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?
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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!
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.
I see and feel a difference right away. Imagine: fresh mouth with NO CHEMICALS!
How to do oil pulling:
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.
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!
Swish for 5-20 minutes; the longer, the better. Remember, the oil is picking up toxins and needs adequate time to really ‘clean house.’
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.
That’s it! Enjoy natural cleanness and fresh breath. A gentle tooth brushing, and you’re good to go!
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!”
How many times have you had to start over? Losing weight? Exercising every day? Writing that book? Learning how to play the guitar? Liberate yourself from the weight of backsliding or inaction by facing forward and declaring, “Today is a beautiful day to be ‘Day One’!”
That’s what I did recently.
Before the focus of our household became defined by my husband’s hospice care, I was already trying to lose those “last five pounds.” I had been actively engrossed in expanding my exercise repertoire to include pull-ups – sort of semi-pull-ups – real push-ups, and using a heavier kettlebell. Success was within my grasp! Just keep at it a little bit every day.
After the March 21st trip to the ER, everything changed. Survival mode ruled the day. Stress threatened to overwhelm. The coping techniques I wrote about in Toolkit for Wellness became my best friends.
Stress does a number on how our bodies function. Well, I knew that; but, wow! The pull for carbs – even gluten-free ones – is insidious. I felt I deserved the carb-y treats just for surviving the day.
A good day? Carbs to celebrate!
Exercise? Yeah, right.
Go for a walk? Can’t leave home without a sitter.
Planks? Push-ups? Have to be later, busy with my husband’s needs.
Gradually over the course of almost four months, I became out of shape and fifteen pounds over where I want to be.
But I am keeping my spirits buoyed by wonderful moments with my husband, the encouragement and frequent contacts with family, friends, helpers, and the wise use of free time at home to enjoy looking at the birds and squirrels, and by coloring.
I placed no pressure on myself for any additional requirements except to eat lots of the veggies I loved.
But it was time to take control.
I think you reach a point when you no longer want to be a ‘victim’ or just someone always in a reactionary mode. I want to call the shots.
So do it! Enter “Day One”!
Back to exercises done during coffee brewing time. We drink the stuff every day. That time is already allotted. Piggy back habits by exercising during brew time.
I had to start slowly again. Backsliding does that. Who cares? Who’s looking? Only me. Start over. No big deal. That’s how it works – a little bit every day.
My full-body plank had shrunk to 20 seconds. Fine. Day One is 20 seconds. Day Two is thirty seconds.
I find there are ample opportunities to do more movements in the kitchen – exercise central for me. Waiting for a pan to heat up? Squats right in front of the stove. Nuking something for a minute? Kitchen counter push-ups. Waiting to stir the veggies sautéing in the pan? Time for arm circles.
The following is a list of exercises I am currently doing during brew time and at other cooking times. These are fully explained in my book, Toolkit for Wellness, starting on page 237:
PLANKS- These are always first because they are the hardest. Full body plank followed by half-plank. My goal is to do a two-minute full body plank.
SQUATS- These are so easily done any time, especially while waiting for a pan to heat up.
STEPS IN PLACE- Starting with very high and slow steps gradually getting faster and shorter, then returning to high steps. This is my favorite for getting pumped up.
PUSH-UPS- These right now are done at the kitchen counter but will eventually follow planks.
KETTLEBELL LIFTS and SWINGS- Returning to my lower weight kettlebell, I do single arm lifts, double arm lifts, around-the-world swings, and standard kettlebell swing through.
BALLET POINTS- From a “first position stance,” I point my toe/leg to the front, side, and back, ten times each for both legs
FLY LIKE AN EAGLE– Palms up with arms to the side, lower outstretched arms 1/3rd of the way down to your leg and back up 8 times. Repeat 2/3rds of the way down 8 times. Repeat all the way down 8 times. Continue to do arm circles, palms up both forward and back 8 times. Continue with pumping arms back 8 times. Whew!
TODAY is a beautiful day to be “Day One”! What are YOU working on?
