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

February 22, 2010

Citrus SuperFood Juice

Do people really think they don’t have time to eat better? Adding a quick fresh juice is one of the easiest changes to obtain more nutrient dense food. The closer you get to God’s original creation the better it is. 

Everyone knows some benefits of fresh citrus juice and remember it’s one of the original 14 superfoods recognized by Dr. Steven Pratt, the person who actually coined the term “Superfoods”. But did you know it could also have a weight loss effect? According to one of Dr. Pratt’s later books, Superfood Rx Diet, “people with adequate vitamin C status oxidize 30 percent more fat during moderate exercise than those with low vitamin C status”. That means if you have any movement at all, you’re going to burn more fat than the person who doesn’t have enough Vitamin C.

Juicing could be the easiest way to get fresh citrus into your family. If you don’t have an automatic citrus juicer, don’t worry, neither do I, one of the hand juicers is just fine. Take 5 minutes and just squeeze as much and you can during that time. Also split the juicing time with your family and then split the juice between your family members. It’s a great way to include all of them in the process of healthy eating. 

As an extra bonus, another quick way to serve oranges is to just cut them into eighths. This is a favorite of children. For some reason, they like the slight messiness, they can cut it themselves (age appropriate), and it is much quicker than peeling. 


In less than 15 minutes you have a quick easy addition to your meal. Go to your local produce stand, if possible, and start juicing your way to health.

This is linked to Tasty Tuesday at Beauty and Bedlam
and Tempt My Tummy at Blessed with Grace.

February 15, 2010

Chef Cristina's Hake and Tomato Relish

If you ask me, there is no better way of sharing or showing L-O-V-E than through cooking. When one takes the time to buy fresh ingredients, to carefully prepare them, to decide whether to cut, mince, saute, broil, bake, or poach... there is nothing more genuine than THAT.

Love is something that throughout history men and women have tried to define, to capture its essence. Even when Jesus was asked what was the absolute commandment, He said, "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind." (Matthew 22:37) He then added the second most important law, "You shall LOVE your neighbor as YOURSELF." Jesus said that the entire law was dependent upon these two commandments.

Let's take something as simple as family dinners and really think about it; no matter what was the situation when you were growing up whether your mom cooked once a week on Sundays, maybe she ordered food or if you were lucky enough that she cooked every night - you felt the love through food. Nowadays people do not want to cook; they fear the mess or the fire, the feeling of the texture of the fish, or the cleaning part, you name it. I have heard endless excuses of men and women about how they love to eat but hate the act of cooking itself.

In my humble opinion, we as a society (even a cyber one), need to take the LOVE back into our kitchens.

This time around I bring you a great recipe full of love and easy to make!

Pan-Fried Hake and Tomato Relish

For some reason over the years Hake has been trivialized. I personally love Hake; it's extremely easy to prepare, it's abundant, it's remarkably versatile and it's simply delicious! (There are close to a dozen species of hake; most of which are named depending on the color of their skin: red, white, silver, etc.)

Serves 4:

4 Hake fillets (about 6 oz.)
9 oz. small plum tomatoes (quartered)
1 bunch scallions (chopped)
3 tbsp. olive oil (plus extra drizzle)
1 tsp. superfine sugar
Splash white vinegar
Few thyme sprigs (leaves only)
Small handful of cilantro leaves (chopped)
Kosher salt and black pepper (to taste)

Check the Hake fillets for any pin bones (if any, remove with a pair of tweezers). Season the fish with salt and pepper. Put 2 tbsp. of olive oil in pan and lay the fillets on top, skin side down.

Slowly warm the pan over LOW heat, then increase the heat to medium after a minute or two. Pan fry until the skin is golden and crisp, and the fillets are cooked halfway.

Turn the fish over and cook the flesh side for another 60 seconds only. Transfer to a plate with paper towels to drain. (Keep warm)

Add 1 tbsp. olive oil to the pan and saute the tomatoes and scallions for a minute. Add the sugar and splash of vinegar. Cook over high heat for a minute or two (until the vinegar has cooked off and the tomatoes are a little soft.)

Season the tomatoes well, toss in the herbs and divide among 4 plates.

Place the Hake fillets skin side up on top and serve.

