Thursday, December 6, 2012

What are Fermented Foods and Why are They Good For You?

I have always been a lover of pickles and sauerkraut (I am a polish girl, after all) and have been hearing recently how we should be trying to incorporate more fermented foods into our diets for optimal gut health. Besides being an avid canner of pickled veggies, I wanted to try fermenting some cucumbers without my water bath canner to get the maximum health benefits. I used distilled water versus filered because I am hoping to ward off any mold that might form on the top. I know it's harmless, but yuck.

Fresh Tart Steph Recipe for Fermented Cucmber Pickles

 Now I just leave them on the counter and we'll test them in a few days!  I like my pickles pretty sour, so we'll see how long it takes!

The Family Homestead on Fermented Foods-

What Is Kefir?

Cultural Rehabilitation: The Health Benefits of Fermented Foods


Fermented Foods and Gut Health

  How pretty is this??

The History of Fermented Foods

 Make Water Kefir At Home

Dr. Mercola Interviews Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride on Fermented Foods

Kimchi--Cultured Vegetables From South-East Asia

Fermented Foods For Health

Kombucha Tea

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Great Expectations

Between reading countless Facebook brag posts, (My little Bella can say Merry Christmas in three languages and is already writing in cursive!...oh calm down, she's two) witnessing some interesting parental behavior at the Park District, (Oh, he's just getting upset because he's so independent...umm he's throwing a fit because class is over and he'd rather continue playing) & being around certain families in my salon (Go on, tell Liz about how you totally blew it on the last hole...OMG he's golfing 18 holes at barely a decade old, cut the kid some slack!) I've been reflecting on how as parents, we tend to think our kids are the smartest, sweetest, most adorable, most gifted children to ever grace the earth...they can do no wrong, & we find ourselves making excuses for their completely normal behavior, putting them up on pedestals they can't possible be ready to stand on (especially two & three year olds)! Sadly, it seems too much pressure can spiral into a situation like my client and his son, resulting in an extreme forecast of greatness on such tiny shoulders. We end up expecting a lot, and only because we love them SO much...and maybe we believe they can do the things we didn't. Have the opportunities we didn't get, become the star athlete, valedictorian, or prom queen we weren't. It might be hard to admit, but it happens all too easily. The most important thing I want my daughter to know is that my love for her isn't based on how beautiful she is, how well she does athletically, or how quickly she learns her ABC's. I don't love her because she's more intelligent than her peers, or because she's the best pianist in music class. Even if she isn't any of those things, I couldn't be any prouder of who she is becoming & I don't love her for any other reason than simply because she is Charlotte, my sassy stinker, with all her two-year old naughtiness, quirks & curious innocence. The joy in her giggles & the sweetness in her many hugs makes her my beloved child. She may turn out to be a rocket scientist or an Olympic swimmer. But for this short time she's just a silly, stubborn, affectionate toddler who will make mistakes, test my patience endlessly, & learn who she wants to be as she grows..with my help & on her own. I try to enjoy every minute of loving her for who she is today, this time goes by toooo fast.........


Monday, October 22, 2012

Field Greens With Feta & Mandarin Orange Vinaigrette

 I whipped a tasty salad up the other day and enjoyed it so much I have to share. 

 Field Greens with Feta and Mandarin Orange Vinaigrette

1 bag Organic mixed field greens with fresh herbs
A handful of snow peas, chopped into 1/2" pieces
A chunk (as big or small as you desire) cow's milk Feta in water (I get mine at Whole Foods, it is milder than the crumbles or dry chunks I have found in the past at Trader Joe's)
2 Mandarin oranges, peeled and separated
1/4c. roasted and salted Sunflower kernels/seeds
~Toss the first 5 ingredients together and sprinkle sunflower kernels on top. Dress with Mandarin Orange Vinaigrette and enjoy.

Mandarin Vinaigrette

1/4c. Avocado oil
Juice from 2-3 Mandarin oranges (these are in addition to the two included in the salad)
2T. Unseasoned Rice vinegar
1 clove crushed garlic
1/4t. onion powder
Put all ingredients in a glass jar with a tight lid, shake well.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Healthy Fats to Use When Cooking...and the Ones to Remove from your Diet

Lately, I have been hearing more and more about how processed and unhealthy certain cooking oils are, especially when they are heated during the cooking process. I came across some great visuals, (one which I plan to print out and keep on my fridge!) and a few great articles as well.

