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What? You’re not familiar with kefir? Well read on then! Giselle from Your Kefir Source agreed to do this guest post to introduce us to it and give us some suggestions on how to eat it. (Check out her site – there is a lot of helpful information there!)

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Kefir is a live bacteria culture that’s normally used to create a fermented dairy beverage. The grains are normally harvested from goat, sheep, or cow’s milk. Aside from a combination of lactic acid, lipids, sugars, and protein, kefir grains are also rich in cultured bacteria and yeasts. It’s widely known that kefir is a significant source of friendly bacteria that aids the digestive system in its processes. The origins of kefir can be traced to the Eastern European Caucasus Mountains, where the name means “good feeling”.

Kefir has a naturally sweet and slightly sour taste, and it has a consistency similar to yogurt. The refreshing taste makes it easier for people to include kefir in their diets, and you can enjoy it in more ways than one.

kefir grains

You can start with a cooling kefir milk drink. There are a lot of people who say that kefir is best consumed as a beverage in a tall glass with some ice. Since it already has some sweetness, there’s really no need to add any sugar.

You can try blending the kefir milk or water with some fruits and turn it into a healthy smoothie pick-me-up, as well. For kefir milk shakes, add a scoop of your favorite ice cream and some ice before blending. Top this off with some whipped cream. Kefir can also be used instead of milk when making homemade ice cream. Not only will it be tastier, but it will be much healthier, too. Try it with natural vanilla, too—you’ll go nuts! For a lighter dessert, you can even make some kefir popsicles using ice trays and toothpicks.

A little dollop of plain kefir can make soups refreshing but hearty. Try adding it to borscht or tomato cream soup. And don’t stop there: why don’t you spread some thick kefir onto toasted bread while you’re at it? It’s actually a good substitute for cream cheese.

three-cups-of-kefir-grains

When it comes to the bread, if you make your own loaves at home, kefir can also be used in the baking process. Reduce the amount of water and eggs that you use in a recipe and add kefir for a loaf that’s more flavorful and moist. It works great with sourdough.

Some recommend kefir pancakes, too. This is a great way to enjoy kefir during the most important meal of the day. Kefir scones are worth trying, as well. The best part is that these are quite easy to make!

Kefir can also be eaten just like yogurt. It can be consumed plain or with some chopped fruits and nuts. Add granola for an even yummier snack. You can use kefir in veggie dips, too, as it’s a great item to bring on picnics. For those who are a bit more adventurous, give kefir kraut a go during the next family barbecue. Add kefir to some cabbage and caraway seeds, and that’s it!

kefir

There are definitely at least a dozen ways to enjoy a healthy food like kefir—and probably even more waiting to be discovered. Try out your own kefir experiments, and add the best ones to the list!

 

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Before I even start this review, I must profusely apologize for being extremely late in posting this. The account rep that originally contacted me about trying the product was kind and quick to send me two full size jars to try – which I did – and then my life promptly fell apart with three deaths in my family (one of those being my mom, as you know) and my job loss all in less than two years.  I really hadn’t intended to wait so long to post this, but life – apparently – had other plans. Better late than never, right?

Nayonaise is a vegan sandwich spread (think mayo) made by Nasoya. It’s made with non GMO soybeans and is gluten free. Ingredients are: soymilk, expeller pressed soybean oil, vinegar, salt, dried cane syrup, natural flavors, mustard flour, xanthan gum, guar gum, sodium alginate (comes from seaweed), lemon juice concentrate, turmeric, paprika, spice, garlic powder and vitamin B12.

Being a ‘southern girl’, I’m a BIG mayo fan. Mayo can go in or on just about everything to make it better. A mayo/peanut butter/banana sandwich? Yes please! On crackers? Sure! I’ll use it in place of sour cream sometimes. French fries dipped in ketchup? Heck no – get me the mayo! I think you get the point.

large_tweak_weirdfoodcombo

And, just for the record, I was always a Miracle Whip girl.