For more information on Hake and fish available to substitute to here.

We are so thankful to Chef Cristina for giving us her time and passion for cooking and family. Set aside 15 minutes to create and enjoy...

This is linked to Tasty Tuesday.

February 12, 2010

What's in a name? Brunswick Stew

When Moses was called by God (Exodus 3) to go to the Israelites, Moses said they would ask him, "Who sent you? What is His name?" And God replied, "I AM THAT I AM; tell them I AM sent you." God also said in Ex. 3:15, "This is My name forever and this is My memorial unto all generations." That caught my eye for some reason. His name? God's name shall be a memorial to us? What exactly did that mean?

Usually when something is memorialized, it is a covenant of remembrance. All the stones the Israelites placed throughout the land, He said would be a memorial for those passing by to remember what was done in that place.

Instead of stones, something temporal, God has given us His name as His memorial to us. For the Israelites, as Clarke's commentary states, "In this name, as His eternal memorial, God would now deliver them." God delivered the Israelites from Egyptian bondage; God also delivers us.

In fact, He has given us an even greater name and covenant with our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, a name that is above all names...Jesus. Look up Phil. 2:9-11. There is no higher name, no higher covenant. Remember He still delivers us through His name.

So why are we talking about names? My bible reading happened to correlate with my curiosity of the name, Brunswick stew. Two places, called Brunswick, claim the original recipe and I'm sure it's hotly debated there, but no matter where it came from, with all the varieties of Brunswick stew, you'll surely find one you like. I wanted one healthier than the pork, beef, sugar, and butter variety. Here's what I made...

This is not a 15 minute recipe but some things are worth it. :)

2 1/2 quarts water
1 whole chicken, cut up and skinned
Put in large pot, bring to boil and simmer, partially covered, 40 minutes.

Take out chicken and add
1 large onion, diced
5 med. tomatoes, diced small
28 oz. can crushed tomatoes
Bring to a boil, medium high heat and simmer, partially covered, 40 minutes.
Stir every now and then.

Skin, bone and shred chicken.

Shredded chicken
1 pkg. frozen lima beans
3 potatoes, peeled and diced (optional)
Cook over low heat, partially covered, for 1 - 2 hours.

1 pkg. frozen corn
1/8 c. agave nectar
1/8 c. balsamic vinegar
1/8 c. Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp. onion powder
1 tsp. garlic powder
1 tbsp. yellow mustard
1 tbsp. sea salt
1 1/2 tsp. fresh ground pepper
1/2 tsp. hot sauce
Cook over low heat, partially covered, 30 - 60 minutes.

I adapted this from 3 different recipes: Brunswick Stew, Paula's Brunswick, and Xagave Barbecue Sauce.

I like my Brunswick stew with a little BBQ flavor. The first recipe was the base, but I wanted the BBQ flavor like the second, and the third was the BBQ recipe with agave nectar, as I wanted to eliminate the pork, beef, sugar and butter from the traditional Brunswick Stew. As you look at these recipes, you'll see what I "examined and exchanged" for more nutrient dense food.

As I worked this recipe out, I skinned the chicken before cooking, switched one can of tomatoes for fresh, and didn't want a bottled BBQ sauce. Though I still wanted the BBQ flavor, I didn't want to have to make my own sauce, then cook, and then add. So I just added the ingredients instead and let it cook right there in the stew. I accomplished what I wanted. Yum!

It definitely passed my Strongman's approval and gave us a dish that is a filling comfort food, lower in saturated fat and full of veggies. Perfect for a cold rainy day!

What do you like to fix on cold rainy days? Could it be revamped to get rid of extra fat and sugars?

Xagave Barbecue Sauce

My husband received a cookbook for interviewing the author on his radio show, Peak Performance Radio. It is super! Initially, I was not enthused until I examined the recipes and found they really were health conscious, unlike most “so called healthy” cookbooks that still use white flour and sugar, or plastic substitutes for fat.

I normally do not like cookbooks that surround one particular brand but Delicious Meets Nutritious by Stephen Richards that uses Xagave, a brand of agave nectar, will be one I use often now.

