these contain? (Look at carbs with zero fiber) Look up your favorite drink here)

regular coffee? Adrenal fatigue can be caused by too much caffeine.

little 5 hour bottles of caffeine (must we go there?)

chips, pretzels, chocolate, vending machine goodies

All of these are empty calories that will give you a short term boost that leave you holding the bag on energy for the rest of the day.

What snacks are good for afternoon?

Veggies or Fruit with a protein to balance blood sugar levels

Carrots, celery sticks, and apples along with nuts (almonds, walnuts, sunflower seeds, or peanut butter or almond butter) The fruit helps alleviate the sweet tooth some of us get in the PM and the crunch psychologically wakes us up.

Good energy bars (fruit-sweetened)

Yogurt Smoothie (with protein or veggie powder balancing sugar levels)

Hummus and organic chips (Archer Farms organic corn chip, Garden of Eatin)

Trail Mix (basically dried fruits and nuts, or combo of nuts, no fruit) (no MM's please)

Veggies with yogurt dip

These are just to name a few. Experiment to see what you like best. Actually, sometimes it's a matter of what you can tolerate best in the beginning of your healthy eating plan. We can be honest, right? It's hard to compare a Dark Cherry Mocha Coffee Latte with a celery stick, apple and almonds... I completely understand. But remember, it's all a matter of habit and what you get used to. Examine and Exchange those unhealthy empty calories that take your money and leave you with nothing, lack of energy most of all, feeling bad and guilty the rest of the day. Fight Back! You're worth it!

3. Lack of exercise is our third reason the average person has no energy. You're probably saying, "What do you mean? I have no energy...How am I supposed to exercise if I don't have energy to begin with??"  It's a vicious cycle, isn't it?  That's exactly what I'm saying...Begin to exercise and you will get more energy. At this point, it's mind over matter.

-Choose a time when you can consistently exercise. Morning, Afternoon, or Evening? Whatever time you choose, guard it. You don't really want to exercise late evening because that could interfere with your sleep. But if you work outside the home, exercise when you get home then fix a quick healthy dinner by using a crockpot, 15-30 minute meals, or leftovers. Planning is Key both in exercise and cooking healthy.

-Choose your exercise. You can walk, swim or go to a gym but I am on a kick right now of Jillian Michael's exercise DVDs. Why? Because (1) they are effective (2) anyone can do them (remember Biggest Loser Winner?) and (3) she motivates many people in a no-nonsense, "just do it" approach without making you feel like you can't. I would recommend these for anyone. Are they easy? NO WAY! But can you work up to it? MOST CERTAINLY! She combines weights (hand weights), with cardio, and stomach exercises (abs). The 30 Day Shred DVD is inexpensive, so are the weights. No excuse, right? Wait, there's only takes 20 minutes. Yep, that's it. Am I getting any compensation for this. NO, I just want to help those who need it.

We live in busy times but you choose what you want to do with the time you have. If you eat the foods close to the original way God made them (not processed) and give your body the exercise and sleep it needs... You will live a happier, more productive and satisfying life. Is that all there is? No, obviously not, but that's a good start over what you can control.

I saw this on today and thought it appropriate.

“Successful people aren’t born that way.  They become successful by establishing the habit of doing things unsuccessful people don’t like to do.  The successful people don’t always like these things themselves; they just get on and do them.”  - author unknown

I think that sums it up...What changes will you make today?

This is linked to:
Tasty Tuesdays
Tempt My Tummy
Slightly Indulgent Tuesdays

April 20, 2010

BBQ Shredded Chicken with Coleslaw on Sweet Potato Rolls

No nutrition facts this time I just want to bask in this recipe that was a wonderful Sunday meal, or two or three, for us.

BBQ Shredded Chicken with Coleslaw on Sweet Potato Rolls

This actually is a meal that takes little preparation if you don't make your own rolls, 15 minutes would do it, but the combination of the bbq, coleslaw, and sweet potato sounded too good to pass up.

BBQ Crockpot Chicken 
(This is so simple you don't need a recipe but here's what I did.)

3 whole (6 halves) chicken breasts boneless and skinless
BBQ sauce (I used Xagave recipe here)
Teriyaki sauce (Xagave recipe to come)
Cook on high for 3-4 hours. Shred. Keep warm in juices.

Creamy Coleslaw 
(inspired by Bobby Flay's Creamy Coleslaw)

1 head cabbage (used thickest slicer on food processor blade)
2 large carrots (shredded)
3/4 c. mayonaise
1-2 tbsp. grated onion
2 tbsp. sugar or agave nectar
2 tbsp. white vinegar
1 tbsp. dry mustard
1/2 tsp. celery seed
1/2 tsp. salt 
freshly ground pepper

Combine dressing then mix thoroughly with cabbage and carrot.
Set aside.


