Tag Archives: aspertame

Can You Hear Me Now?

Your body knows best.  Are you listening?

Many of us have bodies that are screaming at us; but we aren’t listening. Instead, we grab another Tylenol and hope for different results. Right?

How’s that working for you? Doing the same things and hoping for different result.

Come on, folks!

Case in point is my Great Oatmeal Experiment.

For many years, I have followed the anti-inflammatory style of eating as described in my book, Toolkit for Wellness. The part I was particularly careful about was no gluten-containing grains; no wheat, barley, or rye grains. But other grains such as corn, rice, oats, and others could be problematic because of their lectin and phytate components.

Lectins can mess with the hormone that tells us we are full and satisfied. Phytates can make the minerals we eat bio-unavailable for proper absorption and use by our body.

Each of us has different levels of tolerance.  We won’t know what our tolerance levels are unless we LISTEN.

Listen to what?

Our body talking to us! Do we feel energized? How are those muscles and joints feeling? Headaches again? Unhappy belly? More bloating, gas, constipation, or diarrhea?

Once your body is “cleansed” for a while by removing inflammatory foods, reintroducing potential offenders has to be handled very carefully.

Just like introducing one new food at a time, not unlike that of a baby learning to eat foods, we have to be careful to reintroduce only one new previously eliminated food at a time, to identify something that is going to cause a bad reaction.

I have corn-based food every once in a while. When corn-on-the-cob “comes in” during the summer, I do indulge. Corn tortillas for tacos? Sure.

Still steering away from gluten.

Enter “Gluten Free Oatmeal.”

I needed to shake up my husband’s breakfast menu a bit; provide more fiber – you know – good for you oatmeal?

I even posted on Foodtalk4you’s Facebook feed about how I had ramped up oatmeal’s “goodness” factor by adding chia seeds and coconut oil. I created another oatmeal recipe by adding collagen hydrolysate and coconut oil. Ramped-up protein and brain healthy fat! What could be better?

I was pleased as punch in making double recipe “vats” of this so I could easily nuke a bowl of goodness for EACH of us in the morning.

Or so I thought.

There are so many factors affecting how we feel. Sometimes it’s hard to tease out the one offending element.

I was still sitting way too much at home while I spent time in my husband’s room (he is confined to a hospital bed at home). On top of that, I am currently writing another book, “Caregiver’s Handbook for Caring for the Bedridden,” which requires more sitting at the computer. Efforts to go to the gym once or twice a week are being met, along with home stretches to break up sitting sessions, and almost daily planks.

But something was WRONG.

Everything from my waist down hurt. Heels first. Then hips. Then legs. Is it possible to get that old so fast? Is this my life forever?

Didn’t seem natural. Certainly, I am living under unusual and stressful circumstances – but, I was falling apart. Grabbing two Ibuprofen, for heaven’s sakes.

We are “Designed for Health”. That’s my mantra. Geez! That’s the name of the classes I teach!

“Can you hear me, now?”

Could it be my “super-healthy-ramped-up-gluten-free-oatmeal?

Only one way to find out.

Stop the oatmeal.

Well, I did.

After just seven days with no more oatmeal, I can get up and start walking with feet and hips that are not screaming.

I listened, and I did something about it.

Yes, I miss my hot, steaming bowl of healthy comfort food, but I LOVE not hurting.

Goodbye oatmeal. Hello happy body!

It’s a choice.

Are you listening? Your body will love you for it.

In health-

Deidre

 

 

Watermelon-Mint Summer Salad!

Espousing coping skills, and actually using them, are two different things. As my beloved continues to slumber more than 15 hours a day now, it would be easy for me to just ‘spin in place’ as I watch his winding down. The three rounds of planks that energized me on Tuesday, are just not motivating me today. My yoga mat is not calling to me.

Today’s coping skill is in shifting focus away from me and onto sharing something good with YOU my dear readers!

I have clipped out and saved so many nifty-sounding recipes for salad dressings; and yet have used virtually none of them. If you are like me, then I even hesitate to share a recipe. Rather, I am sharing a concept instead.

Necessity being the mother of invention, an idea came to mind this week that answered several needs:

  • Something to moisturize some dry leftover baked chicken that was destined to be chopped up into a salad.
  • Something that would use at least a part of my over-abundant supply of mint. Note to self: plant less mint and more basil.
  • Something that would ‘smile’ at me from the salad bowl and lift my spirits.
  • Something that would use up this watermelon that I am the only one eating now.

Voila!

Watermelon Mint Salad Dressing

Remember, this is a concept, not a ¼-teaspoon-at-a-time recipe!

The first step is to smash-up some watermelon.

For my solo serving, I used half of an inch-slice of watermelon taken from one of those mini bowling ball-sized melons. An old fashioned potato masher does the job and leaves some small chunks.

