Sunday, December 4, 2011

Sicilian Split Pea


One of the simplest pleasures in life, especially as we move through these longer, darker days, has got to be hot and hearty soups for dinner. Split pea is a favorite of mine, so much so in fact, that I find myself craving it. Once I did some research, I discovered all of the reasons my body wanted it (PROTEIN!), and started to make it more often, varying the ingredients each time, so that it was anything other than ordinary.

In my studies I learned that dried peas have been around since pre-historic times... archeology digs discovering them in Egypt, Asia and Rome. Peas lower your cholesterol, soothe bouts of IBS and Diverticulitis, stabilize your blood sugar and help relieve Fibromyalgia symptoms, such as headaches and disorientation, through their rich source of the mineral, Molybdenum. Add garlic for fighting infection, onions and fresh lemon (both chocked full of vitamin C), and magnesium rich spinach, and this becomes one mighty immune boosting soup!

And it's SO easy.

What I had on hand:

1-2 TB of olive oil
8-10 tiny fingerling potatoes, diced
1/2 medium-large hannah yam/sweet potato, diced
2 cloves of garlic, pressed
1 TB minced fresh ginger
3/4 of a large red onion, chopped
2 large carrots, diced

1 cup of dried split green peas
5 cups of water or broth

a handful of fresh spinach, chopped
a handful of baby green chard, chopped
a handful of fresh Italian parsley, chopped
the zest or juice from 1 meyer lemon
Sicilian Seasoning to taste:
(sea salt, black peppercorn, carrot, garlic, parsley, coriander, onion, chili pepper)

unsweetened almond milk (optional)


What I did:

Add the first set of ingredients to the pot and sauté on low heat to soften veggies, stirring quickly, and release the aroma of the garlic and ginger (5-7 minutes).

Add the peas and water/broth, increase heat to high, and bring to a boil, stirring occasionally.

Once boiling, return heat to low, cover and simmer for 35 minutes to an hour, stirring occasionally. The longer you cook, the smoother your texture will be, and the more the flavors will marry. Towards the end of this period you may add your greens, parsley, lemon zest and seasoning to taste. If using lemon juice instead of zest, which will create a milder lemon flavor, add it only at the very end, once cooking time is complete.

For a creamier result, try adding a bit of unsweetened almond milk.
I did this just as an experiment, to cool the temp down for consumption.
It was REALLY good!

For more information on the health benefits of green split peas, click on this link:
http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=56

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Convincing Folks to Thrive


“Seems to me that the real question is how to convince people to want to take care of themselves,” a friend wrote to me recently. It was a profound statement that really left me pondering. My first reaction was “DO I want to convince people to take care of themselves? “ It seems difficult enough to help individuals make the changes they need to improve their lives, and when you must start from scratch trying to convince them they should… Well, that seems overwhelming. In the last few months, my focus has been on working with those who already know the reasons why they should make changes, and have already taken the steps (consciously) towards a healthier life. Although ultimately individuals must reach that point on their own, it stirred the desire in me to come up with some convincing arguments, just in case someone is "on the fence", as it were.

Save money!

When old habits no longer work for you, and new routines take their place, it effects what’s left in your pocket profoundly. Whether you have given up cigarettes, curbed your drinking, stopped ordering pizza or traded the car for your bike, the amount of money you will have saved improving your overall well-being is staggering. Aside from the obvious cost of smokes, alcohol, pizza, and gas, the amount saved from health care alone should be enough to send you on a sunny vacation in Bora Bora for a week. For example, according to the New York Times, obese Americans spend $1429 more each year on health care than the $3400 spent by healthy weight Americans. Most of the excess spending is for prescription drugs needed to manage obesity-related conditions, mentions Eric A. Finkelstein, one of this study’s authors and the director of the public health economics program at the Research Triangle Institute, a nonprofit research organization. Obesity is just one measure. If we look at all of the ways improving our health fattens our checking account, surely the money saved alone would convince us that making changes for the better is worth the effort, yes?

Be a beacon of hope!

Your life and your accomplishments serve as examples to those who admire and observe you. Whatever risk you are willing to take, regardless of outcome, serves as a model for others. As you begin to feel better, look healthier and enjoy life more, it will become apparent to your friends, co-workers and family… giving them new hope for all that is possible in the world, or at least what is possible for themselves. Often, this hope is enough to change their perspective, offer a new paradigm on life, and inspire them to make changes to their daily lives as well. The domino effect is real. One person does have an effect on the energy around them, and it will cascade into other people’s lives in ways you might not expect. Surprisingly, it only takes a very small amount of energy to start the dominoes falling, but once started, that force becomes multiplied with each successive event until all the dominoes fall, releasing beacons of hope for countless others. You will have no idea how your actions will effect the world around you, until you just do it!