Sadly, when I changed up my eating after finally deciding to read ingredient labels a few years ago, the mayo – Miracle Whip, Hellman’s and all the others – were out.  I’d tried some of the better alternatives at the ‘real food’ store (I don’t like the term ‘health food’ store; it’s just ‘real’ food), but I wasn’t impressed with them,  so I was left with a pretty important void to fill.

While I’m not vegan nor support a fully vegan diet (except for very rare situations), I do eat and enjoy vegan products and meals often. If you’re a mayo lover, Nayonaise is a GREAT alternative for you. To me, the taste is a combination of Miracle Whip and Hellman’s; it’s a nice blend of tart and sweet. The texture is closer to Hellman’s, and it works in all the dishes that you’d use the others for – sandwiches, potato salads, etc.

There are a couple other versions; a whipped and a light. They’re ALL good. You should be able to find most of these in your local real food store, like Whole Foods and other similar retailers. Visit the site for more information like FAQs and recipes!

Follow Nayonaise on Twitter @Nasoya or on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/Nasoya or on Pinterest http://www.pinterest.com/nasoya/ to keep up on the latest! And they have other products besides the mayo – check out their tofu!

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Ok…this is SO good, I just can’t even stand it! Are you a choco-holic? If so, you will LOVE this. Be warned – it won’t last long!

In a bowl (preferably glass), mix 1 can of organic coconut milk (try not to include the watery part at the bottom), 1/4 heaping cup of organic cacao powder (dark if you can find it), 1 Tbsp of organic maple syrup, 1 tsp of organic vanilla extract and organic stevia to taste. Get out your mixer and blend until it’s creamy. You will be rewarded with a delicious, light treat that is also healthy for you. No guilt here!

Want to play with the flavors? Add some organic peppermint extract or some  organic almond extract! (The peppermint is my favorite. I’m a peppermint junkie!)

So exactly how is this sinfully scrumptious dessert HEALTHY? You’ve got saturated fat & vitamins in the coconut oil. You’ve got antioxidant flavanoids, sulfur and magnesium in the raw cacao. You’ve got minerals & antioxidants in the maple syrup. This treat is packed with goodness any way you look at it.

I like to look at it while it’s on my spoon. But that’s just me.

Try it. Let me know what you think. If you can tear yourself away from the bowl, that is.

vegan chocolate mousse

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Unless you’ve done quite a bit of researching, it’s often difficult to know what you’re supposed to eat and when for optimal effectiveness when working out. I know I’ve wondered many times and attempted to figure it all out more than once (and, I will admit, did not).  This article by Mark Taylor will provide you with some great suggestions to help you get all you can out of your workouts.

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What To Eat Before, During & After Exercise

Whether you’re a “weekend warrior” trying to stay fit or an athlete training for a marathon, what you eat can affect how you perform. Eating right can give you the edge to help energize your workout. But which foods are best for fitness workout, and which should you avoid? With so many sports drinks, bars, powders, and supplements to choose from, how do you know which are best? Or can you skip the expensive supplements and get everything you need from a well-planned diet?

If you don’t have a nutrition plan for your fitness training routine, you’re doing yourself a pretty big disservice when it comes to getting the results that you desire. If you workout while you’re starved, you simply won’t have the energy for your body to gain maximum fitness. If you exercise for a long time without eating, you’ll limit your ability to burn calories and maintain intensity. And if you don’t feed your muscles and replenish your energy stores after exercise, you won’t have the necessary building blocks for recovery.

eating-healthy

  • WHAT SHOULD YOU EAT BEFORE EXERCISING?

Fueling exercise requires quality carbohydrates, lean protein, heart-healthy fats, and fluids. Your muscles rely on carbohydrate foods like breads, cereals, pasta, rice, fruits, and vegetables for a quick energy source. Protein is needed to build and maintain muscles and for healthy blood cells. Blood cells deliver nutrients and oxygen to working muscles. The ideal pre-workout meal is consumed about two hours before exercise, contains about 300-500 calories, and is composed primarily of healthy carbohydrates. If you don’t have time to eat two hours before, a quick 50-100 calorie snack 5-10 minutes prior to exercise will also be effective.

