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:
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.
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.
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
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.
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
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
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!”
Here are 3 important rules to remember: Eat like a king at breakfast, a prince at lunch, and a pauper at dinner. Sure, right? But sometimes, I just want a little something to go along with my coffee, you know? Not a big meal, but something that will tide me over until my first meal. Too many thoughts of “dunkable” donuts, delectable Danishes, or any variety of “healthy” whole-grain, pop-up toaster tarts come to mind.
Yuck. I want to “do my body good.”
Behold, the Breakfast Cookie!
I never want to be without a stash of these. So, every month or so, I’ll “whomp” up a double batch of these babies to freeze. Exactly 11 of these little miracles stack up perfectly along the bottom of a one-gallon Zip-lock bag, which can conveniently be wrapped around the “tube” of cookies and placed in the freezer for future reference.
The Breakfast Cookie recipe is featured in my book,Toolkit for Wellness. After having made many, many batches of these (meaning: a LOT), I have honed this recipe to just a couple of steps – so to speak – and have streamlined the work, taking any of the guess work out of the nut flour proportions.
So, here we go!
I’ve simplified the prep into ‘wet’ and ‘dry.’ I also assemble ALL ingredients before starting, which is especially important if you are making a double batch. I will, literally, surround each bowl of dry ingredients with smaller bowls of wet ingredients and the requisite three bananas, each before starting.
Preheat oven to 350, or 325 if using convection. Both of my large baking sheets fit nicely into my oven which will accommodate the twenty-nine cookies this recipe makes with just one baking cycle.
In a food processor, (Mine has a 11-cup capacity which works perfectly), place the following ingredients and pulse 2-3 times for 15 seconds each, until the dates are in very small pieces and the bananas are smooth:
1 Tbsp. lemon juice or juice from ½ lemon
3 large, ripe bananas broken into chunks
7 medium-sized pitted 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 (two of those individual serving applesauce cups)
Pour this mixture into a mixing bowl containing the following ingredients that have been whisked together:
½ cup hazelnut flour
½ cup almond flour
¼ cup coconut flour
¼ cup ground flax seed
¼ cup hemp seed hearts
¼ cup Great Lakes gelatin
3 tsp. Ceylon cinnamon
2 tsp baking soda
1 cup unsweetened coconut flakes
½ cup dried fruit of choice (I use blueberries)
Add 2 tsp. of vanilla to mixture as you combine the wet and dry ingredients with a spoon or stirring spatula. The resulting dough should be soft but not sticky. If it seems too soft, add more coconut flour at 1 Tbsp. at a time, stirring after each addition.
Using a golf ball-sized cookie scoop – mine measures just a bit less than 2 inches in diameter – scoop out dough and place cookies onto parchment paper-covered baking sheets.
Dampen your first two fingers in water and gently press each cookie down a bit. Cookies do not spread out much.
Bake in preheated oven (350; 325 if convection) for 20-25 minutes. My convection oven usually takes 23 minutes. 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 with your favorite breakfast brew will do the trick. Just warm them up a bit in a toaster oven while your coffee or tea brews.
File this recipe under –
Excellent sources of protein
Bone and joint health
Mornings never tasted so good!
Santa’s Waist Trimmer – Taking Off the Cookies Cookies
‘Til next time-
PS: Consumer update! If you own a Cuisinart food processor with a blade constructed with four rivets, please go to recall.cuisinart.com to check if your blade is one of the 8 MILLION being recalled. Mine was! No deaths have been reported, but injuries have as a result of metal shards coming off in the food! Check out the metal fatigue breaks occurring around the rivets on mine:
Knowing that you can’t believe everything you read in Facebook, I just filed away a bit of information I read a couple years ago about a seemingly ‘magic’ treatment for burns.
Until recently, I had been getting relief from minor cooking and baking burns to the hands by grabbing a freshly cut onion and rubbing on the onion juice. Worked for me … sort of … until last time or two when … dang! The fire was still in my burn … and there was a scar to show for it later on.
Enter the amazing EGG WHITE MIRACLE ‘CURE’! First time I used egg white on a burn, I gladly sacrificed a whole egg to get to the white; but then I managed to find what I needed by rummaging through the shells from the eggs I had just used for breakfast. There is ALWAYS egg white left in the broken shells! See photo.