Hello readers! As most of you may have realized, (and by the amount of email I’ve gotten, you have), I have been absent for a short while. This is an attempt to explain my absence. In the same way people can tell a train is headed their way by putting an ear to the rails of the tracks to listen for the vibrations created even miles away, I knew our family focus was moving in this direction. It was just a matter of time. Unfortunately, that time has come.
I felt compelled to publish and market my book, Toolkit for Wellness, over the Thanksgiving and Christmas holiday season just because those rail “vibrations” were getting stronger. “Hurry up!” it said.
Not knowing what my life would look like, I still mapped out a creative pattern for future foodtalk4you postings; and to introduce the concept of a virtual Book Fair that I hoped would become a popular and regular thing. Those plans are still ongoing, just a little slower than expected.
In February and early March, I hesitated to book speaking or book signing dates because “the train” was getting closer. Fortunately, I was able to do a few of those things before everything changed.
On March 21st, I had to summon the Rescue Squad to transport my dear husband of 39 years to the emergency department of our local hospital because he couldn’t breathe – even while on oxygen. An 11-day hospitalization ensued, and we prepared for his return home to a bedroom now equipped with a hospital bed. Twelve days later he was put under hospice care where he remains today.
The “train” is definitely traveling through our lives right now. We don’t know how long this train is, we only know that we will be walking through each train car in succession until it passes completely by.
There are so many helping us through this journey. Your thoughts, prayers, visits, and hugs are evidence of God’s sustaining love. Hospice and home-help aides are making our struggles and burdens lighter.
We have learned not to fret about decisions anymore because each decision that troubled us in advance was answered by the gradual unfolding of events.
In so doing, we are seeing everything happening in its natural order. Unfortunate and sad, to be sure, but I am comforted by keeping the image of a beautiful flower as it gradually opens up, petal by petal, revealing a glorious creation in full bloom.
As the declines come, my beloved is being supported by the sunshine and fresh air of love, gentleness, and kind, compassionate care.
Strangely enough, I have been able to share the message of foodtalk4you and Toolkit for Wellness to many of the health care providers who have come our way. Even my tax accountant was glad to hear of a gluten free/anti-inflammatory diet that would help eliminate his psoriasis like it has done for another friend of mine.
Thank you, readers, for your patience and understanding. I am so grateful I have family and friends who are helping us through this difficult time of transition and grief. As you can see, all priorities have shifted, so things will remain quieter from my little corner of the world. Hopefully, we will continue to post new articles that you will find helpful and interesting. We are lining up a few guest writers who have some very good information for you. Our plan, at this point, is to carry on as well as we can. Thank you so much for your understanding.
As with any new post, if you are signed up as a subscriber, (Put your email address in the box on our front page-left side,) you will get an alert telling you we have a new post, just like before. As I’ve said in the past, we NEVER sell or even let anyone see your email address except Sheree or myself. So please don’t worry you’ll be spammed. You can also cancel at any time, whenever you wish. We can still be friends!
God bless all of you who seek out better standards for yourselves and a healthier lifestyle. We’re gonna get through this!
“To everything there is a season, and a time for every purpose under heaven.”
Times have changed in some respects; and in others, not at all. I remember reading aloud the Laura Ingalls Wilder series of Little House on the Prairie to our children every night as we all learned of Laura and Almanzo’s adventures. Today, our grandchildren listen to The Adventures of Harry Potter. I don’t know what the children eat at the Hogwarts School, but Almanzo’s favorite repast had to include fried apples ‘n’ onions.
Being more of a city girl transplanted to small town North Carolina, this notion of apples ‘n’ onions did not beckon to my palate or culinary desires. Too bad.
First of all, they aren’t fried- as in deep fried. I don’t deep fry anything. In country jargon, frying apples implies sauteing and browning until tender and even possibly cooked down to a mush.
But apples ‘n’ onions? Really?
Well, this is the month of love. If you fix apples ‘n’ onions you will LOVE the flavor of this impossibly delicious side dish that happily occupies its spot in the perfect plate fruit/fat component and part of the veggie area. Pair this side with any kind of dark-green leafy veggie, along with lean chicken or pork protein, and you will have a meal that says, “I love you”!