Try a bowl of oatmeal, whole-grain cereal, and whole-wheat toast as a pre-workout meal eaten two hours before your workout. If you have to eat directly before your workout, a small piece of fruit—like an apple or banana—will do. If you need a snack on-the-go on your way to the gym, stick with a smoothie. Not only are they time-friendly, building your own blend has a bunch of exercise benefits. For a perfect formula, use your favorite sliced fruit, a cup of Greek yogurt and some granola for a thicker consistency.

  • WHAT SHOULD YOU EAT WHILE EXERCISING?

If you plan on exercising for less than an hour, you don’t need to eat; just make sure you hydrate with small, frequent sips of water during your workout. But if you’re doing something like a long run or bike ride, or maybe a couple of back-to-back fitness classes, try to eat 50-100 calories every half hour, preferably from a quick carbohydrate source that is easy to carry, like a bag of raisins, an energy bar, energy gels, or even a sports drink. The goal is not to replace every calorie that you burn, but rather to give you just enough fuel so that you can maintain a brightly burning metabolism.

  • WHAT SHOULD YOU EAT AFTER EXERCISING?

Muscles need protein for recovery and growth, and the best time to deliver protein appears to be right after exercise. Providing high-quality protein after exercise gives your muscles the fuel and the building blocks needed for both repair and for growth.

Protein shakes and powders carry a certain allure, but your muscles don’t care if the protein comes from a hard-boiled egg, glass of chocolate milk or whey protein shake.  Whatever you choose, more isn’t better — only 10 to 20 grams of protein is needed to provide amino acids (the building blocks of protein) to muscles.

A sample post-workout meal would be: grilled chicken and mixed vegetables (Your body is in recovery mode, so you need a nutrient dense dish. The lean protein and carbohydrates in chicken will fill you up without feeling overly bloated. Add some veggies in olive oil to keep your ticker in tip-top shape.), veggie omelet with avocado (Eggs are a great source of protein and help aid in muscle recovery and growth. Switch it up from the usual scramble and make a veggie-packed omelet. Garnish with a few slices of avocado for fiber.) or salmon with sweet potatoes (Aside from the usual protein perks, salmon has bioactive peptides, small protein molecules that play a role in inflammation reduction, helping to regulate insulin levels and give you joint support. Sweet potatoes pack in those complex carbs as well as help to restore glycogen levels, which get depleted after a workout.)

Also, here are some of the worst post workout foods that you should avoid at all costs:

  • Salty snacks of all kinds (salty popcorns, pretzels, crackers, nuts and seeds)
  • Sugary products and sodas (fruit yogurts, honey roasted nuts, Nutella, peanut butter and jelly sandwich)
  • Fatty foods and snacks (French fries, potato chips, hamburger, pizza)
  • Raw vegetables
  • Milk chocolate
  • Pastries (muffins, pies, donuts, puddings, cup cakes)

The ideal time to eat after a workout is within 30 minutes to two hours, when your body is ready and waiting to top off its fuel tanks to prepare for your next workout. But if your appetite or schedule doesn’t allow you to eat a meal right after your exercise session, don’t panic. Your body can still replace your muscle fuel over the next 24 hours, as long as you’re eating enough food to support your activity level.

As a moderate exerciser, you have a lot of flexibility when it comes to timing your meals and choosing your foods. The most important thing is getting to know your body and how it responds to exercise, so that you can give it what it needs to perform at its best. Eating the right things at the right times after you work out is essential to keeping your energy up, your workout performance high, and your body in fat-burning mode.

AUTHOR BIO
This article was submitted by UMA, Melbourne based Ultimate Martial Arts & Fitness school.

For more information, please visit http://www.ultimatemartialfitness.com.au/.

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That’s what people think of those that talk about organic food and buy organic food – they think they’re health SNOBS. Some might even think them RICH HEALTH SNOBS.

I’m not alone – http://voices.yahoo.com/eating-organic-food-doesnt-snob-unless-12159608.html.

I can’t tell you just how many times I’ve heard: “Oh I can’t afford to eat like that.” “Organic food is just too expensive for me.” “I’ve got children to feed. I can’t buy that stuff”. Etc, etc, etc.

