Healthchat

Conversations about optimal health.


Habit #4 Prep ahead.

This habit helps with two challenges. This first being what to cook especially on nights when you are tired. The second is produce that can be pricey, dying in your refrigerator before you get a chance to eat it. The answer is planning your menus and prepping your food right after you bring it home.

When I had to feed four children on a budget I used to plan out my menu for about 2 weeks, shop for food every two weeks, buy in bulk as much as I could and then I would do a marathon cooking day, prepping the ingredients and freezing or storing them in the refrigerator. It was a grueling day but it saved me lots of time and money. Plus we ate healthier meals.

I took the same approach with my new healthier eating plan. I plan out two weeks worth of menus then make a list with the needed ingredients. I take my list to the grocery store every two weeks and yes stick to a budget. Then every other Saturday afternoon I spend about 2 hours prepping the fresh produce. One big help is dividing romaine lettuce into leaves, washing and drying them then placing them in a large baggie or container for salads. A second head of romaine is torn and washed and spun dry then put in a second container. I am more likely to make a salad if the greens are washed and ready.

I also travel to my favorite farmers market and pick up produce in season. Here are some ideas on how to prep and preserve it from spoiling. Corn can be shucked and placed in a large baggie. Do not wash it ahead of time. I chop the tops off of beets and cook them until they are fork tender then slice and store in the refrigerator for salads. Tomatoes should sit on a window sill until you are ready to use them. Cucumbers can be peeled, sliced and refrigerated. Carrots, celery, scallions, peppers and radishes are cleaned and cut into dipping sizes. I usually make some hummus and black bean dip to accompany them. Chopping and slicing red onions and garlic are really helpful for quick dinners when I’m tired. Lately I’ve been cutting up a small watermelon and refrigerating it. It makes a great dessert on hot nights.

Finally I make sure I have a healthy sweet snack available. Fresh blueberries and a cut up pineapple are satisfying. Also, I portion almonds and raisins, 1 ounce each combined in a baggie for snacks when I want something sweet. Remember a craving only lasts for about 15 minutes so if you have something healthy prepared you are less likely to run out for ice cream.

The time is well spent because when I need ingredients for a shake they are ready. When I’m craving something sweet I have cut up fruit or an almond raisin snack. Salads are easy. This prep has really helped with sticking to my eating plan.

Try it and share your recipes and prepping techniques. I would love to hear from you.


Are you stuck on the same breakfast?

I don’t know about you but I tend to get in a rut in the morning with the same breakfast everyday. I usually have a protein smoothie before going out to exercise. When the same ingredients are on hand I grab what is easy and make the same boring smoothie. However in order to stay on a healthy eating regimen I need variety.

Summer is a great time to shake up my dull tastebuds by adding fresh, local produce into my morning routine. So today I invited some friends and family to come try some new smoothie recipes. They were pleasantly surprised by the variety of ingredients and flavors. The smoothie bar was a success and I’m sharing our favorites with you. Buy local as much as possible and make some new healthy, delicious breakfast shakes. Now you have no excuse.

Chocolate Banana Peanut Butter Protein Smoothie

1 cup Lactose Free Milk

1 Frozen banana

1Tblsp pure peanut butter

1 scoop Chocolate Protien Powder, or Nutrilite Organics Plant Protein Powder Chocolate flavor

1 tsp cocoa powder

1/2 cup ice.

Blend on high until smooth.

Raspberry Beet Protein Smoothie

1 baby beet, steamed and skinned.

1/2 cup Coconut Milk Yogurt

1/2 cup fresh red raspberries

1/2 cup Coconut Water

1/2 cup ice cubes

Splash of real Vanilla

1 scoop Protein Powder or Nutrilite Organics Plant Protein Powder, Vanilla

Blend all ingredients in blender on high until smooth.

Green Superfood Smoothie

1 frozen banana

1 cup Soy or Coconut Milk

1/2 cup green seedless grapes

1/2 cup fresh pineapple chunks

1 scoop powdered greens or Nutrilite Organics Green Superfood

Blend all ingredients on high until smooth.

Pear Raspberry Collagen Smoothie

1/2 large Anjou Pear cored.

1/2 cup red raspberries

1/4 cup ice cubes

1/2 cup cold water

2 tsp honey

1 envelope Collagen Peptides or N by Nutrilite #nofilter Collagen Peptides

Blend all ingredients on high until smooth.

Then here are two recipes for coolers which are thirst quenching on hot afternoons.

Jasmine Green Tea w Mint

Cover 12 stems of fresh mint with 48 ounces of boiling water. Steep for 15 minutes. Remove stems and stir in 1/3 cup of sugar.

Steep 1 Jasmine Green Tea bag in 12 ounces of boiling water for 5 minutes. Add to mint tea and adjust for sweetness. Pour over ice and enjoy!

