Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Behold the Mighty Avacado!




OK, folks, our very own Chimmy has an avocado lover's dream dish to share with us. She likes to think of it as an alternative to potato salad. It's certainly a great way to include the many nutritional benefits of this fruit and a delicious alternative to guacamole.


Try it and let us know what you think!


Avacado Salad

Ingredients:

4 granny smith apples, cubed
4 celery sticks, chopped/cubed
4 avocado, cubed
2 hard boiled eggs (or more), cubed-like :)
1/2 lemon, cut into two wedges
pine nuts (optional)
salt
black pepper

Directions:

Combine apples and celery; squeeze one of the lemon wedges (helps keep apples from going brown and adds zing)

Toss in avocado and hard boiled eggs

Squeeze in second lemon wedge

Add salt and pepper to taste

Sprinkle with pine nuts and serve

I change it up sometimes adding dried fruits (dates) or sprinkle some Gorgonzola cheese and use walnuts instead of pine nuts... have fun with it! You can also serve on a bed of greens. I liked it best with watercress and Boston lettuce.

And, of course, I also add however much avocado my heart desires!

--------------------

Thank you Chimmy!

And, if you want ten compelling reasons to eat avacadoes, other than because they are yummy, here you go:

Prostate Cancer Prevention
Avocados have been shown to inhibit the growth of prostate cancer.

Oral Cancer Defense
Research has shown that certain compounds in avocados are able to seek out pre-cancerous and cancerous oral cancer cells and destroy them without harming healthy cells.

Breast Cancer Protection
Avocado, like olive oil, is high in oleic acid, which has been shown to prevent breast cancer in numerous studies.

Eye Health
Avocados have more of the carotenoid lutein than any other commonly consumed fruit. Lutein protects against macular degeneration and cataracts, two disabling age-related eye diseases.

Lower Cholesterol
Avocados are high in beta-sitosterol, a compound that has been shown to lower cholesterol levels. In one study, 45 volunteers experienced an average drop in cholesterol of 17% after eating avocados for only one week.

Heart Health
One cup of avocado has 23% of the recommended daily value of folate. Studies show that people who eat diets rich in folate have a much lower incidence of heart disease than those who don't. The vitamin E, monounsaturated fats, and glutathione in avocado are also great for your heart.

Stroke Prevention
The high levels of folate in avocado are also protective against strokes. People who eat diets rich in folate have a much lower risk of stroke than those who don't.

Better Nutrient Absorption
Research has found that certain nutrients are absorbed better when eaten with avocado. In one study, when participants ate a salad containing avocados, they absorbed five times the amount of carotenoids (a group of nutrients that includes lycopene and beta carotene) than those who didn't include avocados.

Glutathione Source

Avocados are an excellent source of glutathione, an important antioxidant that researchers say is important in preventing aging, cancer, and heart disease.

Vitamin E Powerhouse
Avocados are the best fruit source of vitamin E, an essential vitamin that protects against many diseases and helps maintains overall health.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Coffee "Grounds"


Today’s post is a little different. No recipe. Don't be mad, k?

I do, however, have a “gardening” tip that I thought you all might find useful. If you are not a gardener, it’s okay. Don’t delete me yet.

If you drink the java, you may like this.

If you have a garden, or a lawn, or plants, you may like this.

If you want to lessen your trash load a tad, you may like this.

If you like things that are easy, you are in the right place!

Here it is:
Put a container next to your coffee maker and instead of throwing your coffee grounds into the trash, put them in this container. Every few days, add water to the grounds. Then, sprinkle them directly on your lawn, in your garden, or in your potted plants.

Coffee grounds are rich in nitrogen; in fact, they are approximately 1.45% nitrogen. They also contain magnesium, calcium, potassium, and other trace minerals. (About.com coming in handy, as always.)

Sorry to veer from the usual, friends, but I was so excited to learn this tip a couple weeks ago, I just had to share it, especially knowing how many of you drink coffee. See, I’m FINALLY starting my compost bin when I get back from vacation. (This is after three years of deciding I wanted one. I tend to really drag “projects” out.) And, I learned this in the process of getting ready. I figure it one small step in the right direction, yes?
Thanks for letting me share!
Jeannie

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

The Sweetness of Summer

Summertime. Fresh berries. Synonymous, no?

