Sunday, July 24, 2011

Store Bought vs. Homemade

I'm all for convenience. Really. Eden organic canned beans get me through many a quick fix. Bob's Red Mill brown rice farina can't be beat in this heat. Just cook it up in 3 minutes. Coconut Bliss ice cream - I am so happy to grab a pint rather than even attempt to make my own. (Mint chip is my current favorite, in case you're wondering.)

Cookies have been a sore spot with me for a long time. I adore cookies. Always have. Unless one of these conscious companies starts making some, the best bet is to make your own. There used to be some with decent ingredients out there. Frookies originally had the Froo in their name because they sweetened their fun creations with fruit juice. Then they sold out to cane sugar. It's cheaper. Likewise, Health Valley had an amaranth graham cookie that was sweetened with rice syrup. Sadly they sold out too.

Of course homemade treats like cookies, cakes and pies are always going to be superior in quality than the boxed varieties. I even did my own comparison one Thanksgiving with pie crusts and the one I did completely form scratch won hands down over the two with almost the exact ingredients that came from the healthy grocery store's freezer.

I can't skimp on quality when it comes to ingredients. Cane sugar is evil to my system and I will avoid treats rather than suffer for the next couple of weeks, so homemade it is. When I have time I'll make a batch of something I'm in the mood for and then put the rest in the freezer. This works especially well with both cookies and cookie dough. Just be sure and use up what you made within 6 months or it can freezer burn and taste odd.

Do a search for some of my favorite treat recipes that are posted here on this blog. (If you are on the blog site there is a little search box to the right above my picture.) It's a great time for cold blueberry pie with chocolate/vanilla coconut bliss ice cream!

And K. thanks for following along - The man melted away with the heatwave not to be heard from again, but I'm sure there is something sweeter on the way.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

The Front and The Back - You Gotta Look at Both

"Every front has a back and every back has a front," said one of my teachers. "The bigger the front, the bigger the back."

Well that sort of seems logical right. You have not met a person yet who only had a front. There are always consequences to actions so the initial action is a front and what comes of it is a back. That is also true with food. In addition foods have a front and a back in what they offer. There are good attributes and lousy ones.

For example, if you eat some watermelon this weekend and enjoy its cooling benefits, it's low sugar content, it's vitamins A and C and potassium, you would think watermelon is all good. However if you are someone with weak digestion, it will make it weaker. If you have a damp condition it will make it more damp and you will suffer on the watermelon backside. Men, watermelon isn't so manly either. It can inhibit semen production.

Or lets look at broccoli. You might have been told how good broccoli is for you so you decide to eat some every day like insurance. After all it has twice the vitamin C as an orange and as much calcium as a glass of milk in just a single serving. The back side to broccoli is that if you eat too much of it, it can inhibit iodine absorption. This can lead to you feeling weak, tired, depressed and gaining some weight.

As you can see from these two examples that healthy doesn't mean just eating healthy foods. Healthy means balance and learning how to create that. If you eat too many sour fruits, you are likely to get a tummy ache. If that has happened to you when you were young, you are most likely mindful of how much you eat each season. If you have ever fasted, you might have binged sometime after. There is always a front and a back. Get balance and then things get easier, your energy soars, your moods are stable and you can think from a whole new perspective and create your life to be better each day.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Guest Blog by Oprah writer Aine McAteer

This is a guest blog by Aine McAteer

Celebrating Citrus:

Otherwise known as the sunshine fruits, citrus fruits cross cultural and culinary boundaries to be revered as staples in cuisines around the globe. Almost any dish can benefit from a touch or more of their juice, pulp or zest and personally I hardly put a dish on the table that isn’t in some way touched by a little bit of citrus magic.
The application of citrus extends far beyond the kitchen – what other substance can add pzazz to your gin and tonic, cook your fish without it having to touch a flame, flavour your salad dressing, clean the stains on your tablecloth, cleanse and disinfect your dishes and kitchen surfaces, help heal your sore throat, alleviate your hangover after a night of indulgence, keep your body healthy and alkaline and then humbly sit and look beautiful in your fruit bowl – yes I’m talking about the lemon. It’s close cousin the lime can do nearly as well, but may not spring to mind as readily.
From a health point of view, citrus is notoriously high in Vitamin C, so can be used to help ward off or treat the common cold or flu. Lemons and limes are detoxifiers and help cleanse the liver, so they’re excellent after indulging in a heavy meal or fried foods. Lemon juice is a dieuretic and can give relief with bladder and kidney problems or water retention. Not to mention keeping your blonde tresses lightened and the juice of a lemon mixed with a little rose water is an excellent treatment for acne.
Having lived and worked in places like Florida and California, I’m often fortunate enough to be able to get my morning juice straight from the orange tree, or pick my own lemons or limes for my culinary creations. I was at a party in Hawaii once and for dessert everyone was indulging in the most luscious looking Key Lime Pie. Being lactose intolerant, I refrained but when I got home I picked a basketful of limes from the tree that was growing in the garden where I lived and made the most delicious sugar and dairy free lime pie, which I called my “Kauai Lime Pie”.
One kitchen gadget I wouldn’t be without is my microplane zester. If you can’t find one, a good grater will usually have a zester or I’ve even been known to peel my citrus zest off with a potato peeler and finely mince it. The flavor of the citrus is concentrated in the zest and it makes a lovely addition to many dishes from salads to cookies.