The small amount left in the shell was just enough to drip onto my burned knuckle to get immediate relief. Just let the egg white dry for a while, approximately 15 minutes, and gently rinse off with cool water. Voila! No more burn and no scar!
The original article I had seen touted someone with major burns being initially treated on site with egg white and was spared from all the usual horrors of burn treatments and scarring. However, I cannot promote this “homemade remedy” without telling you, this information is given only to share what happened to me. By no means is this an expert’s method of treating a burn. As always, see your doctor for professional advice!
Just wanted to throw this ‘out there’ as my own personal testimony. With more baking and cooking going on in the approaching months, I’m sure someone might appreciate this tip.
My absolute favorite morning routine sets me up for greeting the new day with renewed and centered energies. Whenever possible, this is what sets me on a great path. I call this a “Series of Good Things.” We started talking about this in the fall series of Designed for Health classes, and with my deeper understanding of habits and habit formation, it is all coming together for me with positive results.
Let me share:
Rise and shine at the same time each day! In doing so, I am waking naturally a few minutes before my gentle phone alarm announces itself. With more consistent bedtimes, waking up is not so problematic. Sleeping in has robbed me of too many retirement mornings, and I regret it when I do. No. Getting up at a consistent time is my first good thing.
Drinking that first full cup of cold water right after swishing out the “cob webs” from my mouth is good thing number two. Start the day with the best “hydrater” of all: water.
If my husband is up, I will make the bed on my way to the closet to dress. Good thing number three. The bedroom is neat and I am already on a roll!
Moving into the kitchen, I pass the refrigerator first, so I grab my cold Bragg’s apple cider vinegar from the door, pour a tablespoon-full into a glass, add about 6 ounces of water, and chug. This is a personal experiment; many in my spring Designed for Health class are doing it for cholesterol benefits. My research has netted a zero on scientifically proven health benefits except for well-documented benefit of improved blood sugars. I am doing it to add acid to my stomach in hopes to improve some reflux issues. While we refer to acid reflux, often it can be a result of not enough acid in the stomach. We will see. No harm for sure, and – hey- that’s more water! Good thing number four.
Then, I have to start my day feeding my menagerie of birds and squirrels! Watching their antics off the back porch is our major amusement and delight. That’s number five.
Taking a few deep, mindful, meditative breaths while pausing to sit on the porch swing helps me calmly set myself up for a new day. “Thank you, God, for this new day; thank you, Lord, in every way for your blessings great and small; make me a blessing to others this day. Amen.” Six.
Then, while the coffee or tea is brewing, number seven is my favorite to check off because, not only do I enjoy doing this, but getting to it can be hard for me. Plank time! Starting with a child’s pose to stretch my lower back, I move forward to do my two minutes of planks: full body plank followed by a “restful” half-plank from the knees.
The rest of coffee brewing time is dedicated to slow motion squats, kitchen-counter slow motion push-ups, palms up arm circles, ballet-bar style toe points to the front, side, and back: very good for balance. That is number eight!
Bing, bing, bing! Coffee’s ready! That’s number nine!
So – exercise minimums are met, bed is made, water is drunk, nature is fed; well… it’s a series of good things!
To keep that good vibe, I make sure half of my breakfast plate is veggies! Leftovers work great as a side to my two eggs or they can be scrambled together as a frittata. If all else fails, after frying the bacon and before cooking the eggs, I will grab a giant handful of greens to sauté with a bit of good oil (coconut, avocado, or olive). That’s number ten!
I hope that you, too, have a “series of good things” you are doing for yourself each day. Please share them with me!