Feel better!

When someone is in a bad place, it is really hard to envision the life they could have. It is difficult to gain the perspective of happy healthy thriving individuals when their own body is lacking what it needs to function well. Yet with every new change towards health, be it improving your diet, exercising regularly, or adding daily meditation, each cell is affected positively. When each individual cell is performing at it’s best, when it is getting all of the nutrition and oxygen it needs, then it works well within that tissue, and in abundance, the entire organ operates more smoothly. All organs running smoothly continue the cycle of getting your body everything it needs to perform well mentally, emotionally and physically. You will get sick less often, rest will come easier, you will sleep more deeply, awake more refreshed. With everything in working order – behaving as nature intended – you will glide towards optimum health and your energy levels will soar!

Do it for your loved ones!

You’ve heard this one before… If you are unable to see the worth in doing it for yourself, then do it for your family. Do it for your kids or do it for your partner. Developing new habits that improve your health and well-being not only lengthens your life so that you will be around to support them while they are living theirs, but it also safeguards that they will have at least one significant and positive role model in their lives for as long as you’re around. It is always tough losing our parents, regardless of age, but if we know about the changes they made so they could live longer, and improve their quality of life, then when it comes time to finally saying good-bye, it seems less tragic somehow. Leaving a child behind early, however, due to our own lack of self-love, self-care and neglect, IS the foundation of tragic in this case, and is almost a guarantee that your less than optimal habits will live on in those who looked up to you, some never realizing they were detrimental to begin with. And worse, the possibility that this lack of self-care will be passed on to your grandchildren, and your great grandchildren… It is time to break the cycle and become a positive influence on your loved ones.

You are worth it!

This is the most difficult aspect of convincing others that they should take care of themselves. Most of us know that it doesn’t matter if we think someone is worth all of the love, care and attention in the world… If the individual has had experiences in their lives that prove to them otherwise, it often doesn’t matter what we think. I truly believe, however, in the inherent worth and dignity of all living beings. Even beyond us humans, we are all here for a purpose, and that purpose is to thrive. When we thrive, we are at our best and when we are at our best, what’s not to love! We are worth all of that LOVE and more! I wish I could convey to every person I work with that improving their health and making the changes necessary to feel better will fix all of their self-esteem and self-love issues. I’m not sure this is true, or even possible, for that matter. But it WILL improve your ability to cope with those inner voices, it WILL improve your brain function, and the ability of your cells to tackle stress, trump cancer and fight infections. You WILL get sick less often, save money, provide hope and feel better.  And you will certainly make those who love you incredibly happy to see you THRIVE.

Want to learn more about how to THRIVE?
Check out this film: http://thrivemovement.com/

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Veggie Chorizo Bowl


Somewhere between Sloppy Joes and veggie chili, lies the Veggie Chorizo Bowl. Both sweet and spicy, this Mexican inspired "goulash" will make you think twice about eating out at your local taqueria. This simple dish can be served up in less than 30 minutes, either as a whole bowl, or mixed with rice and wrapped in a spinach or whole wheat tortilla. Bonus? It uses GABA brown rice, which can prevent and treat many conditions such as anxiety, depression, high blood pressure, insomnia, obesity and certain types of cancers. It's filling nutty consistency leaves you feeling "comfort food" satisfied. 

What I had on hand:

1 cup GABA brown rice
(I used the Koshihikari brand)
1 1/2 cups of water

2 TB peanut oil
1 package veggie chorizo
5 medium tomatoes, diced
1 small onion, diced
1/2 medium zucchini, diced
2 leaves green kale, torn in small pieces
1/4 cup hot wing sauce 
1/2 tsp adobo seasoning
1 tsp cumin
2 pinches ghost pepper salt

1 dollop of vegan sour cream or plain greek yogurt (optional)
1 pinch of cilantro or Vietnamese coriander (optional)

What I did:

Make rice according to directions. Heat oil in large wok pan. Remove casing from chorizo by cutting off the end and squeezing the package contents into pan like a tube of toothpaste. Add all remaining ingredients. Simmer uncovered, on low heat, stirring and scraping the bottom with a silicone spatula to prevent over browning or sticking for about 10 minutes. When you've reached the desired consistancy, turn off heat. Serve with rice. Top with a dollop of vegan sour cream or plain greek yogurt. Garnish with cilantro or Vietnamese coriander.