I have tried a few of the recipes so far and am thrilled with the product and results. I like agave nectar because it is the closest taste to real sugar, with no aftertaste. Agave Nectar has a lower glycemic index and you use less than what you would with sugar, that means less calories, but alas, there is a problem with some of the agave nectar on the market today. There seems to be high fructose corn syrup being mixed in with agave. That’s appalling for those trying their best to feed their families optimally. This particular brand does not do this; read more about Xagave here. 


Here’s the Barbecue Sauce recipe I adapted in my Brunswick Stew.

Kansas City Barbecue Sauce

2 c. tomato sauce (without sugar or corn syrup)
½ c. water
½ c. balsamic vinegar
1/3 c. Xagave (agave nectar)
½ tbs. onion powder
½ tbs. garlic powder½ tsp. salt
1 tbs. yellow mustard
¼ c. Worcestershire sauce

Combine all ingredients. Bring to a boil, simmer 45 minutes or desired thickness. Stores well in frig for weeks.

Use as a condiment, dipping sauce, or finishing sauce to poultry, fish or veggies. You’re going to like it!

February 9, 2010

Why Wild Salmon?

We are blessed today to have Tom Mitchell, National and World’s 2007 NAS Strongman Champion, Masters Division (over 40 years old). He also speaks on nutrition internationally for JUS International and I am blessed to be married to this great guy. Since we eat a lot of salmon, I wanted you to know the benefits. So, without further ado, here he is…
Canned salmon is an interesting food. Some love it. Some hate it. Some don’t eat enough salmon to really know. Nevertheless, canned wild salmon is arguably the most important and beneficial meat that you can possibly eat.
Why is canned wild salmon good for you? Let me touch on just a few reasons.
1. It is wild as opposed to farmed (which changes the fatty acid profile dramatically for the good in the wild salmon).2. The wild salmon has eaten natural food sources as opposed to corn or wheat based food products; most of which are genetically modified.3. An incredible source of high quality protein4. Non-processed - a truly “wild” food source5. A good source of calcium and other minerals6. One of the very best sources of critically important omega-3 fatty acids – especially DHA and EPA7. Readily available and affordable, cooking is optional.
What is the most important benefit of canned wild salmon?
Without a doubt, the omega-3 content of wild salmon is an enormous benefit that cannot be overemphasized. By and large, most of the omega-3 content found in plant sources – flax, fruits, vegetables, hemp, etc. is primarily the omega-3 fatty acid called ALA. ALA, once consumed must be converted in the body to the far more critical fatty acids called EPA and DHA. Unfortunately, most people can only convert ALA to EPA/DHA at a rate of only 5 to 15%. As you can see, this type of conversion is very inefficient and requires a lot of additional eating which you may or may not want to do. (Just how much flax can you realistically eat every day?)
Why are EPA and DHA so important? To begin with, a large amount of your brain’s “dry” weight is omega-3 fatty acids, specifically DHA. This means that omega-3s are directly related to cognitive function and performance for you and your family. The old saying that fish is a “brain food” is very much true – provided it’s the right kind of fish. What’s the Bottom Line? A lack of omega-3s can reduce your ability to think quickly, clearly, and at a high level of understanding and comprehension. A number of studies have shown that children who eat plenty of omega-3s score better on tests and have improved attention spans. Other studies show increased memory and improved motor skills and coordination.
As we look for further benefits, we find that omega-3s are also incredibly important for cardiovascular health. They help keep your heart healthy and they promote better circulation.
Omega-3s also reduce inflammation in your body. This happens in part by bringing your balance of omega-3s to omega-6s in a healthier range. In America, we consume way too many omega-6s (vegetable oils, processed food, etc.) and a terribly low amount of omega-3s. The inevitable result is chronic inflammation which accelerates the aging process and the increased likelihood of aches and pains.
An interesting study, conducted by Nordic Naturals and world renowned Neurosurgeon Joseph Maroon, M.D., showed that by consuming omega-3s, many people, including professional athletes, reported the same pain relief as they would have found by taking NSAIDs (aspirin, ibuprofen…). Again, this gets back to the anti-inflammatory benefits mentioned above.
Let’s get back to our can of wild salmon. We are looking at 14 ounces of salmon for around $2.50. What do you get? A large amount of protein and minerals, and 7 grams of highly bio-available omega-3s (DHA and EPA) which do not need to be converted to be used.
How much salmon do you need to eat? For all practical purposes, the more the better! As a minimum, you should try and eat at least a half can every 3-4 days. Ideally, a half can a day would be hugely beneficial for most adults.
What about mercury? Wild salmon is a better bet than most other fresh and saltwater choices. If given the choice between salmon and tuna, salmon wins every time. As a matter of fact, if given a choice, I would choose and recommend wild salmon over any other meat source that I know of.
What are other omega-3 fish choices? Sardines, Herring and Mackerel are some of the better ones.
What about fish oil capsules? They are a good choice provided you get a very high quality product. If you go this route, try to get enteric coated capsules to get around the common fish taste burps you get with the cheaper supplements.
Hey, what if you’re a vegetarian and fish and/or fish oil capsules aren’t an option? Your best solution will be to eat the highest quality plant-based sources of omega-3s you can find – hemp, flax, and blue-green algae come to mind. Or, just purchase the highest quality vegetarian omega-3 formula you can find.
In summary, unless you’re a strict vegetarian, eat your canned salmon, the more the better. Stay away from salmon fillets or salmon in a restaurant unless you are 100% sure it is wild, not farm-raised. Better brain function, a healthy heart, reduced pain and inflammation, there really isn’t a downside.
Stay tuned, as I’m sure Laurie will post a few delicious and healthy ways to eat more salmon. Enjoy!