Whole Wheat Sweet Potato Rolls
(inspired by Floyd at

Combine to make a paste:
1 sweet potato, baked 
1 c. milk (I used 1/2 c. water and 1/2 c. yogurt)
1/2 c. white or brown sugar 
(I used Rapadurah -evaporated cane juice)

3-4 c. whole wheat flour (or use 1/2 white and 1/2 wheat)
2 tsp. instant yeast (next time I'd use 3 tsp. with whole wheat)
1-1/2 tsp. sea salt
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/8 tsp. ground nutmeg

Mix in 2 cups of the flour with other dry ingredients. Add to sweet potato mixture until thoroughly combined. Add 1/4 c. flour at a time until dough is tacky but workable. Knead by hand or machine 5-10 minutes.

Set dough to rise in covered bowl for 1 to 1-1/2 hours with 3 stretch and folds until doubled in size. (Click here for info on stretch and folds)

Divide in a dozen or so pieces, shape in rolls, and allow to rise until doubled, another hour or so. (Mine didn't quite double)

Bake at 375 degrees for 20-25 minutes (25 for me) until they begin to brown.

Slice open rolls.
Coat with BBQ sauce.
Pile with Shredded BBQ Chicken.
Pile with Creamy Coleslaw.
Top with bun. 

Devour...or politely stuff in mouth so you get the taste of bun, bbq and coleslaw all in one. :)

The amazing thing is that I didn't think this was going to turn out at all. The chicken breasts were dry in the beginning but as it sat in the juices it turned more like shredded pork. (My family thought it was pork!) 

The buns took way longer than the directions said because I used whole wheat flour. I wrote the times in the above directions. 

But patience paid off...

The next two meals with the leftovers were just as delicious. When we ran out of rolls we used toasted whole wheat bread (double fiber 6g per slice) and it was good also.

If you happen to be pressed for time, use whole wheat bread and bottled bbq sauce. Do what you can! Everyone will still enjoy it!

What is your favorite delicious healthy meal?

For more great recipes:
Crockpot Wednesday
Foodie Friday
Friday Food

April 19, 2010

Gluten Free Wheat Thin Crackers

Since we've just covered Grains in our Basics Series I thought I'd take a moment to share a recipe that is gluten free for so many of those that have gluten sensitivities or intolerance issues.  My daughter prefers gluten free food and it's probably a good idea not to bombard our system with gluten so I was extremely happy when I found these crackers that turned out crispy and delicious.

Here's a quick list of nutrient dense, superfood, gluten free grains and seeds:

brown rice
wild rice
quinoa (keen' wa)
yellow corn
oats (not processed alongside gluten grains)

The first time I made these crackers, they were too thick and were chewy not crisp. So the second time, I rolled them as thin as possible, laid them on the sheet and cooked until the edges were browned some. My daughter, along with the rest of us, devoured ate them all. The only change I would make is to double or triple the batch so they'd last longer than 10 minutes.  :)

Hopefully, from these pictures you can see how thin to roll the dough. And you can definitely see the specks of flaxseed. The crackers shrink and pull apart while they bake so you don't have to separate it, a real time saver. :)

While we try to limit our dairy, I didn't feel inclined to switch the butter for olive oil but I may try at some point. The flavor right now is pretty good and we're enjoying them as they are.

I first saw this recipe at Finding Joy in My Kitchen. So if you want the whole wheat version of Wheat Thin Crackers, be sure to check out her blog along with her other delicious healthy recipes. 

This gluten free version calls for a grinder (and so many people have them now) but if you don't, that's perfectly fine; there are great gluten free flours out there so use what you have available. I, personally, was determined to find a flour that was gluten free, freshly ground, and highly nutritious. This is what I developed...

Gluten Free Wheat Thin Crackers

Nutritious Gluten Free Flour Mix (refer to Gluten Free Muffins)

1-1/2 c. brown rice (grinds to make about 2 1/2 c. flour)

1/4 c. amaranth 
1/4 c. millet
(I put these two together and blend on high in a Blendtec. Makes about 3/4 c. flour)

1/4 c. flaxseed (I blend on med. high in Blendtec. Makes about 1/2 c.)

Total flour comes to about 3-3/4 c., enough for a triple batch. This is a gluten free flour mix that can be substituted for wheat flour. I keep the leftover in a freezer bag in the freezer.