With just three ingredients, this is a cinch to do, and quantities vary according to what’s on hand.
Apples ‘n’ Onions Recipe
Apples – 3-4 apples
Onion (I used a Vidalia onion) – one medium-sized onion
Coconut oil- 1-2 Tbs. of coconut oil to coat the pan well
In order to activate the beneficial anti-inflammatory enzyme, allicin, slice up the onion first so it has 10 minutes to rest before heating.
Peel, slice, and core the apples into desired shape. I use an old-fashioned hand crank apple peeler/slicer/corer and just cut the slices into smaller pieces.
Melt 1-2 Tbs. coconut oil into large sauté pan on medium heat and add prepared apple and onion slices. You may want to add a pinch of salt.
Stir occasionally and gently cook until browned and tender. Serve warm.
Recipe number two involves an oft’ forgotten little green nugget that used to be buried under an avalanche of melted Velveeta. Boy, once you stop eating “food-like substances,” as found in dairy “products” such as Velveeta, the very thought of returning to them sends chills down the spine. Ick!
So, what to do with that bag of Brussels sprouts? This latest recipe supersedes any I have tried thus far! My book contains a great pan-cooked version of Brussels sprouts that’s really fine and has similar ingredients, but these roasted sprouts are the BEST!
Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Fresh Cranberries and Pecans
1 pound fresh Brussels sprouts, trimmed and cut in half
1 cup activated pecans*, coarsely chopped
½ cup fresh or frozen cranberries, (not dried and sweetened), coarsely chopped
1 Tbs. olive oil
1 Tbs. finely chopped shallots
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 tsp. Kosher or sea salt
½ tsp. ground pepper
Optional: 2 Tbs. balsamic vinegar to toss in after roasting
Heat oven to 400 degrees. Using a large baking pan, toss all ingredients together except balsamic vinegar. When all ingredients are mixed and coated with oil, arrange Brussels sprouts so the cut side faces down in baking dish. Roast for 25 minutes or until golden brown on the edges.
Optional: Toss with balsamic vinegar when roasting is complete. These smelled so good and tasted so good right out of the oven; I forgot the vinegar and never missed it.
*Activated Pecans: Soak raw pecans in salted water 24 hours; drain; dehydrate 105 degrees in dehydrator 14 hours or bake at lowest oven temperature until crispy. This process is explained in my book, Toolkit for Wellness, and makes the nuts way more digestible and yummy.
So, there you have it! Healthy anti-inflammatory eating at its very best. Some old-school goodness from the past and some modern farm-to-table style of today!
I used to call it the “creeping crud.” You know, the variants as sinusitis, bronchitis, laryngitis, coughing, sore throat and the like? Those of us who sing, teach, coach, or otherwise strain our vocal cords on a regular basis, need some relief and prevention.
Enter – Ginger tea!
A fellow singer keyed me into this years ago as a preventative, as well as a therapy. I’d see her going from one rehearsal to another, always clutching her ginger tea. After picking up her habit, I can vouch for the effectiveness of ginger tea; both, as a preventer of illness, and as an aide to healing when the “creeping crud” arrives despite every effort.
The recipe is simple enough:
Fresh lemon juice
For two cups of tea, I boiled water, added about an inch of fresh ginger peeled and sliced, juice from ½ lemon, a teaspoon of local honey, and three green tea bags.
Let’s take a look at the healing and health-promoting properties of each ingredient:
Green tea: loaded with antioxidants with many medicinal properties, has properties that improve brain function, increases metabolism and increases fat burning, properties in tea called catechins, can positively impact oral hygiene and reduce infection risks, may help the body process blood sugar, has been shown to be heart healthy, and can decrease the risk of cancer.
Ginger: ancient Chinese source for digestive issues such as nausea, loss of appetite, motion sickness, morning sickness, and chemotherapy-induced nausea. Its pain-reducing capabilities can help with pain and inflammation seen with arthritis, headaches, and menstrual cramps. It has been shown to inhibit the virus that causes colds.
Lemon: antiseptic properties, vitamin C, calcium, potassium, and pectin fiber. Functions as an anti-inflammatory. The list goes on.