Kauai Lime Pie:


1 cup crushed digestives or other

plain cookies

3⁄4 cup very finely chopped or ground brazil nuts

1 teaspoon finely grated lime zest

1⁄3 cup rice syrup

1⁄4 cup coconut oil


500 g (1 lb) organic firm tofu

1/3 – ½ cup lime juice

2⁄3 cup maple syrup

1⁄2 cup coconut cream skimmed from

the top of an unshaken can of coconut milk

1 heaped tablespoon kudzu or arrowroot

Preheat the oven to 190°C (375°F, Gas Mark 4) and lightly grease the base and sides of a 20 cm (8 in) springform pan or pie dish.
To make the base, thoroughly combine the crushed biscuits, almond meal and lime zest in a mixing bowl. Add the rice syrup and melted coconut oil and mix thoroughly. Press most of the mixture into the base of the prepared tin and, as best you can, press the remainder up the sides of the tin.
To make the filling, combine all the ingredients in a blender and purée until smooth. Pour over the pie base and bake for 45 minutes. Allow to cool completely, then chill for at least 3 hours or overnight before serving.
This pie is delicious as is, or serve it topped with fruit purée. I particularly like a combination of fresh berries with the citrus flavour of the pie.
To make a “no bake” pie, you can omit the kuzu or arrowroot from the filling and instead add 1/3 cup melted coconut oil and 1 Tbs. lecithin granules. Set aside in the fridge until set.
Other ground nuts, such as cashews or hazelnuts, can be used in place of the almond meal.
Vary the amount of lime juice and sweetener used in the filling, depending on your personal taste. If you prefer a sweeter taste, add more rice syrup or maple syrup.
If you like, add a little almond essence to the base for a nuttier flavour. Or try 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract.
To serve this pie with a fresh berry topping, dissolve 1 teaspoon of kudzu or arrowroot in 1⁄3 cup of cold apple juice and
add to 375 g (12 oz) of fresh berries, such as blueberries or raspberries. Place in a small saucepan, slowly bring to
the boil and simmer for 1 minute until thickened. Spread on top of the pie and chill before serving.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Get Your Flat Belly For Real!

I have a wonderful surprise guest blogger for you tomorrow. I'm postponing her post for a day simply because I got all riled up reading 10 Flat-Belly Tricks on Yahoo this morning. Some of the advice is great. I love the person with the ball exercises. I just dislike the sub par info like eat whole grain products.

How many times can smart people with letters after their names get it wrong? Grain products will never give you the same benefits as eating the whole grain. My friend Lauren is living proof that the whole grains will make your belly flat while the grain products - well lets just say they can add to having a little pooch. Lauren is a slender, active, beautiful woman who just wanted a flat tummy. In one week of switching her breakfast from dry hard cereal to soft cooked millet or rice or quinoa, she got the flat stomach of her teens. Not kidding. I could get Lauren over here to tell you herself. (LG are you reading this?)
We both still eat some bread, cookies, cakes, etc. made with good ingredients. (well I really can't say for LG's treats, just my own...) but when you eat those things as a tiny little itty bitty part of the diet and the major part as whole foods - voila, slender hips, flat belly, great skin. Seriously. Just try it.

Then they talked about salt and again got it so wrong. There is a huge difference in salt. Recently I got yelled at for suggesting my friend let go of the giant red box of Kosher salt in favor of sea salt. He was right that I should not have said anything. He wasn't asking for my opinion. I really just wanted to help and even beyond that I was just trying to connect 'cuz I really like the guy. Instead I just pushed him farther away, so lesson learned - don't help the ones you love I guess just be the example. The only problem with that is if they have no idea how huge a difference little ingredients like that can be, they won't know to even experiment to see how they feel. You can get Kosher sea salt, by the way, and that might be the best of all. Sea salt is food for the body and other salts that have been stripped down to NaCl as purely as possible become nothing more than a constrictive flavoring agent. It's good for melting snow and ice but not so good for your cardiovascular system or your belly. (I wish I knew the magic food to melt the above mentioned man's heart...) There are so many sea salts and each is different as well. Once I found an Italian sea salt in a glass jar that I used for years and loved. Celtic sea salt is too heavy for me and I get cranky. The Pink sea salts are nice but I have not yet found one as good as that Italian one for my taste. I know chefs who swear by Maldon but again, I didn't like it as well.

Salt does make a difference because the stripped variety will help you retain water and fat and the sea salt that is a food for your body will help you stay slender and have that flat stomach you are looking for. It's just one component though so don't expect miracles unless you are willing to take on a few things. Whole grains and sea salt are a great start.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Summer Reading

Well I figure if you are having fun getting a dose of healthy inspiration from my very own Tips and Stories and terrific recipes....
Then you definitely ought to be reading Molly Jong-Fast's latest work The Social Climber's Handbook. It's still my favorite read this summer.

But maybe that is because I still need to open the wonderful Sue Shapiro's Overexposed:

Her other books are definitely worth reading. Last summer I even went to a Speed Shrinking party she threw with her book Speed Shrinking. Another fun fast tale to take to the beach with your iced Kukicha tea and Mint Maple Lemonade!!