***********************************************************************************

Many grains could be used instead of brown rice... Try quinoa, millet, elbow macaroni or polenta. Experiment with the type of tomatoes, too. I used "just ripe" ones from the last harvest of the garden, but canned Muir Glen Organic Fire Roasted Tomatoes would contribute a delicious smokey flavor, or you could use up the last of the salsa in the fridge.

For more information on the health benefits of GABA brown rice, click on this link:

For more information on GABA, click on this link:

Monday, October 17, 2011

Three Sisters Stew


To Native Americans, the Three Sisters (corn, beans and squash) are the sustainers of life, believed to be special gifts from the "Creator". They are planted together in a hill, rather than in rows as we do now. The sturdy corn stalks support the vining beans, while the broad squash leaves trap moisture for the growing plants. This efficient planting technique, although noted by explorers as far back as the early 1600's, is mostly ignored in modern agriculture. Instead, we have devised a system of genetically modified seeds to fight disease and invasion, pesticides to eliminate stubborn pests and an enormous waste of precious resources.  

We have an opportunity to honor this trio. Just as they were planted together traditionally, and protected together, they are now served together in this delicious and exceptionally nutritious dish!

What I had on hand:

2 cups of cumin & olive oil roasted pumpkin, cubed

1-2 TB olive oil
1/2 red onion, diced
1 small yellow onion, diced
2 ears of fresh organic corn, sawed off the cob
2 cloves of garlic, pressed
1-2 cups of water
1/4 of a large zucchini, diced
2 medium heirloom tomatoes, diced
2 cups of green cherry tomatoes, diced
2 cups of black beans, cooked el dente
2 TB chili garlic paste

1/3 diced Vietnamese Coriander
A pinch or two each of: 
Ghost pepper salt, cumin, garam masala, crushed red pepper, course ground black pepper and sea salt

What I did:

Pumpkin:
Cut squash in sections, lightly coat with olive oil and roast in oven for 25 minutes at 350. Remove and let cool. Peel skin and discard, cube, sprinkle with cumin and sea salt, stir and return to oven for another 10 minutes. Freeze or use in 2-3 days.

Stew:
I actually used the lemon infused olive oil leftover in a can of dolmas as my base oil. After heating the oil in the soup pot briefly, I added the garlic and onions to the pot and sautéed for five minutes. Then add the remaining ingredients, one at a time, adding only one of the cups of water initially, and added more later if you need it. You want it to be thick like "stew".  Season last, adding a few extra pinches to achieve your own desired preference. The ingredients actually have an amazing flavor, but the combination of spice compliments the dish completely. Garnish with Vietnamese Coriander. YUM.

For more information about the nutritional benefits of organic corn, click on this link:

For more information of the benefits of beans, click on this link:

For more information on the benefits of squash, click on this link:



Tuesday, October 4, 2011

YUM "PB&J"


Chocked full of fiber, potassium (bananas and figs), manganese and vitamin C (raspberries), antioxidants (raspberries and figs), and calcium (figs), this particular sandwich really packs a punch. It's nutrient density addresses asthma, hypertension, bone health, cancer prevention, weight management and macular degeneration.

You can vary the type of fruit you use for the "jam"... Aim for whatever is fresh, in season, and buy local. I had bananas, raspberries and figs - obviously - but thinly sliced granny smith apple, some blueberries, strawberries or sliced grapes would work equally well. Buy in bulk and blend in a food processor for more of a "jam" texture, and store in a glass jar, if desired. Seasonal choices will be on sale, making this an extremely nutritious and affordable meal. 

Use high quality fiber rich seeded and/or sprouted bread whenever possible, to boost overall nutritional density. Dave's Killer Sprouted Good Seed Bread is my favorite, but I'm also fond of Happy Campers Gluten-Free Party Hardy loaf, which when thinly sliced, is perfect for any nut butter and fresh fruit combination. 

Switch it up! Try raw pistachio or almond butters, or cashew creme. Use half nut butter and half Nutella for a special treat, while keeping added sugars to a minimum. This makes a hardy meal that travels easily, and will leave you feeling full of energy and satisfied. Eat 1/2 for a filling dessert, or the whole sandwich for a jump start to your day. Wash it down with a small glass of vanilla hemp, unsweetened soy or plain almond milk. Or if you must, a small Americano. YUM.

