Tag Archives: healthy

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Source: realsimple.com via Carey on Pinterest

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This is it! This is the dinner we had at our Pinterest Party! Incredibly easy and so, so flavorful.  Here's the gist:

You rub down boneless, skinless chicken breasts with a yummy blend of spices (paprika, cumin, etc.) then cook it either on the stove or on the bbq (which is what we did).  Meanwhile "cook" your couscous (just pour boiling water over it, let it sit a few minutes then fluff with a fork) and add fresh veggies such as snap peas, cherry tomatoes, lemon zest and basil.  Slice the chicken and serve over the couscous.

Seriously, I don't know how to communicate how good it is and quite healthy.  Get the full recipe here and make it this weekend!

 

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Continuing with our Granola Week, and all it’s crunchiness, I will reveal to you my personal challenge to myself for 2012.  I don’t call them resolutions, I don’t like that word.  One of the bloggers I read calls it Project 2012 and I really like that because that means it’s something I’m going to be working on all year as opposed to something I’m going to force my self into cold-turkey on January 1st.  It’s about adopting good habits, one little change at a time.

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So here it is, my Project 2012… eat my colors!

 

The last 2 years I have made a concentrated effort to eat more pure food, less processed food, fewer chemicals.  And it paid off.  Now that I have a decent grip on that, I want to concentrate on upping my fruits and veggies intake in 2012.  It’s not that I don’t eat any, I think I do a better job than some people I know, but I want to do better.  I think there’s room for improvement. 

Why does it matter?

Number one reason, hands down, is that colorful foods contain essential nutrients, antioxidants, & phytonutrients that help your fuel your body and help it fight disease and inflammation, including DNA breakdown and cancer.  You can take supplements to try to get these disease-fighters into your body but the best way to do it is through the food that you eat.

How do you guarantee you are getting the right combo of nutrients?  Eat your colors.

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There are a few exceptions, but in general foods of similar color contain similar nutrients, antioxidants & phytonutrients.  At the end of this post I will include some good articles on which colors will give you which phytonutrients but here a few guidelines to get you started (via Fitness Magazine and American Dietetic Assoc.):

Green-   protects your vision, protects against UV damage, fight depressions, and defends against certain cancers. Try avocados, apples, grapes, honeydew, melons, kiwi, limes, artichokes, asparagus, broccoli, green beans, green peppers and leafy greens such as spinach

Red- boosts metabolism, whitens your teeth, increases cardio endurance.  Try cherries, cranberries, pomegranate, red/pink grape fruit, red grapes, watermelon, beets, red onions, red peppers, rhubarb and tomatoes

Yellow- heals wounds, beats bloat, boosts energy and protects skin from free radicals.  Try apricots, grapefruits, pineapples, yellow peppers, yellow corn

Orange- improve memory, prevent breast cancer, boost immune function and improve muscle function.  Try cantaloupe, mangos, papayas, peaches, carrots, and sweet potatoes

Blue/Purple- fight the flu, improves memory, and improves blood flow.  Try blackberries, blueberries, plums, raisins, eggplant, purple cabbage and purple-fleshed potatoes

White- lowers blood pressure and cholesterol, promotes heart heath and may reduce the risk of stomach cancers.  Try bananas, cauliflower, turnips, garlic, ginger, jicama, onions, potatoes

All that just from eating more fruits and veggies!

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I’m going to give it a go, hopefully I can get a little closer to the recommended daily servings!

Here are some great articles if you want to do a little more reading:

In case you missed the announcement yesterday, it’s officially Granola Week around here. 

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This week we are giving some attention to the healthier side of life, maybe adopt some good habits for 2012, and who knows what else!

Today, I thought I’d give you some sites or references to help you explore your “granola-side.”  These are some resources that I have enjoyed lately:

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Joy the Baker and Shutterbean are two food-blogging friends who do a podcast for Homefries.   I wouldn’t exactly call either of them “granola” per se, but like you or me they try to balance it all. So not too long ago they recorded an episode entitled “Embrace Your Inner Hippie” and it was hilarious AND helpful.  They bantered back and forth on subjects like: nut milk, coconut oil and kale chips.  If you are a granola-newbie, this episode is a great place to start.  You can listen to the podcast straight from the website or download it to your media player.

