Food & Cooking

Don't have time to eat on your busy mornings?

Breakfasts For Busy Mornings

Certainly, you need breakfasts that are quick and easy! But you need them to be nutrient-dense, too! Fighting inflammation requires a host of vitamins, minerals, amino acids, essential fatty acids, and phytochemicals! So, You can’t just buy toaster pastries and be optimally well!

Do Your Prep on the Weekend

One way to conquer the busy morning frenzy is to assemble and freeze ingredients ahead of time. For example, Pizza Burritos made with zucchini and mushrooms provide lots of potassium and B vitamins.

Pizza Burritos

  • 1 zucchini, grated
  • 6 mushrooms, chopped
  • 1/2 lb. ground Italian sausage
  • 1 tsp. Italian seasoning
  • 6 eggs, beaten
  • salt & pepper
  • 3/4 c. grated mozzarella cheese
  • Tortillas

In a large skillet over medium heat, brown the meat with the zucchini, mushrooms and Italian seasoning. When the mushrooms are softened and the meat is evenly browned, pour the beaten eggs over the sausage mixture. Season with salt & pepper. Then, cover, reduce heat to medium low, and cook until set. Using a spatula, transfer onto tortillas. Sprinkle with cheese, roll, wrap in plastic and freeze.

The Crock Pot is Your Ally Against Busy Mornings

Take just a few moments to put ingredients into a crock pot or Instant Pot at bedtime. Breakfast will be ready when you are. Combining steel cut oats with Greek yogurt makes a creamy, high protein breakfast. Top it with antioxidant cherries and zinc-filled pecans for even better nutrition. Last of all, add crunchy chia seeds for an Omega 3 boost.

  • 1 c. steel-cut oats
  • 1 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 4 cups bone broth (for added protein)
  • 1 c. Greek yogurt (I like FAGE Total 5%  to balance blood sugars)
  • Frozen cherries
  • Pecans
  • Chia seeds
  • cinnamon and nutmeg, optional

Spray your crock or Instant Pot liner with non-stick cooking spray. Put the oats, salt and broth into the crock or liner. For the crock pot, set temperature to low. If you are using an Instant Pot, employ delay feature to start cooking 20 minutes before you want breakfast ready. Set cook time to 10 minutes. Let cool naturally for 10 minutes before releasing the pressure.

Just before serving, stir in yogurt and scoop into 4 bowls. Finally, top with additional ingredients.

Microwave a Grab-and-Go Sandwich

You can poach an egg in just 60 seconds using your microwave! Fill a ramekin with water and break an egg into it. Before you cook it, puncture the yolk and cover with plastic wrap. Check after 30 seconds of cooking and microwave another 20 seconds if needed. Then, toss it onto a tostada, slip it into an English muffin, or stuff it into a pita. Besides egg and grain, you can add cheese, meat, spinach, sprouts, tomato, or avocado to balance your meal. For example,

  • Southwestern Tostada: Add cotija, refried beans, and pico de gallo
  • Club English Muffin: Include ham, swiss, turkey and spinach
  • All-Star Pita: Load it up with sprouts, avocado and bacon

Quickly Blend Your Nutrition

Do you love a speedy smoothie for busy mornings? Then whirl antioxidant blueberries with probiotic kefir for a superfood breakfast. Top with hemp hearts for essential fatty acids.

  • 1 1/2 c. plain, unsweetened kefir
  • 1/2 c. coconut water (for electrolytes)
  • 12 oz. frozen blueberries
  • 1 avocado (for added creaminess and blood sugar balance)
  • 2 scoops protein powder
  • juice of 1 lime
  • 1 Tb. honey
  • hemp hearts

Blend all but the hemp hearts. Divide between 2 tall glasses. Top with hemp hearts.

A cup of greens daily can boost your health

How to Eat 3 Cups of Greens Daily

Your health may be a reflection of how many cups of greens you eat per day. Nutritionists and scientists agree that the more vegetables you eat, the better. Not only that, dark leafy greens seem to trump other foods when it comes to specific health benefits. African, Indian, and Asian cultures all have rich culinary traditions that include bountiful quantities of leafy greens. In Western society, treatment protocols for healing chronic disease, such as the Wahls protocol, include at least of cup of dark greens every meal.

Can you eat that many cups of greens? You probably can down a green smoothie for breakfast, and grab a spinach salad for lunch. But everyday?

