Monday, October 31, 2011

Mental Well-Being

I know that taking a 21-day organizing challenge may seem unrelated to this blog, but I really do think it is relevant. I advocate healing through not only diet, but lifestyle. Uncluttering our physical spaces automatically clears up some mental space. We naturally feel better when our houses are in order. I have to admit that organization isn't one of my strong points. I feel good when I'm organized and I am constantly trying. But I have a ways to go. I've always known if I broke it down into manageable pieces, I could make much more progress. And this challenge does just that, along with giving me specific instructions to follow. I am excited about it! But not so excited to show you my before and after photos. Please don't lose respect for me. My diet is one of my strong points. My organization skills, not so much :-) Thanks, Katie at momHow, for the inspiration!

Day #1 - Junk drawers



Oh my goodness, I feel so much better! See you tomorrow for Challenge #2 - Cleaning off the computer desk-top. This will be a much faster project for me!

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Healthy Halloween Treats

I'm so excited to make this to take to my daughters' classroom Halloween Parties on Monday...
Babybel cheese for the head, green apples for the body, fruit leather for the legs and antennas (Costco sells Stretch Island fruit leather which has no additional sugar in it), & a little bit of white cheese for the eyes. I'm not sure what the green is on the eyes, but I'll probably use some green grapes - or maybe even green apple for that part.

And here's a recipe for some cookies that I'll be making as well. I made them without dates the other day because I ran out of time to grab them at the store before I needed to make the cookies for another Halloween party. I thought I could get away with it because we are used to our dessert being sweetened with just fruit. I wasn't surprised that the other kids wouldn't touch them. But even my daughters didn't like them. So I'm going to add back in the dates and I'm sure they'll be a hit again.

Banana Nut Cookies

1/4 cup pitted dates
1/4 cup almond milk (or other milk of your choice)
1 cup walnuts
1 cup pecans
1 cup grated coconut
4 ripe bananas
2 teaspoons cinnamon

Cover dates in almond milk and soak overnight. Place the nuts and coconut in a food processor with the metal S blade and grind to a coarse meal. (I used a Vitamix.) Add bananas, dates (with the soaking almond milk) and cinnamon and mix to form the dough. Take the thick mixture out of the food processor and spoon onto a nonstick cookie sheet. Bake in the oven at a low heat (250 degrees) for 30 minutes.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Zucchini Pasta

As I've mentioned, I have been experimenting with many raw dishes lately. I am going for all raw, with a few tiny exceptions. So 95% raw, I would say. I seriously feel soooo much better eating this way, and my diet was healthy before. In the meantime, I am finding some kitchen tools that are in order to have in my raw kitchen. So the other day I ordered a veggie spiralizer to be able to make raw "pasta" dishes (amongst all the other things it can do). It came in the mail today and, oh my, we had fun playing with that little kitchen tool! Not very expensive and hours of fun. I made the recipe below and it was YUM! Too bad I didn't catch this recipe in time to use my over abundance of zucchini and tomatoes from my garden. And the fresh basil. This will be a GREAT summer dish. But it is still super good now!

I took a picture of it because I know my blog is lacking pictures, but when I post this picture you will know why the lack of pictures. I need to learn some things about taking pictures of food, so bare with me! At least you'll get the idea of what I mean by pasta. Doesn't that spiralized zucchini look just like pasta? And can I mention again that it tasted wonderful?!

Zucchini Pasta

Ingredients:2-3 zucchini (spiral cut)
2 ripe tomatoes
1 cup sun dried tomatoes
½ red pepper
10-15 fresh basil leaves
¾ to 1 teaspoon sea salt
fresh cracked black pepper
½ cup olive oil
Directions: Start by using a vegetable spiralizer to transform the zucchini into gluten free pasta. Drizzle with olive oil and a dash of garlic powder then toss to coat well. Set noodles aside.

Make marinara by putting all ingredients except olive oil in the Vitamix and blend. Once mixture is smooth add olive oil through the top of the blender while the blades are turning. Blend well.

Top spiral cut zucchini with marinara and chopped fresh basil. Serve.

What We've Learned

I've completed my courses with the Institute of Integrative Nutrition! The diploma came in the mail today, wahoo! It has been quite the amazing ride and I've gained so much insight and knowledge. Most importantly, I've been able to guide my family and myself to better health through experimenting with many of the different principles I have learned. In the process I've become more clear about other intolerances we have, besides white flour and refined sugar. After quite a learning curve (and quite the time letting go of the fact that I had pounds and pounds of stored wheat in my basement!), we're finally getting into the groove of eating gluten-free. So any recipes I post from here on out will be gluten-free. I am amazed that all of the gluten-free recipes we've tried have been amazingly delicious. Pizza crust, pancakes, waffles, and muffins have all been given a big thumbs up by the family! In fact, I would dare say they taste better than the previous recipes made with wheat. And we haven't had many tummy-ache complaints at all since switching over.

We are also sensitive to some dairy. I have one daughter who has reflux problems when she eats cheese sticks, but can have a moderate amount of other cheese. All of my daughters are slightly sensitive to milk and yogurt, but one, in particular, has a severe behavioral reaction to it. (I mean, severe! :-) So we've decided to keep those dairy products out of the house. We didn't drink much milk before, but we were experimenting with different types of milk (raw, organic) to see if it made a difference. And it didn't. Milk, is milk, is milk for us.