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I stumbled on to Crunchy Betty’s site a few months ago and have really enjoyed it.  She makes a healthful lifestyle seem less stodgy and boring with her wit and very honest articles.  Her focus is on healthy beauty so there is a ton of information on her site for homemade facials, hair masks and household remedies.  She recently wrote an e-book about healthy skin care for acne prone skin.  Lot’s of fun information on her site, be sure to check it out.

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Molly Katzen’s book, The Moosewood Cookbook, was revolutionary when it was published in 1977 because it is “credited with moving healthful vegetarian food from the "fringe" to the center of the American dinner plate.”  My mother cooked from this cookbook, and we are die-hard carnivores.  Molly Katzen’s easy style and delicious recipes can help you get some more veggies on your plate.  Even if you can’t afford the book, her website is full of recipes.

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Some of you may be familiar with simplemom.net, a site all about, well, being a mom.  But you may not know about the offshoot site simpleoranic.net.  It runs tandem with simplemom.net and is all about living an organic lifestyle.  They cover health & nutrition, inspirational stories, living mindfully and more.  It’s a great site for learning how to incorporate organic, chemical living into your lifestyle.  A good place to start would be their 2011 recap.

Hope these resources give you some inspiration!

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That’s right, it’s Granola Week!!  That does not mean we are going to be making cereal all week.  Although there will be a granola recipe on Friday, as promised.  So what does “Granola Week” mean?

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“Granola” is a term often used for folks who embrace things like wheat germ, flax seeds, spirulina, and omega 3 fatty acids.  “Granola” people search out the organic, grass fed, and hormone free foods, make their own laundry soap and weave shoes out of hemp.  There are varying degrees of “going granola” but with the popularity of stores like Trader Joes & Whole Foods, Dr. Oz getting the message out and celebrities touting all sorts of alternative eating lifestyles, “going granola” is very chic these days.

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But let me tell you something, my mamma was “granola” long before it was cool and I grew up eating some weird stuff.  When I was little, every morning I had to take a big spoonful of cod liver oil (and not the cool flavored kind they have now!), I ate peanut butter that was freshly ground in front of my eyes and you could literally peel it off the bread it was so dense.  That is, when I was allowed to eat bread.  There was a whole era that I was only allowed to eat my peel-off-peanut-butter on rice cakes, no bread.  I ate homemade fruit leather (which was convenient since I lived on a fruit farm), puffed millet cereal, 12 vitamin supplements a day and so much more.

Fortunately, my mom also believed in balance so although we did eat really healthy 90% of the time, she also made desserts made with real sugar and butter and pork sausage was always in our fridge.

When I got older, I found myself craving the healthy foods I had grown up with and at the New Year when people are making all sorts of resolutions to eat better, treat their bodies better, I think it’s a good time to give a little nod to “going granola”.  It’s the best time to purge the junk out of our systems and maybe adopt some healthier habits for 2012.

So for today, I want to issue a really simple challenge:  as you eat this week, be mindful of how much packaged, processed food you are consuming.  This was my New Year’s resolution 2 years ago and it really made a difference in my energy and overall health.  I hadn’t realized how reliant I had become on quick, processed food.  Me, the girl who grew up eating fresh, home cooked meals 3 times a day! 

The problem with most packaged, over-processed foods is that they are usually laden with sugar, sodium, preservatives and some other devious ingredients like partially hydrogenated vegetable oil and corn syrup.  In moderation, just about any food is ok, but when these things become a major part of your food intake it can cause trouble.  No, not canWill. 

So I’m asking you to just pay attention.  You don’t have to go through all your cupboards and throw out all your food, unless you want to, that is.  Just be mindful of what your eating, what you are cooking.  Is it a raw, whole ingredient or is it from a box?  Does it have more than 3 ingredients you cannot pronounce or don’t know what they are?  How much sugar and sodium is in it?  How much fat?  Is it good fat or bad fat?  Are there any vegetables or fruits involved in your daily eating?

When I started looking at what I was consuming, I started to change.  I began relying less on the pre-packaged lunches and started making my own quick lunches using whole foods and veggies.  If I did buy a packaged food, I made sure I recognized every ingredient and I wouldn’t buy anything with partially hydrogenated oil in it.

It made a difference.  I started having a bit more energy.  I started craving good-for-me foods instead of junk.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m no angel.  I don’t consider any food “banned”, just limited.  But my ratio of good to not-so-good food went way up and my body thanked me for it.