Add some chopped up fresh mint leaves. I generally use the leaves from a 12-inch stem.

Salt

Pepper

Splash of EVOO (Extra Virgin Olive Oil)

Splash of white wine vinegar

That’s it! Stir and pour over your salad!

Having made this three times this week, my salad contents have varied with the addition of leftover sautéed okra, avocado, mango, blueberries, steamed broccoli, and of course that chicken.

Salads are a wonderful way to keep soaking up all of that fresh summertime vegetable goodness. Cooking pretty much for one now, I tend to cook more than I need for one meal.

Just convert most leftovers to salads in the summers!

This Watermelon-Mint Summer Salad Recipe concept has revitalized my flagging spirits and has given me fun nutritional meals.

We’ll be needing this added aspect of cooling, as yet another heat wave is in progress!

Thanks for reading-

Deidre

 

 

 

 

 

 

Staying Balanced

Are you feeling like you need to come up for air? Gasping and gulping in fresh air before taking another dive? That’s me, too! Taking vacations can definitely help, but we need to “breathe” more often than that.

I am already seeing some leaves changing color. Yesterday, a couple yellow leaves skittered across the still verdant and rapidly growing lawn. A quick look around at some sassafras saplings showed speckles of orange leaves.

Where’s the ‘pause’ button? Summer’s half over and there are already signs of fall in mid-July! Yikes!

One thing I’ve gleaned from our daughter’s successful completion of residency in family medicine – is how to survive and thrive. She had, very carefully, selected a residency program that ensured plenty of coping skills with all of its residents including:

  • Weekly group, how-are-you-doing, sessions of sharing the good/bad/ugly happenings, which became spring boards for processing their intense experiences.
  • Every-other-week meditative sessions with the entire group of residents took mental processing into the physical and spiritual realm.
  • Naturally, there was regular exercise emphasizing outdoor experiences … often in groups.
  • Frequent and spontaneous group meals, featuring nutritious whole food.
  • Their group was ever-vigilant to ‘pick up a brother’ when they fell into difficult times.
  • Lots of hugs. The real ones that last for at least three breaths. The healing kind.

What’s the ‘take away’ from all of this?

We cope and heal on so many levels, that a multifaceted approach is best.

In my case as a 24/7 caregiver, just getting away several times a week has helped – but only so much. Solo trips to the gym or walks around the waterfront answered only a part of my needs.

A quiet lunch with a friend or two is helpful; but sharing a meal with several friends meets needs you might not know were there.

What is the dynamic of a larger group?

Perhaps it’s because the conversation is not just about us.

We pour our hearts out to a friend — and that has its place.  Usually in group conversation, however, the talk bounces around; others throw thoughts into the mix, and more diverse news is shared.

There is so much more inner balance to be experienced when we participate in groups of 5-6 or more. Our perspective broadens and, quite frankly, it is so refreshing to have the focus on someone else for a bit. Additionally, we may be just who someone else needs to provide a different thought or a helping hand.

I am seeing that the scope of my ‘balancing needs’ is much broader than I had thought.

  • Improved nutrition- check
  • Time away from responsibilities- check
  • Gym 2-3 times a week-check
  • Meals with a friend or two- check
  • Personal meditation and prayer- check
  • Small group activities — need to do this more

Life is like a multifaceted gem. We need to move it around to let the light shine into all of its angles in order to appreciate its full brilliance.

Coping and balancing are the same. Are you shining light into all of your facets to achieve that inner balance?

I’m still learning … and that’s the best part!

Always learning.

Deidre

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lessons From a Gardener’s Promise

If by recent post we have inspired you to take in the “pulse of life” at a local nursery, maybe you are wondering how so many people are gushing with optimism and hopefulness? How can holding a little six-pack of plants instill such anticipation and confidence? Are there bigger lessons for us to absorb and to apply in other aspects of our lives?

How does the gardener approach … well, gardening?

Soil prep. This step is essential for a plant to thrive. Can’t grow in rocks. Think about it. Are we expecting our bodies to thrive while we ‘plant’ them in rocky soil filled with added sugars, unpronounceable chemicals, or ingredients that are incompatible with digestion?

Plant selection. What’s the goal for the plant? Beauty, crop yield, or an attractiveness to butterflies, bees, or hummingbirds? What are our goals? What is the effect of our actions today? Are we being true to ourselves? Are we adding beauty, yield, and attractiveness to the world around us?

Care. This is where the “Gardener’s Promise” comes in. The gardener knows, by doing the right things consistently, the results will come … in time. Water. Pull a few weeds. Prune as needed. Fertilize regularly. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat.

Will the desired results come in a day… a week … or even a month? Often not! Why do we expect instant results for ourselves?