Another thing we've learned is that we do better when we keep the sugar grams lower. Regardless of whether the sugar is refined or from natural sources. We experimented with honey, maple syrup and other sweeteners over the summer, and let's just say we experienced many negative symptoms! One thing that happened was that our immunity went way down and we had the stomach flu twice over the summer! Usually we get it once a year in the Fall/Winter. One of my girls, who had not wet her bed for 2-3 years, all of the sudden started wetting her bed. Once I made the connection between higher sugar intake and everything that was happening, and took the sugars back out, she stopped wetting her bed. Yay! We also had some behavioral issues that were more pronounced in one of our daughters. We collected enough data to decide that we are good with using fruit for sweetening, as well as stevia - for smoothies and other things that are not cooked. And everything has evened back out. Whew, it was kind of a rough summer. But I think the experimenting was worth it. We're more clear on what we need to avoid. And we've been able to find other things that we can eat that taste good and don't make us feel deprived. It feels good to be clear! And graduated ;-)

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Not So Chilly Chili

Through much experimentation, I keep coming back to eating a high raw diet. I think that eating a diet of whole, unprocessed, cooked foods is certainly healthy - and works for many people. But I feel so much better, physically and emotionally, eating most of my food raw. It's a hard lifestyle to keep, but one that becomes feasible as you practice and change habits. I've gotten more successful at it over time.
Anyways, I recently tried a raw chili that I thought was delicious and so I made it to take to our Chili Cook-Off last night. I didn't enter it in the contest, but I always bring my own food, so that was my dish for me. The fun part was that I had some friends who have recently become interested in the raw way of eating and we all ate together. Yay. I didn't have to be the only one eating my own "weird" food :-)
I got the recipe from a Raw Food Challenge that my husband and I did a few weeks ago. I was excited to find quite a few recipes that worked for me through that challenge. I am sure you can warm it up slightly (to make it feel a little more like the real thing and because warmer food is always appealing in the chilly weather) and it would still taste yummy. I haven't done that because I think it's so good the way it is.

Not So Chilly Chili

1 cup crimini mushrooms, roughly chopped (I omit)
1 stalk celery, diced small
1 Roma tomato, diced
1/2 cup red onion, diced small
1 red bell pepper, diced small
1 cup carrot, diced small
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup sun-dried tomatoes, soaked and pureed
1/2 cup almonds, soaked 6-8 hours, roughly chopped
1 tbsp dried oregano
2 tbsp chili powder
1 tbsp cumin
1 tbsp Ume plum vinegar (I just use apple cider vinegar)
Splash apple cider vinegar

In a large bowl, mix all ingredients together. Adjust seasoning to
desired taste.

That's one way to test a new recipe!

We had a Chili Cook-Off/Trunk-or-Treat activity at our church last night. (Where the kids go trick-or-treating by going from trunk-to-trunk of the cars instead of house-to-house.) I had a new chili recipe I wanted to try so I could finally experiment with using my beans from my food storage rather than canned beans Well, time got the best of me and I didn't have the time to do it. So I used the canned beans. In the end we were one of the winners of the contest! So that's why I say in my heading, "that's one way to test a new recipe!" :-) It's pretty simple. Here it is:

Basic Chili

1 onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, diced
1 pound grass-fed ground beef
4 cups cooked beans
1 can tomato paste
4 cups water + additional as desired for consistency
2 teaspoons to 1 tablespoon sea salt, plus additional to taste
1/2 teaspoon black pepper, plus additional to taste
1-1/2 to 2 tablespoons cumin, or to taste
1 tablespoon paprika, or to taste
1 teaspoon oregano
1 teaspoon thyme
garnishes: sour cream, diced onions, chopped cilantro, shredded cheese, etc.

Brown together in a medium or large stockpot over medium to medium-high heat: ground beef, onions, and garlic.
Combine the tomato paste and water in a 4-cup measurer, and whisk until smooth. Add to the meat mixture. Add the beans and all spices. Bring to a simmer, then turn down heat and let simmer for 20 to 30 minutes to develop flavor. Adjust seasonings.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Loving the Kale Chips

We bought a dehydrator over the summer and I have been experimenting. I love it! So my first project was kale chips. I bought some yummy kale chips from our farmer's market and then duplicated the recipe on my own. Well worth the price savings! And my two little ones, especially, loved it. Here is the recipe:

"Cheezy" Kale Chips

1 bunch kale
Juice from 1 lemon
1 cup raw cashews
1 medium red pepper
Sea salt to taste
Optional 1/4 c nutritional yeast

Wash the kale, remove stalks, and tear into "chip" size pieces. Put all the ingredients into a Vitamix or food processor & blend. Coat kale leaves with the mixture in a big bowl.

Put on dehydrator screens and dehydrate until done, flipping once after a couple of hours. Or, bake in a 300F oven for 20 minutes, flipping, and then baking another 10 minutes or so.

You can also bake in a 200F oven with the door ajar, around 45 minutes to 1 hour. It will take longer but the results will be closer to that of a dehydrator. Keep your eye on them and flip periodically, to keep from burning.