Honey: anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory properties among others.
Now you can see why drinking this is like putting the power of Superman into a cup. Antioxidants, anti-inflammatory agents, and antiseptic properties in every sip!
Daily green teas:
Some people brew a super-strong cup of tea using 8 bags of Bigelow Green Tea. It’s their morning “shot” of goodness. I have found Bigelow brand to be the most authentic tasting tea in tea bags.
I have also discovered the joys of loose leaf green tea available on-line from Ten Ren Tea. The Oolong variety has a wonderful aroma and taste. A bag of loose leaf Oolong is expensive, but it lasts a long time. A little bit less than 1 tablespoon of tea leaves yields two of these small pots full of fragrant green tea which will fill my mug twice. Just enough to start the day off right, and my beverage of choice on Sunday morning before singing in choir or before going to special morning choir practices.
A couple cups of Ginger Tea or regular green tea will soothe the mind, tummy, and go a long way to boosting our wellness!
Enjoy a cup while you go through your Affirmations!
Do you do a happy dance when all things pumpkin-flavored reappear in the fall? It’s a short season, so I look for every way imaginable to ramp up pumpkin goodness. I have two pumpkin delights to share with you today. First, a pumpkin version of Bulletproof Coffee, and a pumpkin spice version of my Breakfast Cookie recipe.
My early morning solo-brew is either loose leaf green tea or Bulletproof Coffee. It’s a part of my Series of Good Things that starts most days:
Large glass of water after swishing out the cobwebs first thing each morning.
Water on face to open eyes – a real must to enjoy what follows.
Open all the curtains.
Head for my mat in the guest room to do full and half planks, full and half push-ups, and a slant. (All exercises are explained in my Toolkit for Wellness which is finished, but still needs formatting, subtitle, and a NEW book cover- more on that in a bit).
Make my way into the kitchen to preheat tea pot/French press pot and start heating water.
Do my step-to-jog-to-run-in-place exercise while the water is heating.
Brew either the coffee or the tea for 5 minutes.
Do squats and lifts with a kettle bell or arm exercises during brew time.
Pour and enjoy.
Bulletproof Coffee is special coffee made from mold-free coffee beans. I learned from Dave Asprey, who writes the Paleohacks newsletter and sell it, that most all coffees are polluted with mycotoxins that can adversely affect people. Think sinus congestion, headaches, and other ailments. Enter mold-free Bulletproof Coffee.
After the coffee is brewed, I add the healthy fat of 1-2 teaspoons of organic ghee and blitz it in my Vitamix. Ah-mazing!
Being it is pumpkin season, I have been adding a couple tablespoons of pumpkin puree, pumpkin pie spice, and -yes- a half teaspoon of sugar! This is truly a sensory delight! My own pumpkin spice latte right at home! Even GOOD for me!
What would go great with a pumpkin latte, but Pumpkin Breakfast Cookies? Below is the annotated recipe I have published before on this blog and am putting into my new book, Toolkit for Wellness. We are not interspersing pictures this time so you can see it all together.
Breakfast Cookies freeze well and are a staple to have around for a light meal (2 cookies) or a light snack (1 cookie).
This is like a sneak preview of what is in the recipe chapter of the book!
Adapted from a recipe by Danielle Walker
This is a large recipe that makes about 27 cookies using two large parchment covered cookie sheets. I use an 11-cup food processor to mix most of this, followed by a final stirring using a large bowl to incorporate the two batches of ingredients.