One kind word to an unfriendly acquaintance will not yield a bosom buddy. Relationships are built over time. Generally, a consistent effort to reach out in friendship will break down barriers.

Launching any self-improvement program will need careful and patient tending as well.

Case in point. I wanted to build upon my at-home exercise efforts which always include 2 minutes of daily planks and Super Brain Yoga with Power Poses. I started going to a gym in January that features a 30-minute circuit, along with its other activities. Twice a week. Like clockwork. Hadn’t gotten a swimsuit look; but if I skipped, I could tell a difference.

I wanted more. More results. Is it possible to really have a tighter tummy? I’ve seen videos about grannies who have turned things around. Why not me?

Time to apply the “Gardener’s Promise.” More sunshine (more effort and a wider variety of exercises), fewer weeds (sugar and carbs), better fertilizer (fortified protein shake for lunch), and patience. If you are doing the right things, keep at it day-by-day, and the results will come.

My morning plank routine is now twice a day. I have added 15 minutes of cardio before hitting the machines and doing other exercises. Still not ready for that swimsuit quite yet.

But I am standing taller. I am stronger. When my abs hurt a bit the next day, I know that I am making a difference. Some recently acquired winter bulges are disappearing.

I am remembering the “Gardener’s Promise.”

Happy “gardening”-

Deidre

PS- Cardio exercise today will be 5 minutes longer. Smoothie already enjoyed for lunch. (Primal Protein, frozen cantaloupe, frozen banana, ground flax seed, collagen hydrolysate).

 

 

 

 

 

Spring Sings In Color!

Picture this: vitality and positive energy coupled with a calm satisfaction and sense of well-being. That’s something we can use – right now.

Well, I found it!

It may have something to do with the waterfall effect of negative ions that prevail in the air around waterfalls and other moving bodies of water. It may also be associated with the positive vibrations being emitted from masses of growing plants.

Let me explain.

If you want a snapshot of human kind at its best, spend some time at your local nursery this spring.

Take in who you see. Young couples full of anticipation as they decide how to put their own landscaping and beautifying mark on their home. A business man in white shirt and tie after work, selecting flowers and herbs to plant when he gets home. Seasoned gardeners checking off items on a list. Lots of couples of every age. Neighbors. Children. Single people. Many with pensive looks as they imagine plant combinations. Some who are undecided and who are trying not to buy everything in sight.  Every one of them with a little bit of ‘nature’ in their hands, or lots of ‘nature’ in their crowded carts and dollies.

Take a deep breath. The smell of plants and rich growing medium fill the air. Brush against an herb to release the scents of basil, mint, rosemary, lavender, and more. Smell the damp soil keeping young roots alive.

Listen to the sounds around you. Discussions about the right shade of rosebush. Questions being answered, not only by nursery staff, but by other shoppers willing to share their knowledge. Offers for assistance from everyone around as someone tries to wrestle a bag of mulch or potting soil onto their cart. The sounds of plants being watered.

Feel the neighborly atmosphere all around you. This is like the opposite of the evening news. Calm and order prevail. Then focus on the young growing plants; they are absolutely exuding a positive aura…you can feel it!

Moving water allows us to relax and feel better because of a change in the charge of ions in the atmosphere. Finding peace at the beach? It’s the negative ions. Feeling edgy on a dry, windy day? It’s the positive ions. In the case of atmospheric ions, negative is better.

You can catch that feeling around a waterfall. That’s why even a garden fountain helps us to relax.

I credit the man watering all of the plants at our local Lowe’s nursery – Joe. Not only is he lovingly giving water to all of the seedlings and plants from the sprinkler head nozzle he holds, he is changing the atmosphere! Calming water sounds seem to caress the shoppers as they select the “just right” shade of Impatiens.

Thank you, Joe!

After multiple trips to several local nurseries, I have created my own little “Eden” on the back porch, spruced up the front entrance to our house, and added to our back decorative garden.

“Satisfaction” hardly describes the feeling after planting all of my beauties!

And sitting from the porch swing, I can survey color, life, nature, attractiveness, and a benefit to local humming birds and bees! What could be better?

Feeling renewed-

Deidre

 

 

 

 

Hmmm! Scones That Love You Back

Chef vs. Baker

Which are you? Pinch of “this,” and a dash of “that”?  Or, “one level cup of sifted flour”? Chef or baker?

It’s just that I’m more of the chef type; but sharing recipes requires more refined explanations of measurements for predictable outcomes. Thus, MANY batches of scones have been prepared, photographed, recorded … and eaten. *burp*

Pardon me!

I know, I know. Tough job but somebody has to do it.