Let me show you how other cultures do it.

Simple Indian Creamed Farmer Greens ( Saag)

20 oz. mixed beet greens, kale, spinach, chard, or mustard greens (about 20 cups of greens)

1 c. water

2 Tb. coconut oil

1 tsp. cumin seeds

1 onion, thinly sliced

2 inches of ginger root, julienned

1/2 c. coconut milk

Wash the greens, cut away the tough stalks, and roughly chop. Place in a large stockpot with water and steam 20 minutes. Meanwhile, heat the oil in a skillet over medium high heat. When the oil ripples, add the cumin seed. After 30 seconds, reduce the skillet heat to medium low and add the onions and ginger. Saute until the onion caramelizes.

In a food processor or blender, puree the cooked greens and their steaming water with the onion mixture. Return to the pot and cook on low until the mixture thickens, about 20 minutes more. Stir in the coconut milk and season to taste with salt and pepper.  Serves 5.

African Spinach Stew (Efo Riro)

2 onions, chopped

2-4 Tb. curry powder, according to your preference

1/2 – 1 1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes, according to preference

1 tsp. salt

2-3 c. bone broth

1 lb. stew meat, cut into 1″ pieces

6 large tomatoes, diced

3 Tb. unrefined red palm oil

1 tsp. dried crayfish, optional (but it lends the characteristic Nigerian flavor)

3 10-oz. bags of spinach, chopped (freeze then crumple the bags to speedily break the leaves into pieces)

In a large soup pot over medium heat, simmer one of the onions, the seasonings and the stew meat in enough broth to cover the meat. (Add more if needed.) Cook slowly until reduced to a very thick, mixture, about an hour. While the meat mixture is cooking down, melt the palm oil in a skillet over medium low heat. Add the tomatoes and the second onion. Saute slowly, stirring occasionally, until the tomatoes are broken down and the vegetables form a paste, about 30 minutes.

Add the tomato mixture to the meat mixture. Stir in crayfish and spinach. Heat until spinach is wilted. Served with fufu, rice, or potatoes.

Chinese Wilted Greens (Fan Chao)

Growing up, not having a plate of Chinese greens on the table for dinner was like not having rice—it was simply unthinkable.   – Shao Z.

1 lb. bok choy, napa cabbage, gai lan, or choy sum (may use spinach, chard, or kale)

2 Tb. cooking oil

1 Tb. minced garlic

1/2 c. bone broth

Oyster sauce, optional

Chop the greens into 3″ pieces. Heat oil in a wok or heavy skillet over medium heat. Add the garlic and saute for 1 minute. Add greens and stir-fry just until coated with oil. Pour in the broth, cover, and steam for about 3 minutes. Leaves should be tender and bright green.  If desired, serve with a drizzle of oyster sauce.

 

a nutrient-dense lunch

The Nutrient-Dense Lunchbox

How do you pack a nutrient-dense lunch that kids will want to eat, while avoiding chips, cookies and crackers? It’s easy with these four tricks.

Employ the Lollipop Principle

If you put food on a stick, everyone wants it! Haven’t you seen this principle in action with hot dogs, marshmallows, and cake? The advantage of a skewer is that it holds more vegetables than a sandwich. A Pizza Kabob is a nutrient-dense lunch your kids are sure to be wild about. Items to skewer include grape tomatoes, green and black olives, mushrooms, basil leaves, cheese, sausage, and sourdough bread.

Roll it Up

Taco Pinwheels

A pinwheel has charm and can hide vegetables from picky eaters. Create a Taco Wrap using a tortilla, guacamole, shredded cabbage, pulled pork, and pico de gallo. Go Greek by using pita bread, goat cheese, dates, chopped celery, and baby spinach. Bibb lettuce works for rolling sauteed vegetables and rice.

Provide a Dip

Dip nutrient-dense lunch foods

Lots of adult foods gain appeal when you dunk them. Peanut sauce (below) makes snap peas, chicken, cucumbers, green onions and bell peppers come to life! Hummus is a delicious dip for smoked fish, carrot sticks, and falafel balls. Marinara sauce turns cauliflower, zucchini, and eggplant and into a pizza party.