One of the foods I look forward to the most in the summer is berries. Blueberries, blackberries, raspberries and strawberries..mmmm! And Henry is the same. He can eat a pint of blueberries in one sitting – not kidding.

Last week, I took Henry and Olive strawberry picking. Check out our stash!

Quite impressive, no? (By the way, this doesn’t include the basket that Henry ate while picking. Seriously, the kid is to be commended. )

Besides adding fresh berries to our morning smoothies and just picking them out of a bowl to eat plain, I wanted to share one of my new favorite strawberry recipes. This one is from Weelicious. If you haven’t swung by Weelicious before, you simply must.

Friends, meet Strawberry Muffins.

Strawberry Muffins (Makes 24-28 Mini Muffins)
-2 Cups All Purpose Flour
-3 Tsp Baking Powder
-1/2 Tsp Salt
-1 Large Egg (I use 1 tbsp of ground flaxseed mixed with three tbsp of water as a substitute.)
-3/4 Cup Milk (low fat or whole cow’s milk, almond, rice or soy milk will work) (I use soy milk.)
-1/4 Cup Vegetable or Canola Oil
-1/2 Cup Honey or Agave Nectar
-1 Tsp Vanilla Extract
-1 Tsp Lemon Zest
-1 1/2 Cups Strawberries, chopped

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
2. In a bowl, combine the first 3 ingredients.
3. In a separate bowl, whisk egg and add milk, oil, honey, vanilla, and lemon zest and stir.
4. Using a standing mixer or hand mixer, slowly combine the dry ingredients with the wet until incorporated (try not to over mix the batter).
5. Add the strawberries to the batter and slowly combine.
6. Line or grease muffin tins and fill 2/3 of the way with batter.
7. Bake for 20 minutes or until toothpick tester comes out clean.
8. Cool and serve.

* If you want to make regular sized muffins, fill 12 muffin cups and bake for 25 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.

Enjoy!
Jeannie

Monday, August 2, 2010

Dangerous in the Kitchen

Hi friends. I'm finishing up a project at work and getting ready for a big trip East. So, I've called in reinforcements, aka, friends who kick serious arse in the kitchen. Julie and I met in childbirth class three years ago. She's so healthy and active, it's sickening.....so I thought she would be the perfect person to inspire us and make our tummies grumble for some good eats! Everyone, meet Julie!

Hi, I’m Julie and I think it’s funny that I’m posting recipes. What’s even funnier to me is that I own a salsa company (eat, not dance) and I’m really not much of a cook (Jeannie, here. She's lying.). But, even though I’m dangerous in the kitchen, I enjoy being/eating healthy and really like what I’ve seen on this blog, so what the heck, right?

So, I should be giving someone out there credit for this recipe but now I don’t remember which
website I found it on. So, this is a creative, yummy recipe from someone other than me.

Sweet Quinoa Salad (Sorry to interrupt again, but Julie brought this to my house this weekend and it was DELISH!!!!)

1 c. apple juice
1 c. water
1 c. quinoa
3/4 t cinnamon
2 medium apples, diced
1 c. sliced celery
1/2 c. dried cherries or cranberries (I used cherries)
1 T olive oil
1/4 t salt
1/2 lemon

Combine juice, water, quinoa and cinnamon in a pot. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, cover and simmer 20 minutes. Refrigerate 1 hour. Toss with remaining ingredients.

I made this to serve the next day so I tossed the apple pieces (to keep from browning) with most of the lemon juice first and then tossed everything else.

This turned out great and I think I’m going to have it for breakfast tomorrow!
Thanks, Julie!
Enjoy all!
Jeannie

Friday, July 23, 2010

Calling All Island Lovers


This one comes from Erin. Neither of us has tried it yet, so who will be the first to provide a review? I can hear the waves crashing already!

Tropical Smoothie (from Natural Health Magazine):

1 cup frozen mango
1 cup frozen pineapple
1 cup frozen peaches
1.5 cups coconut water (See below for more info about this oh-so-good-for-you drink)
1 tablespoon lime juice
2 tablespoon agave nectar (Maybe not necessary with all that fruit? You could also add honey instead.)