Foodtalk4you has been ever so quiet lately due to my caregiving ministrations, which are always a priority. Thank you for your patience and understanding concerning my unpredictability. My dear husband continues to be under hospice care and my care at home. Still confined to bed, his uncomplaining and appreciative attitude is sprinkled with humor, insight, and love.

The kitchen “laboratory” however, has seen a lot of activity as I tried to optimize my favorite scone recipe to give you consistently wonderful results.

With a Valentine’s Day post in mind, I kept making these little darlings in heart shapes. Needless to say, I missed that deadline; but a heart-shaped scone is so precious any time of year! A good way to say, “I love you!” don’t you think?

You can make the typical scone shape which is achieved by rolling the dough into a circle, slicing into wedges, separating the wedges, and baking.

The heart-shaped scones require a bit more effort using a cookie cutter; and can be problematic if the walnuts are not finely chopped. A secret method? I ended up actually filling the heart shape, pressing the dough down to reach the edges and height of the cookie cutter exactly. Consistent results and portion control.

Long time readers of Foodtalk4you and Toolkit for Wellness know that, just because a recipe is gluten-free, does not make it healthy. I am always trying to pack in extra good-for-you ingredients and to dial back added sugars. This recipe for scones that love you back does that with:

Quinoa Flakes- a rare source of plant-based essential amino acids. Those are the amino acids our body does not make by itself, thus we must get them from our diet. Amino acids are the “building blocks” of proteins. Just 1/3 cup of quinoa flakes contains 4 grams of protein.

Collagen Hydrolysate – unlike gelatin, this powder does not congeal. It is a power house of satisfying, satiating, healing protein that is packed with 20 amino acids! Two rounded tablespoons of collagen hydrolysate yields 11 grams of protein.

Walnuts- a great source of plant-based Omega-3 fatty acids, antioxidants, and an amino acid l-arginine which is heart healthy. Walnuts have been shown to help with brain function, suppression of tumor growth, weight control through increased satiety, as well as improved blood sugar levels. Experts say that even a quarter of a cup of walnuts a day can positively impact our health.

Regarding all nuts: Please buy raw, organic nuts for maximum benefit. But wait! You’re not done! Remember to soak your raw walnuts overnight in salted water; rinse and drain; then dehydrate at a low temperature (110-118 degrees) until light and crispy. The results are crunchy and much more digestible. As always, refer to your copy of Toolkit for Wellness for the full scoop on the whys and wherefores of sprouting all of your nuts to ease their digestion.

Another plus to this recipe is it requires a minimal number preparation tools and little clean up. Check out my new cool stirring device.

Instead of using a floured surface to roll out the dough, I just use the same parchment paper sheet used for the baking. Easy-peasy clean up!

So, that’s the back ground material on “Scones that love you back.” Let’s get to the recipe.

SCONES THAT LOVE YOU BACK

Dry Ingredients

  • 1 cup Quinoa Flakes (I use Ancient Harvest brand)
  • 1 cup almond flour
  • ¼ cup collagen hydrolysate (I use Great Lakes brand)
  • 3 Tablespoons coconut sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon xanthan gum
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • Rind of one orange, zested
  • ¼ dried cranberries, chopped
  • ¾ cup walnuts, chopped
  • Have on stand-by: 1 or more Tablespoons of ground flax seed if dough is too wet

Wet Ingredients

  • ¼ cup butter, melted (I use Kerrygold brand – from “happy” grass fed Irish cows)
  • 1/3 cup orange juice with pulp
  • 1 egg, beaten

Glaze

  • 1 egg, beaten

Optional

  • Turbinado Raw Cane Sugar Crystals to sprinkle on top before baking

Method

Put all dry ingredients into a mixing bowl and stir well to combine.

Add wet ingredients, stirring well to combine and create dough. If the dough seems too wet or sticky to a light touch of finger tips, add one tablespoon of ground flax, stirring well. Flax absorbs moisture. Wait a minute to test dough again before adding another tablespoon of it, if needed.

Turn dough out onto a parchment paper covered baking sheet. Form into a smooth ball and press down to a circle with ½ inch thickness.

For traditional scones: cut into 8 wedges using a knife or pizza cutter; separate slices on baking sheet; follow baking instructions.

For heart-shaped scones: use a cookie cutter to press out shapes, reforming scrap dough into another ½ thick layer until all dough is used. OR use my secret method of filling each heart-shaped scone, hand pressing the dough into the shape, and level with the top of the cutter. Separate scones on baking sheet.

Apply egg wash using a brush.

Sprinkle just a dab of Turbinado crystals on top of each scone, if desired. It looks nice but is not intended to become a sugar-bomb coating.

Bake at 350 degrees for 15-20 minutes. My heart-shaped 2 ½ inch across scones take 18 minutes. Scones should be golden brown when done.