Healthy Cooking Oils: Healing Natural Oils Safe to Cook with and the Healthy Fats and Oils You Must Avoid when Cooking

Butter IS Better!

Why You Should NEVER Eat Vegetable Oil or Margarine!

What is the Healthiest Oil to Use For Cooking?

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Earthlings--Documentary directed by Shaun Monson, Narrated by Joaquin Phoenix, & Features Music by Moby

From puppy mills & factory farms, to leather/fur traders, entertainment/gaming industries, & medical experiments, this award-winning documentary uses hidden cameras to capture real footage of day-to-day practices which entirely depend on animals for profit. I had to turn away during certain scenes & my eyes were never dry. This is not for the soft-hearted, but important to watch. I will never look at animals the same way, nor am I sure I will be able to enjoy a steak or feel as fabulous in my leather boots.
Directed by Shaun Monson, narrated by Joaquin Phoenix, & features music by Moby. 
EARTHLINGS is an award-winning documentary film about the suffering of animals for food, fashion, pets, entertainment and medical research. Considered the most persuasive documentary ever made, EARTHLINGS is nicknamed “the Vegan maker” for its sensitive footage shot at animal shelters, pet stores, puppy mills, factory farms, slaughterhouses, the leather and fur trades, sporting events, circuses and research

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

The Labeling of Genetically Engineered Food and Information on GMOs

Last November, the people of California voted against Proposition 37, the labeling of genetically engineered food.  What are GMOs?  Where are they hiding in your local supermarket? What companies support GMOs?  Should you be concerned? Read on.....

Genetic Roulette: The Gamble of our Lives 

Who is funding Proposition 37?


"California consumers have the right to know if their food has been genetically engineered. This basic information should be available for consumers on the label the way it is in nearly 50 other countries around the world." --US Senator Barbara Boxer

 Non-GMO chicken vs. GMO chicken

65 Health Risks Associated with the Consumption of GMOs

"Working people deserve to know what is in the food we are feeding our families. Prop 37 ensures our families are able to make educated choices. We’re proud to join with millions of Californians in supporting the right to know what’s in our food." --California Labor Federation

GMO Dangers: How much more proof do we need?
 GMOs more dangerous for children than adults-

Higher Risks for Children consuming GMOs than for Adults

Hidden Dangers in Processed Kids Meals

 Is GMO food dangerous? From Healthy Child, Healthy World

"Listen up, people! I AM NOT A SCIENCE EXPERIMENT!" 

Thursday, October 4, 2012

What is More Important than the Health of your Child?

I have never been more affected by watching a video. By the time it was over, I had tears streaming down my face & goosebumps running along my arms as I completely connected with every image on the screen. It explains my need to read every label, the reasons I have concerns over the ingredients in everything that goes in my daughter's mouth, or on her skin (not to mention injected into her muscle tissue!) It is not the same world be are living in, and our kids are getting sicker and sicker. Something needs to change, NOW.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Coal Tar Dyes--FD&C Red No. #40

 I shared the picture below and the info/links attached to it on my facebook page and got some slack from my processed-food loving friends. The basic summary is that some people really don't care what they're putting in their bodies, as long as it tastes good. Of course, these will be the first people to complain of health issues...nonetheless, my response was this- 
People of all ages that have never participated in activities one would consider "cancer causing" are being diagnosed with cancer (amongst a plethora of other ailments) ever day. People consume these types of products on an normal basis having zero idea they contain carcinogenic dyes that are ILLEGAL in other countries because of how toxic they are. At least when you smoke, there is a clear warning label on the side of the package! FYI Trader Joe's makes licorice that gets it's naturally red hue from elderberries, & it tastes even better than Twizzlers :)
 "Coal Tar Colors (FD&C, D&C) are derived from petroleum waste, research has suggested FD&C Blue No.1 and FD&C Green No. 3 are carcinogenic (cancer-causing), and D&C Red No. 33, FD&C Yellow No. 5, and FD&C Yellow No. 6 can contain impurities
that may cause cancer when applied to the skin. They have been banned for use in Canada and the European Union. FD&C Yellow No. 5 is also used in foods and is known as tartrazine, and can worsen asthma and breathing problems."

"Allura Red is the newest color of the bunch, approved in 1971, and was introduced to replace the banned Red No. 4. Despite the popular misconception, Red No. 40 is not derived from insects (that would be carmine). This azo dye was originally manufactured from coal tar, but is now mostly made from petroleum. It is banned in Denmark, Belgium, France, Switzerland, and Sweden. It was also included in UK’s voluntary phase-out in 2009, due to hyperactivity in children. Red No. 40 can be found in sweets like Twizzlers, soft drinks, condiments, and cosmetics."

