Cranberry Chutney ›

It’s what we’re having with our turkey this year. Kid 1 even said it looked pretty and smelled good as it cooked. Not that I am disillusioned enough to believe she will eat it. Happy Thanksgiving!

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With my 21 detox (which is officially over, and I feel great!), I’ve  started incorporating green smoothies into my diet daily. It gives me a  boost. And, if you do nothing but add this into your current diet,  you’ll get the boost from the raw, green veggies.
Now, you may ask if my kids will drink this. No way. They are not  there, yet. I have been making them smoothies of apple, mango and fresh  orange juice. I will then begin to sneak in veggies or raw nuts, little  by little.
Here’s my recipe:
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Green Smoothie (I promise, it does not taste like grass or a**)
1 green apple or pear
1 small or half large cucumber
1 celery stalk
handful of spinach
1 large leaf of kale
juice of a lemon
optional additions
handful of sprouts
handful of raw almonds
sprinkle of raw, unsweetened coconut
Blend away in a blender. I am fortunate enough to have a Vita-mix. It pulverizes everything. But, all is not lost if you do not. I would suggest chopping your veggies a little smaller. Also, add as much water as it seems necessary to get a good consistency.

With my 21 detox (which is officially over, and I feel great!), I’ve started incorporating green smoothies into my diet daily. It gives me a boost. And, if you do nothing but add this into your current diet, you’ll get the boost from the raw, green veggies.

Now, you may ask if my kids will drink this. No way. They are not there, yet. I have been making them smoothies of apple, mango and fresh orange juice. I will then begin to sneak in veggies or raw nuts, little by little.

Here’s my recipe:

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Green Smoothie (I promise, it does not taste like grass or a**)

  • 1 green apple or pear
  • 1 small or half large cucumber
  • 1 celery stalk
  • handful of spinach
  • 1 large leaf of kale
  • juice of a lemon

optional additions

  • handful of sprouts
  • handful of raw almonds
  • sprinkle of raw, unsweetened coconut

Blend away in a blender. I am fortunate enough to have a Vita-mix. It pulverizes everything. But, all is not lost if you do not. I would suggest chopping your veggies a little smaller. Also, add as much water as it seems necessary to get a good consistency.

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How to not get sick ›

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Experiment: Creamy Cinnamon Pumpkin Pudding

Found this one while perusing the free magazine from Whole Foods. I’m not big on weekday desert, but I felt like I was sneaking in another veggie serving with this one. And, Kid 1 loves pumpkin pie.

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Creamy Cinnamon Pumpkin Pudding

Serves 6 / This rich and creamy vegan treat goes together in minutes and melts in your mouth. Ingredient tips: Cooking with agar, a vegan jelling agent derived from red algae, creates an almost instant pudding that will wow your holiday guests—food restrictions or none. Yacon, a thick syrup made from the yacon root, is a lower-calorie sweetener that helps with digestion; use it in recipes as a substitute for molasses. Serving tip: This pudding is great warmed, with a dollop of whipped cream if you’re not vegan.

  • 2 1/2 tablespoons agar flakes (gelatin may be substituted - if you’re looking for agar, check the Asian section)
  • 1/2 cup raw cashews (kids did not know they were there!)
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 1/4 cups boiling water
  • 1 1/2 cups pumpkin purée or other cooked, puréed winter squash (I used one entire can of pumpkin)
  • 1/4 cup yacon syrup or agave nectar (I used honey)
  • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon (I recommend 1 1/2 tsp)
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom (I omitted - don’t like cardamom)

1. Place agar, cashews, and salt in a food processor and process to a fine powder. Add boiling water and process on high speed. Add pumpkin and yacon or agave and process again until smooth. Blend in cinnamon and cardamom.

2. Pour pudding into six 1/2-cup ramekins or 1/2-cup mason jars. I would suggest filling 8-10 ramekins instead of 6 - servings are little large for weekday desert, but would be fine for the holidays. Refrigerate until set, about 30 minutes.

PER SERVING: 129 cal, 5g fat (3g mono, 1g poly, 1g sat), 0mg chol, 3g protein, 21g carb, 3g fiber, 106mg sodium

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The flavor and texture here was great (including my tweaks in the recipe above). This recipe is a keeper. It might come back with some cacao powder in it next time.

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Experiment: Autumn Harvest Soup

This recipe is taken from one of the most beautiful cookbooks I own. Now, there are no pictures, which is generally sacrilegious for me in a cookbook. But, the beauty of the recipes won me over never-the-less. Also, this is not the kind of cookbook that you go to for no-brainer winners with the kids. All recipes are vegan, which means they don’t include kiddo favorites like meat and cheese which can generally up the cool factor of a particular vegetable.