What I had on hand:

2 slices of Dave's Killer Sprouted Good Seed bread, toasted
1 large fresh fig, thinly sliced
1/2 banana, thinly sliced
a small handful of raspberries
2-3 TB Smuckers Organic Crunchy Peanut Butter (no sugar added)


What I did:

After toasting one slice, spread on nut butter while bread is still warm.
Add fruit on top, while toasting second slice. Cover the 1st slice with 2nd slice,
and use a saucepan lid to cover the entire sandwich, pressing down.
This will help secure the sandwich together, keeping it warm and gooey,
until you are ready to eat it. So good!

For more information on the health benefits of bananas, click on this link:
http://www.healthdiaries.com/eatthis/8-health-beneits-of-bananas.html

For more information on the health benefits of raspberries, click on this link:
http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=39

For more information on the health benefits of figs, click on this link:
http://health.wikinut.com/Top-Five-Health-Benefits-of-Figs/1z7_56qq/


Monday, September 26, 2011

Curried Lentil and Yam Soup


This one is SPICY! 
But no worries... 
You can make it less spicy or not spicy at all, if that is your preference. 
Just reduce the amount of jalapeño used.

Originally intended to be a yellow split pea and sweet potato soup, my plans changed slightly once I discovered that my "yellow peas" were really red lentils... and that my "sweet potato" was actually a yam, instead. And it was smaller than I had remembered, so I added a few small red potatoes into the pot as well.

And that's how we do it... 
We work with what we've got, making sure the basics are covered.
The lentils and yam will serve as my protein and complex carbohydrates. 
The onion, peppers, ginger and spice "dress it up" a bit, and the coconut milk and cilantro act as "accessories". You could use cashew cream and fresh basil, if you want, instead.

Loaded with b vitamins and potassium, yams help regulate blood sugar and weight, ward off menopausal symptoms, and eliminate hypertension. Red lentils are quick cooking, packed with folate, fiber and magnesium, and are chocked full of iron. Many of the added spices to this dish are anti-inflammatory, and help aid in easing joint tension and pain associated with Arthritis, Tendonitis, Fibromyalgia, Diverticulitis and Crohns. Turmeric, in particular, is a natural antiseptic and antibacterial agent and is exceptionally beneficial in treating everything from cancer to Alzheimer's disease.

But I digress... Mmmm... delicious Curried Lentil and Yam Soup... :)

Here's what I had on hand:

1-2 TB olive, peanut or coconut oil
½ large onion, chopped
1 dried or fresh jalapeño pepper, minced
1 TB fresh ginger, peeled and minced
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp curry
1/2 tsp turmeric
1/2 tsp garam masala
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
7 cups water 
1 medium jewel or garnet yam, peeled and diced
8 small red potatoes, skins left on and diced
1 small orange bell pepper
1 1/2 cups dried red lentils
½ cup of light coconut milk
½ cup fresh cilantro, chopped
salt and pepper to taste

Here’s what I did:

Heat oil in large saucepan over medium high heat.
Add onion, peppers and jalapeno…
Saute until tender, about 3 minutes.

Stir in ginger and spices, stirring for 1 minute.
Mix in 7 cups water, sweet potatoes and split peas.
Bring to a boil, reduce heat 
and simmer with cover “ajar” for about an hour,
stirring occasionally.

Blend soup for a smoother texture,
 thin with additional water if needed.  
(I tend to leave my soup chunky.)
Season with salt and pepper.
When the desired consistency had been reached,
Add coconut milk, and stir.
Top each serving with some cilantro,
and a dollop of cashew cream or yogurt,
if you’ve got some.

For more information on the health benefits of red lentils, click on this link:

For more information on the health benefits of yams, click on this link:

For more information on the health benefits of turmeric, click on this link:


Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Got Cucumbers?


Each year during August, gardens everywhere are bursting with cucumbery goodness. It's our job to eat this refreshing bounty. Slicing cucumbers and adding them to ice water is a terrific make-over to our daily beverage, as well as adding them to salads, sandwiches and wraps. I eat them peeled and cubed with just a bit of salt and pepper. But sometimes our gardens give us a harvest that forces us to think BIG. This salad is perfect for any hot summer day, and can easily be made vegan/dairy free. With only 10 calories per cuke, loads of vitamins and minerals, and fiber... it's the perfect compliment to any mini meal, or a snack all on its own!