Cool on wire rack.

Enjoy these healthy scones for a delightful start to your day.

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For a printable recipe, CLICK HERE: SCONES-THAT-LOVE-YOU-BACK-PRINTABLE

In health-

Deidre

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Power Up and Prepare For Liftoff!!

Each day, it seems, we are in the cockpit of life preparing for a takeoff. What switches are we supposed to flip in order to “power up” our engines? There are so many on our dashboard. Can we realistically try to flip them all every day; or are there a critical few that will give us the lift and acceleration we need for a good takeoff and flight?

After spending hours every week researching, reading, and experimenting with activities that will, “do our bodies good,” one meal, one breath, one movement at a time, I’m left thinking “Ack!” How can I share idea after idea with my readers without over-whelming them, too?

There must be 50 “good” things I should be doing all of the time just to start my day off right.

Wait a minute.

The goal is not to feel like a failed, spineless weakling if we are not doing these things. The idea is to lead a natural, comfortable life that uses nature’s laws to optimize health – and – to accept the responsibility of intention.

Do we intend to “do our body good”?

We want – no, demand – that our bodies keep us going every day; but are we helping our bodies to do that?

Are we a friend or a foe to our body?

I sure want my body at its best 100% of the time so I strive to “power up” each day as best I can to give my mind-body-spirit the “food” it needs to do that.

Granted, smooth uninterrupted daily routines probably exist only in fairy tales.

Nearing the 10th month of being a full-time caregiver for my sweet husband who is confined to bed, I know full well how easily “me time” can disappear. Keeping myself on an even keel, though, is vital to being at my best for him – and me. Those who juggle kids, family, and jobs find free morning time at a premium as well. I hear you.

So, what are the essential few things I do to power up? You’ve seen many of these before. I will explain any new ideas in more detail.

POWERING UP

  1. ALWAYS: Super Brain Yoga and Power Poses as explained in the last post HERE. If there is time for only one thing, this is it. In addition to reinforcing inner balance and focus, I am filled with thoughts of gratitude – thanks for being equipped for strength and victory. I am open to receive that strength; and feel confident to move forward, no matter what may come my way.

Gratitude increases levels of that “feel good” hormone serotonin; who couldn’t use more of that each day? Be ‘intentional’  by boosting yours.

  1. ALMOST DAILY: Drinking lemon juice in warm water while coffee is brewing. Did your grandmother do this? Mine did. She swore by it and lived to be over 100. Today, we know that a simple drink of lemon juice in warm water is a marvelous detoxifier, helps regulate bowels, and actually helps de-acidify the digestive system! Start by using the juice of ½ of a lemon in one cup of warm water. Swish your mouth out to eliminate remaining juice from reacting with tooth enamel.

Once lemon juice is inside your stomach, the digestive process will cause an alkaline environment that will improve reflux. I refuse to resort to OTC or prescription meds for reflux. Lemon juice in warm water absolutely nails this problem for me. If I skip a couple of days, the reflux returns.

  1. ALWAYS when I am home: Power Coffee often with 2 Breakfast Cookies- plain coffee just doesn’t do it for me anymore. Learn about this amazing drink HERE and these guiltless cookies HERE. After this dynamic duo, I am good for hours!
  1. ALMOST DAILY: Oil pulling for at least 5 minutes, preferably up to 20. Now, this is a new topic for Foodtalk4you, but oil pulling is thousands of years old and is considered medicinal for the whole body.

One of the best articles I have read about the benefits and history of oil pulling is found HERE.  In case you do not have the time, let me summarize this article and why I do this almost every day.

  1. Oil pulling is simply swishing coconut, olive, or sesame oil in the mouth for the purpose of cleansing the oral cavity, refreshing breath, and removing toxins.
  1. It’s easy to work into my daily schedule. Oil pulling can be done first thing during the morning shower; or I often do it after breakfast (Power Coffee and Breakfast Cookies!) while I tidy up the kitchen. This is habit stacking at its best! No extra time needed!
  1. Oil pulling is a safe and effective way to detoxify not just the mouth but the entire body because toxins are absorbed into the oil which is spit out. Coconut oil is highly absorbent so its benefits of moisturizing skin, raising healthy blood cholesterol, increasing energy, and killing toxins are easily accessed by oil pulling.
  1. I see and feel a difference right away. Imagine: fresh mouth with NO CHEMICALS!