3-2-1 Peanut Sauce

  • 5 Tb. natural peanut butter
  • 4 Tb. boiling water
  • 3 Tb. soy sauce or soy alternative (I use Coconut Aminos)
  • 2 Tb. lime juice
  • 1 Tb. palm sugar
  • Chili Garlic Sauce to taste (1-3 teaspoons)

Dissolve the palm sugar in boiling water. Whisk together with remaining ingredients. Refrigerate any unused portions.

Leave Love Notes in a Nutrient-Dense Lunch

Egg decorated with stickers

Place stickers, drawings, and riddles with your healthy offerings. It’s not a new strategy. But why not use it on hard-boiled eggs and avocados instead of Cracker Jacks and Laffy Taffy? Even a banana peel or an orange peel is a great place to mark down a joke. By the way, what did the burger name her baby?

Patty!

 

Protein PB&J Cookies are healthy travel food

5 Foods For Healthy Travel

Whether you’re going by plane or by car, you’re more susceptible to illness, digestive upset, and weight gain when you’re on the road. Insure you eat the right foods for healthy travel by following these five tips!

Hydrate Correctly

Water is the first food for healthy travel. Fatigue, cramps, and headaches are all early signs of dehydration. While it’s tempting to grab pop, coffee, or tea, you will have to drink extra water if you do. Your body has to dilute sweetened beverages. In addition, caffeinated drinks are diuretic, so your water ends up in the toilet.

But water is not enough. Electrolytes – traces of potassium, magnesium, sodium, and calcium – are important, too. So, an easy solution is to carry herbal tea bags. After you have passed security with your empty water bottle, you can fill up at the water fountain, slipping the tea bag in to cold infuse into the water during your flight. Peppermint tea is a refreshing choice.

Bring Portable Protein

Travel means stress. That stress triggers blood sugar instability and creates “wear and tear” on the body. Therefore, protein is the third food for healthy travel. It balances your blood sugars, staves off cravings, and rebuilds your body tissues. Increasing your protein can boost your energy, too, reduce agitation, and improve your sleep. For a great protein that requires no cooking and is portable, try foil packets of wild-caught salmon or salmon jerky. At the hotel, you can boil eggs in the coffee pot to take with you on your sightseeing adventures.

Remember Healthy Fat

Subsisting on sandwiches, chips, and crackers is a quick ride on the blood sugar roller coaster. Though an amusement park may be part of your itinerary, blood sugar dysregulation can make you “hangry.” No one wants to be irritable, shaky, or foggy during their vacation. Natural fats can keep your moods and energy levels stable. Try olive cups, whole avocados, and raw mixed nuts as packable snacks. Amp up your breakfast by adding nut butter to oatmeal cups.

Eat Loads of Antioxidants

You are much more susceptible to viruses when your travel because of the extra strain on your body. So, you need antioxidant food to keep your immune system strong. That means eating lots of brightly-colored fruits and vegetables. If you are not near a grocery store, bring a cooler from home. You can pack an insulated lunch bag inside your checked luggage to keep produce fresh. Berries, cherries, grapes, beetroot, and bell peppers are all great choices. Live sprouts are a gold-mine of antioxidants if you can find them fresh in your local grocery store.

Plan Substitute Foods For Healthy Travel

You know you’re going to be assailed by the travel mart convenience foods – candies, cookies, and chips. Why not prepare in advance with your own appealing alternative? Munch on crunchy, savory dehydrated vegetables or high-protein cookies before junk food tempts you. My Peanut Butter-Jam Cookie recipe requires only 4 ingredients!

High-Protein PB&J Cookies

3/4 c. all natural peanut butter, no sugar added

1/2 c. all-fruit jam, no sugar added

1/4 c. collagen protein powder

1/2 c. almond flour

Combine all ingredients and mix well. If dough is sticky, add 1/4 c. cornstarch or arrowroot powder. Roll into balls and place on a parchment-lined cookie sheet. Flatten slightly with a fork. Bake at 325° for 12-15 minutes, until set and lightly browned. Makes 2 dozen.

 

 

 

vegetables for a greener summer

50 Ways to a Greener Summer

A greener summer isn’t just about lawns and forests. It’s about your diet, too. You know vegetables are good for you – especially those leafy greens and the cruciferous kind, like broccoli, and Brussels sprouts. But maybe you don’t know why you should eat them…or how! Here’s my list of what naturally green food does for you. I especially like #3 and #4 when it comes to stabilizing blood sugars and reducing inflammation. So, read on! I’ll tell you how to use them next.