This is what I had on hand:

3 medium-large cucumbers, thinly sliced and halved
1/4 of a sweet Walla Walla onion, thinly sliced
2 scallions, diced
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh mint
2 TB of goat's milk plain yogurt (any plain yogurt will do, or no yogurt at all)
2 splashes of seasoned rice vinegar (more, if you skip the yogurt)
Black pepper and sea salt to taste.

This what I did:

Combine all ingredients in a medium sized bowl,
Chill for an hour to let the flavors marry,
Mix again and enjoy!

For more information on the nutritional benefits of cucumbers, click this link:
http://www.livestrong.com/article/445042-holistic-benefits-of-eating-cucumbers/?utm_source=popup&utm_medium=3
For more information on the health benefits of sweet onions, click this link:
http://homecooking.about.com/od/foodhealthinformation/a/swonionhealth.htm

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Basil-Cilantro Pate with Raw Falafil Crackers


I've been experimenting with more raw foods recently, especially motivated by a recent trip to the Annual Rainbow Gathering in Washington State. I was surprised at how little you need to eat of raw food to be full, and the prolonged energy I had was incredible. Most of the portion sizes given to me were a mere 1/2 cup to a cup, and though I ate more often, I always felt satisfied.

Since returning home, I have played with dehydrated foods, like these raw falafil chips... have sprouted grains like wild rice, and have added them to salads... and I have blended seeds in pates, like I have done with this pesto pate. The raw pepitas I have used in this mix are rich with Omega 3's, and chocked full of nutrients. Paired with basil and garlic, they create a natural powerhouse for inflammation, to help combat bowel irritation and rheumatoid arthritis, among other things. 

Pate:

This is what I had on hand:

a large handful of basil, stems trimmed
a large handful of cilantro, stems trimmed
2 cloves of garlic
a large handful of pepitas
a large handful of walnuts
2 tablespoons of artichoke tapenade
olive oil

This is what I did:

Put it all in a mini food processor and blend until you obtain your desired consistency.

Raw crackers:

This is what I had on hand:

1 2/3 cup gluten free bulk falafil mix 
(fava beans, garbanzo beans, spices and corn oil)
1 1/4 cup water

This is what I did:

Mix mix and water together, let stand for 15-20 minutes. 
Form small balls and smoosh them delicately on a dehydrator tray. 
Dehydrate for 12 hours. 

Serve together, Enjoy!

For more information on the health benefits of pepitas or pumpkin seeds, click on this link:

For more information on the health benefits of basil, click on this link:

For more information on the health benefits of walnuts, click on this link:

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

K.A.M. Chips? YUM.


It took all of my might to not eat them out of the bowl while photographing them.
These chips were made from kale, arugula and mustard greens, fresh from my garden and in amazing abundance, considering so many plants have bolted and are going to seed for the summer growing season. This is my first attempt growing food outdoors and maintaining a garden, and thus, my first experience with more harvest than I could possibly eat in a few days.

Thus, I have utilized my food dehydrator to create this simple, delicious and nutrient dense snack. If you can borrow a friend's dehydrator, or go in on a purchase to share with a community of friends, it's well worth your investment, especially this time of year, when capturing as much as the harvest as you can, is in your best interest. And because these little snacks have been dried, their vital nutrients and enzymes have not been killed by the cooking process, allowing your body to absorb more easily all of the goodness these raw greens have to offer.

What I had on hand:

10-15 kale leaves
5 mustard green leaves
8-10 arugula leaves
1-2 tbs of olive oil
garlic, onion and ghost pepper salt (optional)
nutritional yeast (optional)

What I did:

Pour olive oil in a small bowl. Place dry greens in a bowl. If you wash your greens, send them through a salad spinner or allow them to completely dry before starting. Dip your fingers in the oil and quickly work the oil, massaging it lightly into each green leaf. You may tear the leaves into smaller pieces, but they will tear some on their own. The bigger your pieces, the bigger the chip. Set each oil massaged leaf on the dehydrator tray, until each tray is full. Salt and season lightly. Place in dehydrator at 115 degrees for 4-6 hours, or until "melt in your mouth" crisp! Delicious!