Friends, meet Coconut Water: It's a good electrolyte replacement after workouts without the sugar and crap of sports drinks. Also, it's lower in calories and fat than coconut milk. Plus, it's a good source of MCFA (medium chain fatty acids), which are good for brain development. Aren't we all in need of a little brain developing? I just bought my first carton of coconut water this week...looking forward to giving it a try!

Surf's Up!

Cheers, Jean

Thursday, July 22, 2010

The Soda Incident


Hi folks,

Remember these posts?

Erin sent me this as a reminder awhile back. For your reading pleasure:


Speaking of, I hear Erin's dad is still soda free, correct Erin/Erin's dad? Three cheers for Dad, everyone!

Cheers, Jeannie



Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Bangkok Coconut Rice and Black Beans


So, first and foremost, gambling is fun. Too fun, in fact. But, it’s the most fun when you are gambling with someone else’s money. Yep, love that. Unfortunately, that doesn’t mean you automatically come out ahead; it just makes going home a bit easier. So sad.

Anyway, onto a new tasty recipe.

Try this one on for size. It’s easy, light, and flavorful. And it makes a crapload, so make sure there’s room in the fridge for leftovers.

Bangkok Coconut Rice and Black Beans
(from The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Vegan Living)

If you’ve ever wonder who buys the Idiot’s series books, that would be me. Sometimes, I just need things to be easy, k?

Ingredients
4 cups filtered water
2 cups brown basmati or jasmine rice
2 tbsp ginger, peeled, and grated (I used ground)
1 tbsp garlic, minced
1 tsp sea salt
½ tsp freshly ground pepper
½ c canned coconut milk (I used lite)
Juice of 1 orange (equivalent to about 2 oz)
Juice of 2 limes (equivalent to 1-2 tbsp; I used two because I love the lime flavor)
1 tbsp toasted sesame oil
1 15-oz can black beans, drained and rinsed
½ c red bell pepper, seeds and ribs removed, and diced
½ c orange bell pepper, seeds and ribs removed, and diced
½ c green onions, thinly sliced
½ c chopped fresh cilantro
1/3 c sliced almonds

1. In a large saucepan, combine water, basmati rice, ginger, garlic, sea salt, and black pepper. Bring to a boil, cover, reduce heat to low, and simmer for 20 minutes or until all water is absorbed and tiny holes appear on top of rice. (Mile high folks, plan for 30 minutes.) Remove from heat, leave covered, and set aside for 10 minutes to allow rice to steam.

2. Transfer rice to a large bowl, and fluff with a fork to loosen grains. Add coconut milk, orange juice, lime juice, and toasted sesame oil; toss gently to combine. Add black beans, red bell pepper, orange bell pepper, green onions, cilantro, and almonds; gently fold to combine.

3. Serve plain or on a bed of chopped greens.

Idiot’s Variation: Chill rice mixture in the fridge for 1 hour or more and eat as a cold salad on a bed of chopped mixed greens.

Note: I reeeeally like rice cooked in coconut milk and was a little disappointed in how little coconut milk this recipe called for, so I added more to the mixture after it was all put together. In the future, I might half the amount of water and use more coconut milk to make up the difference. However, there is something to be said for adding coconut milk AFTER the rice has cooked in its liquid, so I would probably still add a little bit at the end.
PS: Check here to learn about the health benefits of coconut milk.

Overall, I really like this recipe and will definitely make it again. As an added bonus, your kitchen will smell like ginger for at least a couple hours. Mmmmm….Thanks Idiot’s!

Cheers, Jeannie

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Gimme a face card!

Hi friends,
I don’t have a recipe to share today because I was in Black Hawk late last night.
Gambling.

Details to follow.

But, I am trying a new recipe this afternoon. It involves coconut rice and black beans. Look in tomorrow for the recipe.

Cheers!
Jeannie

Monday, July 19, 2010

Veggie Meat

No, not Vege-MITE – that’s Erin's job. I’m talking about vegetable meat…the Portobello mushroom!