For one batch:

Mix together
1-1/4 c. Nutritious Gluten Free Flour mix (above)
1/2 tsp. sea salt
1/4 tsp. paprika

Add rest of ingredients and stir until combined
1 tbsp. raw honey
1/8 tsp. vanilla extract
2-3 tbsp. butter 
a little less than 1/4 c. water (use only what is necessary to make dough moist but not too wet)

Now you have some choices here:
1) If you soak your grains, put in frig overnight. (Bring to room temp before using)
2) If you use fleshly ground flour you may want to let it absorb for 20-60 minutes.
3) Or use it right away; the choice is yours and depends on how much time you have. :)

When you're ready to bake, divide in two, and roll as thin as possible on parchment paper sprinkled with flour. (Otherwise, it would tear when moved) Move whole paper on cookie sheet and cut with pizza cutter into crackers. Optional: can sprinkle a little sea salt over top of crackers before cutting and press lightly.

Bake at 400 degrees for 5-10 minutes until lightly browned. In my oven, 8 minutes was perfect. It depends how small or large you cut your crackers.

We like them best, thin and crispy, served with Spicy Chipotle Salmon Dip.

So in about 15 minutes, you can have your first batch of crunchy crackers to go with any healthy dip or crudites that you like. It's not hard to have healthy home cooked food in 15 minutes, sometimes it just takes a little planning and determination.

How do you like to serve your crackers?

For more delicious recipes, visit these great blogs:

Slightly Indulgent Tuesdays
Tempt My Tummy Tuesdays
Tasty Tuesday

April 15, 2010

Basic #3 - Grains Galore (San Francisco Quinoa)

The grains I'm exploring here are, overall, ones we eat as main or side dishes but they can also be ground for breads or muffins. But I'd rather cover those specific grinding grains separately so we'll talk about those later.

Okay, the nitty gritty of it all...Here are three lists that give you the most nutrient dense grains and pseudograins (seeds though commonly referred to as grains). I'll cover seeds and nuts separately also but these psuedograins are usually used as "cook and eat" grains.

Superfoods Rx by Dr. Steven Pratt

Oats, wheat germ, and ground flaxseed are his top Superfoods, followed by brown rice, barley, wheat, millet, bulgar wheat, amaranth, quinoa, triticale, kamut, yellow corn, wild rice, spelt, couscous

Eat for Health by Dr. Joel Fuhrman

barley, buckwheat, millet, oats, quinoa, wild rice

Thrive by Brendan Brazier

Pseudograins (all are gluten free, easily digestible, alkaline-forming)

amaranth, buckwheat, quinoa, wild rice


brown rice, millet, teff, spelt (contains gluten but in considerably smaller quantities than whole wheat)

I really like this book, THRIVE. It contains gluten free, dairy free, and soy free ingredients and recipes. He is a vegan Ironman competitor (not Strongman but the guys who bike, swim and run.) It is all about high energy, high nutrient foods. Be forewarned this is probably not for the healthy food beginner. It does contain some unusual ingredients but all can be found at the health food store and some can cost a pretty penny. 

There are so many grains to choose from and so many nutrients in each to fill those nutrient voids in our bodies that it would be wise to try one new grain every week or two. You'll have your favorites but continue introducing and experimenting with each.  Remember "examine and exchange" the grains you use now for healthier choices.

What is the biggest complaint about changing to whole grains? The time it takes to cook them. And I understand completely, after all, my premise here is to work in 15 minute increments. For those grains that cook a while, you just need to plan accordingly but that's what I like about quinoa, cooks in 20 minutes and is a great substitute for white rice dishes.

What is so special about quinoa (keen' wa)? Here is a great video that will tell you everything I wanted to write. If you don't have time to watch it, the thing you need to know for sure is...please RINSE YOUR QUINOA. Here's a picture of a sieve to use for rinsing the toxin off your seeds. (Yes, toxin, but more than likely it's been pre-rinsed before you bought it but I rinse to make sure it's all off anyway.)

This recipe is adapted from Chef Paul Prudhomme's book, Seasoned America. Well, really the only thing close is the spice mix but it was the inspiration of this quinoa dish, and the first time we liked quinoa. 

San Francisco Quinoa

Seasoning Mix
1 1/2 tsp. sea salt
2 tsp. dry mustard
1 1/2 tsp. dried parsley (opt)
1 tsp. dried basil
1/2 - 3/4 tsp. grd. ginger
1/2 tsp. black pepper
1/2 tsp. onion powder
1/2 tsp. garlic powder

(I know this is a lot of spice but once you buy it, you have it, even the inexpensive brands will do.)

