Home Cooking for Your Health

Posted by on Apr 29, 2013 in Cooking at Home, On My Soapbox, Wellness Ideas | 0 comments

I recently read an article in the New York Times where two of my favorite writers covered one of my favorite topics: cooking. Not a celebrity chef cooking but US cooking in our homes.

Here’s one of my favorite quotes from the article … “[Michael Pollan] says: “Cooking is probably the most important thing you can do to improve your diet. What matters most is not any particular nutrient, or even any particular food: it’s the act of cooking itself. People who cook eat a healthier diet without giving it a thought. It’s the collapse of home cooking that led directly to the obesity epidemic.”

In my house the main cook is my husband. His grandfather was a chef / short order cook /restaurant owner. He learned to cook because that’s how the division of labor worked when he was growing up. He was bad at waking everyone up in the morning, so his sister took over those duties. And he took over her duties in the kitchen. And thus … he loves to cook. Early in our marriage I did some regular cooking, but after a year or two we discovered that everyone was happier when he cooked most of the time. I know I am super lucky! Not only does Cris like to cook … he makes delicious, interesting meals!

Cris especially loves to cook for a crowd!

Cris especially loves to cook for a crowd!

Given this situation, I especially thought it was interesting when the article quotes Pollan saying, “We need to complete that uncomfortable conversation about the division of domestic labor, which the food industry deftly exploited to sell us processed food,” he says. “But if we’re going to rebuild a culture of cooking, it can’t mean returning women to the kitchen. We all need to go back to the kitchen.”

Although Cris and I are invested in being healthy, we don’t count calories or obsessively exercise. And most of our health-indicating blood tests come back in the “healthy” range most of the time. We believe it’s because we rarely eat food just from boxes or drive-up windows. In fact, I’d estimate that 90% of our food is home-cooked.

Contrast this lifestyle with some folks I know. For example, I have a massage client who has never used her stove in the 7 years since she bought it. One day I was talking to the friend who helps us keep our house clean (super grateful for her help too!) about how much work it can be to clean our kitchen. I happened to ask her if this was pretty common among her clients. She said that as many of her clients don’t cook as do cook. Wow!

One of my favorite wellness authors, Marc David, says this in his Eater’s Agreement:

“I recognize that at its deepest level eating is an affirmation of life. Each time I eat I agree somewhere inside to continue life on earth. I acknowledge that this choice to eat is a fundamental act of love and nourishment, a true celebration of my existence.”

Don’t you love that idea? Our fridge has an important sticker on it … too important for the car bumper. It says, “Love People. Cook Them Tasty Food.” Even if you are just cooking for yourself today, aren’t you worth that love??

 

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Fabulous GF Cornbread

Posted by on Feb 3, 2013 in Cooking at Home, Gluten Free, Recipes | 0 comments

If you were considering going gluten free, what would be the hardest food item to give up? My guess is that at least 50% of us would say bread! Tasty gluten-free bread is the Holy Grail of the GF eater. Either the bread crumbles before it reaches your mouth, or it is just to bland to even swallow. My strategy has been to find non-bread items to replace the outsides of my sandwiches with – for example, a GF wrap or tortilla. It keeps my disappointment level to a minimum. But there are some days when nothing but a bite or three of bread will satisfy!

A client of mine shared this terrific recipe with me. She is vegan and also eats mostly gluten free. I have to say this is probably the best gluten free bread I have tasted. Of course, you can’t make a sandwich with it … but it tastes and feels EXACTLY like cornbread made with white flour. The recipe is modified from one in Jane Brody’s Good Food Gourmet.

Here's the 8 x 8 pan version.

Here’s the 8 x 8 pan version.

 

 GF Cornbread

1 cup yellow cornmeal
1 cup millet flour (or 1/2 cup millet flour and 1/2 cup sorghum flour)
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt (optional)
3 tablespoons oil (can replace with 3 tablespoons apple sauce)
1/4 cup honey or maple syrup
1 cup buttermilk (or non-dairy milk of your choice)
1 egg (for vegan, replace with 2 tablespoons ground flax and 2 tablespoons water)

Mix dry ingredients gently. Add wet ingredients and mix thoroughly. Pour into a greased 8 x 8 inch pan.

If using oil: Bake at 425° for 20 minutes or until golden brown and tester comes out clean.
If using apple sauce: Bake at 400° for 15 minutes or until golden brown and tester comes out clean.

Can be used to make corn muffins (makes about 11). Bake muffins at same temperatures for a few minutes less or until golden brown and tester comes out clean.

And these are the finished muffins!

And these are the finished muffins!

Let me know what you think when you try the recipe!

 

Looking for support in going Gluten Free? The best way to determine what program is right for you is scheduling a FREE 45-minute initial health and wellness consultation. Simply call or email me today to get started!

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Canning Summer Fruit because there is a January

Posted by on Jul 26, 2012 in Cooking at Home | 0 comments

January and February aren’t my favorite months of the year. It’s the middle of summer right now and I know it’s hard to remember what those months are like. But they’re the opposite of now – cold, gray, snowy. And did I mention cold and dark? When January comes I’ll be so glad that I made the effort to can some summer fruits this month.

I also have a lot of childhood memories of my parents spending many hours canning food on the weekends. So canning my own food makes me feel connected to summer, my parents, and my childhood. That’s pretty cool in my book!

Berries and Apples

 

Last weekend I made Blueberry Fruit Spread and a low-sugar Natural Strawberry Jam. Yummmm! I’ve made jam before, but always gone the full-sugar route because I felt like too much of a novice to venture into other options. Well, this is my third year of canning so I’ve declared myself at intermediate skill level. Plus I really wanted to make some healthier options since I share the jams with people I love.

 

About 60 minutes later … almost ready!

 

I use a cookbook from the Ball Jars company, and it’s always been a winner for me. The Blueberry Fruit Spread is just three ingredients … blueberries, tart apples and frozen, unsweetened grape juice concentrate. Sounds easy and it basically was! I simply put everything in one big pot and stirred it until it reached “hard gel” stage. The difficult part … it took about 75 minutes of standing and stirring!

Here are a few jars processing in the water bath.

Once the jars are filled with fruit spread they go into the very large pot of hot water (shown above). They sit in boiling water for about ten minutes to create the lid’s seal. I snuck a little picture for you before the water started to boil too hard!

Finished jars of gorgeous summer sweetness!

I have to confess … we always open a jar of jam or spread right away. Even though we are preserving summer to enjoy in winter, these look just too wonderful to wait. But I promise when I can peaches and cherries, I will definitely save them all for January and February!

Let me know if you have canned in the past. How did it go for you? Would you be interested in learning? I’d love to help you if I can! (LOL – pun intended)

Ready to get started with healthier food choices? The best way to determine what program is right for you is scheduling a FREE 45-minute initial health and wellness consultation. Simply call or email me today to get started!

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Overcoming the Trauma of Canned Beets!

Posted by on May 18, 2012 in Recipes, Wellness Ideas | 0 comments

I was traumatized as a child … by the taste of canned beets! Metal and food tastes should never mix. I know I’m not alone because I met several people Thursday who had similar experiences. How do we overcome this trauma? Fresh beets!!

The raw beet salad below is a fantastic example of how to use fresh beets. My friends Patrick and Lori from Natural Alliance introduced me to this recipe, and it’s quickly become one of my favorites. Part of what I love is the flavor combination – ginger, garlic, and lemon are the perfect balance to the sweetness of the beets, carrots and apples.

Yesterday I took the salad to a local company’s Wellness Fair. And I’m happy to report that a lot of folks were beet converts! So give it a try yourself and let me know what you think!!

Red Cabbage, Beet, Carrot and Apple Raw Salad

2 cups shredded red cabbage
2 medium beets, peeled and shredded
5 medium carrots, shredded
1 large Granny Smith apple, peeled, shredded

Dressing:

Juice of one lemon
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil (you may need to add more)
¾” inch peeled ginger root, finely minced
3 cloves of garlic, minced
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper

Combine all shredded ingredients together.  Mix dressing ingredients together and pour over shredded mixture.

Allow to stand for a few hours prior to serving.

Ready to get started feeling less pain and more energy?!?? The best way to determine what program is right for you is scheduling a FREE 45-minute initial health and wellness consultation. Simply call or email me today to get started!

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May Recipe Idea: Spring Sprouting Steamer

Posted by on May 7, 2012 in Recipes | 0 comments

SproutsI’ve been growing my own sprouts this year for the first time! It’s so fun and easy – no soil required. This recipe calls for a package of purchased sprouts, but you could just as easily grow your own in a just a few days time.

Prep Time: 3 minutes
Cook Time: 5 minutes
Yield: 4 servings

Ingredients:

1 zucchini
1 summer squash
1 package mixed crunchy sprouts (lentil, adzuki, mung, garbanzo)
3 tablespoons of freshly chopped tarragon
1 tablespoon of ghee (clarified butter) or butter
4 lemon wedges
salt to taste

Directions:

1. Slice zucchini and summer squash in discs about 1/4 inch thick. Steam with sprouts for about 5 minutes or until desired tenderness.

2. Toss with tarragon, ghee and salt in bowl.

3. Serve with lemon wedge.

Note: Try fresh herbs like parsley, dill, cilantro or mint for a totally different taste.

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Breaking through the Sugar Blues: Natural Sweetener Options

Posted by on Apr 17, 2012 in Cooking at Home, Questions Clients Ask, Wellness Ideas | 0 comments

Who among us doesn’t love sweets? The sweet flavor releases serotonin in our brains, the chemical responsible for our sense of well-being and contentment. The average American consumes well over 20 teaspoons of added sugar on a daily basis, which adds up to an average of 142 pounds of sugar per person per year! That’s more than two times what the USDA recommends and is proof of sugar’s addictive nature.

But when it comes to sweeteners, not all are created equal. There are side effects and health risks from refined sweeteners like white table sugar and high-fructose corn syrup, and from artificial sweeteners like NutraSweet, saccharin and Splenda.

Since refined sweeteners have been stripped of vitamins, minerals and fiber, they can spike blood sugar, which can often lead to cravings and mood and energy fluctuations.

Instead, using naturally and minimally processed sweeteners can reduce cravings for sugary things. Natural sweeteners, all of which are gentler than the refined white stuff, are easier on the body’s blood sugar and available in most supermarkets and health food stores.

Please note that these sugar alternatives are great transition foods, but are not meant to be consumed in mass quantities. Even natural sweeteners are, for the most part, processed foods. The best way to alleviate sugar consumption is to add more sweetness to your life!

Sweetener alternatives

Raw Honey

Everyone seems to love honey, one of the oldest natural sweeteners on the market. Honey will have a different flavor depending on the plant source. Some are very dark and intensely flavored. Wherever possible, choose raw honey, as it is unrefined and contains small amounts of enzymes, minerals and vitamins.

Agave Nectar

Agave nectar is a natural liquid sweetener made from the juice of the agave cactus. Agave is made through the extraction and purification of the juice of the agave cactus. It is 1.4 times sweeter than refined sugar, but does not create a sugar rush, and is much less disturbing to the body’s blood sugar levels than white sugar. It has a delightfully light and mild flavor. (However, agave is high in fructose, higher than that of high-fructose corn syrup, and some research suggests that fructose does not shut off appetite hormones, and may decrease glucose tolerance, so you may end up overeating.)

Maple Syrup

Maple syrup is the concentrated extract of the sap of maple trees. It adds a rich, deep flavor to foods and drinks. Make sure to look for 100% pure maple syrup, not maple-flavored corn syrup. As with all sweeteners, organic varieties are best.

Stevia

This leafy herb has been used for centuries by native South Americans. The extract from stevia is 100 to 300 times sweeter than white sugar. It can be used in cooking, baking and beverages, does not affect blood sugar levels and has zero calories. Stevia is available in a powder or liquid form, but be sure to get the green or brown liquids or powders, because the white and clear versions are highly refined.

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