How to do oil pulling:

  1. Use 1-2 tablespoons of coconut oil. Just scoop it up with a spoon and put into your mouth and chew on it until it is a swish-able liquid. Hint: You may want to start with a smaller amount just to help yourself warm up to the experience.
  1. Swish the oil around your mouth, flushing the fluid around and between teeth. Take your time and do not be so vigorous that you tire your muscles!
  1. Swish for 5-20 minutes; the longer, the better. Remember, the oil is picking up toxins and needs adequate time to really ‘clean house.’
  1. Spit out the oil which has become white (full of yuck) into the trash. Do NOT spit the toxin-laden coconut oil down the drain as it will clog plumbing. Coconut oil is solid at cooler temperatures, remember.
  1. That’s it! Enjoy natural cleanness and fresh breath. A gentle tooth brushing, and you’re good to go!
  1. TWICE A WEEK: Weight training exercises. I am still a proponent of home-based exercises, (See the exercise chapter in my book Toolkit for Wellness), but I just was longing for the targeted benefits of weight training machines. Give me a good thirty-minute circuit workout, and my body just smiles a great big, “Thank you!”

Since joining the local $10-a-month Planet Fitness Gym, I have maintained my twice weekly visits (or more) since January 1st! By not doing the sweat-inducing cardio machines, I can easily dip in to the gym between errands, change back into my street clothes and carry on.

Twice recently, I did do some cardio, and may keep that as my last stop, one extra day a week, but my main focus right now is the no-sweat 30 minute weight training circuit. Now you can work up a sweat, but my weights are high enough that 10 reps will do just fine, thank you!

So if you are not getting up an hour early each day for the ‘perfect start,’ then just know there are a few things that you can do in your normal, real-life routine that will definitely perk up your body and your day.

A routine that is not forced.

A natural routine.

Something intentional to “do your mind-spirit-body good!”

In health-

Deidre

 

 

 

 

Big Game Pizza – “Hut! Hut! Hike!”

New Bern, NC — Even non-sports fans such as moi, (myself), can enjoy a big game, final tournament, or the Olympics, (YES!), every once in a while. What’s a big game without big game food? Can the words, ‘big game food,’ even be uttered by someone trying to, “Do my body good,” at every turn?

If you have the idea converting everything containing flour, (pretzels, pizza, or brownies), over to a gluten-free substitute will somehow magically make you healthy, think again. Going gluten-free can be one of the biggest rabbit holes we can fall in.

Wonder why that weight is not melting away after holding back on gluten? It’s probably because you have a cupboard full of gluten-free equivalents. In other words, you are still eating pretzels, pizza, brownies, pasta, cakes, and cookies. That’s a lot of carbs, folks.

But what about Friday night pizza? What about the Super Bowl? Isn’t there a better way to do pizza besides just getting the local carry-out’s gluten-free version?

YES!

You’re going to laugh when I share with you how I found this.

Shopping at the grocery store always seems to be done in such a rush, you know? I was hastily scanning the gluten-free frozen foods section when I spied what I thought was frozen thin crusts for pizza. A quick read of the very short ingredient list passed the test for no chemicals or high fructose corn syrup. Okay. Grab it. Done. Out of the store.

Upon closer inspection, these were VERY THIN crust objects. Heck. They were tortillas! Geez.

But maybe I was onto something…

Only 24 grams of carbs and no sugar? Eureka! It’s always been the sauce and toppings that called me like sirens from the deep anyway, so here we go!

Prep the baking pan by smearing some olive oil on where the tortillas go and let them thaw.

Pre-cook any desired meats. I sautéed free-range ground beef and turkey, and some ground Italian sausage. My one nod to chemicals was in the few slices of turkey pepperoni.

Prep an assortment of vegetables. I used purple onion, red and yellow bell peppers, mushrooms, baby spinach leaves, and olives. Use your imagination- colors and textures abound!

Then assemble. If not using homemade pizza sauce, I always turn to Classico Brand Traditional Pizza Sauce because it has just a few ingredients and no HFCS.

Sauce. Meat – if using. Onions. Mushrooms. Olives. Spinach. Cheese.

Bake in a 400 degree preheated oven for 10-15 minutes or until the cheese bubbles.

Yum!

This pizza may need to be eaten mostly with a fork, but the experience and taste was definitely a pizza experience.

Maybe this paper thin crust pizza will become your go-to big game or Friday night treat. It has for me!

Now, who is playing in the Super Bowl? Ah, yes! Justin Hardy, who graduated from West Craven High School, where I taught!

Falcons Justin Hardy

 

GO JUSTIN!!

I will be rooting for the Falcons!

Just sayin’.

Deidre

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Three – Two – One …….. Blast Off!!

Happy 2017!

If we’ve learned anything from 2016, it has to be that life can often seem very short. While long-term goals are necessary for keeping your life moving forward and staying on track, remember,  today is a beautiful day to be day one!

So if you are on your 100th consecutive day of doing something good for yourself; or, if it’s day one again – today is all we have anyway. Right?