I have always loved burgers and Portobello mushrooms. Problem is I never made a mushroom sandwich for myself before a year ago. That’s because I’ve always preferred to make myself a beef burger.
I started experimenting with those big mushrooms when I committed myself to eating healthier. And, I learned that not only is it super easy to grill/sauté a mushroom, but it is super delish! Plus, here’s the cool part, I don’t feel so heavy and weighed down as I would after eating a burger! Thus, this meal has become a staple in our house. (Not sure the kids have caught on yet, but there's hope.)
Plus, here are some fun facts about mushrooms:
  • 1 medium Portobello mushroom contains more potassium than a banana.
  • Mushrooms are a rich source of riboflavin, niacin, and selenium. Selenium is an antioxidant that works with vitamin E to protect cells from the damaging effects of free radicals.
  • Research shows that people who swap out beef for a mushroom consumed 400 fewer calories.
  • Mushrooms contain 80-90% water and are very low in calories.
  • They have very little sodium and fat, and 8-10% of the dry weight is fiber.
  • Mushrooms are the only known vegetable that contains Vitamin D in edible form.
  • Mushrooms provide you with lean protein.
  • They are rich in calcium and iron.
  • Do you need anymore reasons to give mushrooms a try?

    Whatcha need:

    -1 full Portobello mushroom or 3-4 mushroom slices (Depends how your grocery store sells them.)
    -1 whole grain hamburger bun
    -A slice or two of roasted red peppers (drained and patted to remove excess liquid)
    -A handful of greens (I like spinach or a spring mix)
Optional items:
-A spread (I often use Almond-Roasted Red Pepper Hummus.)
-A slice of mozzarella cheese (Despite my vegan tendencies, this is actually reeeeally yummy with it .)
Whatcha do:

1. Wash the mushroom and pull off the stem.
2. Brush both sides with ~1 tsp of olive oil.
3.
a. Saute in a lightly oiled pan on medium heat for about 5 minutes on each side. (You can tell that it’s done when it starts to feel “soft” and gets a bit darker in color.)
OR
b. Grill on the BBQ for a similar amount of time. (This is pretty tasty.)
4. Put all of the above ingredients together to make a sandwich.
5. I’ve been known to add the following as sides:
a. Grilled corn on the cob
b. Green salad
c. Sweet potato fries
d. Apple slices

Tip: Chopped Portobello mushrooms also make a GREAT pizza topping!

What is your favorite way to eat Portobello mushrooms?
Cheers, Jeannie
PS: So sorry that I've been out of touch with you all. I have been working more than usual and we had family in town for almost two weeks. I hope I can get back in the game this week! Stay tuned.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Peach and Almond Smoothie....Well, Sorta


My friend, Stephanie, sent me this recipe the other day and I tried it yesterday morning. I had to make some variations based on what I had on hand. Danny seemed to think it tasted like egg nog, but I didn't think so.

Overall, a good, healthy smoothie, but it wasn’t sweet enough for me. (Although, I did like the nutty flavor from the almonds - yum!) Maybe because of my substitutions? Try the original recipe and tell me what you think!

Ingredients
4 large dates, pitted and chopped
2 cups hemp, soy, or almond milk (I used soy)
2 tbsp Agave Nectar (I didn’t use this….maybe I should have for more sweetness)
¼ tsp vanilla
8-10 almonds, chopped
3 cups chopped fresh peaches (I had one small peach, so I added two large bananas)
1-2 ice cubes (I added more because I like to ensure that my smoothies are COLD)
¼ tsp nutmeg
I also added half of a large mango because I was worried that I wouldn’t have enough for all four of us. That may have messed with flavoring a bit. But, we ended up with four full glasses!

Blend and enjoy!
Cheers, Jeannie

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Speaking of Avocados.......

Okay, so I'm a little in love with avocados! This idea is similar to yesterday’s post, but with a slight twist.

Guacamole isn’t just for chip-dipping anymore. Try it as a sandwich filling and instead of an appetizer, you’ve got a meal!