Cook over medium heat
2 tbs. oil (olive or grapeseed)
1 onion (3/4 c. chopped) 
1-2 stalks celery (1/2 c. chopped)
1 - 2 large cloves chopped garlic

onion mixture
seasoning mix
2 c. rinsed quinoa 
(I used the ivory but the red quinoa, pictured in the grains above top right, is great also!)

For fastest cooking, while onion sautes, heat 3 1/2 c. water, veggie broth, or chicken broth til boiling and then add to quinoa above.

Bring to another boil, cover and simmer for 20 minutes. You'll know when it's done when you see cute little spirals all over the quinoa.

Serve with warmed peas and sliced tomatoes for a light meal or add cooked chicken or ground turkey also for a hearty one dish entree.

Grains are used best nutritionally when soaked, sprouted or cooked in water.

The internet is covered with cooking times and recipes for all the grains above. Most people are used to the flavor, or lack thereof, of white rice as their main grain. With all these healthier grains there is a new "flavor" with each. Be patient and explore new recipes with spices, herbs, veggies, and broths to give delicious, some would call tolerable, flavor to each grain you introduce to your family.

What is going to be your first new grain to try this week?

This post is linked to:

Foodie Fridays
Food on Fridays
Friday Food
Friday Favorite

April 6, 2010

Basic #2 - Fabulous Fruits

"A thousand different sorts of trees, with their fruit were to be met with, and of a wonderfully delicious odor"
-A quote from Christopher Columbus' journal on his voyage- 

I don't know about you, but that quote makes my mouth water... Maybe it's because I love fruit, all fruits, every fruit. Some of my most cherished childhood moments are sitting around the table eating an avocado or mango with my mom. She had the magical way of invoking in all three of us kids a love for all kinds of food. Probably because she loved all sorts of food. Fruit is easy to like; I think everybody does. We just get stuck buying the same ol' ones, like our veggies.

Again, like in all food, there is the nutritional hierarchy. Let's look at the two authors and PhDs that we looked at before for the vegetable rankings, Dr. Joel Fuhrman and Dr. Steven Pratt.

Joel Fuhrman's Eat for Health High Nutrient Foods chart lists these:

-apples, apricots, blackberries, blueberries, grapefruit, grapes, kiwis, mangoes, nectarines, all melons, oranges, peaches, pears, persimmons, pineapples, plums, raspberries, strawberries, tangerines

Dr. Steven Pratt's book, Superfood Rx, is the original chart for superfoods. His superfoods are in blue above with more listed here:

-purple grapes (specifically), cranberries, boysenberries, currants, cherries and all other varieties of fresh, frozen, or dried berries.

-oranges, lemons, kumquats, limes

-red watermelon (specifically), red fleshed papaya, strawberry quava

He suggests eating 1 to 2 cups daily of the berries, and 1 serving each daily of the citrus and red fruits.

Here's what Dr. Steven Pratt, in Superfood Rx, says about berries:

"I think of the polyphenols in berries as the choir directors. The other nutrients are all members of a huge, effective choir, working together to create something much more powerful than each individual voice. With that in mind, and remembering that each polyphenol in each berry has something to contribute, mix it up! Don't limit your berry consumption to any particular kind. Eat them all!"

This speaks to not only eating a variety of berries but also a variety of fruits, in general. There are compounds yet to be discovered and they all work synergistically together for our benefit. Keep fruits as close to the original as possible.

Fruits are available in many ways, fresh and frozen being the best. As far as berries are concerned, frozen berries are by far the most cost effective way; they don't spoil and you can thaw them, if frozen is not desired. But there is nothing like yummy fresh ripe fruit to go with ANY recipe at ANY time. You don't even need a recipe, just grab, wash and eat! It's that simple and is definitely less than 15 minutes to give you super nutrients to fuel your body.

This is one of those recipes in which you just use what you have available and make to suit your tastes. Definitely use the yogurt but use whatever fruit and nuts you have on hand. Easy prep and easy clean up.

Here it is: a 3 in 1 breakfast, snack or dessert recipe.

Powerful Fruity Parfait

In a goblet or pretty vertical glass,

layer starting at bottom

small spoonful of all fruit jam (sweet surprise)

organic low fat yogurt (unsweetened)

spoonful of raw honey over yogurt

chopped strawberries (berries of all varieties)

1 tbsp. fresh squeezed tangerine juice (any citrus)

layer sliced almonds (or chopped nuts)

another layer of yogurt with honey on top

chopped strawberries and tangerine juice

topped with a few sliced almonds

My favorite way to serve this in the glasses my grandmother gave me. They make the meal pretty and special and remind me of her and her passion for pretty dishes.