To summarize some good things we have covered here and in class about improving our over-all wellness:
1. Mindful breathing
2. Gratitude each day
3. Drink some extra water
4. Taper-off and eliminate added sugars
5. Eat real food. Eat food without labels!
6. Half of your plate each meal should be (mostly green) veggies
7. Use good fats- butter and ghee from pastured cows, coconut oil, olive oil, avocado oil
8. Supplements should include Vitamin-D, omega-3 fatty acids, probiotics, and magnesium with your calcium
9. Toss the grains- they cause inflammation seen and unseen, and work against vitamin and mineral absorption
10. You may also want to toss the legumes: dried beans and peanuts- because they can have an adverse effect on digestion, can block absorption of vitamins and minerals, and can be inflammatory
11. Keep a regular bedtime and get enough sleep
12. Move and stretch your body every day. I have just started weekly Yin Yoga classes and am just loving it! More restful sleep; greater inner awareness and calm; and a more balanced feeling.
13. Set tiny, repeatable “tweaks” to move yourself toward better wellness.
14. Simplify, simplify, simplify!
15. Rather than getting more “stuff,” gather experiences in your life!
As I concentrate on finalizing my book, preparing single day seminars, and simplifying my own possessions by cleaning and tossing out, I will be taking a bit of a blogging sabbatical. There may be the occasional summer recipe or thought, but I am going to practice what I preach by simplifying and daily application of things that make our ultimate goals come true!
Since April of last year when this blog was officially “born,” many topics have been touched upon about moving to a more harmonious relationship with our bodies by eating foods that naturally promote health.
With the idea that we were designed for health and not disease, there must be a way to live, eat, move, and think that boosts health. The world-wide trend toward obesity, heart disease, and autoimmune diseases as western fast-food eating styles that are embraced can be reversed through eating what we were originally designed to eat.
These thumbprint summaries of last year’s material are hopefully a good way to see the bigger picture as we approach our health choices this year. Where we’ve been serves as a launch pad for where we are going, so to speak.
1. It starts in the mind. How we relate to our bodies, health, and the world around us all starts in our mind. The first class session of The Designed for Health series I teach in New Bern, North Carolina, always starts with a sort of “rededication” exercise whereby we reconnect with our body in appreciation for how we are so wonderfully made, and how we want to be in greater harmony with our body by actively listening to how it responds to what we feed it and how we treat it. We are accepting the responsibility for its care rather than just mentally going along for the ride.
2. Something “do-able”: a Keystone Habit. No matter how we want to improve our lives, whether we want to write the great American novel or we want to eat healthier, we have to concentrate on the steps, the repeatable steps, we must take each day to get there. Surely, we are not going to write that novel in one day, but writing for a short, set amount of time each and every day will eventually get us the first chapter. Similarly, we are not going to turn our health status around in one day, but making a single, seemingly ridiculously small and easy-to-repeat tweak to what we eat or drink each and every day will eventually lead to a collection of changes easily incorporated into a new eating and living style that will definitely impact our health. Hence our motto: gradual and consistent.
3. 80/20. Unless there are health dangers such as severe food allergies, becoming totally obsessed about “healthy eating” could ruin the day for you and those around you. Trying to squeeze out that last 20% of perfection each day can actually take some of the fun out of things. So while we gain an understanding what is good or bad for us, striving for perfection can, literally, spoil the party. Aim for the “good stuff” to keep up your promise to yourself, but once in a while a dab of this or that, in the absence of food allergies, can keep the fun in holidays, vacations, and life in general. Once you have converted to better choices, the standard temptations actually will hold less appeal and may not feel “right” when consumed, but- lighten up! 80/20 is good. Having said that, making exceptions back-to-back can be the start of a slippery downward slope!
4. Create an environment for success. Clean up what’s available to eat in the kitchen based on how you want to eat. No more chips and ice cream in the kitchen means you won’t be looking at chips and ice cream praying for the strength to turn away. Enlist the help and support of family and friends. Share what you are learning so you can be a part of a team. Reward your milestone successes frequently with appropriately healthy treats; maybe a walk around the waterfront instead of in the neighborhood.
5. Understand “macro-nutrients.” Understanding how our bodies naturally respond to proteins, fats, and carbohydrates really puts us in the driver’s seat for health! Want to stabilize blood sugar? Dedicate carbohydrate intake to veggies instead of grains and eat good protein and healthy fats which have higher satiety levels than starchy carbs and will not upset blood sugar levels.
6. Enhance your flavor palate. Looking for a sense of sweetness without the added sugar? Try spices and flavorings that remind you of sweetness by using cinnamon, nutmeg, cardamom, and extracts such as vanilla or almond. These “sweet spices” are a great way to enhance the flavor of smoothies without added sugar. Explore various herbs and oils to add endless variety to veggies and salads. Simple asparagus is different each time when lightly sautéed in a choice of olive oil, ghee, grass-fed butter, avocado oil, coconut oil, or toasted sesame oil. Whenever I get a little tired of any cooked veggie, I usually turn to a finishing drizzle of toasted sesame oil to liven things up. Pesto can easily combine with shrimp, gluten free pasta, quinoa, veggies, or scrambled eggs to make a brand new eating experience.7. Keep this plate in mind. Strive for a plate balanced with these proportions. Imagine your plate is half non-starchy veggies. The other half is two-thirds protein and one third good fats and/or fruit. That’s pretty much it!
8. Inflammation is a key and common evil. Food choices can actually ramp up the inflammatory process which is bad because inflammation is at the root of every disease process. Sugar and grains are the biggest culprits; read: wheat, barley, rye for the inflammatory gluten and corn for the phytates.
9. Strive for nutrient dense foods. Nutrient density relates to higher concentrations of vitamins, minerals, and the essential fatty acids and essential amino acids which we have to get from our diet because our bodies can’t make them. Currently on a fat- free diet? Forget it! You’d be missing out on vital fatty acids that your body demands for proper functioning and certain vitamins must have fat in the diet for their absorption. Proper fat ingestion is vital. The good fats contain a better fat profile than we get from the Standard American Diet. Good fats have more omega-3 fatty acids and can be found in avocados, avocado oil, extra virgin olive oil, coconut oil, nuts and seeds. Protein ingestion is vital. Strive for clean protein sources that are minimally processed, grass fed if possible, and fresh seafood. There are NO essential carbohydrates; none. So carbohydrate consumption will best serve your body if coming from non-starchy veggies that are packed with nutrients and will not disturb your blood sugar levels.
10. Less exercise can be more! One of my Keystone Habits is doing a bit of exercise during coffee brewing time, and I have learned from many sources that slow-motion exercises can yield a better effect than those done at regular speed, and that fewer repetitions are needed. Works for me! Counter top push-ups and squats are infinitely more effective when done in an 8-8-8 fashion. For a squat: 8 counts down to the squat, 8 counts holding the squat, 8 counts up. You’ll know when to stop, believe me. A few will do! If that becomes easy, just add a small weight which will increase the workload of the muscles; that’s the key: workload, not repetitions.
11. Other possible Keystone Habits. Consider slipping in a daily boost to hydration by drinking a glass or two of water before leaving the bathroom first thing each morning. Try converting other hydration fluids from juices, colas, or coffees to green tea. Green tea contains poly-phenols that help prevent a host of diseases and conditions and also work with the body to burn fat! Try a more concentrated green tea brew to ramp-up consumption of those helpful components. Some experts aim for 10 bags of green tea a day which would necessitate concentration, indeed!
12. Non-starchy green vegetables. I have dedicated a lot of “blog time” non-starchy green vegetables and colorful vegetables. Eating non-processed foods necessitates cooking, but I have tried to show that becoming a master chef is not required. Basically doing a light sauté or stir fry in a healthy fat is all that is needed for most vegetables, possibly followed by a light steaming on lower heat with minimal or no added water. Cooking veggies without added water is vital because a good portion of the nutrients leech out into the water, never to be consumed. I still read recipes from those who should know better that call for boiling asparagus, for example. No! No! Just roll those babies around on low to medium heat in some good oil until desired doneness… not mush, but still a little crisp…sort of Al dente! Certainly, sneaking baby spinach or kale into a smoothie is a super easy way to add nutrient-dense goodness in a snap!
Well, that’s foodtalk4you from 2014 in a condensed form. Next, my editor, Sheree, and I will be working on a free e-booklet of last year’s recipes for easy access. Such a feat will require some diligent work on both our parts…just part of my New Year’s goal to be more useful to you, my dear readers!
Please share this site with a friend or two, so we can reach more people with the message that improved health is within reach without reaching for another pill!
Put a book in the hands of a child and he or she will be transported to worlds unknown. Put a book of lasting value in the hands of a child and he or she will be changed forever!
Georgie Who Saw the Angel by Sheree Alderman is such a book! As you may know, Sheree edits and enhances these posts with pictures that are both appropriate and humorous at times. Sheree is also a gifted author and editor of books and screen plays. She has been working on this Life Series for children for quite a while, and this first of four books just came out! It is available on Amazon either in print or for any e-reader.
While lessons in trust and self-esteem are always in season, this book is also enhanced by being based smack in the middle of the Christmas story! Just in time for the holidays, this book can become a family treasure; ready to be re-read every holiday for years to come!
I have invited Sheree to supply a description of her first children’s book below! If there are children in your family, there is a need for this tender story to be shared by one and all!
Thank you, Deidre!
Georgi is a young camel who just cannot find his way … to anything. His friends, Mya and Rafa, take turns making sure he gets back to the barn in the evenings so he doesn’t spend the entire night outside by himself. Then, one moonlit night, an angel comes to visit Georgi and tells him how special he really is; and how one day he will be the leader amongst kings.
This is the story of how the most unknown, unwanted, and unimportant little camel came to guide a King’s procession to one of the most important events in human history.
Georgi Who Saw the Angel is a “Life Lessons” book from author Sheree Alderman. When you purchase a Life Lessons book, you can feel confident to share it with children and adults of any age. Life Lessons books are wholesome, engaging, and reflect positive values.
Besides, reading Georgi Who Saw the Angel is just good for you!
Look for a new addition to the series with MIA and the MAGIC PAINTBRUSH coming soon to Amazon.com!
We all were reluctant to bring our Designed Health Series to an end. After setting the ground work for a new way of thinking about our entire approach to what is the best for us to eat and why, we were smack in the middle of reconstructing our menu content and sharing recipes when time ran out! But our link remains here until we meet again for follow-up sessions.
Have you made any “Magic Mousse” yet? There is nothing to it! It really is: just melt the chocolate while stirring in the water and dash of salt, then beat the melted mixture in a bowl placed in an ice bath for several minutes with a whisk attachment to your mixer and “Voila!” mousse appears! Check the Halloween post for details. You can do it! Use regular whipped cream if you have to, but the Coconut Cream is so yummy and dairy free!
Our early sessions had to do with our mind-set. Everything starts with that ole’ central computer! All of what we do, really, is a habit, so we deconstructed what habits were and how they worked in order to understand how to “tweak” them in a more favorable direction for improved health. Understanding that a habit “trigger” could be just walking out to get the newspaper each morning, which could easily be switched to jogging out and back to the mail box. Not a big deal but a little something in the right direction. With this cooler fall weather, it’s a cinch to jog out and back to the mailbox. Then, maybe, once the daily quick jog is second nature, longer walks or jogs could be added; maybe just around the house before returning inside to read the paper. Most of us are using the initial swish of water first thing each morning to be our trigger to drink 1-2 glasses of water. It’s a habit now, with no real thinking involved.
Something I am working on is finding the motivation to start a load of laundry. True confession: I tend to let things pile up in that regard until I am faced with marathon loads. So, I am starting a load of laundry now as I make my path to the kitchen to start the coffee. No decision making. No conversation with myself on if I want to start a load. Just, “what am I washing today?” So far, this has been very successful for me to incorporate into my daily pattern. We agreed that the goal is not the “Goal” but the process of minute gradual improvements that are consistent.
We began following Jonathan Bailor’s explanation of the Calorie Myth concept wherein counting calories is pretty pointless if that process is in exchange for looking at the quality and content of our food. Clearly, 300 calories of candy bar will have a different effect on the body than 300 calories of leafy green veggies or 300 calories of protein. He cited studies and individual cases where simply reducing the number of calories consumed each day—and possibly exercising more—was actually a recipe for failure at long-term weight loss and control. Disaster, really.
We studied what major nutrients are derived from food and how they interact with our body. Starchy carbohydrates and sugary foods not only cause great swings in blood sugar, but can actually feed the craving for more starches and sugars through the stimulation of the opiate receptors in our brains. Thus, starchy and sugary foods are not satisfying in the long term.
What is satisfying? What can we eat to “hold” us for hours? Proteins, whole food fats from avocado, coconut, olives, nuts/seeds, and non-starchy vegetables. Class participants shared how a veggie-filled omelet held them past their usual lunch hour! No toast, no bagel—just protein and veggies cooked in a pan with “good” fat—“happy butter” from grass fed cows, coconut oil, or olive oil.
We looked at what constitutes an anti-inflammatory diet. With virtually all diseases having roots in the inflammatory process, not contributing to inflammation through our food choices seems natural, basic, and what we were designed to do. Sugar is inflammatory. Grains are inflammatory. Grains—that includes wheat, barley, and rye to eliminate the gluten, and the other grains as well such as corn, soy, rice, and the legumes to eliminate the phytates which block absorption of minerals such as calcium, iron, magnesium, and others.
While not everyone has the natural response to gluten which should be a total “no-go,” some of us have evolved to tolerate some level of the “poison” in our bodies. Which are you? How do you know for sure? There certainly are blood tests which are delineated on the Celiac.org website, but try going totally gluten-free for 30-60 days. Not only will you lose weight because of not eating starches at every meal, but you will likely discover a more pain-free body. Those achy joints won’t be crying out for more pain meds. You belly will be happier. Less bloating; less gas. Then, at the end of 30-60 days, see how going back to gluten works for you………….
One of my sweetest moments recently was when a Designed for Health class participant pulled me aside to show off her remarkably slimmer body; her decidedly slimmer face; and best of all, her ability to once again wear a ring! Getting off gluten and onto an anti-inflammatory diet clearly took away the inflammation in her previously swollen finger joints. She was joyous to don that precious family heirloom on her finger as a testament to how much better she was feeling!
One night in class, we changed the old IN-SANE food pyramid to create a SANE plateful of food:
We then started sharing how we were doing this. Recipes started flying around the room! Norman has much success grilling not only his meats but his vegetables—all coated with olive oil—even beets! Ellen described her carrot/beet/parsnip fritters. Someone else offered her recipe for chocolate pudding: ¼ cup cocoa, 1 avocado, 3 Medjool dates, ¼ cup coconut/almond milk all whipped up in a blender or food processor.
Speaking of beets….with much fear and trepidation, I bought my first EVER fresh, raw beets to use in fixing Ellen’s fritters. My childhood exposure to canned, diced beets used to stretch left-over stew into something called “Red Flannel Hash” had left me permanently traumatized! It would be hard to appreciate what it took for me to “man up” right there in the green goods isle at Harris Teeter to look at, touch, and put three fresh beets with long stems and admittedly beautiful leaves into my basket! But with Ellen and Norman’s words ringing in my ears, I did it!
We were leaving the class the last night and Ellen was trying to remember all of the ingredients to her fritters, and I added some onion as well, so here’s our recipe”:
Carrot, Beet, Parsnip Fritters
2 carrots- peeled and grated
1 parsnip- peeled and grated
1 beet- peeled and grated
¼ of a large onion- grated
1-2 large cooking/serving spoons of coconut flour
Salt and Pepper to taste
Place all of the grated vegetables into a bowl.
Add first egg and first large spoonful of coconut flour along with salt and pepper. Combine to incorporate all ingredients. If your mixture looks and feels like it needs more “glue” to stick together into patties, then add the additional egg and coconut flour. I did because the beet and parsnip seemed to be large.
Here’s the tricky part. I formed the patties by hand, squeezing a little extra as Ellen advised, but they still seemed a bit loose. Next time, I will be tempted to use a hamburger press. Just be aware that there will be beautiful red juice dripping out when squeezing and forming these patties, so have a juice catcher handy or squeeze over the sink. Amazing though. As beautiful and rosy red as the beet juice is, it never stained my counter tops! I’ve had strawberries stain my counter and I was prepared to have quite a time cleaning up, but there were no problems! Beets! My new friends!
Anyway, form the patties and place in a hot skillet with olive oil and fry a few minutes on each side.
In the meantime, slice up the beet tops and sauté in olive oil and season with a bit of crushed red pepper and sea salt.
When everything is done, you will have a beautiful serving plate full of color and nutrition! I was absolutely amazed at the mild yet wonderful flavor of the beet tops! And the fritters were such a treat.
This recipe ended up making a lot of fritters! I enjoyed them as-is as leftovers, but one thing I really loved was adding some of the fritters (or the crumbly parts that didn’t want to stick together enough) to my chicken soup. Turns out I was working on gradually eating a fresh “vat” of rich chicken bone broth soup that I have posted on before. By adding the beet fritters, not only did I add even more nutrition to my soup, but I instantly turned it into Borscht (Russian for beet soup)! What color! What flavor!
Beets are not just red. They are more like a deep raspberry red. What a great color! Now I have a new, powerhouse vegetable to love!
Until next time when I’ll share a great resource for kid-friendly recipes that are “Designed for Health” and two versions of gluten-free waffles. Just in time for a chilly morning!
Particularly with the warmer weather approaching, I find it easier to turn to smoothies. However, I have discovered that not using ice to make them super cold will make them a good choice even when the temps are not so warm. Try using just cold tap water or cold coconut milk on days you are not seeking the “brain freeze” effect.
Smoothies are really limited only by your imagination. I tend to follow sort of a pattern that I will share here. A smoothie can be a magnificent way to get extra greens into the diet. Many folks swear by 3 cups of leafy greens a day, but I can only eat so much kale at dinner! How in the world to get this intense nourishment in me? Behold the smoothie which will totally mask the taste of green leafy veggies (kale or spinach, for me) which can be a blessing to those who stand at arm’s length from anything remotely looking like a vegetable.
Using a sturdy/powerful blender (my KitchenAid works fine) make the following selections and add to blender:
Pick a citrus: 1/2 lime or lemon, peeled and white fibrous center removed.
Pick a berry: One handful of unsweetened fresh or frozen strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, or raspberries.
Maybe pick another fruit: Pear or apple if weight loss is not the goal
Add about 2 inches of peeled cucumber chunked up and seeded if there are a lot of seeds. Cucumber adds a lightness to the drink.
Add about 1 inch of peeled and sliced fresh ginger which is said to have all kinds of antioxidant properties (ginger and fresh lemon tea is not only refreshing but therapeutic in the winter months or when experiencing voice strain- but I digress).
It’s probably a good idea to start pulsing and blending here and periodically thereafter to avoid blender overload!
Pick a good fat: I like up to 1/2 avocado and/or finely grated unsweetened coconut (we’ll talk about good fats later).
Add some more omega 3s and fiber all at once: 1 tsp. pre-soaked chia seeds, and/or 1-3 tsp of pre-soaked ground flax seed meal. These should be pre-soaked because they start out hard/gritty but swell up in fluids. If you do not intend to drink your smoothie right away, pre-soaking is not necessary, but your drink will become very thick later on and extra fluid may be needed. Fiber is a two edged sword; it will keep the digestive system regular, but can cause constipation if not enough fluid is taken in!
Add at least a cup or more of fluid: water, unsweetened coconut milk(So Delicious brand unsweetened coconut milk in the dairy section), ice, or chilled brewed green tea.
Add protein: your choice of powdered protein. I prefer whey protein because it is not a grain, but if soy is your thing, go ahead
Pick a green leafy veggie: a couple handfuls of spinach, baby kale medley (I get that from Sam’s store), or 4 good sized fresh kale leaves with stems removed.
Pick some sweet spices: cinnamon, nutmeg, cardamon- whatever goes with the fruit/berries you have selected
Add 1 tsp of vanilla or if using cherries instead of berries, use almond extract. (It is amazing!)
Add a pinch of salt.
Blend, blend, blend.
This should make a blender full, so pour into multiple glasses. If not sharing, put some plastic wrap on the extra glasses and use as needed. I will often have 1/2 glass as a bedtime snack (still have not broken that habit yet).
The information being discussed in these blogs is NOT intended to replace a relationship with a qualified health care professional. Foodtalk4you blogs endeavor to empower people through the exploration of publicly available resources of information about human anatomy and physiology, and how different foods affect the human body. Readers should seek the advice of their qualified health care providers with any questions about their medical conditions or health status before attempting any dietary, exercise, or lifestyle changes.