 A Dozen Health Benefits of Green Vegetables

Green vegetables are a powerhouse of nutrients to keep you in top form. While I can’t list all of the vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals they contain, here are my favorites:

1 – Folate

A precursor for methylation, this vitamin occurs in greens almost more than in any other food. So what? Well, methylation processes toxins, builds neurotransmitters, recycles spent hormones, and creates immune cells. But that’s not all: it synthesizes DNA, produces energy, and maintains the integrity of your cell membranes.

2 – Minerals

Probably only liver has more minerals. I bet you’d rather eat spinach than liver. But why are minerals critical? They’re like spark plugs in the body. We call them co-factors, but basically, they help trigger all the reactions and functions your body  performs. For example, take immunity. If you don’t have enough minerals, your immune system can’t regulate itself. It runs too fast or too slow. Then you are vulnerable to allergies, asthma, and autoimmunity on the one hand, or cancer on the other.

3 – Fiber

If you’re concerned about carbohydrate intake, vegetables are the answer. Eat as many as you like of these carbs without spiking blood sugars because their fiber content slows their absorption into the bloodstream. Nature knows that her greener summer is not only pretty, but healthy!

4 – Antioxidants

Green vegetables have many antioxidants that help reduce inflammation, including vitamin C and chlorophyll – the stuff that makes them green! If you really wanted to, I suppose you could just drink liquid vitamin C and chlorophyll. But it’s probably more pleasant to eat Caesar salad and pesto.

5 – Potassium

This humble electrolyte is a champ at fighting bloat and fluid retention. Since you’re not going to find this nutrient in abundance in animal foods, vegetables are your go-to.

6 – Beta carotene

Known as the plant pigment that gives carrots, squash and cantaloupe their color, this nutrient is more prevalent in dark leafy greens than it is in orange vegetables. While you might connect beta carotene to eye health, it is also important for healthy skin. In fact, it is considered a natural sunscreen.

7 – Magnesium

If you’re stressed or have high blood pressure, eat more greens. Magnesium, abundant in vegetables, especially green ones, is a relaxant. That goes for tight muscles and for constricted blood vessels, too.

8 – Calcium

Arguably, dairy foods have more calcium than dark leafy greens. But you only absorb about 30% of that calcium. While broccoli and kale may have less calcium to begin with, you uptake a much higher percentage from them. So to cover your bases, it’s great to round out your diet with plenty of leafy greens to protect your bone health.

9 – Polyphenols

These are micronutrients found only in plants. Among their wide and varied benefits are the ability to fight disease and bolster immunity. Therefore, not only do you need a greener summer, but a greener winter, too.

10 – Prebiotics

You probably know the importance of probiotics to your gut health. The thing is, probiotics are living organisms. That means they need to eat. The beneficial bacteria in your gut tend to languish on simple sugars and refined carbohydrates. However, they thrive on the plant fiber – prebiotic material – that is so hard for you to digest. So, if you think asparagus has too much fiber for your comfort, think again! You are feeding a healthy microbiome, and these bacteria, in turn, are helping you to digest your food.

11 – Chlorophyll

Although I mentioned this amazing nutrient as an anti-inflammatory antioxidant, it has many assets. Chlorophyll is amazing for detoxification because it has the quality of being able to bind heavy metals and escort them out of the body. Chlorophyll helps cleanse your liver.

12 – Live enzymes

When it comes to digestion, enzymes have a lot of work to do. Your body makes digestive enzymes in the pancreas. But the more live enzymes you eat, the less the burden on your pancreas. You are getting live enzymes any time you eat raw plant food, such as celery sticks, cucumber slices, and snap peas.

50 Ways to a Greener Summer

Okay, now that you know why you should eat more green vegetables, let’s talk about how! I get pretty bored with having salads all the time, and a side of broccoli is not very exciting. However, nature is so versatile, there’s no reason to limit yourself to iceberg! Just to get you started, I’ve listed 50 ideas. Since recipes are prolific on the internet, I’ve left the interpretation open to your personal taste.

