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

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

March 15, 2010

Greek Salad with all the Works

If I could tell you how to increase your vegetable intake without even eating more vegetables, would you be interested? 

Well, Dr. Joel Fuhrman, with his Eat to Live and Eat to Health books, says that people miss up to 70 % of their green leafy vegetable intake by...get this...Not Chewing Sufficiently. So the good news is that you can actually and easily increase your vegetable intake by 70% just by chewing your food better. Wow, and that doesn't even take 15 minutes. :)

There are many versions of Greek Salad; the one I like best is adapted from ones I grew up eating. As with any salad, you dress it with ingredients you love. Salads are a daily meal for those that want optimal health. It's one of the basics in a nutrient dense meal plan.

Greek Salad with all the Works

Roasted Beets
Jarred or canned beets are not a good representation of such a nutritious root. For this awesome salad it's best to use fresh beets and roast them. It's easy and not time consuming at all.

The night before I plan on having the salad, I roast the beets. First wash them (you don't want to peel or cut at all) and if you have stems, cut them to one inch. Place in small dish covered with foil. Roast at 400 degrees for 1 hour to 1 hour 15 minutes until easily pierced with knife. (I choose this temperature because I can roast garlic and veggies at the same time as to make the oven most productive.) After they are done I let them sit in the dish until cool enough to handle. So far this has only taken about 5 minutes of prep time. Now this will take only 5 more. Be prepared for your hands to turn a little pink but this is why I do it at night. :) Take a paper towel and rub off the peel of the beet. It comes right off and leaves a beautiful shiny texture. It's that easy. Stick them whole in a container to refrigerate until ready for use.

Potato Salad - Greek style

5-6 potatoes, chopped (a real time saver is to wash well and leave the skins on) Put in cold water and bring to boil. Boil about 10 minutes until fork tender. Drain and place in bowl.

1/4 c. parsley, finely chopped
1/2 c. green onions, thinly sliced
1/2 c. salad dressing (below)
Sea salt or Kosher salt

I love mixing it all together while potatoes are still warm. The potatoes really seem to soak up the dressing to give them a great flavor.

Onto the actual salad part...

1 head romaine lettuce (green leaf, red leaf, etc.)
2 tomatoes, cut up in larger chunks
1 cucumber, peeled and seeded
2 roasted beets, cut off bottom of root and slice into wedges
greek kalamato olives
greek feta cheese
radishes and sliced green pepper (opt)

Salad dressing 
(to use on green salad and potato salad)

1/3 c. lemon juice (or white vinegar)
1/2 tsp. oregano
1/4 tsp. sea salt 
Whisk these together and drizzle in oil while whisking: 

1/2 c. extra virgin olive oil (or more to taste)

Once combined, pour over potato salad. As for plating your dish, I like to pile the potato salad in the middle of the plate and then after tossing the salad, serve with green salad on top. This way you get a great combination of flavors with both salads. Finish it off with a sprinkle of oregano.

If you're not used to a strong olive oil flavor, feel free to start with "light" olive oil or another mild flavored oil of your choosing. But remember olive oil has the wonder-working omega 9s that we all need in our body so getting used to the flavor has real benefits.

Use what you have locally
I get the olives and feta cheese at a local produce stand. They are Greek so they carry delicious greek cuisine. The feta cheese is made from sheep's milk which is better than the cow's milk (not mucus forming and far superior in taste) and the olives and olive oil are fresher and better priced than in the grocery stores.Obviously, you may not have a greek produce stand near you but find out what you do have and use it. It'll have fresher ingredients and a new world of flavors for you to try.

And like your mama told you, Chew Your Food!

For more great recipes go to:
Tempt My Tummy
Slightly Indulgent Tuesday

March 12, 2010

Orange Pecan Whole Wheat French Toast

How would it be if you were getting ready to receive your inheritance and your brothers go through the line before you so you hear what they receive? Some don't get much because they don't deserve much considering the way they acted earlier in life, but some get raving reviews and receive words that they would be victorious over their enemies and that the scepter would never depart from them, and others become great merchants and still others a judge for the people.

