Monthly Archives: March 2014

Whole Grains Whole Lotta Good

It can be easier than you think, I promise.  Whole grains are a big improvement over typical white flour products because they give you fiber and key nutrients that are missing from refined grains like white rice and white flour.  Here are some easy and helpful suggestions.

Upgrade your noodles.  Try whole grain noodles in place of pasta made with refined grains. Don’t like the texture of whole grain noodles?  Then you should try quinoa pasta….if cooked right you will NOT know the difference!

Try new things.  Brown rice, pearled barley, quinoa, millet, bulgar wheat and lentils are among the most nutritious grains available.  Add these to family favorites like stuffed peppers or chicken sausage wraps.

Cook faster!  Whole wheat couscous cooks up so fast you can serve it on the busiest weeknight….only 10 minutes needed.

Spruce up your whole grain dishes with some sweet or savory items.  Mix in chopped dried apricots or cranberries, walnuts or hazelnuts.  Yummmmmm.

MUST EAT FRUIT

Eating fresh fruit is healthy!  We all know it but do we always eat a lot of it?  The answer (if you are like me) is probably NO!  Here are  some easy tips to get you and your family to eat more healthy fresh fruits.

Snack smarter.  Try to encourage healthy eating with a bowl of fresh mixed berries, sliced bananas, apples, peaches, plums, pears, etc.  Increase the appeal by pairing it with a delicious cashew dip.  Soak cashews in water for about 4 hours, drain, then mix in a blender or food processor with dates, water, and vanilla.  Yummy!

Add a twist to you favorites.  Instead of PB&J try almond butter with date paste.

Mix your own.  Make your own blend of dried fruits, nuts and seeds for home-made trail mix…it’s great on the go!

Even dessert can be better and healthier with some fruit.  Try mixed berries, sliced pineapple or orange slices on your favorite deserts instead of whipped cream.

And don’t forget…healthy snacks do NOT spoil dinner like traditional sweet treats will.  So go ahead and eat more fruit starting NOW.

Baby it’s cold outside…BUT Spring is almost here

Spring has sprung! While everything in nature is busy turning over a shiny new leaf, why not follow suit with a little spring renewal of your own? Here are three easy ways to freshen up your life as the days lengthen and the ground thaws.

1. Renew Your Kitchen

  • Dump out that drawer that holds everything from spatulas to matches to old batteries. Sort, toss, recycle, donate!
  • Use a fancy feather duster (or unfancy damp rag) to clean off the top of the cabinets. Got a bunch of knickknacks and decorative jars up there? Take them all down, spruce them up, then decide if they deserve to go back up.
  • Tackle the fridge door. How many half-empty bottles of wasabi mustard do you need? Anything expired, sticky, dripping or just plain weird in there? You know what to do.
  • Make a simple spray of diluted vinegar and wipe down all handles, knobs and switches. Rinse. Relish the clean.

2. Renew Your Diet

  • Add one new vegetable to your dinner repertoire this week. Cook it however you think it will be most delicious.
  • For three straight days, pay attention to how you feel after you eat. Write it down. Did your meal or snack make you feel energized? Satisfied? Panicky? Slavering for more? Did you crash an hour later?
  • Try to have one undistracted meal a day. No reading, no watching TV, no conversation (really!). Just eat.

3. Renew Your Body

  • Drink more water. Try a big glass before your first cup of coffee.
  • Treat yourself to a luxe new lotion or shower gel in a scent you love. Take a little extra time getting ready in the morning.
  • Take a deep belly breath. Try to link this to something you do often, like sending a text message or checking your watch.
  • Stuck at a desk all day? Set a reminder to get up and groove every hour.

What small steps do you take to welcome spring and renew yourself?

Spice it up – Part IV

There are so many delicious and aromatic spices how do you know what to use?  Here are some recommendations that bring the world’s richest flavors and aromas to your kitchen, and simple ways to use them to make your meals a bit more magical.

1. Cayenne.  Hot chili peppers dried and ground into a powder make this spice a winner.  Cayenne is more spicy than generic chili powder and should be used when a definite kick is desired.  Combine cayenne with lemon juice to counter the bitter taste of some of the dark green leafy vegetables like Kale.

2.  Cumin.  Seeds of a parsley-like herb.  Cumin is common in Indian and Mexican cuisine.  Try mixing cumin in when sauteing onions and garlic.

3.  Curry Powder.  A blend of several spices including cumin, coriander, and turmeric.  Try toasting curry powder in a dry hot skillet before seasoning food.  Curry powder adds a nice spark to omelets.

4.  Saffron.  Made from stigmas from purple crocus.  Same type of structure that stains your hands when you pick Stargazer lily’s.  Don’t eat those stigma’s though.  It is best to “bloom” the flavor in oil or simmer liquid before adding to a recipe.  Try an excellent fish marinade with saffron, thyme, garlic and vinegar.

5.  Tumeric.  The rhizome of a plant related to ginger.  The deep yellow color adds beautiful color to food.  Use Tumeric on roasted cauliflower to neutralize the cabbage-like notes.

Experiment and enjoy the spices of life!

Spice it up – Part III

There are so many delicious and aromatic spices how do you know what to use?  Here are some recommendations that bring the world’s richest flavors and aromas to your kitchen, and simple ways to use them to make your meals a bit more magical.

1.  Cardamom.  Pods and seeds from plant grown in India and Central America.  You can lightly crush the pods over rice or quinoa or any other grain.  Try toasting the seeds and using them in cooking.  Try replacing Cinnamon with Cardamom in breads and desserts for an earthier taste.

2.  Cloves.  The dried unopened buds of an evergreen tree are used to make this wonderful spice that has a kick.  Why is that?  Cloves have both a sweet and heat component.  Pin cloves to an onion to simmer and make a delicious broth.

3.  Peppercorns.  The berries of a vine from Asia and Brazil, picked at different stages of ripeness.  Black corns are the spiciest while white corns are the most mild.  Scatter them over poached pears for an unusual contrast between sweet and heat.  Yummy.

4.  Star Anise.  The star shaped seedpods of a Chinese evergreen.  This spice does have a similar licorice flavor as that of Anise, but they are no relation!  Add to tomato sauce for a spunky basil like flavor.  Add to spicy chili and enjoy the unexpected sweet notes.

Who knew you could have so much fun and add so much depth to your everyday recipes?