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Biscotti on the Brain

My Mom brought over some super yummy biscotti the other day (which my daughter has demanded every morning since: "Scotti, Mommy!") so I decided to try my hand at it, although I am not much for baking. They were just too tasty and went too well with my morning coffee not to try to make a batch. So I found a bunch of recipes online and doctored up my own with what I had in my kitchen.

Almond Biscotti with Dates
1c. butter, softened
3c. whole wheat flour
1c. brown sugar
3 eggs
1t. vanilla
1T. baking powder
1/2t. salt
3/4c. chopped raw almonds
1/2c. chopped dates
First, cream your butter and sugar together in a mixer. Add your vanilla and eggs, one by one, into the running mixer. In another bowl, blend your flour, baking powder, and salt. Next time I'd like to use half all-purpose flour and half whole wheat flour just to get a little finer texture to the dough (though I didn't have any all-purpose so I used all w.w. and enjoyed them just the same).

Slowly add your dry ingredients to the mixer. Beat in your chopped almonds and dates.

Shape the dough into two logs and transfer to a greased baking sheet lined with tinfoil. I've recently made an oil spray out of grapeseed oil with a little water and it's been working very nicely.

Bake at 300 degrees until lightly browned, about 30 minutes. Remove to a wire rack and let cool 15 minutes. Transfer to a cutting board and slice each log into 1/2" slices using a serrated knife. Raise the oven temp to 325, arrange back onto cookie sheet, and bake another 15-20 minutes, flipping once halfway though baking. Transfer to wire rack to cool.

Store in a sealed container and enjoy in the morning with coffee or tea!

Friday, August 31, 2012

Welcoming September with a taste of Autumn

As Fall is quickly approaching, my taste buds have had a hankering for the ever delicious vegetable known as butternut squash. It's still too warm here to make soup, so I thought a pasta dish could work. I've always found sage to be a perfect herb to complement squash, and I love the mild flavor and creamy texture of ricotta cheese. A manicotti was born.

 I started by preheating my oven to 350. I lightly buttered an 8x8 glass baking dish. Then, salted my water, added a few drops of coconut oil, and brought it to a boil. Added my noodles and boiled them for 7 minutes, as the box directed. Using tongs, I removed the noodles and set them aside.

Then I added my peeled chunks of squash to the salted water, brought it back to a boil, and cooked it until it was tender, about 10 minutes or so. Removed the squash and transferred to a bowl.

In a separate saucepan, heat butter over  medium and cook the onions and garlic until soft, but not browned, about 5 minutes. Add to the squash, along with the chopped sage leaves, 2T. milk, nutmeg, sea salt, and black pepper. I then used the flat part of my meat mallet to mash everything together.
I grabbed another small bowl and combined my ricotta with 1/4 c. milk and the parmesan. Seasoned it with sea salt and black pepper. Then I went back to my squash mixture and stuffed it into the mancotti noodles with a teaspoon, and found that it was somewhat easy that way.

 I probably should have used a 9x13" pan, but I used my square pan instead so my tubes overlapped a little.
But they just got enveloped in a yummy mixture of ricotta and parmesan cheese, so who cares what it looked like underneath. After covering the stuffed noodles, I grated a chunk of mozzarella with my favorite kitchen tool of all time (tied with my mandolin)

This tool came from Crate and Barrel, and I love it. Just put the lid on after grating for easy storage. Stays fresh for...well, we eat so much cheese around here it's gone before it would ever go bad, so I have no idea.

I added a decent layer of shredded cheese to the top, laid a few sage leaves in the center, and baked it for about 45 minutes.
I would have loved to have taken a picture of it after it was taken out, but I was doing a hair cut downstairs and it was devoured before I got a chance. I did get one with a sizable piece missing....
And sliced after being refrigerated. Gotta love leftovers!

Squash and Sage Manicotti

2T. unsalted butter
Coarse ground sea salt and fresh ground black pepper
8 manicotti noodles
Half a butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and cut into chunks
3 crushed garlic cloves
1 small white onion, chopped
1/4cup plus 2T. whole organic milk
10 fresh sage leaves, chopped.
1/8t. ground nutmeg
1.5 cups whole milk ricotta
1/2 cup. grated parmesan
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese

Enjoy the rest of the summer. I can't wait for pumpkin season!!!