So let’s blast off each day with a little something that is yummy, delicious, and easy to do. This is also excellent for your energy levels, clarity, and focus – AND – is full of anti-oxidants and anti-inflammation elements which will soothe your insides.

What am I talking about? Power coffee you make yourself with a few basic ingredients!

It even looks like a latte! What could be better?

I tried something similar last year, but stopped because I was using a blender which cooled off my coffee and because…well…I could do without it.

This week, however, I came across a better idea for energizing coffee. Switching out my big blender with my immersion blender has enabled me to keep my coffee hot, blitz any leftovers quite easily, and make clean-up a cinch.

After experimenting the first time with a single cup of this amazing blend, I assembled enough ingredients for a week. The following is the basic recipe for one serving. To make ahead, simply multiply the recipe’s dry ingredients, mix, store in a jar, and add a spoonful to coffee along with the teaspoon of coconut oil for each day.

POWER COFFEE

Into your morning cup of coffee add:

1 tsp coconut oil

¼ tsp. turmeric

Trace amount of cayenne pepper

¼ tsp cinnamon

½ tsp raw cacao

½ tsp collagen

¼ tsp nutmeg

A sprinkle of cardamom

½-1 tsp coconut sugar

Blitz this in a blender or use an immersion blender.

ALERT: Immersion blenders do create a bit of a splash. Do NOT use your coffee cup as a blending bowl. Red face…been there, done that…cleaned it up. What I have discovered is to blend it in the coffee pot IF it is half full. K-cup folks can just use a standard blender; just preheat the blender jar with a bit of hot water first.

What I have discovered about Power Coffee is that I am not ‘charged up’ in a jittery way. I am focused. There is no need to ‘dig deep’ to get out of my chair to start the day’s activities. I am experiencing very stable energy levels and my ‘drive’ lasts and lasts. This is all on coffee that is 50% decaf.

Three days in and I am so pleased! There are calories in this, so I either delay breakfast or decrease the amount I eat. Because I am being well-nourished with this long-lasting drink, my eating has automatically decreased.

Will this do my body good? Yes!

Here is a little information on some of the ingredients:

Coconut oil is special in the category of saturated fats. In addition to being a superb source of energy, coconut oil consists of medium-chain fatty acids which have been shown to be anti-inflammatory and protective to the immune system. Coconut oil is linked to being protective from degenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s. The bacteria-killing property of coconut is well established. The breakdown of coconut oil in the body also leads to more efficient metabolism.

Turmeric, also known as curcumin, is an ancient healing ingredient with amazing anti-inflammatory properties. Studies show, turmeric is protective against forming the precursors of Alzheimer’s. Its anti-inflammatory properties are shown to relieve symptoms of arthritis, and it is protective against cancer.

Cinnamon helps regulate blood sugar, is loaded with anti-oxidants, calms inflammation, and is linked to brain health.

Raw cacao powder is NOT cocoa powder. Cocoa powder has milk, sugar, and other additives. Raw cacao is simply dried and ground cacao beans.

Cacao beans

Raw cacao beans were called ‘food for the gods’ in ancient cultures due to their great benefits. Cacao beans are a rich source of anti-oxidants, fiber – both soluble and insoluble, carbohydrates, protein, monounsaturated fatty acids that are not harmful to cholesterol levels, some amounts of caffeine and theobromine that are stimulants and anti-depressants, and a host of minerals and vitamins.

Raw cacao powder is made without heating the cacao beans above 116 degrees. Then they are cold pressed to make a paste. The paste is cold ground to yield a raw cacao powder. Thanks to the cold processing, the anti-oxidants and other nutrients are not destroyed.

Collagen is essential for hair, skin, nail, joint, and bone health and is a source of protein. Got creaky joints? Got wrinkles? Get collagen!

I wish you a happy “blast off” as you greet each day with Power Coffee.

“Do your body good” and start the New Year off feeling calm, yet energized, and let me know how your body likes Power Coffee by leaving a comment.

Hello 2017! I’m ready and raring to get started!

Deidre

PS- As a special thank you to my loyal readers,  my Editor, Sheree Alderman, and I have created a PDF of every recipe from last year for your printing pleasure! You can access that collection here: FOODTALK4YOU YEAR END 2016 RECIPES; as well as from the new RECIPE tab on the home page! Click on it to find a drop down menu where you will find a recipe collection, the one from 2016.

You can also access a printer-friendly recipe for this delicious energy-boosting coffee here: POWER COFFEE RECIPE.

Hope this helps! Let us know how you like these improvements!

Til next time-

Deidre

 

 

 

 

 

Christmas Cranberry Commotion!

Are you like me? I simply crave seasonal offerings, and right now… it’s ALL things CRANBERRY!