Serve and enjoy your nutrient dense parfait that has eye appeal and taste appeal. Yum! Children of all ages enjoy meals like this. :)

This post is linked to:

Tasty Tuesdays
Tempt My Tummy
Gluten Free Wednesdays
Real Food Wednesday

What are your basic food choices? Do they include High Nutrient/ Superfoods?

April 1, 2010

Thirsty Thursday - What can I give?

Nourishment for the spirit

So as these past two weeks have gone by, I've dealt with meeting graduation deadlines (for a wonderful homeschooling graduation ceremony), sickness (yuk! makes me appreciate the years of health I've had), and home/church/activity management. Anyone else been there?

So as Resurrection Day approaches, I've had the question lingering in my heart...What can I give? What can I offer to the Lord? Not that He needs anything from me, it's that I want to stay in a place of openness to Him.

So as I was praying and asking the Lord what can I offer? "Your words" was the answer. Now if you personally knew me, you would know that I'm not quiet as a churchmouse (people who know me are now chuckling at that statement). You would know that I love talking with people. So at the time when the answer came, I knew it was just right for "me". Isn't the Lord good about that?

So my quest for this week of Resurrection Day celebration, is to guard my words. I have already failed many times since I started. No, not mean or vulgar but...

not faith-filled
not productive
causing ill-will or division

Proverbs is such an excellent book on building one's character. 

12:25 Heaviness in the heart of a man makes it stoop; but a good word makes it glad.

15:23 A man has joy by the answer of his mouth: and a word spoken in due season how good it is!

25:11 A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in pictures of silver. 

I want to that...

Ultimately, what I'm striving to do is really concentrate on speaking what the Father wants me to speak, or not speak. That is so hard for me, especially the latter. Oh the tongue who can tame it? So here's my verse for what I am offering to the Lord, my words...

Colossians 3:17
Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by Him.

What are you giving to the Lord this Resurrection Day weekend? Yes, I know He did the final work; but neither will I offer unto the Lord my God that which costs me nothing. (2Samuel 24:24)

May you have a Resurrection Day that glorifies Jesus Christ and brings you times of refreshing. 

March 22, 2010

Basic #1 - Veggies, Veggies, and More Veggies

Basic #1 is about veggies. Have I lost anyone yet? I have to say that the veggies we grew up on are not the same ones as today and I'm not talking about nutritive value (although that's true) but I'm talking about the variety. We have so much to choose from that there shouldn't be any boredom in our eating plans. But there is and, I understand, because I get stuck buying the same things, myself.

Are there more nutritious vegetables than others? Yes, but all kinds need to be eaten. The more variety you have, the more phytonutrients are available to you.  Since we are talking about nutrient dense food, I'll take you to the Eat for Health books by Dr. Joel Fuhrman that give a list of nutrient dense vegetables. 

Leafy Green Vegetables
romaine lettuce, leaf lettuces, kale, collards, Swiss chard, cabbage, spinach, bok choy, parsley

Solid Green Vegetables
artichokes, asparagus, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, celery, cucumber, kohlrabi, okra, peas, green peppers, snow peas, string beans, zucchini

Non-Green, High-Nutrient Vegetables
beets, eggplant, mushrooms, onions, tomatoes, peppers, bamboo shoots, water chestnuts, cauliflower, squash, carrots

The ones highlighted in blue are also classified as superfoods in his book Superfoods Rx by Dr. Steven Pratt, along with these: 

Orange bell peppers, mustard and turnip greens, pumpkin, butternut squash, and sweet potatoes. (I know some are scientifically classified as fruits but for sake of ease, we'll leave them here.)

Organic? Fresh? Frozen? There are so many choices and the answer is what you can. Yes, organic is great but it's better to buy vegetables, period. Whatever you can afford. This is what we buy from a local produce stand about every 10 days or so. 

We also shop the grocer (frozen veggies) and health food store for good buys on organic. If they are within a few dimes of what I would normally pay, I'll get it; if not, I stay with our produce stand. It's the habit of eating vegetables that is most important. That's all it is...a habit.

Okay, we have the list now, how do we cook them? Eat as many raw as you can, but you'll actually eat more if you cook some too.  Cook as short a time as possible. There is a favorite out there of roasting veggies. This is my favorite! But these long cooking times are not good for the nutrients or enzymes.