Guacamole
Three ripe avocados
Three Roma tomatoes
Lemon juice
Salt and Pepper
Fresh cilantro
Red onion (optional for this recipe)

1. Spoon out the avocados (To make guacamole, you would mash the avocado, but cut into chunks for this one)
2. Dice tomatoes
3. One-two tbsp lemon juice
4. A dash of salt and pepper
5. A half handful of fresh cilantro, chopped (I strongly recommend adding this. In my opinion, it makes the recipe.)
6. A half handful of diced red onions (optional)

Mix it all together and spread it onto one slice of toast to make a sandwich. Add a slice of cheese for more flavor and texture. To round out the perfect summer-fresh lunch, add a bowl of fresh berries! Yum!

Cheers, Jeannie

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Avocado Toast

My friend, Stephanie, introduced me to this yummy snack. It’s perfect for fighting off those mid-afternoon/post-lunch hunger grumblings. Plus, there are several health benefits associated with avocado.

About 75% of an avocado's calories come from fat – stay with me, okay? Those are the “good fats." Avocados also have 60% more potassium than bananas. They are rich in B vitamins, as well as vitamin E and vitamin K. They have a high fiber content among fruits. And - as if it couldn’t get any better - it’s known to promote health skin and hair! (Thanks for the help, Wikipedia!)

Oh, and have I mentioned that this is one EASY recipe? Really, it couldn’t get any easier.

Ingredients
Two slices of whole grain bread, toasted
One ripe avocado (It’s ripe if it’s dark – no green showing on the skin, and soft to the touch)
Natural honey
Sea salt

Spread one half of avocado onto each slice of toast (it’ll be chunky)
Sprinkle some honey across each slice
Pinch of salt on each slice

Done!

Evening eating update: Sorry, friends. With a late evening date with hubby, a birthday dinner party, and a wedding this past weekend, I failed miserably. BUT, I ate some reeeeally good food. You understand, right? Starting again tonight.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Grazing: It's Not Just for Cows



We know that one of the best ways to manage a healthy weight and sustain our energy throughout the day is by eating smaller meals more frequently. Grazing on healthy foods throughout the day stabilizes our blood sugar, keeps us satisfied and energizes us for whatever the day throws our way. It's the best way for us to eat but did you know it's also ideal for your toddler?

Being a picky eater is synonymous with being a toddler so how do you get your picky pint-sized person to eat a balanced diet? For starters we need to understand that toddlers are unlikely to sit still long enough to eat a full-blown feast. Snacking their way through the day is more compatible with their busy lifestyle and their tiny tummies.

Dr. Sears developed 17 tactics to tempt little taste buds and minimize mealtime hassles. When you get a chance read the article in its entirety, which also includes a list of wholesome, nutrient-dense foods that most toddlers enjoy.

The first tactic Dr Sears lists is to offer a nibble tray of healthy foods that your toddler can graze on throughout the day. I just purchased this one for the twins and they really love it. I put various fruits, vegetables and whole grain goodies in each compartment and plain yogurt and/or unsweetened applesauce in the dipping tray and then I let them go to town. Even my picky little peanut has been chowing down with her new tray. The tray, and assortment of foods I use, are fun and colorful but I think they mostly like the independence of feeding themselves and deciding which food to dip into which condiment.

Keep in mind that your toddler will still go on self-imposed hunger strikes or fixate on a singular food for what seems like days at a time. Fret not. Dr. Sears says to look at the entire week in determining if your kid has consumed a balanced diet, not a particular day.

He also reminds us that our job is simply to buy the right food, prepare it nutritiously (steamed rather than boiled, baked rather than fried), and serve it creatively. Leave the rest up to the kids. How much they eat, when they eat, and if they eat is mostly their responsibility so we should take neither the credit nor the blame.

Bon Appetite Tiny Tots!







p.s. For those interested in a personal update ... I don't really have one. We are in NoVa enjoying time with family while we *patiently* wait news regarding the status of the work visa. And so we wait. And wait. Our guess is we will still be *patiently* waiting for much of the summer :)
Tra la la.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Having an Organic Panic?


Do you want to buy organic, but fear it’s too expensive?
Don’t fret! Not everything has high levels of pesticide contamination.