In a food processor, place the following ingredients and pulse 2-3 times for 15 seconds each. Pulse until dates are in very small pieces and bananas are smooth:
1 Tbsp. lemon juice
3 large, ripe bananas broken into chunks
7 medium-sized dates /or/ 5 large Medjool dates, soaked in warm water for 15 minutes and drained
2 Tbsp. ghee /or/ palm shortening
1 cup unsweetened applesauce /OR/ replace with pumpkin puree
Pour the majority of this mixture into a large bowl. Scraping is not needed. Then place the following ingredients into the processor bowl and pulse for 5-6 bursts until incorporated:
1 cup of hazelnut /or/ almond flour* – This time, I used 2/3 cup almond and 1/3 cup coconut flour
1/4 cup ground flax seed
1/4 cup hemp seed hearts
1/4 cup Great Lakes gelatin
3 tsp. cinnamon /OR/ replace with pumpkin pie spice
2 tsp. vanilla extract
2 tsp. baking soda
Add the following to the nut flour mixture and pulse 3-4 bursts until incorporated:
1 cup unsweetened coconut flakes
1/2 cup dried fruit of choice usually a berry /OR/ golden raisins
Add contents of food processor to those in the large bowl and hand mix using a large wooden spoon or spatula until well-combined. The batter is a bit wet, but should hold its shape well. If it seems too wet, add some more nut flour.
Using a golf ball-sized cookie scoop, form dough and place onto parchment paper-covered cookie sheets.
Using damp fingers, gently press each on down a bit.
Bake at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes. I used a convection oven, which automatically lowers the temp to 325 degrees. A regular oven may take a little less time at the higher setting. Cookies will still be a little bit soft but not mushy when done. Place cookies on a cooling rack where they will firm up.
A couple of these make an awesome breakfast, especially when spread with almond butter alone or almond butter mixed with a tad of Justin’s Chocolate Hazelnut Butter. Justin’s version of Nutella has organic cane sugar as the third ingredient after hazelnuts and almonds and contains only 8 grams of sugar compared to the others 21 grams of sugar as the first ingredient!
* I have used various combinations of flours depending upon what I had in stock. Coconut flour will dry dough, so the amount of moistness will change depending on how much coconut flour you use.
The book cover currently posted on our Facebook site is NOT the one I’ll be going with! I know everyone just loved the “blue cover” but deep down inside, I just knew it was not representing the larger message. A member of a Facebook Community I am in, not only gave me some pointers as an author, but also shared with me a concept cover based on what he had gotten from my book. Well, folks, he was spot on! So, off to a graphic artist I went and I am waiting to see how this turns out!
A new cover means a delay, but if something is worth doing, it’s worth doing right! I look forward to sharing the new look with you as soon as possible.
Tired of swooning over the covers of Southern Living and other magazines just wishing you could join the rest of the world in cool summertime deliciousness? Except, you have wisely chosen to no longer eat gluten; and since giving up sugar, you really do not want to get that addiction started again. So, you stand in the line at the checkout counter at the grocery store and you salivate at the magazine covers looking pitiful and deprived. It could be embarrassing:
“Clean up at register 5; customer weeping buckets and drooling on the floor!”
I regularly prepare what I like to call “Fruit with Benefits” which is a concoction of already healthful berries, sometimes an apple or a pear, and varying amounts of Great Lakes gelatin and ground flax seed. This gives me all the goodies of the berries PLUS protein, PLUS more fiber, PLUS Omega-3 fatty acids! A small scoop of this satisfying dessert and you are a happy camper.
Since developing my “Fruit with Benefits” skills, I am always looking for ways to squeeze in some more nutrition. Therefore, when presented with this mouth-watering spread in the magazine about icebox pies, I began to wonder…and as the imaginative and creative juices flowed, an idea formed… Well, I think I’ve done it!
There is a bit of sugar, just over ½ cup total, for the entire pie but that’s compared to way over 1 cup of sugar in the original recipe that uses store bought peach preserves which have who knows how much sugar?!
The original recipe called for folding gobs of whipped cream in the filling, but I chose to not even convert that by using more whipped coconut cream. Enough is enough.
I have tried lots of gluten free pie crust recipes, but this one is the best. One of the things I especially liked were the occasional whole flax seeds that had escaped the food processor blade; it not only tasted great, but it looked great, too!
So, do not despair my lovelies, this will be a great treat, not sweet enough to initiate binge carb fests, but smooth and creamy and peachy enough to make you smile!
This recipe has plenty of bone and joint health benefits of gelatin and boosts in protein from not only the gelatin and eggs but from the flax seed that also gives omega-3 fatty acids! Win! Win! Win!