The cookbook is Clean Food written by Terry Walters. The first thing that intrigued me was that it is is organized by season. So, I started flipping through the Autumn section last week and came upon her Autumn Fall Soup. Below is the recipe.

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Autumn Harvest Soup

THIS AUTUMN SOUP IS A NUTRITIONAL POWERHOUSE. With shiitake mushroom stock to help reduce blood cholesterol levels, dark leafy greens rich in calcium and legumes to regulate your blood sugar, support your thyroid and balance your hormones, this meal in a pot is just what the doctor ordered! For those with a bigger appetite, serve over soba noodles or brown rice.

Ingredients

  • 4 dried shiitake mushrooms
  • 6 cups water
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
  • 3 carrots, diced
  • 4 cups chopped kale or collard greens
  • 2 cups cooked cannellini beans
  • 1⁄4 cup mirin
  • Splash of tamari
  • Splash of apple cider vinegar
  • 4–5 dashes toasted sesame oil
  • Freshly ground black pepper

Preparation

Place dried mushrooms in medium pot with 6 cups water. Bring to boil, then reduce heat and simmer 15 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside to cool slightly. When mushrooms are soft, remove from broth and cut off and discard stems. Dice caps and place back in pot with broth. In large pot over medium heat, sauté onion, garlic and ginger in oil 3 minutes. Add carrots and sauté 3 minutes. Add kale or collard greens, beans and mirin and sauté until greens are deep green and tender. Pour broth and mushrooms into pot with kale, add tamari and vinegar and simmer 5–7 minutes. Season to taste with toasted sesame oil and black pepper and serve.

SERVES 6

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I actually followed this recipe exactly as printed. What a good rule follower I am, right? It called to me because as I read the ingredients, it just looked like medicine in a bowl. I also served this over soba noodles as suggested in the recipe. I cooked them separately so that they would not get mushy. So what’s the verdict on this one?

Kid 1

  • could not get passed the “funny” tasting broth. I think she did  not like the mushroom flavor. She doesn’t like mushrooms, but I was hoping to get the nutrients in her without her knowing it. FAIL!
  • But, she LOVED the cooked vegetables. She LOVES cooked Kale, which makes my heart sing. So, she ate the veggies sans broth with her noodles. All in all, not too bad.

Kid 2


  • This kid loved everything about this soup except the cooked carrots. Remember this? He doesn’t like his carrots cooked. So, he didn’t have to eat them. He devoured his Kale AND his mushrooms. And, he called his brown noodles worms. Happy mom here!

Kid 3

  • For my pickiest eater, this wasn’t so bad. She would not eat her kale and I did not even serve her a mushroom. She did not want to eat her carrots. She was given the choice of carrots or kale. She ate carrots. She loved her noodles and did not complain about the broth. I’m pretty sure she ate at least a couple beans. Not bad for the smallest of the fries.

In closing, will I prepare this again? Maybe, maybe not. I might combine some of these flavors with my own chicken soup. The addition of the tamari, mirin and apple cider vinegar was very nice. That will definitely get incorporated into more brothy soups.

For desert, we had Cinnamon Pumpkin Pudding. I’ll bring you that recipe soon. It was quite good and very healthy.

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Let food be thy medicine, and let thy medicine be food.

Hippocrates

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Tried and True: Greek Night

So my kids know this meal as “greek night.” It sounds kind of silly, but is one of the meals that I know everyone will get up from the table full. Some months, this menu is in the rotation weekly. The “greek night” menu changes from night to night, depending on what I have in the fridge. It will include any of the following:

  • cubed grilled chicken breast (marinade to follow)
  • homemade hummus (at this time, 2 of my children will eat hummus)
  • naan or flatbread
  • roasted veggies (like eggplant, red bell peppers and/or tomatoes) of which I eat the lion share
  • green salad including cucumbers, tomatoes and olives (dressing to follow)
  • chunks of feta (cubed from a block - it’s way more satisfying than crumbled)

I’ll generally put it all on the table and let everyone choose what they want to eat. They know they have to choose at least one veggie.

Side note: It’s okay with me if it’s something as easy as a cucumber. Many nights, they only eat the veggies they always eat (ya know, carrots, cucumbers, salad) and that’s okay. I just continue to have them “try again” something they didn’t like last time. After that 20th try, they usually like it. It really takes that many tries. And, it’s worth it.

