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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Buzzkill or Mindful Consumption?

Posted by on Aug 3, 2012 in On My Soapbox, Wellness Ideas | 0 comments

Lately I have been feeling a lot of buzzkill vibes. I keep hearing people say this or that food is “totally delicious” and is making all kinds of great nutritional claims. Maybe it’s my marketing background or the cynic inside me, but I just don’t believe the marketing spin or reductionist nutritional claims of processed food products today. I am here to own my buzzkill vibe because I believe it’s going to keep me healthy for a long, long, long, long time.

Items that need a little buzzkill in my book:

The cookies called WhoNu …

The fast food chains, especially [insert your favorite here] …

Pretty much any food item sold in a bag or a box …

Comfort foods that ultimately don’t make our waistbands (or our guilt complexes) more comfortable …

Food companies survive on consumer gullibility and our desire “not to know” what’s really going into our bodies. Is that the way I want to live my life? Is that the way I think I will be able to live the BEST kind of life for me? I support everyone’s right to choose whatever food they prefer. I just encourage everyone to be mindful – spend 2 minutes reading that label or Googling the ingredients of your favorite chicken strips. And then choose what you consume.

If ignoring the truth gives us a buzz, I will pass on that one. My buzz in life is feeling so much energy I can skip the afternoon nap. My buzz in life is craving exercise and laughter instead of cookies. My buzz in life is making choices today that will enable me to feel this good in thirty more years. I choose not to let mindlessness hinder the fullness of life I deserve to experience.

What buzz do you choose – mindful or mindless?

Ready to get started being more mindful? 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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My client called me a “hater” today …

Posted by on Jul 9, 2012 in On My Soapbox, Wellness Ideas | 4 comments

Okay, so it was really “Cheerios hater,” which seems a little less harsh. And I feel inspired to explain that one to the world at large – what is it about Cheerios that I have an issue with? Whether you think I’m a hater or not is up to you …

If you look at the label, one cup of Cheerios has just one gram of sugar and three grams of fiber. Sometimes I use the ratio of fiber to sugar as a way to judge what cereal to suggest. So if that was my only judgement, I’d have to say Cheerios isn’t all that bad. 100 calories, more fiber than sugar, no fat … what more could a healthy eating person wish for?

I’m not the only one discussing this question right now. CNN Health just posted an article today called, “How to choose a healthy breakfast cereal.” (Hint … no Cheerios on the list … )

Well … what are my two main reasons for disrespecting Cherrios?

1. First four ingredients: Whole grain oats (includes the oat bran), modified corn starch, trisodium phosphate and wheat starch. Ingredients are always listed in the order of amount – so the ingredient which makes up the largest part of the cereal is listed first. But there’s no way to know if the largest part is 99% or 30% … it’s just never listed.

Yup, whole grain oats is a positive. A lot of breakfast cereal is still processed through equipment that extrudes it into the round “o” shape … or flakes or whatever. So it bears little resemblance to actual whole oats (think oatmeal here). But fundamentally this is an important first ingredient.

Modified corn starch is corn whose fundamental properties have been changed so that it can be used simply as a thickener, stabilizer or emulsifier. Although I have no proof, most corn in this type of application is likely to be genetically modified (GMO). Because the corn has been genetically altered, our bodies aren’t familiar with how to process it and best draw any available nutrients from it. Then it’s modified again into corn starch, so our bodies aren’t familiar with how to process that either. This kind of long-term confusion can be damaging to our digestion.

Tripotassium phosphate is a potassium salt of phosphoric acid used as an antioxidant synergist, buffer and emulsifier in food. Potassium and phosphate are naturally occurring compounds in our own bodies, so their are few known side effects. But again this is the third ingredient on the list and it just doesn’t sound appetizing to me.

Wheat starch is wheat flour (already a refined ingredient) that has been further processed to remove the proteins from it. Like the last two ingredients, this is used as a stabilizer or thickener. It’s just there so that the “o” stays in an “o” shape. Or so that the “o” doesn’t rot too quickly.

2. Processed, processed, processed: Breakfast cereal can be one of the most highly processed foods we choose during our day. Of course there are cereal choices that may be less processed, but most cereal has been smooshed, mashed, baked, and coated for hours and hours. Check out this video from the folks at How It’s Made. It’s not a whole food like oatmeal, for example. If you are trying to make healthier choices, you want to get closer to whole foods as the basis of every meal.

If not Cheerio’s, then what? Let’s just say that breakfast cereal is something you need to keep in your daily meal plans – there’s no doubting its convenience! What would I pick in this case? Well, here’s an option that isn’t marketed by a huge company spending gazillions of dollars on advertising. Even more important, it’s possible to pronounce the entire ingredient list. Plus it’s nutrition label tells me there’s 0 grams of sugar and 6 grams of fiber – that’s a good ratio in my book. Call me old-fashioned, but if I’m going to buy something in a box I’d prefer a choice like this. While it’s not technically whole food, it has more redeeming value and a whole lot less hype on the front of the box!

 

I could actually write quite a bit more about breakfast cereal … but I must get going to my day and probably you feel the same way! Let me know what your favorite breakfast choices are – whole foods or not – I’m curious to know. And thanks for reading this far so you know I’m not really a hater!

Ready to get started making healthier 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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