The Daily Green recently published a “dirty dozen” list of foods that are recommended to be purchased organic along with a list of foods that are okay to buy conventional. Check it out here.

Here is one interesting fact from the article:

"If consumers get their USDA-recommended 5 daily servings of fruits and veggies from the 15 most contaminated, they could consume an average of 10 pesticides a day. Those who eat the 15 least contaminated conventionally grown produce ingest less than 2 pesticides daily."

In short, buy these organic if you can: (It’s more than a dozen. Don’t ask me!)
Meat
Milk
Coffee beans
Celery
Peaches
Strawberries
Apples
Blueberries
Peas
Nectarines
Bell peppers
Spinach
Kale
Cherries
Potatoes
Leafy Greens
Carrots
Tomatoes (but this one is iffy – read more on the above link)

The following don’t need to be purchased organic:
Onions
Avocados
Sweet Corn
Pineapple
Mangos
Asparagus
Sweet peas
Kiwi
Cabbage
Eggplant
Papaya
Watermelon
Broccli
Sweet potatoes
Tomatoes (see above)

For the most part, I use the general rule that if the skin if hard (melons, avocados, mangos, etc.), I don’t buy organic.

Regardless of whether you are buying organic or not, keep in mind that it is a good idea to wash all fruits and veggies well (ideally with a fruit wash), especially hard skinned items. This is because the bacteria could spread into the fleshy area of the food when you slice it.

How much of your produce do you buy organic?



Friends and Monkees, I'm off to the mountains for a long weekend. See you back here on Tuesday. (Erin, give us an update on your journey to Australia when you can!)

Cheers, Jeannie

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Sweet Potato Fries





Who doesn’t love sweet potato fries!? (If you are ever in the Denver/Boulder area, you must, I repeat, MUST go to the Oskar's Blues Brewery. Their SPF are da bomb....but not as healthy as this one.)

This recipe is so easy, it’s become a staple in our house. And with summer here, this makes a great side at any BBQ.

Ingredients
2-3 medium sized sweet potatoes
Olive oil
Dried thyme and rosemary
Salt and pepper (optional)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees
Skin potatoes (optional)
Cut potatoes to desired thickness and size
Drizzle olive oil to coat fries
Add rosemary and thyme
Add salt and pepper if desired

Line in a single layer on a greased baking sheet(s).
Bake for 20-22 minutes.
Flip and bake for another 20-22 minutes.
Wha-la!

I’ve also made beet fries and they are yummy! You could really try this recipe with any root veggie.


Enjoy!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Late Night Villians

Does anyone else have the problem of late night eating?

Seeing as I love to put food, and lots of it, in my mouth at all hours, I decided to challenge myself to not eat anything after 7 pm. Here is a typical night for me:

NW Denver, 8 pm: I’ve had a healthy, scrumptious dinner with my family and I’m so proud of myself for making it through the day having eaten well. I put the kids to bed, finish up with some last minute chores, then plop myself on the couch for a book or to watch some ridiculous reality show (most likely the latter…Bachelorette anyone?).

Then it starts.

The grumblings that very quickly turn into screams for SWEETS, SWEETS, I WANT SWEETS! or GIVE ME SOMETHING SALTY, DAMMIT! I’ll spare you the gory details, but once it starts, it’s hard to stop. The other night it was SIX OREOS and a half bag of a king size bag M&Ms. (I hear you. A half bag, that’s not so bad right? It was only a half bag because I had eaten the first half that afternoon.) Not kidding.
As you may know, late night eating can lead to weight gain. In fact, a synopsis of a study was highlighted recently in the New York Times. Check it out here.

When I give in, I not only feel bloated when I get into bed, but I feel the same the next morning. I really notice a difference on those nights and mornings where I’ve avoided eating. (A cup of hot herbal tea has helped me ward off cravings.) And it’s hard, people!

So, I’m going to see if I can make it an entire week without consuming any calories after 7pm. Let’s see, that would put me at June 22….and I have a wedding to attend this weekend. Crap! Does alcohol count?

Who is with me? Come on, I need some support and I’m happy to provide it too!

Cheers, Jeannie

Monday, June 14, 2010

Tofu: Friend or Foe?