I have tried to – and will continue to try to – drill it into people’s heads that YOU WILL PAY FOR IT. There is absolutely no way to avoid paying for it. The choice of HOW you pay for it, however, is up to YOU. You can pay for it now with money, or you can pay for it later with your health. And let me tell you, the latter is MUCH more expensive than any organic food on the shelf.

Everything that you’re eating RIGHT NOW will show its effects in about twenty years. People seem to think that because something doesn’t bother them within ten minutes of eating it that it’s ok. The body does not work like that. There are systems in place – systems that you have NO idea are even there – but that are working hard to do their job every single day. Think of your body like a machine – if you take care of it properly, keep it oiled, keep it cleaned, keep it working properly – it will function for a long time. But if you take the machine and ignore it, maybe leave it outside in the rain and heat for a few months, never wipe it down, never make repairs, never oil it, OVER TIME it will stop working. It doesn’t happen overnight – it takes time for all of the mistreatment to take its toll. It takes time for rust to form and the metal to warp. Ever seen something lose its color because of the sun? Ever have a shirt that’s nearly gray instead of black from washing it a hundred times? Same concept. It takes time for deterioration to happen.

This is exactly what is happening inside your body this very minute. Based on whatever food/drink you’re giving it, it’s either going to function for a long time or it will gradually shut down.

We seem to think that when we get older, it’s normal for disease to strike – that’s just part of “growing old”, right? There are physical changes that happen as we grow older, BUT any disease that occurs is because of what we’ve eaten all of our lives up until that point. It doesn’t just come out of nowhere. Diseases are not little bugs that you get like a cold. They are the result of a body that has been fed food that was NOT good for it for most of its life (of course, you can also include smoking, excessive drinking and other such toxins to the body as causes for disease). What you get depends on what your body’s weakness happens to be. For some, it’s heart disease, for others diabetes, many others a stroke, etc. Mostly, though, it’s cancer.

Have you ever stopped to wonder WHY there are more and more people with cancer than years ago? I’ll tell you why. People eat LESS at home…People eat MORE fast food & restaurant food…Food corporations are using CHEAP ingredients & fillers in their food & drinks MORE than ever…People drink MORE soda…Doctors have gotten away from curing & are only concerned about masking ailments with drugs…People are taking MORE drugs. These are just a few.

Understand most doctors will not discuss food with you. They are bound by the FDA to follow guidelines that are already set up for them, and if they deviate from that, they can lose their license. Most aren’t even TAUGHT about nutrition in the first place. If you want a doctor that knows how food affects the body, go talk to a chiropractor. THEY KNOW. And isn’t it interesting that so many don’t consider them ‘real doctors’?

“Regular” doctors are taught about pills, and that’s it. The backbone of our medical industry is Big Pharma, and it’s only creating more diseases and more dependency on drugs. It is not creating HEALTH. Isn’t that what the medical industry should be creating by definition? Doesn’t this send up red flags for anyone?

So why does food play such a big part? It all has to do with the pH of our bodies. We can be acidic, neutral and alkaline. The goal is to be a little over neutral into alkaline. Why? When your body is more alkaline, all of the natural functions of the body can happen the way they are supposed to. When your body is too acidic, the natural functions can NOT happen the way they are supposed to. It’s a ‘one step forward, two steps back’ sort of thing. The majority of the typical American diet – sodas, processed food, fast food (any restaurant food), chips, cookies, cakes, etc – is acidic, and over time, it causes all sorts of gums to get stuck in the works. Your works.

Read more about pH here – http://blpublications.com/html/body_healthyph.html.

What makes me laugh is when I share this information with someone and their response is “Well, I’ve eaten so-n-so all my life so it’s not bothering me”. Well, duh – of course not. You’re still in your 20s or 30s – your body has NOT had time to respond to all of the CRAP that you’re putting in it. Wait until you hit 50 and 60; THEN is when you will feel the effects of your poor choices. And by then, it could be too late.