Look up the label “Salmon” for recipes.

February 5, 2010

Fresh Lemon Fresh Dill Fresh Fish

I am embarrassed to say, that I’ve come to the realization that most of the time, I cook incredibly simply, too simply maybe. This fish is a perfect example of what I mean.
Our neighbor, Chris, is gifted at fishing. Anytime we want fish, he gets it. This time it was mullet. Growing up, my mom said it was called a poor man’s fish but it’s delicious whether rich or poor. We would rather eat freshly caught fish than farmed-raised any day. Our fish intake includes canned salmon, wild sock-eyed salmon, sardines, tuna, and freshly caught fish. So when Chris brought over mullet, I gladly just used what I had on hand and, with my daughter’s help, here’s what we came up with... [Photo]
Fresh Lemon Fresh Dill Fresh Fish
This really simple recipe does not even have measurements. Just use enough ingredients to lightly cover but not soak. You don’t want it to stew. Rinse fish and let dry or pat dry.Preheat oven to 400 degrees. On a sheet with sides,Pour some EVOO over fish fillets and rub to cover.Then lightly pour freshly squeezed lemon juice over top.Sprinkle with sea salt (kosher salt) and pepper.Finely chop fresh dill and sprinkle over fish.[Photo]
Bake 7-8 minutes; my fillets were small. You’ll have to keep checking your fish. You’ll know when it’s done when it’s opaque and flakes with a fork. Again, we have a tasty dish that's good and good for you AND takes less than 15 minutes. [Photo]
I served it with roasted asparagus, 15 minutes here, and we had fresh quacamole to go with our leftover organic chips for an appetizer. I just mash the avocado, leaving it a little chunky, and add sea salt (again, a very simple yet wonderfully healthy dish). [Photo]
We should’ve had some grain or bread to go with it because later we snacked on nuts and dates. While not necessarily bad, I needed to fill my hubby up a little more to reduce the snacking.
But then I had a thought, what had I been doing in the kitchen that made me feel I spent the majority of last year there? Lately, I had cut back on those time consuming items, but now I’m missing them in our diet and need to establish a routine once more. Here are a few of them:
Ezekiel Bread (my husband’s favorite)Nutritious Gluten Free Bread (my daughter’s favorite)Muffins of all varieties (my son’s favorite)Yogurt (a favorite of all)
[Photo]As I work on fitting these back in the plan, I’ll share them with you. But I’ve realized another key to why we consistently eat healthy – I keep it simple! That may work for you or may not. We try to enjoy the flavors of the food itself. I just realized that myself. Oh the wonders of blogging…

February 3, 2010

Roasted Tomato Salsa & Spicy Chipotle Salmon Spread

We ate our Superbowl meal last night!! It was awesome. I started out trying my new recipes I had planned, but then it led to, “Mmmmm, can you make more?” So I did, and we sat and ate like there was no tomorrow. (Forgetting all scriptures that talk about gluttony and justifying it because it was “healthy”) Anyone else been there? 