Here’s how you can accomplish “greek night” for yourself.

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Chicken marinade that is good with EVERY recipe

  • Rice vinegar (approx 1/2 cup)
  • fresh lemons (one sliced and juice squeezed over chicken)
  • olive oil (a couple of glugs to mix with acids)
  • dijon mustard (1-2 teaspoons)
  • garlic powder (generous shake)
  • onion powder (generous shake)
  • oregano (for greek night especially)

I know, real precise measurements above. But, it’s a marinade, just make sure the chicken is coated. Don’t add your salt until just before you grill.

Put raw chicken breast in your marinade vehicle of choice (mine is a big ol’ baggie). Add ingredients above to coat. Marinade for 1 hour or as much as overnight. Don’t go too much longer or the acid will start to “cook” the chicken. Don’t forget to salt and pepper the chicken before grilling. Grill as normal.

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Greek Salad Dressing

My kids are at the point now that they don’t like bottled salad dressing. They always want mine. I’ve just trained their palettes for it now. I also know that there are no stabilizers, additives, HFCS or funky fats. Without further ado, here you go:

  • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1 tsp dijon mustard
  • squeeze of half a lemon (if you have it)
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • pepper to taste

I prefer to make mine in a jar. I always keep the glass jars from peanut butter, so I have a bunch. I put it all in a jar and shake like mad. Again, no reinvention of the wheel here. But, my kids will eat every bit of their salad with this on it.

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Hummus

  • 1 16oz. can chickpeas (aka garbanzo beans)
  • 1 clove fresh garlic
  • juice of a lemon
  • 1/4 cup tahini (*which is sesame seed butter), natural peanut butter can also be substituted here
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1/4 tsp cumin
  • salt to taste

This works best in a food processor, although a blender will work as well. I always like to process my garlic first. I think the pieces get smaller this way and you don’t end up with big chunks of garlic. After garlic is processed, add drained chickpeas, tahini and lemon juice. Pulse around until it’s mostly combined, but not gummy. Finally add olive oil while processor is running. You may need more or less oil depending on your desired consistency. Once combined, add seasoning and pulse a couple more times to mix. Voila! Homemade hummus.

For a lighter and creamier hummus, you may (but don’t have to) omit the tahini and replace it with 1/4 C of plain Greek yogurt.

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Tried and True: Roasted Tomatillo Soup

This recipe was originally printed in the October 2004 Real Simple magazine. So, I guess that’s how long I’ve been preparing it. This recipe really is tried and true. My children will gobble this up and ask for seconds. Traditionally, I serve this over a wedge of corn bread (for the adults). Kids don’t necessarily like their food touching that much, so maybe put theirs on the side.

My favorite cornbread recipe from here. It’s a little more involved, but divine.

Here’s the recipe as originally printed:

Southwestern Chicken Soup

Ingredients

Directions

  1. Empty the salsa into a large saucepan. Cook for 2 minutes over medium-high heat, then add the chicken, beans, broth, and cumin (if desired). Bring to a boil, lower heat to a simmer, and cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  2. Top each bowl with a sprinkling of onions, a dollop of sour cream, and some tortilla chips (if desired). For a soupier dish, use 4 cups of broth. 

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Make your own salsa

Now, of course I add my own spin. It really just concerns the salsa. It is not easy to find mild tomatillo salsa. So, I started making my own. It’s really quite simple.

  • Buy 1 pound of fresh tomatillos. This is a tomatillo:

  • Remove the papery skin and scrub under running water to remove the sticky residue and any dirt.
  • Place tomatillos on a rimmed baking sheet and drizzle with olive oil and a sprinkle of salt and pepper.
  • Roast in a 400 degree oven for about 20 minutes. You want them to look like this when they’re done.

  • Very carefully, put them in a food processor or blender and blend them to a pureed consistency. I’ll even add a bunch of cilantro if I remembered to buy it! Don’t forget to salt to taste. Now, that is your salsa verde for the soup.

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My current eating plan..a road to health

As some of you already know, I’ve undergone an eating makeover in the last 10 days. By most people’s standards, I did not eat an unhealthy diet before this. I’d say 80% of my meals were high in lean, often organic meats and fresh, simply prepared fruits and vegetables. But, I still did not feel as good as I thought I should. I work out constantly, I sleep well and I stay away from most “bad habits.” So, what led me to seek out something new?