Watermelon Immunity Cooler

1 cup watermelon

1 cup Black Cherry Juice, no sugar added

1 cup ice

1 scoop of Immunity powder, or Nutrilite Organics Immunity Superfood

Blend all ingredients on high until smooth. Pour into glass, sit on porch and enjoy!


Treating the Holiday Food Hangover

You know how the movies always treat a hangover with some weird concoction that is based on raw eggs and worchestershire? Well food hangovers during the holidays beg for treatment as well. After the Thanksgiving all-you-can stuff buffet which ended with trying every dessert on the table you feel horrible the next day. Your stomach is crampy and your eyes are puffy. Food hangovers can be every bit as painful as alcohol hangovers.

So, I’ve developed a quick reboot that settles down my system and prepares my body for the next holiday onslaught. Hopefully, it will also dampen the temptation to overeat rich food again.
Invest in a basic juicer. Anything that will handle raw fruit and vegetables with the peels. Then follow the recipes the next day after a night at the buffet.

> First major tip, drink lots of water with fresh lemon throughout the day.

> Breakfast with Pear Nog which was published a few years ago on this blog. Search for it under Healthy Recipes. It’s a combination of greek nonfat plain yogurt, two ripe pears, plain soy or almond milk and a scoop of plant protein powder. I like to flavor it with vanilla and cinnamon.

>For midday I like to eat a clear soup with chicken broth, tofu, carrots, and snow peas. Our local Chinese eatery makes a great soup like this without msg.

> When I’m hungry again I combine peeled limes and oranges with a handful of fresh cranberries, carrots and apples in the juicer. Experiment with the combinations and quantities. I like to drink at least 2 cups worth.

> Then, dinner is a spinach salad with lots of fresh vegetables and if I’m really hungry some steamed pasta or brown rice. More juice works before bedtime and add some fresh mint leaves if you have them available.

I’ve found that this formula restores my sense of wellbeing and I feel so good that I don’t always want to eat every rich concoction that I see. So try it and give me some feedback on how it worked for you.


New Ingredient for Cranberry Relish

Thanksgiving 2014 was a fun, thankful day full of family and great food. The Cranberry Relish was extraordinary this year because I added Thai Ginger to it. What is Thai Ginger you ask? It is fresh ginger found in the Asian fresh food section of Wegmans and it is bigger than the knobs of regular fresh ginger with striations around the outside. Usually I add some fresh ginger to the Cranberry Relish and this particular ingredient looked so interesting that I tried it out for Thanksgiving Day on my family. It could have gone either way but they loved it. The new ginger gives it a mild bite that the regular ginger doesn’t have. So here is the recipe. If your families’ palette isn’t as adventurous as mine, try it yourself before showing up on Christmas Day with a big bowl of it.

Holiday Cranberries with Thai Ginger

12 oz. fresh cranberries
1 cup of granulated sugar
1 large knob of Thai Ginger (size of your thumb) peeled
1 large apple, cored and quartered, with peel.

Wash and pick over cranberries, removing the soft ones. Place in a food processor. Coarsely chop ginger and apple and add to processor along with sugar. Pulse until relish consistency.
Allow to sit in refrigerator for at least an hour, then serve.


Gluten-Free Buttermilk Crepes with Peaches

This is a delicious way to enfold  summer berries and fresh fruit.  If you are dairy free, sorry, you are out of luck with this recipe.  For those of you who are lactose intolerant, one digestive enzyme supplement before you eat may help.

Ingredients:  3/4 cup of Buttermilk; 1 Egg; 1 tbsp of melted Butter; 1/2 cup of Tapioca Flour; 1/4 cup of Cornmeal; 1 tsp of Baking Powder; 1/8 tsp of Salt.

Whisk together the dry ingredients in a large bowl with a spout for pouring.  Beat the wet ingredients until well mixed then add them to the dry.  Mix the batter until smooth. Heat on a medium setting a non-stick crêpe pan or I like to use an electric skillet prepped with butter flavored cooking spray.  You will have to spray a well seasoned skillet only one time.  Pour 1/4 cup of batter on the skillet and let it cook 2 to 3 minutes on each side.  The surface of the crêpe will be lightly browned.

Filling Ingredients:  1 cup of  lofat Sour Cream;  2 cups of sliced fresh or frozen peaches; 1 tsp of vanilla and 2 dashes of cinnamon.

Combine the sour cream, vanilla and cinnamon. If using frozen peaches defrost and drain.  Spread one side of the crêpe thinly with the sour cream mixture and place a small amount of peaches on one half of the crêpe.  Fold over and lightly dust with confectioners sugar.  Make sure your fruit is very ripe and freshly picked or flash frozen right after picking for the best flavor and nutrients.

Experiment with strawberries, cottage cheese, plain greek yogurt, adding lemon juice to the crêpe batter with fresh blueberries, or fresh raspberries would be divine.  Let me know how you get on with this recipe, I’d love feedback.  The inspiration was found in The Gluten-Free Vegetarian Kitchen by Donna Klein.