Just try it!

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Growing up on the farm, eating according to the seasons was just elementary to us.   May meant cherries, because that's when they are growing in Northern CA. July meant the yummiest Independence nectarines, because that's when they were full of sugar from the summer sunshine.  Mom grew peppers and tomatoes in the summer and Grandma grew lettuce in the winter in big raised beds. Eating seasonally just makes sense because that's when food will taste its best.

So when I went to the grocery store and saw these beauties:

... gorgeous Rainbow Swiss Chard, I just had to buy them and make something yummy. So I bought 2 bunches and some of these:

These happen to be spicy cilantro chicken sausages but there are many flavors available and they are all good. And they come fully cooked, so cooking is speedy. If you haven't tried them yet, try the Aidell's brand.  Back to the swiss chard.

I am going to let you in on a dirty little secret...

I use my Iphone in the kitchen a lot. One of my favorite apps is "How to Cook Everything" by Mark Bittman. It is the book, "How to Cook Everything", in digital format.  Mark Bittman writes for the New York Times and this cookbook is a valuable resource and has been a bestseller for years. To have access to the book at any time, like when I 'm wandering around in the grocery store, is such a time saver. I use it all the time.

Now if Ina would come out with a recipe app, my life would be complete.  Please Ina?  Please?

Anyway, when I got home and pulled out my swiss chard, I couldn't remember how to properly trim them up. So I simply looked up "swiss chard" in the app and voila, easy directions and cooking tips.

I washed my swiss chard  (it holds on to sand so rinse well) and started prepping it for the pan. Here's the most important thing to remember about swiss chard:

The stems are significantly thicker and more dense than the leaves. If you are sauteing (which I highly recommend), you need to cut out the thickest part of the stem and chop them up separately than the leaves.

It's not a big deal, it all goes pretty quickly. After you chop the stems and tear up the leaves you will have 2 beautiful piles that look like this:

I also chopped up some garlic, you don't need a picture of that. It's not very exciting. I drizzled some olive oil in a pan and turned the heat to medium.

I added the garlic and a pinch of red pepper flakes and let them soften up for just a minute. Then I added all my bright stems:

Look at all the gorgeous color!  That color means healthy eating!

While the stems softened up, 3-4 minutes, I went to work on the chicken sausage. I cut mine on the bias into medallions.

Why on the bias? 1) I think it's prettier. 2) It creates more surface area. Why do I need more surface area? Because I caramelized my sausages before combining them with the swiss chard. This step is not crucial. If you are in a hurry and don't want to caramelize the sausage, it will not hurt my feelings. Because they are already fully cooked, you can cut them up any old way and throw them in the pan with the swiss chard. It will still be yummy. But I wanted to extract as much flavor as I could:

See that? That lovely browned goodness equals FLAVOR! It makes me happy. So while the swiss chard stems were cooking away, I browned these little sausage nuggets in a smaller pan. Afterward, I cooked the swiss chard leaves.

Right on top of the slightly softened swiss chard stems, I added the swiss chard leaves. Now, don't get scared. I had a huge mound of leaves in the pan.

Looks like they won't all fit, right? No worries, these leaves are going to shrink down significantly. The water will evaporate out, steaming the leaves and creating flavor. It will be OK, trust me.

See what I mean?! It only took 2-3 minutes for the huge pile of leaves to cook down to about 3 cups of greens. Perfect amount.  I checked them for done-ness after bout 3 minutes and they were softened but not quite enough for my taste so I added a glug of white wine and put the lid on for about 2 minutes. You can skip that step if you like, or add chicken stock or water. Or just let them keep cooking with the lid off, they will eventually soften up.   I just wanted to speed things up a bit and the wine does add another layer of flavor.

After the greens were softened to my liking, I added the browned sausage and let it all marry together for a minute or so:

"Bonjour swiss chard!"
"Bonjour chicken sausage!"

And that, my friends, is my easy Swiss Chard and Chicken Sausage.

I should tell you that I added a sprinkle of salt & pepper here and there but don't get carried away with the salt until you have added the sausage to the greens because the sausage tends to have a lot of salt in it already. Best to wait til the end and check for seasoning then.

If you are scared of swiss chard or can't find it in season you can substitute spinach, dandelion greens or any other "greens" you prefer.  Cooking times will vary, just keep an eye on it.

Try it!  You'll love it!

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