Roast your veggies (cut up), plain, in a 400 degree oven for 15 minutes, that's all. Then as soon as they come out, pour some extra virgin olive oil and kosher or sea salt over them while warm and it is yummy, buttery goodness. More about that here

Salads, Dips, and Smoothies are also great ways to get lots of raw veggies (and fruits) in our bodies. Another superb way to get veggies? Soups. This could be the easiest way to increase your intake as a family. We have 3 course meals sometimes to emphasize our veggies (don't tell my family). First, we'll have salad, second (after we taken time to eat our salads), we'll have our soup and when we are done with that, we'll have our main meal. We will have plenty of soup and salad in their tummies even before the main meal hits the table. 

Need a good soup recipe? Here you go...

Minestrone Superfoods Soup
adapted from Todd Wilbur

Serves 8
Saute together about 5 minutes
3 tbsp. olive oil
1 c. white onion
1/2 c. chopped zucchini
1/2 c. frozen Italian cut green beans
1/4 c. minced celery (4 cloves)

7 c. vegetable broth (easy one here)
2 (15 oz.) cans red kidney beans, drained
2 (15 oz.) cans white beans (cannellini)
1 (14 oz.) can diced tomatoes
1/2 c. carrots, julienned
2 tsp. dried oregano
2 tsp. sea salt
1/2 - 3/4 tsp. fresh ground pepper
3/4 tsp. dried basil
1/2 tsp. dried thyme

Bring to boil then reduce heat and simmer 20 minutes.

4 c. fresh baby spinach leaves, cut up

Cook for additional 20 minutes or until desired consistency. (I adjusted the spices and left out the pasta so feel free to make it your own. The good thing is soup is so flexible.)

So basically, this takes

15 minutes to prepare,
Cook 20 minutes;
Throw in the spinach
Cook 20-30 minutes longer

That's all, and you have a delicious nutrient dense soup. Did you happen to see all the superfoods?

It's really all in a mindset of eating what's best for you. I look at that meal and see 15 minutes work time; the rest is cooking time. If you're tight on time start it or even cook it the night before, or on the weekend and freeze.

Do you ever feel overwhelmed with the task at hand? I'll give you my secret...

"Share your plans with the Lord and you shall succeed."
Proverbs 16:3 (CEV)

March 21, 2010

What We Eat - The Basics

If you were to try and sum up our eating plan, you'd pretty much have a look like this cute fellow in this Norman Rockwell plate. So first let me tell you what we are not...

We are not Vegetarian; although veggies are usually the mainstay of our meals.

We are not in the Real Food category since we are not big advocates of saturated fat but I do soak a lot of my grains and what we do eat is real food and from scratch.

We don't follow a Low-Fat diet because we are firm believers in good fats.

We are not in the Gluten Free crowd, because I still use whole grains although I do fix a lot of gluten free meals and breads.

We are not just in the Health Food category because we don't like soy products or all the prepackaged "so called" health foods that are on the market.

I would say we are close to Nutritarians, as coined by Dr. Joel Fuhrman, which means we eat nutrient dense food; while lean meats are not necessarily nutrient dense, we see the need for limited amounts in our eating plan.  

I would even go so far to say we eat only Biblically Clean foods but even then we are not legalistic about it.

We do limit certain things, and use portion control (well, usually), and not limit others.

So in summary, we eat a lot of fruits and vegetables, some lean meats such as  chicken and turkey, and fish (wild salmon being choice). We love organic plain yogurt, whole grains, pseudograins, and legumes. And we do allow ourselves to eat what we want at times, that way we can remember how "bad food" makes us feel. :) (Not really but that's what usually happens.)

For the next few posts, I'll go into a little more detail with recipes to boot so we'll have a little more understanding and have a happy face like this fellow by the time we're done. 

How would you summarize your eating plan? 

March 18, 2010

Green Goddess Dip & Tomato Salsa

I am very happy to present to you Chef Cristina, our contributing International Chef to Domestic Productions. Dips are a great way to increasing not only your vegetable intake but your family time also. Choose whatever veggies your family likes and sneak in a few new ones to try. 

dip [dip]
verb (dipped, dipping)

There is nothing like enjoying time with loved ones, and whenever these gatherings are your idea you have to call for the Maestro Host in you to come out and shine.

This time around I want to bring focus back to the "dips". Oh the dips! Dips are so much fun; they have the power to set the mood on any get together. In my humble opinion, dips are a host tool to make guests feel comfortable and leave them wanting more. (Think back real quick to the last really good dip you had and it was over so quickly) see smart tool for a host. Keep in mind that dips have not been around for more than 55 years; they still have a long way to go and a bright future ahead.

Here's a short but interesting article about the history behind "Dips".

I have chosen two very popular recipes that never go out of style. They are very easy to make and will have everybody gathering around the dipping table.