The other comment I like is “Well I like the taste of so-n-so, and I’m not giving it up”. I don’t know of anything more ignorant that someone could say. I like the taste of chocolate, but if I found out tomorrow that it somehow caused cancer, you can bet that I’d never touch another piece. There is not one single “taste” on this earth that is worth me DYING over. Not one. No candy, no soda, no nothing. What someone means when they say that is “Well I don’t believe that it’s doing anything to me, and since I don’t believe that it’s hurting me, then it’s not, so I’m fine”. That’s even more ignorant than the first comment. Your body responds to what you put in it based on WHAT you put in it. It doesn’t care what you believe that it’s doing. If you put in bad, it will respond negatively. If you put in good, it will respond positively. No amount of belief is going to change that.

Want to know what happens IN your body when you drink a soda? http://www.trueactivist.com/what-happens-to-our-body-after-drinking-coca-cola/

With every single BITE that goes in your mouth, you’re either helping your body or hurting it. Every. Single. Bite. Every single chip. Every single cookie. Every single hamburger. Every single mint. Every single stick of gum. Every single sip of drink. Everything! We don’t eat because we have nothing else to do. The body needs certain things in order to function properly. There is a purpose for eating, not just “oh I’m hungry, let me eat whatever I can find to fill up” OR “oh I’m hungry, let me eat what I want just because I like the taste”. WRONG. You’re killing yourself by doing that.

This pH business is not some metaphysical, overly holistic, hippie mumbo-jumbo, either – it’s SCIENCE. The concept was first introduced by Danish chemist Søren Peder Lauritz Sørensen at the Carlsberg Laboratory in 1909, so it’s been around a while. It’s ‘doctoring’ at the most basic level. Before any tests are run on a patient, before any medication is given, the pH levels need to be determined AND the diet of the patient must be gone over. Then, and ONLY then, can anything be done to help a patient ‘get better’ from whatever is bothering them.

If YOUR doctor is not discussing food with you in connection with your issues, then he/she is NOT a good doctor. And just because you like them or just because they’re nice or just because they’re good at listening to you does NOT make them a “good doctor”. A good doctor understands that EVERY disease and ailment starts with an acidic pH. A good doctor asks you immediately what your daily diet is like. A good doctor discusses food changes with you before ever considering medications.

Keep in mind that YOU are the only one that will suffer from keeping blind faith in a bad doctor. The doctor won’t suffer, and neither will his/her bank account.

We need to get rid of government made up terms like “conspiracy theorist”, “alternative medicine”, “quack”, etc. They are silly terms used by silly people. We also need to learn to think for ourselves. There are SO many people out there that just refuse to believe anything until some “official” source says it’s ok. I hate to tell you this, but your “official sources” like the news channels, newspapers, doctors and the FDA are as tainted as buggy flour. And what do you do with buggy flour? Throw it in the garbage where it belongs!

We are sheep, and we are being fed lies every day to KEEP us sheep. That cycle stops now. The people who buy organic are not rich (well, not exclusively; I’m sure some are) nor are they snobs. They are people who GIVE A DAMN about their health and are making the best choices that they can. They are people who won’t compromise their health for money. They don’t think themselves better than anyone else for the choices they make – it’s about their HEALTH. The next time someone tries to tell YOU about this sort of thing – pHs and organic food and such – LISTEN because they are trying to HELP you live a better life; they are NOT talking down to you, and they do NOT think themselves better than you. They’ve been where you are – they understand – and they want to show you that there is a better way.

Do you know how I view people who I’m trying to help? Like someone on a ledge about to jump to their death because, if they don’t start making some changes, it will happen sooner rather than later (or there will be zero quality of life as they age). I don’t want to see that happen to my friends and family – I don’t even want to see that happen to strangers! So yes, I drive them all crazy because I’m always reminding them of how evil soda is and how bad fast food is and that they need to be buying organic, etc, and I will continue to! Is it a perfect path? Of course not. There is nothing perfect. But is it the better path? Undoubtedly! And when I have information that I know will help someone, it is MY responsibility to share it with them; more than once, if necessary.

If I was indulging in some bad habit or slowly killing myself by eating/drinking all the wrong stuff, I sure would hope that someone would give enough of a damn about me to tell me repeatedly until I got it. No one that knows me will ever be able to say “oh I’d never heard of such-n-such before” because I will have TOLD them. What they decided to do with the information falls on their shoulders and their health.