  1. Alfalfa sprouts blended into a fruit smoothie
  2. Parsley, finely chopped, and sprinkled into a sausage and sweet potato skillet
  3. Mint leaves to perk up a mundane salad
  4. Nettle steeped and chilled for iced tea
  5. Clover sprouts tucked into wraps
  6. Broccoli sprouts on top of avocado toast
  7. Cress nestled in sandwiches
  8. Spinach, minced and mixed into spaghetti sauce
  9. Mung bean sprouts served atop any soup
  10. Broccoli, chopped, steamed, and stirred into teriyaki sauce
  11. Kale massaged into tropical fruit salad
  12. Chives accenting a potato salad
  13. Basil on a skewer with tomato and watermelon
  14. Arugula tossed with roasted squash, potatoes,beets, and carrots
  15. Mesclun mix served with strawberries and poppy seed dressing
  16. Pea shoots added to stir-fry
  17. Asparagus, chopped, and served in risotto
  18. Cilantro blended into avocado & tomatillo dressing for Mexican dishes
  19. Brussels sprouts sauteed in an apple & bacon skillet
  20. Pesto stirred into white bean soup
  21. Collard greens lightly steamed and rolled with any filling for wraps
  22. Swiss chard, steamed, and folded into creamy bechamel with green onion
  23. Green beans grilled with cherry tomatoes and seasoned with basil and oregano
  24. Green bell pepper stuffed with stew, pilaf, or frittata
  25. Romaine grilled with olive oil and red pepper flakes before tossing into soup
  26. Endive (also known as chicory) lightly braised with andouille sausage and added to pasta
  27. Okra simmered in jambalaya
  28. Kohlrabi grated into cole slaw
  29. Zucchini grated into pancake batter
  30. Fennel sauteed in butter with pear halves, then dressed with honey and cream
  31. Turnip greens wilted as a bed for meat or fish
  32. Beet greens tossed with olive oil and baked until crispy for chips
  33. Bok choy shredded into Oriental salad
  34. Mustard greens simmered in Indian curry
  35. Artichoke hearts accenting pizza
  36. Celery, stir-fried, and served with chopped hazelnuts
  37. Leeks sliced into scalloped potatoes or baked beans before cooking
  38. Scallions sliced into frittata
  39. Cabbage slow-cooked with roasts
  40. Rapini blanched and sauteed with garlic and baby red potatoes
  41. Dandelion greens steeped in a tea
  42. Snap peas tossed with green onion slices and feta cheese then dressed with vinaigrette
  43. Snow peas sauteed with carrots, drizzled with honey, and topped with peanuts
  44. Peas piled onto creamy polenta and topped with parmesan
  45. Cucumber, hollowed, and filled with chicken salad
  46. Oregano minced into bread dough
  47. Fenugreek leaves chopped into Indian butter chicken
  48. Spirulina  sprinkled into black bean dip
  49. Kelp, dried, and mixed into your salt shaker as a natural source of iodine
  50. Nori folded into an omelet

What other ways can you think of to have a greener summer?

Rainbowl Salad is cooling food

Cooling Foods Beat the Heat

Cooling foods beat the heat by not requiring the oven for preparation. But they also keep the fire of inflammation down in your body.  No one wants to be hot from the inside out when the sun is blazing outside.

To keep your body cool, stay away from deep-fried food and entrees weighted with excessive meat. Focus on lighter seafood, green vegetables, and summer herbs, such as cilantro.

Next, steer away from heavier, starchy food, such as pasta and potatoes.  Instead, select juicy summer-harvested produce. Fruits come to mind, but even zucchini is a cooling food.

Finally, don’t indulge in inflammation-causing cookies, cakes, and pastries. Fennel, with its licorice-like flavor, can be paired with sweet pears for a light dessert in scorching summer heat.

If you have a chronic inflammatory condition, such as autoimmunity, pre-diabetes or heart disease, learn more about beating the heat with diet and lifestyle.

Chill Crab Cups

Create a refreshing entree with a combo of cooling foods that includes crab, cucumber, dill, and chives.

  • 16 oz. crab meat
  • 2 Tb. parsley, minced
  • 1/4 lb. snow peas
  • 2 stalks celery, diced
  • 1 cucumber, diced
  • 2 Tb. lemon juice plus zest
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 2 Tb. fresh dill, minced
  • 2 Tb. chives

Toss ingredients together and serve in lettuce cups, in hollowed tomatoes, or in halved bell peppers.

Fruit Rainbowl with Lime-Mint Dressing

Drizzle anti-inflammatory fruits with revitalizing mint to give you relief from the heat.