Immunity Boost For Rebooters and Toddlers

Carmen, my granddaughter, and I came up with a new juice recipe this morning.  She is a toddler and cannot crunch up raw vegetables and fruit, however, with a juicer she can still consume all the nutrients.   This time of year we all need a boost for our immune system, so whether you have todds at home or not, here is a great recipe for a winter reboot.

Winter Booster

3 Valencia Oranges, direct from Florida if you can get them

2 Gala Apples

2 Large Raw Carrots washed well, not peeled

2 fresh Lime Wedges, peeled

2 to 3 fresh Basil Leaves, found in grocery if you don’t live in southern climes.

Peel and segment the oranges, wash and segment the apples, wash the carrots well but do not peel, cut the limes remove the peel from the segments and thoroughly wash the basil leaves.  Then juice, stir and drink.  Don’t store because the water-soluble vitamins break down over time.


The 90 Day Vegetarian Adventure Comes to a Close.

It was an adventure and an educational journey that revealed much about myself and how I relate to food.  The most surprising revelation is that I am not a true Vegan.  Rather, I’m a vegetarian who limits fat to 10 gms per day and I eat nonfat dairy products which eliminates eggs.  Adding dairy takes me out of the strict Vegan diet.

There are two main reasons why I don’t eat meat.   I truly dislike the way animals are raised and slaughtered by the large producers and after eating nothing but vegetables, grains and fruit, even the smell of meat bothers me.  I’ve never noticed before that each animal tastes like it smells.  Beef has a bloody, manure taste, chicken tastes like the henhouse and goat, well I’ve not had goat meat, but I can’t get some of the cheese past my nose nor the milk.

The physical results of the Vegetarian adventure have been encouraging.  I’ve lost 15 pounds and one dress size; my total cholesterol is lower ( I’m also taking a statin) and I have more energy.  My knee pain is gone but I have to credit that to a Kenalog shot and also I know exactly what foods cause me to develop a migraine.  When I began the adventure I didn’t have a clue as to what triggered the headaches.

So the adventure was well worth the time and effort.  I will continue with the low-fat vegetarian diet.  Low fat because genetic testing recommended it and it works for me.  I’ve also learned not to worry about what other people think or say.  My family is accepting and they are enjoying the new recipes, one of which will end this article.  The excitement of doing something new is over but I have confidence that this is a diet that I will be able to maintain over the rest of my life.  To all of you who have followed my blog you have my heart-felt thanks.  Reader response made a huge difference for me.  I will close this chapter with a new recipe, and keep checking the blog, I’m on to bigger and better things!

Stir Fried Green Beans

Five handfuls of whole Green Beans, frozen are fine

1 tblsp of Olive Oil

1 tblsp of Tamari 

1/2 tsp of Garlic powder

Wok for frying

Heat the Wok and add the oil.  When the oil is fragrant but not smoking add the green beans and sprinkle the garlic powder over them.  Stir fry the beans for 5 to 7 minutes then add the Tamari  and continue to stir until the liquid is absorbed.  Serve immediately, beans should be slightly crunchy.  Serves 4


90 Day Vegetarian Adventure – Day 90 Return to the Beginning

The last day of the adventure and I find myself returning to the Juice Reboot.  Halloween with its mini-candy bars just about did me in.  I am now craving sugar and chocolate again.  So, the remedy is to Reboot.  At the end of the 90 day adventure I’m dusting off the juicer and enjoying at least one day of fasting to break the addictions and get back on track to healthy eating.

Fall fruit and vegetables make delicious juices.  The fresh kale is still growing in the garden and apples are available from the orchard.  Plus carrots have been recently harvested.  The two recipes using these seasonal ingredients are as follows:

Breakfast:  1 stick celery, 1 organic carrot, 2 Golden Delicious apples.

Lunch:  1 stick celery, 1 organic carrot, 1 Golden Delicious apple, handful fresh kale.

Enjoy!  Send me some of your favorite juices.  I welcome your comments.

 


90 Day Vegetarian Adventure, Day 87 Carmen’s Shake

Here is a new recipe inspired by my granddaughter, Carmen.  She is just a year old and is being introduced slowly to adult foods.  Every morning Grandma makes a breakfast shake for me and she has to share it.   She is allergic to strawberries but bananas are safe so the following recipe is a shake that she loves and is good for her growing tummy.

Carmen’s Shake:    1 cup of soymilk, 1 banana, 1 scoop protein powder, a few drops of vanilla and a shake of cinnamon.  Place ingredients in a blender and process until smooth.  Share it with those you love.


New Recipe – Pear Nog

Breakfast this morning produced a new recipe – Pear Nog.  It is a breakfast shake that reminds me of Egg Nog without the eggs, milk and cream, nevermind adding the rum.  Pour one cup of plain soy milk into a blender along with 1 ripe pear, cored and peeled, a dash of nutmeg, 1/4 tsp of real vanilla, and a scoop of  Protein Powder.  Blend until smooth and share with your granddaughter