Prepare the crust first so it can completely cool before adding the contents.
Put the following ingredients into a food processor and pulse until well-combined:
1/2 cup whole flax seeds
1 cup almond flour
1/4 cup sugar
1 tsp. Kosher salt
6 Tbsp. butter from pastured cows, melted- (I use the Kerrygold brand)
Pat dough into a smooth ball and press into a 9-inch, lightly- greased pie plate. Evenly distribute the dough, pressing it up the sides.
Create an edge. I just pressed a fork into mine.
Bake 6-10 minutes at 325 degrees until golden. Remove from oven and cool.
Prepare fresh “jam” by putting the following ingredients into a sauté pan and cook on medium until it comes to a boil, check for sweetness, and take off heat:
1 Tbs. coconut oil
2 peeled and finely-diced peaches
1 Tbs. lemon juice
1 Tbs. sugar
1 Tbs. gelatin that is wisked together with 1/4 cup boiling water: NO lumps!
Prepare the filling as follows:
Fill a 3 1/2 quart sauce pan with water and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to medium to keep at a simmer.
Using an electric mixer with the whisk attachment, whisk the following together in a 2 1/2 quart glass bowl:
3 large eggs
1/3 cup sugar
Place bowl over simmering water and cook while whisking constantly five to six minutes or until mixture becomes slightly thick and sugar dissolves. Remove from heat and the simmering water.
Place 4 tsp. gelatin in a small bowl and pour 1/4 cup boiling water over it, whisking constantly until gelatin is completely dissolved.
Using the handheld electric mixer, whisk the egg mixture on high speed for 8-10 minutes until ribbons form on surface of mixture when beater is lifted.
Add gelatin mixture and continue whisking one more minute.
Fold in the peach “jam” and a pinch of kosher salt.
Spoon filling into cooled pie crust and arrange thin slices of 2 medium peeled peaches over the filling. Cover with plastic wrap and freeze 2 hours.
Serve slices of pie with a dollop of whipped coconut cream sweetened with a pinch of sugar and a splash of vanilla!
Remember “gradual and consistent,” the concept that success comes from consistent small efforts over time will yield greater results versus giant goal-setting?
With the New Year upon us and with conversations whirling around us about resolutions, it would seem an excellent time to reconsider how we can apply this gradual and consistent concept to our daily health and life issues.
Just because the calendar page now says “2015” does not mean we have to reinvent ourselves. But in looking at the array of life issues we are handling, does it not make sense to make sure our minds and bodies are at their best so we can optimally approach our personal challenges? We cannot be creative, resourceful, cooperative, considerate or anything else we may strive to be if we feel awful physically or mentally.
Want to lose 50 pounds by June? Forget it! Just concentrate on how your next meal looks. Then concentrate on how the next meal after that looks. Want to tone up to wear a smaller size by a particular date? Don’t spend a week shopping for the right exercise clothes; what kind of push-ups or planks are you doing right now?
I think one of the biggest successes at health transformation is balanced blood sugar. This may be of particular importance now as we are coming off of holiday indulgences. Even gluten-free starches can add to the waistline. To paraphrase Dr. Mark Hyman’s article from December 26, 2014, here are three thing that we all can do to help end that need to roam around the kitchen looking for holiday delights.
1. Commit to booting unnecessary starch. Carbohydrates are an important macro-nutrient vital to body function, but we need to embrace plant carbohydrates and use nuts and seeds as healthy protein snacks. My immediate goal is to incorporate plant carbohydrates at every meal; half my plate is usually vegetables. Even at breakfast.
Prior to the holidays, I activated many bags of nuts to prepare for gift-giving and snacking. My recent reading about nuts have again reminded me that daily eating of walnuts is extremely beneficial as an omega-3 and anti-oxidant resource.
2. Emphasize water and green tea consumption instead of calorie-laden drinks. Forget thinking artificial sweeteners are a caveat to this rule. There is a host of badness happening with those devils that I will share about in a coming post. At the very least, artificial sweeteners tell your body that glucose is on the way, and it’s not; many studies point to over-eating as a natural response to this conflicting communication with the body.