  • 1 cup each: cantaloupe cubes, watermelon balls, cherries, blueberries, and kiwi slices.
  • Juice of 2 limes
  • 2 Tb. Honey
  • 3 sprigs of mint leaf

Combine fruits in a large serving bowl. Tear mint leaves and whisk together with lime juice and honey. Pour over fruit and toss.

Caramelized Pears & Fennel

In less than ten minutes, you can enjoy a unique, refreshing dessert that doesn’t heat up your body or your kitchen. Now that’s cooling food!

  • 3 pears, cut into wedges
  • 1 fennel bulb, sliced
  • 1/4 c. butter
  • 1 vanilla bean pod
  • 1/4 c. honey
  • 2 tsp. fennel seeds
  • 1/4 c. cream

Fry pears and fennel bulb in butter over medium high heat until pears are golden. Reduce heat. Remove pears and fennel to a serving plate. Slit vanilla bean pod open and scoop seeds into the skillet with the butter. Add honey and fennel seeds. Simmer 2-3 minutes, until  sauce is thickened. Drizzle pears with syrup and pour cream over the top.

 

An American Refrigerator

American Refrigerator

What’s in your refrigerator? Is it full of real food or just food-like substances? I got a glimpse of a typical American refrigerator the other day. Unfortunately, I couldn’t have made a satisfying meal with its contents.

Is This Your Refrigerator?

When I opened the door, incredulity overtook me.  I found beverages, condiments, trans-fats, leftover fast food, and refined white flour products. In short, man-made products filled the shelves. I saw beer, wine, pop, flavored water, and Coffee Mate. Moreover, margarine, bread, buns, tortillas, leftover pizza, and a single lemon shared the compartments.

But, were the vegetables? Well, yes, if potatoes count! But, where was there protein? I suppose I could name the flavored, sweetened yogurt, and the processed cheese.

Is this the sum of an American refrigerator? Next, I opened the freezer. My dismay remained: ice cream, popsicles, waffles, and a box of chicken nuggets stood frosty and ready.

Cupboards to Rival This American Refrigerator

Maybe I would find real food in the cupboards.

I didn’t.

Similar to the refrigerator, there were substances to satisfy one’s cravings: popcorn, crackers, chips, chocolate chips, and Swedish Fish. If I intended to cook, I could have used the white flour, sugar, shortening, and vegetable oil. Then, I could pour imitation syrup on top. In summary, I discovered only three “meals” – instant oatmeal, canned soup, and canned chili. (Peanut butter is not a meal!)

Why is the American Refrigerator Problematic?

A steady stream of empty-calorie foods degrade your health. Unquestionably, food-like substances have been linked to fatigue, depression and diabetes. These non-foods negatively impact the function of your heart, your liver, and your brain. Furthermore, they can damage your memory and cause dangerous swings in your blood sugars. Not to mention increasing your risk of cancer. Lastly, they impair your digestion.

Refrigerator Makeover

So, how do you create a super-stocked refrigerator?

  • Start with produce. No health practitioner will argue that you need fewer plant foods. Fruits and vegetables are critical to optimal wellness. Your body needs the fresh leafy greens, brightly- colored tree and vine fruits, and cruciferous vegetables you store in the refrigerator. Strive for variety and include as many colors as possible.
  • Visit the butcher block and the fishmonger. While you don’t need an excess of protein, you should include good quality animal products in your diet. Regardless of your chosen diet, eat no less than 20 grams of protein per meal. Seafood and pastured animals provide building blocks for your red blood cells, hormones, immune cells, organs, bones and muscles.
  • Add some natural fats. Grass-fed butter, coconut products, olive oil, nuts, and avocados create health on a cellar level. They support brain health and contribute to beautiful skin, hair, and nails. Also, natural fats make vegetables taste good and are helpful in preparing meats.
  • Stick to whole grains. Steel-cut oats are a better choice than boxed cereal, and quinoa trumps pasta. Choose 100% whole wheat over products from refined flour.

No one can give you health. You create it from day to day by the choices you make. So, decide to fill your refrigerator with nutrient-dense food.

Jappy Hydration

Fun, Flavorful Hydration

Summer is coming, and with it, the need to drink more in the heat. Everyone knows soda – whether diet or not – isn’t healthy. But did you know that by switching from soda to water, you can boost your metabolism up to 30%? Even so, water is…well, boring! Check out these original ways for fun, flavorful hydration!

