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. 

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