Then it becomes your turn to receive the words that would define who you are and who your children would become. And the words from your father Jacob are..."Asher, your bread shall be fat and you shall yield royal dainties." (Genesis 49:20) What?

You mean after you tell my brothers that they're going to be great warriors and judges you come to me and say, I'm going to have "fat bread and royal dainties"? Yes, in fact, Asher's inheritance was just that. But you have to understand that not only did he have sustenance for his family every day with bread and oil (meaning he had very profitable crops) but that his family and country were gifted in the area of food and provision, so much so that they later served their delicacies to King Solomon and his household according to two different commentators. 

We have a God that not only provides needs, as in daily bread, but beyond as in the royal dainties, the luxuries of life. I'm sure that if you really took the time to meditate on how and what God has provided, you, yourself, could say, yes, my inheritance has been filled with not only daily bread but royal dainties as well.

Orange Pecan Whole Wheat French Toast

1 lb. loaf of leftover bread (hide it if you have to) :)

Whisk together
5 eggs, lightly beaten
1/4 c. raw honey
1/4 tsp. sea salt
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. nutmeg (freshly ground)
1/2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
1 c. almond milk (or organic milk)

Dip bread and soak up mixture. Put on griddle, medium low heat, until lightly browned. Keep warm in 200 degree oven.

After toast is done, place, sprinkle and drizzle over top
1 - 2  oranges, peeled and sectioned, juice reserved
1/2 c. pecans, chopped fine
Here's a quick picture tutorial on the quickest way to peel and section an orange. To get the juice, after you section the orange squeeze the leftover segments over the french toast right before serving.

We like our french toast not too sweet. You may like to add more honey or all-fruit marmalade over top after toast is done but I'd rather not have the extra sweetness, especially in the morning. You can also add the orange zest to the egg mixture if you wanted more orange flavor. If you don't have homemade bread, another option is the high fiber bread (6g fiber) available. It's a real filler and helps slow the absorption in the body.

Buy the best eggs (omega 3 or cage free) you can afford and try to limit your dairy intake by using something like almond milk. (Dairy is very acidic in the body.) Pecans add crunch and extra nutrients and the citrus is awesome to have every day. Have a look to see what citrus does as a fat burner.

There are many ways to use our leftover bread, since we have plenty. :)  And adding variety in the morning is an excellent way to stay consistent with healthful eating.

To make this go quicker, plan ahead - slice your bread the night before, combine your egg mixture and place in frig to use the next morning. Pull it all out and just do what you can; if you have any mixture leftover, place what you need to in the frig and finish the next morning. Or even prepare it all the night before and heat them in a toaster oven as needed. 

A nice warm filling breakfast is a great way to start the day! Remember small changes are better than no changes at all.

This is linked to:

Friday Food at MomTrends
Foodie Friday at DesignsbyGollum
Finer Things Friday at TheFinerThingsInLife
Fight Back Friday at FoodRenegade
Ultimate Recipe Swap at LifeAsMom

March 9, 2010

Procrastination - The Lock to Healthy Eating

I said earlier that The Key to Healthy Eating is Planning. Well, that makes Procrastination the Lock to Healthy Eating. When we procrastinate it leaves us in a state of emotional eating and held hostage to convenience food. 

I've been putting off making bread. For some reason, the priority wasn't there but I realized there needs to be something to "grab and go" or some place for those yummy dips and even extra virgin olive oil with roasted garlic to be spread and devoured, I mean, eaten.

So thanks to a friend's idea, I was determined to get my bread done and it looks delicious. I used to use a bread machine (which I think is still a good idea) but since I've gone through two, I decided to try it by hand. I found an excellent website The Fresh Loaf and learned how a few years ago.

This is a great recipe for trying your hand at making bread, well, by hand. The original recipe has a nice tutorial on the website so definitely go there and get all the details.