Raspberry Fizz

Pink Fizz is Fun Flavorful Hydration

This cold-infused tea is made in sparkling water to give it a pop-like sensation. By using an herbal fruit tea, you get lots of flavor and fizz with none of the harmful sugar or artificial sweeteners. Just dangle your tea bags from the neck of the bottle when you stick it in the fridge to chill. The next day, when you hit the pool or the zoo, it will be ready to enjoy.

Electrolyte Delight

Pina Colada Ice Cubes are Fun Flavorful Hydration

Coconut water has lots of electrolytes, but it also has a high sugar content when guzzled by the pint. Get a jazzy pina-colada flavor by freezing pineapple chunks (also high in electrolytes) covered with coconut water in ice cube trays. Plop a few in your water bottle for cold, crisp refreshment.

Monster Shaved Ice

Monster Shave Ice is Fun Flavorful Hydration

If you have a shave-ice machine, forget buying all the sweetened flavorings. Just pour your green juice spiked with refreshing mint over the ice. This is a high-electrolyte beverage, too, that fights inflammation and provides lots of vitamins.

Orange Fennel Infusion

An Orange Fennel Infusion is Fun Flavorful Hydration

Fruit & herb infused water is all the rage. Using a tea-infuser, get a unique licorice-like flavor with crushed fennel seeds in place of herbs. Enhance the flavor with some orange zest. Fennel is purported to speed the metabolism and stimulate the body without the use of caffeine, so it’s a great drink if you have a lot of driving to do on your summer vacation. Caffeine actually induces more fatigue in the long run, because it is a diuretic, and losing just 1-2% of your body fluids can bring on fatigue. Fennel does not have any dehydrating effects.

More Fun, Flavorful Hydration Tips

When purchasing flavored waters from the store, check the label for sugar content, and avoid artificial flavorings. This post contains more ideas to hydrate correctly.

 

herbs are potent inflammation fighters

Inflammation Fighters

Taming inflammation is more than gulping cucumber juice and gobbling turmeric capsules. It’s incorporating inflammation fighters into your daily routine, and passing up the foods that flare an inflammatory response.

Eating Creates Oxidation

Your body is an engine. An engine is a device to convert fuel to energy. But the process is not perfect. As a result, waste results. For example, when a car burn gasoline, it expels exhaust. Likewise, when you burn your food, you create oxidation. That’s normal.

However, having more oxidants than antioxidants in your diet is not normal. Modern processed foods do not contain many antioxidants. So, they leave an excess of “reactive oxidative species” after you have consumed your meal. These ROS instigate inflammation. Hence, convenience foods – especially those containing sugar – are NOT inflammation fighters. If you have too much of them in your diet, your body responds like an old oil-burning truck.

Whole Foods Are Inflammation Fighters

Neutralizing ROS requires vitamins, minerals, essential fatty acids, and phytonutrients (plant chemicals) such as chlorophyll, beta-carotenes, quercetin, and other antioxidants. Often, processing destroys these necessary components to our diet. But eating food in its natural state preserves the synergy from these nutrients so they can interact with each other and our physiology to produce health. Fresh is best. So, of course, fruits and vegetables are going to be an important part of an anti-inflammatory diet. But animal products that contain minerals and Omega 3 fatty acids are important, too.

Five Ways to Add Inflammation Fighters To Your Diet

Don’t limit yourself to a supplement to maintain your health. Consider all the diverse ways of eating inflammation fighters throughout your day:

  • Beverages – Berries, of course, are rich in anti-oxidants, but so cherries. Think outside the box, and enjoy some tart cherry tea in place of your morning smoothie. Or add some unusual leafy greens to the blender when you make your drink. Cilantro is one of my favorites.
  • Seafood – You need Omega 3 fatty acids to quell the inflammatory response. No food is richer in this essential fatty acid than seafood, which includes fish, shellfish, and sea vegetables.
  • Vegetables – Many vegetables are champions when it comes to fighting inflammation, but the leafy greens are perhaps the superstars. So, fill  your plate with them. In addition, hide them in burgers, sauces, hashes, dressings, or any place else where you can chop them and stir them in. I include basil in my list of greens and consider it a great addition to desserts and drinks featuring berries.
  • Herbs – These unsung heroes supply Vitamins A, C, E, and K, which are critical inflammation fighters. Herbs are a delight to liven up boring salads, to add flavor to soups, to create appeal for cooked vegetables, to steep for teas, and to season meats. Not only that, they are inexpensive. You can even grow your own on a windowsill. One powerhouse you might not consider is nettle.
  • Spices – With potent phytonutrients, spices are mighty inflammation fighters. Beyond turmeric, other heroes include cumin, fennel, and ginger. These are easy to add to dry rubs, salad dressings, sauces, soups, stir-fries, sandwiches, and salads.