For more information on the health benefits of kale, click on this link:
http://www.healthdiaries.com/eatthis/9-health-benefits-of-kale.html

For more information on the benefits of arugula, click on this link:
http://www.livestrong.com/article/5381-need-health-benefits-arugula/

For more information on the benefits of mustard greens, click on this link:
http://www.streetdirectory.com/food_editorials/snacks/dips_and_sauces/benefits_of_mustard_greens.html

Friday, May 20, 2011

Garlic Artichoke Cilantro Hummus


When hunger strikes, nothing is easier than dipping some veggies, bread, crackers or chips into some creamy smooth hummus. I've taken to preparing a legume in my crock pot each week, for quick plant protein that can be a staple for almost any meal. This week my bean was the chick pea. Whirled up in the food processor (I just have a tiny Kitchen Aid and I LOVE it!), you can add many seasonal ingredients and various seasonings to get a delicious blend. This time I utilized a portion of a large jar of artichoke tapenade, some fresh garlic and leftover cilantro. 

Raw garlic is a natural infection fighter, with anti-fungal, anti-bacterial and anti- inflammatory properties and cilantro has been effective in removing heavy metals and toxins from the body, as well as aiding in digestion, stabilizing blood sugar, easing mood swings, among many other benefits. And chick peas? They are rich in molybdenum, a trace mineral that detoxifies sulfides in the body. These little nibbles also provide a surplus of folic acid, manganese, iron, copper, zinc and fiber, lower cholesterol and stabilize blood sugar.

Perhaps you could call this a health dip?!

What I had on hand:

2 cups cooked chick peas (aka garbanzo beans)
2-3 cloves of fresh garlic
3 Tb of artichoke tapenade (or use 1/2 can of artichoke hearts)
1/4 bunch of cilantro
2-3 Tb of tahini (I like the Organic Arrowhead Mills the best)
2 Tb of lemon juice
1-2 Tb of olive oil
1 Tb cumin
1/4 cup of water (as needed)
1 large pinch of ghost pepper salt (optional)
salt to taste

What I did:

Add all ingredients to food processor and blend until smooth, 
adding small amounts of water as needed to get your desired consistency. 
Salt to taste.

Serve with veggies, crackers, blue corn tortilla chips, pita bread, etc. 
YUM.

For more information on the health benefits of chick peas, click on this link:

For more information on the health benefits of cilantro, click on this link:

For more information on the benefits of raw garlic, click on this link:

Monday, May 16, 2011

Grain and Veggie Saute


This is simple dish that can be made a variety of ways with interchangeable ingredients.
I will demonstrate.

I made two versions - back to back - within two days. Both dishes are vegan. Both dishes include toasted pumpkin seeds, currents, asparagus, onion, mushrooms, olive oil and ghost pepper finishing salt, which is optional. However, by switching up the seasonings, type of mushrooms, greens and grain... the result was two completely different tasting meals. Both were nutritionally dense and super YUM.

Dish #1

What I had on hand:

2 cups cooked quinoa, cooled and fluffed
2 tb olive oil
large handful of shitake mushrooms, diced
1/4 large yellow onion, diced
10 asparagus stalks, diced
1/2 cup currents
1/2 cup toasted pumpkin seeds
2 tb garam masala
2 generous pinches of ghost pepper finishing salt (optional)

What I did:

Heat oil in skillet or wok pan, add onions and mushrooms and saute until soft. Add asparagus, stir, cover and steam for a few minutes, until asparagus is bright green. Add veggies to quinoa. Add currents, pumpkin seeds and garam masala. Mix well. Add ghost pepper salt and mix again. Serve chilled or at room temp.

The result was a protein rich, gluten free Indian influenced dish, which was perfect for the potluck I took it to.

Dish #2

What I had on hand:

1 1/4 cup cooked brown rice

2 tb olive oil
2 large handfuls of crimini mushrooms, diced
1/4 large yellow onion, diced
10 asparagus stalks, diced
1-2 leaves of green kale, torn into tiny pieces
1/4 of a small head of green cabbage, chopped
1/2 cup currents
1/2 cup toasted pumpkin seeds
1 tsp thyme
1 tb Greek seasoning or lemon pepper
2 generous pinches of ghost pepper finishing salt (optional)

Heat oil in skillet or wok pan, add onions and mushrooms and saute until soft. Add asparagus, kale and cabbage, and saute uncovered for 5 minutes, until asparagus is bright green. Add rice to veggies, mix and add seasoning. Turn off heat, add currents, pumpkin seeds and ghost pepper salt. Mix again. Serve chilled or at room temp.