I break all these steps down into 15 minute or less segments so while it does take a while to get the finished product, it's not a time consuming venture. Here's how I made mine...

Honey Whole Wheat Bread
(makes two loaves)

In mixer bowl, stir together and let sit 20 minutes
1 lb. whole wheat or spelt flour (freshly ground)
12 oz. hot water

8 oz. bread flour or more whole wheat/spelt
5 oz. half yogurt and half water
1/3 c. raw honey
1 1/2 tsp. sea salt
3 tsp. instant yeast 

Run mixer for 5-10 minutes. Let rest 5 minutes and then knead just a minute or two more to get silky texture. Place in oiled bowl and let rise a total of 60 - 90 minutes using 3 stretch and folds. (I know that's really domestic but watch this video on how to do it; it's great for rise.) Then divide in two and shape. Let rise 20-30 minutes (mine always rise fast.) Place in hot oven 425 degrees and immediately turn down heat to 375 and bake for 25 - 35 minutes. When out of oven try to resist eating until cooled. (That's the hardest part about baking bread.) It really helps the finished product though.

Yes, that is citrus honey from our backyard but that's another story. When I make the bread for my family I use all whole wheat or spelt. If you want a great transition bread or are new to baking, use the 8 ounces of bread flour. The recipe called for a can of evaporated milk but in all my breads that include milk, I substitute half yogurt and half water. (Fermented dairy is better digested than regular milk) 

There are just too many details to put in this post so if you are new to bread baking please check out the website, it'll really help. 

Thanks to Amy at New Nostalgia for helping me not procrastinate any longer.

What have you been procrastinating lately?

This is also posted at:

Tasty Tuesdays at Balancing Beauty and Bedlam

Tempt My Tummy at Blessed with Grace

March 8, 2010

Fortified Peanut Butter

Do you need your kids to eat more of the good fats and less of the bad fats? I think as parents, we all struggle with this. My children love peanut butter and as I'm always looking for better ways to feed them (secretly, if necessary) I wanted to improve something they eat 2 -3 times per week (sometimes more if it goes in smoothies). So I decided to add more nutrient dense nuts and seeds to increase the nutrition to a staple in our home.

Fortified Peanut Butter

In a food processor
1/8 c. almonds (raw and unsalted)
1/8 c. walnuts (same)
Process until small chunks

16 oz. jar natural peanut butter (the kind you stir like Smucker's)
1 tbsp. ground flaxseeds
1/4 c. raw honey (keeps oil from separating again)

Only for the daringly domestic
1-3 tsp. EFA oil blend (optional)

Blend altogether.

If you need to transition your children from gooey hydrogenated filled peanut butter to natural, start with mixing a third to a half with the pure peanut butter, increasing amounts gradually, and over time they will be accustomed to eating the healthier (I think tastier) peanut butter. 

Here are links for the benefits of almonds, walnuts, and flaxseeds.

You can serve peanut butter as sandwiches or on fruit and veggies like celery, apples, and bananas. I have even heard of people eating it on broccoli, though I haven't tried it myself.

This whole recipe takes less than 15 minutes including washing the food processor. What other things can we do to fortify our bodies for protection?

In A.W. Pink's book, Profiting from the Word, he says, "An individual is spiritually profited when the Word fortifies against sin."

"Fortify" has such a strong meaning:
(a) to strengthen and secure with fortifications,
(b) to reinforce by adding material,
(c) to impart physical strength or endurance,
(d) to give emotional, moral, or mental strength,
(e) to strengthen and enrich

Pink reminds us that the Bible teaches us "how to be kept from displeasing God". "Yes, we are to anticipate the future and be fortified against it, by storing the Word in our hearts for coming emergencies." 

Just as we want our physical bodies fortified and protected from those things that would harm us, we should protect our spiritual bodies by fortifying them with the Word of God.

How much fortification do you have right now?