Inflammation Fighting Recipes

Try the following to expand your repertoire of inflammation fighting foods.

  • Tart Cherry Tea – Steep 1″ thinly sliced ginger root in 2 c. hot water. Strain, then stir in ¼ c. tart cherry juice, 2 Tb. lemon juice & 1 Tb. honey.
  • Cilantro Smoothie – Blend together: 6 Cutie oranges, 6 oz. pineapple juice concentrate, 1 can full fat coconut milk, 1 bunch cilantro, and 1 cup ice.
  • Parsley & Cucumber Salad – Toss 1-2 bunches chopped parsley with 1/2 c. cooked quinoa, 1 bunch sliced green onions, 2 diced tomatoes, 1 diced cucumber, 2 Tb. minced mint, 1 Tb. lemon juice and 2 Tb. olive oil.
  • Nettle & Lentil Soup – To a can of ready-to-serve lentil soup, add 1/2 tsp. cinnamon, 1/2 tsp. ground cumin, 1 Tb. lemon juice, and ¼ c. dried nettle leaves. Simmer until fragrant.
  • Salmon & Pineapple Skewers – Broil skewers of pineapple, red bell pepper and cubed salmon until meat is no longer translucent. Brush with a glaze of 1 Tb. soy sauce & 2 Tb. honey.
  • Mexican Crab Tostada – On a tostada, layer mashed avocado, crab meat, tomato, jalapeno (optional), and chopped cilantro. Top with salsa and garnish with lime.
  • Monster Burgers – Add ½ c. finely chopped herbs or leafy greens to 1 lb. hamburger. Season & cook as usual.
  • Berry -Basil Smoothie – Blend 1 avocado, 3/4 c. spinach, ¼ c. basil leaves, 1 1/2 c. mixed berries, ½ c. coconut milk, and 1/2 c. water.
  • Ginger Dressing – Whisk together 2/3 c. sesame oil, 1/3 c. rice vinegar, 1 Tb. soy sauce, and 1” of grated ginger. Pour over cooked fish, serve with oriental salad, or dress tropical fruit.
  • Fennel & Cumin Dry Rub – Combine tsp salt, 1 tsp. ground cumin and 1 tsp. ground fennel with ½ tsp. black pepper. Rub onto meats or mix into sausage before browning. To make a sauce for cooked vegetables, omit and salt and mix into 1 c. marinara sauce.
Whole Food Mother's Day Cookies

Mother’s Day Cookies

Show your love for Mom with these whole food cookies that will make her love YOU! These Mother’s Day cookies are deliciously free of inflammatory sugar and gluten. With only a handful of ingredients, they are simple to make, but they turn out so beautifully, that the whole family will think you slaved for hours baking them!

Almond Crisps

Almond Crisp Mother's Day Cookies
Photo Credit: Kristi Jo, (208)242-6148

2 c. almonds

2/3 c. raisins

1 egg

A splash of vanilla

1 tsp. salt

1/2 tsp. cinnamon

Preheat oven to 325°. Process all ingredients in a high-speed blender or a food processor until smooth. Chill dough. Roll into 18 one-inch balls and place on a parchment-lined cookie sheet. Flatten to 1/4″ thick with a glass dipped in chopped nuts. Bake for 12-15 minutes, until set and slightly browned.

Cherry Chocolate Chews

Cherry Chocolate Mother's Day Cookies

Photo Credit: Kristi Jo, (208)242-6148

2 c. unsweetened coconut flakes

1 c. dried cherries

1 egg

1/2 tsp. almond extract

1 tsp. salt

3 oz. chocolate bar, 70% cacao

Preheat oven to 325°. Process all ingredients except chocolate bar in a high-speed blender or a food processor until smooth. Chill dough. Roll out on a greased surface to 1/8″ thickness and cut with cookie cutters. Place on a parchment-lined cookie sheet. Bake for 10-12 minutes, until set and slightly browned. When cool, ice with melted 70% cacao bar.