Green Goddess Dip

1 can (2 oz.) anchovies fillets, drained
1 small shallot, chopped (or a small 2 in. piece red onion)
1/2 c. flat-leaf parsley (3 handfuls)
12 blades fresh chives, chopped (3 tbsp.)
2 tbsp. chopped tarragon leaves, (3 sprigs)
3 tbsp. white wine or tarragon vinegar 
1/2 lemon, juiced
1/3 c. extra virgin olive oil
1 c. sour cream
Black Pepper

3/4 # baby carrots
1 celery heart (4 in. sticks)
1 red pepper, seeded and sliced into 1/2 in. strips
1 pkg. bread sticks, any flavor or variety

In a food processor, combine first 7 ingredients. Turn on processor and stream in extra virgin olive oil. Transfer dip to a bowl and stir in sour cream and black pepper. Serve with veggies and bread sticks for dipping.

Classic Tomato Salsa

3 - 6 fresh Serrano chilies
1 large white onion
Grated rind and juice of 2 limes, plus strips of lime rind to garnish
8 ripe firm tomatoes
Large bunch of fresh coriander (cilantro)
1/4 tsp. sugar
Salt to taste

Use spring onion (scallions) or mild red onions instead of white onion. For a smoky flavor, use chipotle chilies instead of Serrano chilies.

1. Use 3 chilies for salsa for medium heat. To peel chilies, dry-fry the chilies in a griddle pan until the skins are scorched and blackened.
2. Place the roasted chilies in a strong plastic bag and tie the top of bag to keep the steam in. Set aside for about 20 minutes.
3. Meanwhile, chop the onion finely and put it in a bowl with the lime rind and juice. The lime juice will soften the onion considerably.
4. Remove the chilies fro the bag and peel off the skins. Cut off the stalks, then slit the chilies and scrape out the seeds. Chop the flesh and set aside in a small bowl.
5. Cut a small cross in the base of each tomato. Place in a heatproof bowl and pour boiling water to cover. Leave for 30 seconds.
6. Lift out the tomatoes and plunge them in to a bowl of cold water. Drain well; remove skins.
7. Dice the peeled tomatoes and put them in a bowl. Add the chopped onion, which should've softened, together with any remaining lime juice and rind. Chop coriander (cilantro) finely.
8. Add the chopped cilantro to the salsa, with the chilies and the sugar. Mix gently until the sugar has dissolved and all the ingredients are coated in the lime juice.
9. Cover and chill for 2-3 hours to allow the flavors to blend.

Like they say in Catalonia

Bon Profit! 

Thanks to Chef Cristina for her awesome recipes so be sure to try these out this week. 

Remember small changes to better health 
are better than no changes at all.

For more great recipes go to:

Foodie Fridays at DesignsbyGollem
Friday Food at MomTrends


Thirsty Thursday - Tent Meeting

Nourishment for the spirit

Exodus 32 - 33

During the travels of the Israelites, when Moses was gone (only) 40 days, the people turned to Aaron and they ended up making the golden calf and worshiping it as if it were their deliverer from Egypt, their god.

When Moses came down from Mt. Sinai, and saw the horrible situation, he was so mad he broke the tablets in which God, Himself, had written. And because the people were so rebellious, God told Moses He would not go the rest of the way with them lest He consume them. It was an extremely traumatic and disappointing time for Moses.

But Moses continued to intercede for the people. He would go to the tent of meeting outside the camp, day after day, and talk with God, as a man speaks to his friend.

God granted Moses his request saying that He would go with the Israelites the rest of the journey. Then as recorded in Exodus 33:17-23, you see an intimate fellowship between a man and his Creator. Moses wants to see God's Glory. God protects Moses by His own hand and shows Moses His back as He passes by, as much Glory as he can handle.

The encouragement came when I realized that

-after Moses had such disappointment, of family, of others, and perhaps even of God,

-had he not kept going to the tent of meeting, talking with God as a man talks with his friend,

-Moses would've missed out on the holy divine presence and glory of God.

We all have disappointment of life in one way or another. Let's continue going to the tent of meeting so that we, too, will experience God's Glory.

I invite you to read the whole account in Exodus Chapters 32 & 33.

Hopefully your thirst will be quenched today.

Jesus said, "Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.-John 4:13-14

March 17, 2010

Nutrient Packed Gluten Free Mini Muffins

I'm sure you know people that have grinders for their whole grain breads to get the freshest, most nutritious grain they can. That's why I have mine. So I decided to find a gluten free mixture that would be as fresh and nutritious as what I use in whole grain breads. 

I am so excited because they are not only nutritious but gluten free for my dear daughter. The great thing is my husband and son love them too.
I have found a great combination that works for us...