March 4, 2010

Target for Wild Caught Alaskan Salmon

Good news! Target Stores are getting it right when they get rid of all farm-raised salmon and carry only wild-caught Alaskan salmon. Let's support those who are trying to bring us better quality foods. Here's just one short article on the change...

Target Stores to Stop selling Farm-raised Salmon
Not that I agree with everything Target does, but this is something I will support. Remember though that Target is only able to do half the job; the consumer needs to do the other half. Expect to pay a little more but remember it helps our bodies in the long run NOT to have the corn-fed salmon with PCBs and more antibiotics and such. Here's an article why farm-raised salmon is not good for you...

7 Reasons to Avoid Farm-Raised Salmon

Want to know more about Wild Salmon? Go here for a great explanation by a great guy (my hubby). :)

Be encouraged in the fact that small changes are better than no changes.

March 3, 2010

5 Foods You Should Eat Everyday

This is a quick video and cheat sheet of what we should be eating everday to have optimal health. This is a great list to post on your frig and take with you to the grocery store, produce stand, and health food store when you shop.

Organic vegetables and grains are best, but do what you can. Most vegetables are priced cheaper than any meat you're going to buy anyway and you can usually eat as many vegetables as you want. If organic is within a few dimes of the price I would normally buy it, if not, I just get them from the produce stand and do a 15 minute soak.

Get your nuts raw and unsalted. Have variety so you won't get bored.

Plain low-fat and organic is the best option when choosing yogurt. Sweeten with honey, agave, fruit or jelly. Add nuts or granola for a meal replacement.

You don't have to shoot for eating them everyday yet, just add them in there somewhere.

Which of these foods could you add to your grocery list this week?

March 2, 2010

Giada's Roasted Balsamic Vinaigrette Chicken

Again, I need to preface this with saying I am having technical difficulties with my blog and my wonderful patient husband is working long and hard at it. Blogger should've told me not to cut and paste with Microsoft Word...

There are only a few times that I have not altered a recipe and this is one of them, although I did leave the pan drippings out and skin the chicken to make it healthier (so I guess I did alter some). This marinade is so flexible and you do not even have to marinade it that long, not at all if you don't have the time. I have had this recipe for at least 2 years but never made it. The balsamic vinegar just scared me. In salad dressings it has been really strong and I just didn't give it a thought to experiment until one evening when I realized I wanted something different on the chicken than the usual. Emotional eating at its best. :)

I started buying the Publix Greenwise whole chickens because I got fed up with the size of Albertson's chicken breasts that look like they came off the chest of an ostrich. It's just not natural! Bigger is not always better. It depends on how they get that way. I'd rather have a little more saturated fat (whole chicken) that was cleaner than less fat (chicken breast) that was full of who knows what. We are not to the point of buying all organic meat and I am glad, at least for the sake of reaching others, it's not practical. There will be a time I think when the public starts to speak out against the practices of the food industry and the demand of better meat and poultry will go up which will mean the prices will come down. Then the majority of people will be able to afford no antibiotic, hormone free, corn free, free range beef and poultry. Until then, I am buying my whole chickens at Publix ($2.39/lb).

I will shop frugally the best I can but some things are worth it. We don't have meat at every meal and eat a lot less than what we used to. For example, last night we had one chicken to feed all four of us but with a large salad and brussels sprouts on the side it was enough. (I even saved the back for soup.) I'd rather eat less meat and buy better quality. Supporting the efforts of better food is worth the little extra right now. 

Off my soapbox and onto the delicious recipe!

Roasted Balsamic Vinaigrette Chicken
(original recipe no longer available on food network)

Mix together
1/4 c. balsamic vinegar
2 tbls. dijon mustard (any mustard will work)
2 tbls. fresh lemon juice
2 garlic cloves, chopped (roasted gives more flavor)
2 tbls. olive oil 
Kosher or sea salt and freshly ground pepper

1 (4 lb.) chicken, cut up (I skin everything but breast)
Put everything together in a container and let sit as long as possible, up to 1 day. (Giada says at least 2 hours)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees (although I like 425) and roast for 35-45 minutes. 

Giada then takes the pan drippings and makes a sauce and I am sure it's good but all the drippings are is fat. It's not necessary for this. You can sprinkle chicken with 1 tsp. lemon zest and 1 tbl. chopped parsley but I have yet to do this.

This is not a pretty dish because of the balsamic but it is okay because of the taste. By the time you add your colorful salad and veggies on the side, the plate looks good. I love good healthy food that tastes great!

This recipe takes less than 15 minutes to prepare, even with skinning the chicken. Next time try substituting a healthier brand of chicken for the one you usually buy; see if there's a difference. You should notice it in the taste and texture, besides being a normal size. Serve with roasted vegetables; if your oven's big enough, place tray in with chicken the last 15 minutes of cooking (400 degrees) for a time saver.

Start with one healthy change at a time and support the efforts of those trying to bring us better quality food. Enjoy!

This is linked to:

Tasty Tuesdays at Balancing Beauty and Bedlam

Tempt My Tummy Tuesdays at Blessed with Grace

Food on Fridays

March 1, 2010

Planning Ahead - The Key to Healthy Eating

I want to preface this by letting you know I am having technical difficulties with my blog and my wonderful patient husband is working long and hard on it. Apparently, Blogger didn't tell me I wasn't supposed to cut and paste from Microsoft Word...

Back to Planning Ahead:

Isn't it funny how our emotions rule what we eat sometimes, I mean, most of the time? There have been many times when I've asked, "What do you feel like eating?" or "What do I feel like eating?" That is a giant indicator that I haven't planned ahead. It's easy to fall into the trap of emotional eating.

Planning ahead is probably THE secret to healthy eating. If you plan ahead you'll have a menu to take with you to the store. If you plan the next day's meals the night before, then you can get a jumpstart on the day. If you have a plan then more than likely you will follow it. Otherwise, you're left looking in the frig while wondering what you'll eat and how fast you can get it ready, maybe even stopping by take out.
There are 3 antecedents that lead to unplanned Unstructured Eating:  Habit, Boredom, and Stress. A plan will keep all three at bay when those times come. If you want to learn more about eating habits, follow the link at Peak Performance Radio and look for Dr. Gerard Musante and his book The Structure House Weight Loss Plan to listen to a program about our relationship to food.

The Lord has created good food to satisfy our bodies; give it what it needs to function and heal itself. The more man does to it, the further it gets from the original plan. All it takes is 15 minutes to get some key healthy meals added to what you normally eat.

Or if you have your meal plan all ready, examine and exchange what you can to make it healthier. For an overview...

Examine                   Exchange

White Rice                Brown Rice or Quinoa
Bread                       Whole Grain Bread (5g fiber)
White Pasta              Whole Wheat Pasta
Regular Eggs             Omega-3 Eggs
White Flour               Whole Grain Flour
White Sugar              Honey or Agave Nectar
Regular Milk              Organic Milk or Almond Milk

Even vegetables like peas, corn and carrots (favorites of children) could be substituted with broccoli and cauliflower in small increments. One dinner of meat could be substituted with beans as a main dish. For beginning transitions, don't shock your family with change all at once. It usual doesn't go over well. Make slow transitions; you've eaten a certain way for years, a few more months in transition will not hurt.

Add a healthier dish as a side at first, then make it more of the main dish over time. Vegetable choices can be slowly built up where they can be as large (hopefully) as the main dish. You can have 2 - 3 side dishes of veggies and one meat or main dish. There's only so much room on your plate; side dishes can fill most of it.

The general rule in food is "white is only good for laundry". There are exceptions like cauliflower and bananas but for the most part, the more color the better it is. You want your plate as naturally colorful as possible.

So take 15 minutes, plan ahead and make those healthy substitutes, your bodies will thank you for it.

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