At least I did my part.

So how many of you are thought of as “organic snobs”??

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Cardamom Almond Milk Recipe

Almonds are ridiculously healthy.  They are the #1 nut as far as nutrition and health benefits. Not only are they wonderful brain food, but they also contain minerals like potassium, folic acid, protein, monosaturated fats, vitamin E, riboflavin, copper and manganese. Check out this article for more on the amazing almond – http://www.organicfacts.net/health-benefits/seed-and-nut/health-benefits-of-almonds.html

This is definitely a food that you want to eat every day!

Make note that you want to get almonds that are raw. The “raw” ones you find in stores have been pasteurized, and that’s BAD. Their benefits have been compromised. Read more about that here http://www.organicfacts.net/health-benefits/seed-and-nut/health-benefits-of-almonds.html

For a great supplier of truly raw almonds, go here http://shop.livingnutz.com/Organic-Unpasteurized-Almonds-16oz-raw-food-nuts-Truly-Raw-Almonds-16oz.htm

Snacking on almonds throughout the day is a great thing to do – encouraged even – but you can also turn those healthy nuts into MILK. (Don’t throw the pulp away! There are still nutrients in there, and you can use that in tons of other recipes!)

My first couple batches of almond milk just wasn’t quite right. Then I found this drink at a local Indian store.

badam almond milk

This is essentially flavored almond milk (with a couple other ingredients that I don’t particularly want to drink). It has cardamom and saffron, and I thought I would try that in my next batch of almond milk.

Let me tell you – it was delicious! I added clove and cinnamon, and it tasted just like the bought drink, but BETTER and HEALTHIER!

Here’s how to make it:

1 cup raw almonds

4 cups filtered or alkaline water (not from the tap or you’ll end up with lots of icky stuff in your milk)

1/2 tsp of spice mix

Stevia to taste (or other healthy sweetener)

To make the spice mix, put 1 heaping teaspoon of whole cloves, 1 heaping teaspoon of whole cinnamon (break it up into tiny pieces with a hammer), 1 heaping tablespoon of whole cardamom and a good pinch of saffron into a coffee grinder. Grind up until almost a powder. Pick out the cardamom hulls and discard.

Soak the almonds in the filtered or alkaline water for 2 days in the refrigerator. Strain the water out, and rinse off the almonds. Put them in a blender with 4 cups of the filtered/alkaline water, 1/2 tsp of spice mix and sweetener to taste. Blend for a minute or so on highest setting.

Take a piece of cheesecloth (you can get at any fabric store), place over a large bowl and pour the blender contents over it. Gather up the ends and start squeezing! You might want to do in smaller batches; easier on the hands. Wring out as much milk as you can. Keep the pulp! Spread it out on some unbleached parchment paper to dry.

Now you can start straining. I’m not a ‘pulp in my juice’ kind of girl, so anything gritty in milk isn’t appealing to me. Just use a fine mesh strainer and strain away. Press into the strainer with a spoon each time to get out all the milk, and then dump the pulp onto the parchment paper. Do this a number of times. You really can’t strain too much, and it will make your milk silky smooth!

With just a little effort on your part, you will be rewarded with fresh, homemade, healthy almond milk!

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While I’m still inundated with dealing with Mom’s things (I’m up to my neck in sorting, organizing, eBaying, etc, and probably will be through the end of the year), I’ve decided to share some recipes with you until I get back to my regular posts.  These recipes are healthy, and they feature ALL good ingredients – nothing icky going on here. These are also dishes that I make all the time; they are some of my favorites. Try them…you won’t be disappointed.

The first rockin’ recipe is pineapple coconut ice cream, or as I like to call it, Disney Dole Whip. If you’ve been to Disney and enjoyed the tart treat, you will absolutely love this. When I make it, it’s nearly impossible not to eat the entire thing in one sitting. Seriously. It’s that good. And it’s one THE simplest things you will ever make.

pineapple coconut ice cream

It will take a few hours to freeze – I liked it best as a slushy. The next day, if there’s any left, take it out of the freezer and let sit to soften. You will be rewarded for your patience!

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