The result was a dish dense in veggies, also gluten free, with a light hint of lemon. It served as tonight's meal, with plenty of leftovers for tomorrow. If you are interested in adding a lean animal protein, it would be excellent with diced chicken breast or poached salmon.

For more information on the nutritional benefits of asparagus, click on this link:

For more information on the health benefits of shitake mushrooms, click on this link:

For more information on the latest news about the health benefits of crimini mushrooms, click on this link:

For more information on the benefits of using ghost pepper finishing salt, click on this link:



Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Not All Bars Are Created Equal


If you are anything like me, I'm on the go, often. In an effort to eat when I am hungry, and not when I am famished, when I am more likely to overeat or eat the wrong kinds of things... I try to keep a variety of snacks in my bag at all times. I frequently have an apple. Sometimes raw veggies, jerky (vegan or otherwise), occasionally trail mix, and almost always a bar or two. However, not all bars are created equal. 

Some, like Cliff bars, are so big, they really count as two servings, especially when you notice that each one has over 20 grams of sugar. In fact, their first ingredient is usually organic brown rice syrup. Luckily, there is quite a bit of fiber in their bars, which helps with the metabolizing process, putting less strain on your liver, and a smaller spike in blood sugar. I typically eat a whole bar with several nibbles, spaced out, over time. 

When choosing a good bar, I aim for less than 15 grams of sugar, with 2 or more grams of fiber. The more sugar the bar has, the more fiber it should also have. Good ones I have found are: Cherry Bumble Bars (12 g sugar/4 g fiber), Cliff's MOJO Dipped Peanut Butter and Jelly (12 g sugar/2 g fiber), Pomegranate Blueberry Pistachio KIND (13 g sugar/4 g fiber), Cliff Z Bars (10 g sugar/3 g fiber), and Gluten Free Cafe Chocolate Sesame (7 g sugar/3 g fiber). There are lots of them out there... Just a quick glance at the nutritional information and you will soon discover your favorites, too. 

LARABAR and JOCALAT bars are phenomenal. They have over 22 grams of sugar per bar, but it's all natural sugars from dried fruit, with the fiber. A whopping 5 grams of fiber per bar. Plus, their ingredient list is quite short... Nothing unrecognizable. Watch out for some of LARABAR's latest flavors, like Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip, Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough and Chocolate Chip Brownie, though... These have chocolate chips as well as dried fruit, which bumps the sugar content up a couple of notches, making them more like regular sweets than a healthy alternative. 

Working within a budget? Try scoping out your local store, hit a sale, and buy a dozen. Do this a few times a month, and suddenly you'll have a whole bowl or drawer full of variety to choose from for a while. My favorite spot for sales on healthy bars is Grocery Outlet. Again, check to be sure they aren't all sugar, and little fiber. 

Nature Valley Chewy Trail Mix bars, for example, are deceiving with only have one gram of fiber and 14 grams of sugar each. They also have "High Maltose Corn Syrup". Read: Close "cousin" to High Fructose Corn Syrup. Read: Concentrated corn sugar. Read: Processed, processed, processed. When something is that processed, it typically is void of many naturally occurring nutrients that have been lost in the process. High Maltose Corn Syrup is very sweet, so it is highly caloric, and zero research has been done on the effects of this lab-altered sweetener on the human body, which means we really don't know what the risks might be. Try to find bars that have ingredients you can pronounce and recognize.

And be warned... the chocolate coated Balance bars melt in the wrapper and make a very sticky mess when it comes time to feed yourself. You may end up wearing more of the bar than eating it!

Here is an easy recipe if you want to make your own bar:

Fruit and Almond Snack Barmakes 4 servings


1 1/2 cups pitted Medjool dates, process into chunks
1 cup raw almonds, process into chunks
1/2 cup unsweetened dried fruit (pears, cranberries, currents, raisins, apricots, or cherries)
1/2 cup shredded coconut (I prefer the unsweetened big flakes)
1 TB pure Madagascar vanilla extract, alcohol free

Place everything in a large mixing bowl. Use your clean, washed hands to mix well. Press batter into the bottom of a loaf pan coated in coconut oil. Cut into 4 bars. YUM.


For more information on LARABAR, JOCALAT bars and their flavors and ingredients, click on this link:

For more information on Bumble Bars and their flavors and ingredients, click on this link:

For more information on KIND bars, click on this link: