Favorite Fridays: Dandy Blend

Posted by on May 27, 2011 in Favorite Fridays, Product Reviews | 0 comments

I love coffee … but it doesn’t love me back … I’ve tried decaf coffee, and I still have issues. Since coffee is naturally caffeinated, the process of decaffeination only removes about 97% of the caffeine. In some decaf blends, I have found that even less is removed.

As a result of my experience over the last few years, I have tried a variety of other warm beverages that are 100% caffeine free. My current favorite is a product called Dandy Blend.

 

The flavor is so smooth and it’s so easy to use. While I don’t enjoy instant coffee, I love the instantly mixable ease of making a cup of Dandy Blend. Other than heating the water, there’s no brewing time necessary!

According to the product web site, Dandy Blend is made from the water-soluble extracts of roasted roots of dandelion, chicory and beets plus grains of barley and rye. There is a naturally occurring sweetness from the fructose in the dandelion and chicory. I sometimes add stevia to my cup of Dandy Blend, but you could just as easily skip the sweeteners.

And … there are 50 trace minerals in each cup of Dandy Blend. Minerals are something that we just don’t get enough of from our standard diets. So any opportunity to add these valuable nutrients is terrific!’

If you’ve tried to go caffeine-free and struggled, Dandy Blend might be for you. If you prefer decaf in the evenings, there’s another reason to try this product. Let me know what you think!

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The Great Rhubarb Juice Experiment

Posted by on May 17, 2011 in Cooking at Home | 3 comments

 

I think there are certain foods I love because they remind me of my childhood. Rhubarb is one of these foods. My dad had an organic garden back in the 60s and 70s … and it flourished! I remember huge rhubarb plants and hundreds of zucchini every summer. Over the last few years, I’ve rediscovered the joys of rhubarb. And I finally have a little rhubarb plant in my garden, courtesy of a client whose plant got large enough to share.

I usually find my rhubarb at the farmer’s markets or sometimes friends give me stalks because they know I love it! I think even the stalks are beautiful. Some are pale green, but the “traditional” color is more of a dark ruby red. However, rhubarb is poisonous when raw … so never, ever eat it without cooking!

It’s great to make a strawberry rhubarb crisp or pie – they just taste like summer to me. I’ve found lower sugar recipes that bring out the tart flavor of the fruit. But I’ve always heard that rhubarb must be cooked with some type of sugar to break down. Wrong, wrong, wrong!

I recently saw a link to a recipe for Rhubarb Juice, and I think this is a fantastic way to enjoy rhubarb flavor without added sugar. It’s super easy to make and has a couple of different uses. Plus the article includes some additional links to other rhubarb recipe ideas.

First you chop up your rhubarb. Then cover it with water in a saucepan and boil until the rhubarb is soft. This took my small batch about 10 minutes, so watch it closely. The original recipe suggests you include a split vanilla bean in the boiling process, but I didn’t have one handy. It still works … and you could add a teaspoon of vanilla extract to the completed juice if you choose.

Once the rhubarb is soft, use a strainer to drain the juice and collect the pulp. I have to say, the pulp from my mostly green rhubarb stalks was pretty ugly. But the juice is a beautiful pale pink.

If you taste the juice by itself, it’s quite tart. But take about a tablespoon and put it into a glass of water. The flavor is lovely! Or take the juice and freeze it into small cubes.

I’m also planning to use the pulp in banana smoothies. I did something similar to this last summer and liked the flavor combination of sweet with tart.

Enjoy this wonderful fruit in a whole new way this year!

 

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Favorite Fridays: Coconut Oil

Posted by on May 13, 2011 in Cooking at Home, Favorite Fridays | 0 comments

Is there anything coconut oil cannot do? I am amazed at the many ways this product can be used. Here’s a small list of the ways I have used coconut oil recently:

  • Oil for massage clients
  • Eye makeup remover
  • Instead of WD-40 to stop squeaky wood on my massage table
  • Oil for popping popcorn
  • Replacement for vegetable oil in a bread recipe
  • “Greased” the loaf pan I was using to bake bread

I also know people who use coconut oil as a moisturizer and a hair styling cream. Think of all the space you can save in luggage when you’re traveling!

The benefits of coconut products are varied, and the list is long. Here are a few:

  • No trans fats
  • Hypoallergenic
  • Non-Toxic
  • Gluten-Free
  • Anti-bacterial
  • Anti-fungal
  • Anti-viral
  • Anti-parasitic
  • Beneficial to immune system function

The first question clients ask is what about the saturated fat content? Yes, coconut oil is more than 90% saturated fat. But don’t panic and please keep reading. Coconut oil’s saturated fatty acids are about 60% medium chain fats. These are “good fats” that our bodies use to produce energy. They are also primarily made up of Lauric Acid, which is the primary fat component in mother’s milk. It is long-chain fatty acids that have negative effects on cholesterol and heart disease. In fact, among Pacific Islanders, heart disease is remarkably low. These are people who eat all parts of the coconut and have done so for many generations.

Coconut oil also contains Vitamin E, Vitamin K and minerals such as iron.

When you decide to buy some coconut oil, look for organic, virgin and cold-pressed if possible. You can find it in many grocery stores and natural foods stores, as well as online.

Coconut oil will remain solid in colder temperatures. I tend to keep it in a warmer part of my kitchen so that it stays semi-solid and easier to measure. Coconut oil will keep a long time without going rancid, so you really don’t need to refrigerate it.

Comment below and let me know how you use coconut oil!

 

Sources:
http://www.organicfacts.net/organic-oils/organic-coconut-oil/health-benefits-of-coconut-oil.html

http://www.coconutsecret.com/coconuthealthsecrets2.html

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Show me don’t tell me

Posted by on Apr 12, 2011 in Cooking at Home, Wellness Ideas | 0 comments

Recently I’ve been thinking a lot about how coaches can best encourage clients to change behaviors. One of my coaches has been emphasizing encouragement, and I have to agree. Often when we are learning something new, it’s most encouraging to have our coach show us how to change. And it’s even better when a coach can model that behavior for us. I don’t know about you, but just telling me I should change isn’t the same as showing me how easy change can be.

Given all of this, it’s kind of funny that I have a coach/client relationship in my own home. Who is my client? My darling husband (DH)! While he’s 100% supportive of my career, it’s been a slower path for him to make substantive changes in his own health-related choices. As with my other clients, I focus first on introducing foods that are less processed.

Popping on the stove!

Here’s a recent example — microwave popcorn! We both enjoy popcorn as a relatively healthy snack. But my DH has been buying microwave popcorn for years. Gosh it’s just so darn convenient! But then you look at the list of ingredients, and even read things online that may scare you.

On the spur of the moment, I bought some organic popping corn a few weeks ago. I love popcorn popped on the stove, and I thought I might be the only one making the effort at home. No problem. I brought it home and popped my favorite recipe right away. Not surprisingly, the smell drew some interest and we shared the freshly popped goodness. Just a day or so later, DH asked me to remind him how to make fresh popcorn. (Yay!)

But the best part of the whole experience was hearing my darling husband say, “Y’know … we probably should give away all that microwave popcorn. It’s just nowhere near as tasty as the fresh stuff. And it’s all full of chemicals and other yucky stuff!”

So this health coach was reminded again … show me the new way … don’t just tell me!

Here’s my popcorn “recipe” … Really just guidelines.

1/4-1/3 cup unpopped popcorn
1-2 tablespoons coconut oil
Seasonings – I like fresh cracked pepper and sea salt

Pick a large saucepan with a tightly fitting lid. Warm your oil with one piece of unpopped corn over medium to high heat. Be sure the lid fits tightly to keep heat and oil in the pan.

When the oil is hot, the single kernel will pop. Before you add the remaining popcorn, add your seasonings to the oil. Then add the remaining popcorn and close the lid again. Shake the saucepan a bit to get the oil evenly distributed. The popcorn should begin to pop, and you’ll want to keep a close watch over its process. Do not leave the stove while the popcorn is popping! Shake the saucepan occasionally during the whole cooking process.

When you stop hearing popping, the popcorn is finished. You should have a saucepan full of popped popcorn within 4-5 minutes. Pour it into a bowl (or bowls if sharing) and enjoy!

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Mighty Miso Soup

Posted by on Jan 10, 2011 in Cooking at Home, Recipes | 0 comments

Do you enjoy Miso Soup at your favorite Japanese restaurant? I know I do! And it’s surprisingly easy to make at home. I love the versatility and ideas that are part of this recipe too!

Prep Time: 5-10 minutes
Cooking Time: 10-15 minutes
Yield: 4-5 servings

Ingredients:

4-5 cups spring water
1-2 inch strip of wakame, rinsed and soaked 5 minutes in 1 cup of water until softened
1-2 cups thinly sliced vegetables of your choice (see notes)
2-3 teaspoons barley miso
2 scallions, finely chopped

Directions:

  1. Chop soaked wakame.
  2. Discard soaking water or use on houseplants for a boost of minerals.
  3. Place water and wakame in a soup pot and bring to a boil.
  4. Add root vegetables first and simmer gently for 5 minutes or until tender.
  5. Add leafy vegetables and simmer for 2-3 minutes.
  6. Remove about 1/2 cup of liquid from pot and dissolve miso into it. Return it to the pot.
  7. Reduce heat to very low; do not boil or simmer miso broth.
  8. Allow soup to cook 2-3 minutes.
  9. Garnish with scallions and serve.

Note: Any combination of vegetables can be used in miso soup. Here are some classic combinations:

  • onion-daikon: cleansing
  • onion-carrot-shiitake mushroom-kale: mildly sweet
  • onion-winter squash-cabbage: great in wintertime
  • leek-corn-broccoli: great in summertime

Variations:

  • Add cooked grains at the start of making the soup. They will become nice and soft.
  • Add a tablespoon of uncooked quinoa or millet at the beginning and let it cook with vegetables for 20 minutes.
  • Add cubed tofu toward the end.
  • Add bean sprouts toward the end.
  • Season with 1/2 teaspoon ginger juice for an interesting twist.
  • If using dry shiitake mushrooms, let them soak for 20 minutes, slice and add at the beginning.

Enjoy with friends!!

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Five tips for eating “clean”

Posted by on Jan 9, 2011 in Cooking at Home, Wellness Ideas, Why Organic | 0 comments

Recently, a friend and Twitter follower mentioned that she’s beginning to “eat clean.” And that she was really nervous because it’s such a big departure from her previous eating habits. Perfect inspiration for some blogging … ;->

So what does “eating clean” mean? And why do I keep putting it in quotes? Clean eating is about eliminating the majority of chemical-laden, heavily processed foods from our diets. It’s about focusing on whole foods and knowing what’s in the foods we eat. It’s the idea that if your grandmother or great-grandmother wouldn’t have been able to identify a food, it’s not a clean choice.

Clean eating also means cooking at home more than eating out, which can be a real challenge for folks who haven’t done a lot of cooking lately. I know because in my adult life I haven’t been the primary cook in my home – and it takes practice to cook yummy stuff!

1. Practice cooking at home. Almost anything you make mostly from scratch is a whole lot cleaner than restaurant or fast-food meals! I’d recommend starting with a good old-fashioned soup – especially since we’re heading from fall into winter and soups just feel so good right now.

  • Here’s a Slow Cooker Chicken Barley Stew that sounds quick and yummy.
  • This Easy Breezy Soup recipe offers you a lot of options. It’s a great way to be sure not to waste any of your vegetables too. I’d add some canned (and rinsed) beans to it as well.

2. Add lots and lots more vegetables to your meals. You can steam, saute, roast a whole bundle of veggies on Sundays and then use them during the week for lunches and dinners.

3. Get comfortable with whole grains. An easy place to start is quinoa (say “keen-wah”). It’s versatile, quick and delicious. You definitely want to toast it before boiling to get that nuttier flavor – don’t worry all the directions will be on the package!

  • Follow KeenOnQuinoa on Twitter and read her blog for ideas
  • I often take my latest veggies (see number 2!) and add some quinoa to them before re-heating.
  • Quinoa is also great to make a green salad more hearty. Just put some cooked and cooled quinoa on top of whatever salad greens and veggies you’re planning!

4. Every clean eater needs a reward sometimes. My choice is dark chocolate treats because they are generally low in sugar and high in anti-oxidants. It’s important to long-term change to ensure you never feel deprived! Try Gnosis Chocolate if you want to really taste some amazing stuff!

5. Water – water – water. Hydration is so important for our bodies. And most people are way more dehydrated that we imagine. In fact, thirst is one of the last signals of dehydration … not one of the first. So if you are thirsty, you already have a lot of hydration catching up to do.

Buy a filtering pitcher and use water from your tap. Get some reusable non-plastic bottles and keep them full. Never leave home without them. Sometimes drinking from a bottle (whatever size and shape work for you) is easier than pouring glasses. It’s really a personal preference, so experiment and see what makes it easy for you to hydrate.

At first, drinking a lot of water means you spend a little (or a lot) of extra time in the bathroom. Persist and your body will begin to manage the process more efficiently. Just focus on the benefits your body is receiving!

In conclusion:
Every change is made up of a series of small steps. You’ll succeed every day that you move forward even a little. As Yoda says, “Do or do not. There is no try.

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