The samplers on the menu were Roasted Tomato Salsa (the easiest salsa ever) and Chipotle Salmon Spread with organic chips (Garden of Eatin’). Both these recipes were adapted from Tyler Florence’s cookbook, Tyler’s Ultimate. I like this particular cookbook of his because it has simple recipes that I can adjust easily to our healthy way of eating. Remember our “examine and exchange” method/mindset? Go here to get a refresher. 

Tyler’s Ultimate Roasted Cherry Tomato Salsa

2 pints cherry or grape tomatoes (I used grape)
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Kosher Salt and freshly ground Black Pepper
Juice of 1 lime (I increased the amount for flavor)
1 fresh green chile, thinly sliced (I used 2 jalapenos, quartered and sliced)

This is so easy and ready in less than 15 minutes. Turn your broiler on high and place the 2 pints tomatoes on a cookie sheet and sprinkle with some olive oil, salt and pepper. Tyler said broil 3-5 minutes, mine was 7-8 minutes, so keep checking every couple of minutes until all tomatoes have burst. Dump tomatoes and juices in a bowl. Add lime juice, chile, cilantro and about 4 tablespoons olive oil. You’ll probably need to add more salt so taste and adjust. 

Combine. Serve at room temperature.

When I first made it, the three of us liked it and were eating it happily. Then when my husband came home, he wasn’t enamored with it, and suggested more jalapeno. I am a scaredy cat when it comes to hot stuff but I have to say, he was right! It was so much better with more spice (2 jalapenos), not enough to burn your lips off, but enough to spice your throat. So adjust your jalapeno accordingly, or use hotter peppers, but go for more heat than less. 

Like I said, this is the easiest salsa ever; you don’t even have to cut up the tomatoes. Get yourself some organic chips (or baked chips like Tostitos, if necessary) and enjoy! 

The other recipe was from Tyler’s The Ultimate Spicy Crab Salad. Obviously, he uses crab which I always exchange for canned salmon. I know, not as decadent, but a much healthier choice. Tomorrow I’ll have a link to explain Why Canned Salmon? 

Tyler calls for Sambal hot chile paste which I did not have nor could find locally. So instead I used chipotle peppers in adobo sauce. It was outstanding! It gave the usual salmon flavor a new twist that was good enough for company, thus Superbowl. I would say good enough for people who aren’t even salmon lovers . The adobo sauce does have a miniscule amount of sugar, less than 1 gram, but that is worth the trade-off for the flavor it gives. (I would not make the trade if it were high fructose corn syrup though.) For more on chipotle, click here.

Spicy Chipotle Salmon Spread

15 oz. canned salmon (drained, broken to smaller pieces)
¼ cup mayonnaise 
1-2 chipotle peppers with some sauce (finely mashed)
1-2 tbls. chopped cilantro
Juice of ½ lime
Freshly ground pepper (no salt, already in salmon)

Combine the mayo and chipotle first. Gently combine the rest. This takes less than 5 minutes and you have a snack which is full of omega-3’s in a good lean protein. You can even make your own mayo to provide you with better oil and no preservatives. 

Last night we had this with the organic corn chips, but for Sunday I am making whole wheat crackers found at Finding Joy in My Kitchen and for my daughter, a gluten-free variety.

Along with these dishes we had potato salad (recipe another day), roasted cauliflower and whole carrots, cooked like this. We picked up whole thin organic carrots with their tops attached at the health food store. (Confession: I bought these simply because they were so cute.) I would gladly buy them again though because in 15 minutes we had delectably tender whole carrots that we just picked up and ate with our hands. (Remember we were practicing for Superbowl.) The tops I cut off before roasting and am using in other herb dishes, like our eggs this morning. 

So all in all, we had a feast that took cleaning up afterward longer than actually making it. Oh yeah, strawberries for dessert. Wow, we really did pig out…

What are your healthy plans for Superbowl?

Edited: I have a great article from my husband on the nutritional benefits of salmon here.
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