  • increasingly bad allergies
  • a history of depression only controlled by an anti-depressant (and an extensive family history of mental illness)
  • fatigue
  • puffiness in my face
  • the inability to lose weight, even after eating as described above and following a strenuous workout schedule (I mean come on, I teach Body Combat!)
  • the diagnosis of a vitamin D and B12 deficiency about 6 months ago

I have always been driven to stay current in the health, nutrition and wellness field. I guess that’s why I got my degree in Nutrition and now teach exercise. It’s what God wired me to be passionate about.

I also have very close people in my life with some serious medical problems. I went searching to find answers for them, also.

Because I know that she will be happy with me sharing, one of these people is my best friend, Brittany. She was recently diagnosed with Lupus and has been battling the symptoms and the side effects of the many medicines she has been prescribed. Being that she is as passionate about whole body health as me (she is also a foodie and excellent group fitness instructor), she and I discussed many times how she would like to control her Lupus as naturally as possible. But, I also knew that the Lupus made it hard for her to research and think through the process. I started talking about wanting to do a cleanse and she said “me, too.” Well that gave me the motivation to really study the options.

Without further ado, I am following the "Clean" program by Dr. Alejandro Junger. The basic idea is to remove the foods that could be reaking havoc in your body and bombard you body with nutrients from the most nutritious foods (mostly raw veggies, fruits and nuts) and watch your body fix itself.

In the last 10 days, I’ve seen the puffiness in my face gone and, at this time, 7 pounds fall off. But, I must say, I did not go into just wanting to lose weight. I wanted to know that my body could fix itself. I want to operate on my optimal level.

In no way do I expect many people to want to follow this plan. It is quite restrictive and hard for the first few days. But, I encourage you use food as medicine. And mostly, I want you to get a glimpse of just how nutty I am about discovering the path to optimal wellness, and why I want to share healthy, kid friendly recipes. I want my kids, and yours, to have it easier than we did.

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Kale-Pomegranate Quinoa Stuffing


I know Thanksgiving is still a few weeks off, but in honor of my
current eating program (more on that later),
I have begun researching recipes that will allow us to leave
the table feeling energized and not just tired.
I came across this Dr. Oz recipe in last year's Natural Health
Thanksgiving issue. I will be bringing this dish
this year. Hope I'm not the only one that enjoys it.


Kale-Pomegranate Quinoa Stuffing



Serves 12

Even though this stuffing tastes traditional--thanks
to pecans, sage, and
thyme--it actually contains three of Dr.
Oz's superfoods. To minimize saturated fat
while maximizing flavor, the oil is added in
stages and the butter is added last (so it's
tasted first).

5 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil,
divided
6 cloves garlic, finely sliced, divided
1/2 cup vegetable stock
1/2 pounds young kale, stems and leaves
coarsely chopped
Salt to taste
White pepper to taste
1 1/2 cups pecans
1 cup finely chopped onion
1 tablespoon chopped fresh sage
1 tablespoon fresh thyme (strip the
leaves from the stems)
2 cups cooked quinoa
1 tablespoon butter, melted
1 egg, lightly beaten
3/4 cup dry white wine
1/2 cup fresh pomegranate seeds

1. Preheat oven to 325[degrees]F. Lightly oil a 9 x
13-inch glass baking dish.

2. In a large saucepan over medium-high
heat, heat 2 tablespoons olive oil. Add
half of the garlic and cook until soft but
not yet golden. Raise heat to high, add
the stock and kale and toss to combine.
Cover and cook for 3 minutes. Uncover
and continue cooking, stirring until all the
liquid has evaporated. Season with salt
and white pepper. Set aside to cool.

3. Add cooled, cooked kale and pecans to
a food processor; pulse several times until
pecans are chopped and kale is shredded
but mixture is still chunky.

4. In a separate saucepan over medium-high
heat, heat 2 tablespoons olive oil;
add the onion and remaining garlic; saute
2 to 3 minutes. Add the sage and continue
cooking until onion is caramelized,
approximately 3 to 4 more minutes. Stir
in the pecan-kale mixture.

5. Transfer the onion-pecan-kale mixture
to a large mixing bowl. Add the cooked
quinoa and stir to combine. Stir in the
remaining tablespoon of oil and melted
butter. Season with salt and white pepper.
Add the egg and wine and toss to
coat. Transfer the mixture to the prepared
baking dish. Cover and bake 30 minutes.
Garnish with pomegranate seeds before
serving.

Per serving: 220 calories, 18 g fat (2.5 g
saturated), 13 g carbohydrates, 4 g protein,
3 g fiber, 214 mg sodium (9% Daily Value).

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