Long-time readers of this blog know I am a strong believer in seasonal fruits and vegetables. Sure, we can get most every fruit and vegetable year round, but it’s “fresh” from the opposite side of the world. certainly not “fresh” from our area – and NOT meeting our unique cyclic nutritional needs of the season.

My visions are not of sugar plums, but of cranberries. Their tartness compliments turkey, chicken, and pork based protein dishes, as well as a green vegetable that’s oven roasted in the second recipe below.

As we weigh each food choice with the question, “Will this do my body good?” Cranberries are a seasonal choice that sing the reply, “Yes! This will do my body good!”

Remember the mantra frequently heard: “Go for the color!” Rather than lists of “eat this and not that,” just heading for the seasonal colorful fruits and vegetables, will ultimately steer us on a path of exceptional nutrition.

With holiday meals abound, cranberries will add, not only a divine color, but also an abundance of great nutrition and health benefits.

Long touted for ingredients that prevent urinary tract infections, cranberry PILLS are best suited for medicinal levels of such ingredients rather than just cranberry juice.

But the nutritional profile of EDIBLE cranberries WILL deliver powerful levels of:

  • Vitamin C
  • Fiber
  • Vitamin E
  • Antioxidants
  • Phytonutrients

Consult your health care provider if you take warfarin (blood thinner) or have a history of kidney stones, as cranberries may aggravate your condition or alter the effects of your medication.

So let’s dive into two of my favorite cranberry recipes.

CRANBERRY SAUCE

This is not your normal Ocean Spray cranberry sauce which uses a full cup of sugar. This uses half that and yet maintains sweetness levels through the addition of other healthy fruits.

I actually recommend doubling this recipe – trust me, you’ll want to – in which case, in addition to doubling most ingredients, still use just the one orange but use the rind from half of it.

Ingredients

12-ounce bag of fresh cranberries, rinsed and culled of soft berries

½ cup unsweetened applesauce (or one whole cup if not using grated fresh apple)

½ apple, peeled, grated

1 orange – cut rind off top and bottom, quarter, and peel three of the sections and slice cross ways; thinly slice the remaining section with the peel remaining (see photo)

 

Secret ingredient: 1 cup of raspberries or 2-3 Tbs. of Penzey’s Spices Raspberry Enlightenment

½ cup sugar

½ cup water

Whole cloves – about 10 buds removed from cloves

1 cinnamon stick

Dash of nutmeg

Method

I actually precooked my raspberries using half of the sugar and then pressed them through a sieve to yield a perfect seedless raspberry essence! Ummm!

 

Using a large sauce or soup pot, add all ingredients and cook over medium heat. As the berries heat up, they will pop. Stir occasionally. As things heat up, you can lower the temperature a bit and “smush” the berries against the pan to assist in “popping.” Continue to cook until ingredients meld into a thick sauce.

Transfer into a serving or storage dish, remove cinnamon stick, and cool. The resulting sauce more closely resembles a jam.

In addition to being offered as a colorful relish to accompany turkey, chicken, or pork, this sauce/jam can be spread on top of nut butters (almond is my favorite) as a twist on PB and J.

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Next, I pair cranberries with Brussels sprouts. If you are one of those who is not “in love” with this awesome mini cabbage unless it’s hidden in a vat of melted Velveeta (a nonfood for sure), try this!

If there ever was a vegetable “candy” this recipe is it, and it “will do my body good!”

Take a quick check on the benefits of Brussels sprouts and you will be inundated by page after page of information about phytonutrients, anti-inflammatory factors, antioxidant support, detox support, anti-cancer factors, heart health, digestive health – you name it.

Definitely worth a second look to those who have been leery of these little jewels.

ROASTED BRUSSELS SPROUTS WITH CRANBERRIES AND PECANS

INGREDIENTS

1 lb. fresh Brussels sprouts, trimmed and cut in half lengthwise

Optional: 1-2 cups broccoli florets

1 cup pecans, roughly chopped (see the recipe chapter of my book Toolkit for Wellness to learn how to make all nuts more digestible and better for you)

½ – 1 cup fresh or frozen cranberries, coarsely chopped or cut in half

 

4 Tbs. olive oil (use more if also adding broccoli florets to the recipe)

1-2 shallots, thinly sliced

3-5 cloves of garlic, minced or put through a garlic press

1 tsp. salt

½ tsp. pepper

METHOD

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Using a large baking pan or baking sheet, toss all ingredients until mixed, evenly distributed, and are covered with oil. Turn the Brussels sprouts cut side down. Roast for 25 minutes or until edges of sprouts start to turn golden and crispy. Serve.

Wishing all of my readers the happiest of holidays, the merriest of Christmases, and the happiest and healthiest of New Years!

We can celebrate and STILL have food that will, “Do my body good!”

‘Til next year-

Deidre