Nutritious Gluten Free Mini Muffins

1 1/2 c. brown rice (grinds to make about 2 1/2 c. flour)
1/4 c. amaranth
1/4 c. millet (I put these two together and blend on high in a Blendtec. Makes about 3/4 c. flour)
1/4 c. flaxseed (I blend on med. high in Blendtec. Makes about 1/2 c.)

Makes about 3 3/4 c. total of flour then mix with
1 tsp. sea salt
4 tsp. baking powder 
Set aside.

Lightly beat 4 eggs and add
4 tbsp. oil (I like olive, grapeseed, avocado, or almond)
6 tbsp. raw honey
2 c. milk (I use almond milk to make it dairy free)

Gently mix dry and wet together. 

Optional but very delicious: add raisins/currants and finely chopped nuts for flavor and crunch. In my picture I used sunflower seeds but my favorite is walnuts.

Place heaping tablespoons of batter in mini muffin tin. They are better if you slightly under bake. Bake at 400 degrees for about 5 minutes. Then I let these rest 5 minutes in the pan so they come out easier. These get a nice rise and are loved by even the pickiest of children.

Makes about 4 dozen minis. If you don't have more than 15 minutes, put extra batter in frig to finish later.

You can also grind grains ahead of time and keep in freezer. This grain mix (rice, amaranth, millet and flaxseed) is also great to substitute for any other muffin recipe you have.

Garden of Eden Nutrition: 

Amaranth contains protein that is unusually complete for a plant source and has a higher protein content than wheat. For more information on Amaranth go to the Nutritional Value section here

Millet is considered to be one of the least allerginic and most digestible grains available. To read more on millet, follow this link.

Here's a quick list of the benefits of Flaxseeds.

What if you don't have a grinder or high powered blender? Please don't let that stop you from trying new gluten free flours from your grocer or health food store.  Some people have issues with gluten and some don't. If nothing else, it's a nice way to add more variety and nutrients to your healthy eating plan.

Quick Nutrition: Just grind some flaxseeds or buy cold pressed ground flax and add it to your existing muffin recipe. It'll add a wonderful nuttiness and some great benefits.

A healthier lifestyle is only one change away.

Great cultural changes begin in affectation and end in routine.
-Jacques Barzun 1959-

For more great recipes:

Gluten Free Wednesdays at The Gluten Free Homemaker
Real Food Wednesdays at Kelly the Kitchen Kop

March 16, 2010

Recipes - Separating the Good from the Not so Good

I was wanting to say Recipes - Separating the Good from the Bad, but when I thought of all my "bad" recipes and the memories of birthday parties, get togethers, or special meals, I couldn't call them bad. They are just ones that we want to eat on occasion rather than daily, weekly, or some even monthly. Why? Because while they are good for great meals, they are not good for the health of our bodies long term. 

There's a common adage these days that says, "Eat 90% healthy and 10% not-so-healthy". Well, I thought we had always done that but then when I kept a food log, I realized we had too many "exceptions" and took way more than 10% of our meal plan. I also notice it while I'm outside and I walk by the recycling bin and see all the food boxes leftover. If you don't want to keep a food log and do recycle, then you can get a pretty good idea what you're eating just from your recycle bin. I know, the neighbors, I'm sure, have seen me snooping curiously in our bins and trash can, assessing how we are doing. :)

So what change did I make to our meal plan to help? I separated my recipes. I got the original idea from Alton Brown. He makes a copy of the recipe from the book, that way he can make notes and changes, and then puts it in a page protector to keep it nice while he's cooking with it.

I went a step farther and separated my healthy "good for me" recipes from the ones not so healthy. It's a real help when making a meal plan to just use those recipes that are already healthy or can be made healthier by the "examine and exchange" method. But the problem was that they were all crammed in the notebook without rhyme or reason. I took this opportunity to not procrastinate any longer and put the copies in page protectors (that weren't already in one) and then separated them with dividers by category.

Three things I learned:

1. I have WAY more recipes than what I thought (With it more organized, I'll have more variety in meals)
2. Make sure you have enough page protectors
3. Never do this on an empty stomach (Boy, it makes you hungry!)

As you can see I have plenty of healthy recipes left still to put in the binder. I wish I had more page protectors to finish but, again, I procrastinated...

"Procrastination is the art of keeping up with yesterday." -Don Marquis-

What can you do to realign your eating strategy? Perhaps a separate notebook just for healthy recipes would help. Why not take 15 minutes and start today?

This is linked to:
Anti-Procrastination Tuesdays at New Nostalgia

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