3. Make sure that every meal has high quality protein; especially the first meal of the day. Protein is a vital macro-nutrient that fills, satisfies, and energizes the body for the rest of the day. Do not start your day on an empty tank! From last night’s leftover meat to eggs, nut, seeds, nut butters, or a protein shake/smoothie, high quality protein will keep you going for hours and eliminate the need to roam to a snack machine. Also, use quality fat to cook that protein such as coconut oil, extra virgin olive oil, or ghee. A quarter of an avocado will also augment your power resources as well.
So, how to gradually and consistently apply these guidelines?
Start now! Don’t wait until everything in your kitchen is perfectly aligned or the last slice of (gluten-free) bread has been consumed. Whatever you are going to eat or drink next is what counts. Reflect on the adage from Alcoholics Anonymous, “One day at a time.” How about one meal at a time? One snack at a time? Such next-moment goal setting is a proven winner!
In a restaurant? Wave off the bread rolls, peel off the hamburger roll as you eat the insides, double-up on the veggies instead of having a baked potato, choose broiled seafood or fish instead of breaded and fried. You get the picture.
In the market? Stick to the perimeter of the store as you choose protein and veggies. Skip the isles which generally carry starchy packages of highly- processed “Frankenfood.” Better yet, stop by the farmer’s market for locally grown veggies picked that morning!
Plan for ease of success. I have really become partial to marathon cooking events. Many families gather in the kitchen during the weekend to share in advanced prep-work and actual cooking for the week’s menu. For instance, someone can peel the meat off of a rotisserie chicken in preparation for lunch boxes. Chicken is easily thrown on a salad for a handy meal at home or at work or school.
Today, I prepared a crock pot full of Italian Meatballs—recipe follows. A family could incorporate these in any number of meals or snacks. I will simply freeze half of them for future use. Gluten-free spaghetti is off the menu for a while, so pairing these meatballs with at least half of a plate of veggies and some good fat will more than fill our tummies.
Tonight, our plates will sport leftover collards, raw broccoli salad, and avocado. Mmmmm. When’s dinner?
For the meatballs:
1(ish) pound of ground turkey
1 pound of sweet Italian ground sausage (I used Johnsonville brand because it’s gluten-free and has the fewest ingredients)
¼ of a red onion minced and divided into 2 portions- one portion for meatballs, one portion for sauce
3 cloves of garlic, minced and divided into 2 portions- one portion for meatballs, one portion for sauce
2 tsp. Italian Seasoning (or to taste)
One handful of fresh parsley, chopped
1/3 cup grated Parmesan and Romano cheese
Few shakes of sea salt to taste
1/3 cup gluten-free Panko, Italian Style (I used Ian’s brand)
For the sauce:
1 tbs. extra virgin olive oil
One portion of the minced onion
One portion of the minced garlic
1 can tomato paste (6 oz.)
2 tomato paste cans of water
1 tsp. gluten-free fish oil (for that “je ne sais pas” or umami effect)
Salt to taste
Pepper to taste
Italian seasoning to taste
1 cup chopped Crimini mushrooms a.k.a Baby Bella mushrooms
Put all meatball ingredients in a large bowl and mix well using gloved hands. Using a 1 ½ inch scoop, push a scoopful of meatball mixture into the side of the bowl to help pack it into shape. Eject the meatball into your other hand to gently finish and place the meatball on an ungreased baking sheet.
The 1.3 lbs. of turkey and 1 lb. of sausage yielded me just shy of 50 meatballs on two cooking sheets. Place cooking sheets into a preheated 350 degree oven or 325 degree convection oven. Roast meatball for 15 minutes, remove pans from oven, turn meatballs over, and return pans to oven for another 15 minutes.
While meatballs are baking, prepare sauce as follows:
Gently sauté minced onion in a sauce pan on medium heat for a couple minutes, add minced garlic, and continue cooking for 30 more seconds.
Add tomato paste, 2 cans of water, fish oil, salt, pepper, Italian seasoning.
Stir to combine.
Add chopped mushrooms and let mixture simmer.
When meatballs are done roasting, put meatballs and sauce in crock pot, making sure all meatballs have been coated in sauce. Set crock pot on low for longer cooking or on medium or high heat if dinner is to be sooner.
At the conclusion of the seventh and last session of my Designed for Health series, I was able to share with the participants a little magic secret: Two (or three) Ingredient Chocolate Mousse!
With the Halloween season upon us, it’s only fitting to add some magic to the scene. Knowing that chocolate is a very allowable whole food fat source, this is a tasty, satisfying, and potentially elegant way to enjoy all of the goodness that chocolate can impart. The best part, this is so rich that one recipe will go a long way—I seriously wanted to use demitasse spoons to serve this, but I didn’t have any.
Anyway, there are a few versions of this floating around cyberspace, but this one does it for me and proved to be a real crowd-pleaser. Follow me as we journey through the land of Magic Mousse!
Recipe for Magic Mousse
4 oz. dark chocolate
3 oz. water **
Pinch of salt
Recipe for Magic Whipped Topping
Coconut cream from one can full fat coconut milk
Vanilla or almond extract
½ tsp. sugar- optional
While higher concentrations of cocoa are desirable– because a big hit of sweetness is not the goal of eating chocolate that is good for you as opposed to sugary concoctions disguised as chocolate that are not good for you—I settled on a bar that’s 60% cocoa and is also flavored with mint. This is a good level of cocoa especially for palate’s not accustomed to higher concentrations.
I actually doubled the recipe for the mousse, so these chocolate pictures reflect double ingredients. Place the chocolate and water in a sauce pan and slowly melt, stirring with a whisk. Being someone who does not waste a drop of chocolate, I used the whisk
attachment from the electric beater I will use in a few moments.
**Note: the fluid amount of 3 ounces could be a combination of 2 oz. water and 1 oz. of spirits! I have used brandy in the past, and the results are superb!
Once the chocolate is melted and the fluid incorporated, remove from the heat. Transfer the melted chocolate mixture into a small bowl and place that bowl in an ice bath (ice cubes and water).
I am blessed to own these flexible silicone bowls (thank you Pampered Chef!) and the flexibility really comes in handy here. I pinch the bowl top together during the first few minutes of whipping to avoid chocolate spray going everywhere! What you do here is beat, beat, beat….
This double recipe took me every bit of 12 minutes! I remember the single recipe taking over five minutes. But this is where the MAGIC is! You think nothing is ever going to happen. You check. Nope. You check again. Nope. Then you think you noticed a slight change in the texture…was it real? Then, BLAM! It’s mousse! It can actually be easy to over-beat this and get something much firmer than mouse– which would require re-heating and re-beating. My mousse has turned out a little on the firmer side, but it is still nice!
So now, you dish this Magic Mousse into the desired serving dishes. I was taking this batch to class, so I used 2 ounce condiment containers with snap lids, but at home I would use 2 ounce soufflé cups. For extra fanciness, one could use a pastry bag and prettily pipe the mousse into the cups!
For the Magic Whipped Topping, chill the can of full fat coconut milk for 2 hours in the fridge or 30 minutes in the freezer so when you open the can, you are greeted with beautiful, white coconut cream.
Carefully spoon the coconut cream into (the same) small bowl—again, I just do not want to waste a drop of the chocolate, so if there is left-over chocolate on the whip or in the bowl—fine by me! Save the rest of the coconut milk for a smoothie, a gravy, or cook in some rice for added lusciousness.
With the coconut cream bowl in the ice bath, whip, whip, whip… when things start looking like whipped cream, add the vanilla or almond extract and dab of sugar, if desired, and keep beating away until it looks like this:
Then put a dollop of the whipped cream on the mouse, and voila!
You have yourself an amazing creation that looks and tastes like you spent hours in the kitchen— but that can be our little secret!
Seriously, this is rich! I prefer to savor this using a tiny spoon we used to feed our babies, so I am definitely in the market for demitasse spoons now!
My next blog will be a summary of what was covered during our Designed for Health Series and will also include some recipes the class participants shared as they are eating foods that are naturally healthful.