Tofu can be yummy and here is one easy recipe that proves it.


This is yet another delightful dish from Dreena Burton. I've made it several times and each time it leaves me wanting more.


Believe it!













Orange Sesame Tofu


Ingredients


2 tsp arrowroot powder


1/2 cup freshly squeezed orange juice (or, let's face it, pure OJ from a carton works just as well, people)


1 tsp orange zest


3 tbsp tamari (I've used soy sauce as a substitute)


2 tbsp pure maple syrup


2 tbsp apple cider vinegar


2 medium cloves garlic, minced


1 tbsp toasted sesame oil


1/8 tsp sea salt


1 pkg extra firm tofu, sliced 1/4-1/2 in thick squares, and patted to remove excess moisture


1/4 cup green onions, thinly sliced for garnish


1-2 tbsp sesame seeds for garnish


Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In an 8x12 inch baking dish, combine arrowroot with 2 tbsp orange juice and stir until fully dissolved. Add remaining juice and ingredients, except tofu, green onions, and sesame seeds, and stir to combine.


Add tofu and turn to coat both sides. Cover and refrigerate to marinate for 1 hour or more, or bake immediately.


To bake, cover with aluminum foil and bake for 15 minutes. Turn over tofu, gently stir to cover tofu with sauce, and bake again, uncovered, for another 6-9 minutes, or until sauce thickens and is bubbling at edges.


Remove from oven, sprinkle with green onions and sesame seeds, and serve.


I like to serve this with brown basmati rice (cooked in coconut milk with a splash of lime juice) and a sauteed green (spinach or chard). Enjoy!


What do you do with tofu?


Cheers, Jeannie








Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Start Your Day with a Bang!

Greetings everyone! I am so excited about this opportunity to share some of my favorite recipes and tips for eating and feeling healthy with you. Thank you, Erin!, for inviting me to co-blog with you. I certainly don’t expect to do half as good a job as our fearless leader - no crazy expectations here! But, I hope you’ll stick with me anyway.

First, a message to our Erin:
Erin, I am sooo excited for you to experience the adventure of moving your family to Australia. Excited and insanely jealous! And as Chimmy said, I’m looking forward to getting some good Aussie recipes. What those might be outside of spreading Vegemite on everything, I have no idea. We will be waiting to hear from you when you get settled moving yourself, your husband, and your two 17 month old twins across the globe. (NOTE: If you eat a few more sweets than usual in the process, we understand. Shoot, I get stressed moving myself 10 miles to work.)

Now, let’s be clear on a few things first….I’m not a professional chef, nutritionist, personal trainer, writer…in fact, I’m not much of a professional at all. (Just ask my coworkers.) I’m just someone who is interested in feeling and looking healthy with the main purpose of having enough energy to handle my two kids day in and day out AND sticking around long enough to show any grandkids I might have someday the world. And I guess it would be nice to look good in a bikini and feel confident and sexy for my husband every once in awhile. More on that later….or not.

If you’ve been around the Full.At.Last shop for awhile, you may remember my guest post earlier in the year. This is a good introduction to my “journey” to eating a plant-based diet. I’m happy to report that my cravings (most of which are given into) are still going strong. Let’s not forget Full.At.Last’s golden words: Progress. Not perfection. It literally has become my motto everyday, but I could always use a good reminder.

In addition to a good cup o’ Joe, I can’t start the day without a tall smoothie. (I’ve often wondered, do you think they just cancel each other out?) In my opinion, it’s a great and easy way to get a good amount of your fruits and veggies for the day. I don’t know about you, but fruit is easy for me to eat. Veggies, not so much. So, as long as I start the day with some veggies, I at least feel like I got something.

Welcome to Jeannie’s Smoothie Series! Because most of the recipes I will share with you come from real chefs, I figured I would start with sharing my own smoothie concoctions; I am a slave to other people’s recipes otherwise. Today, I’ll start with sharing my base for most smoothies. Then, every few posts will be a different smoothie.

1 cup plant milk (I use soy, but have also used nut milks)
A handful of ice
2 ripe bananas
1 pear
2 tbsp of ground flaxseed
A couple handfuls of kale

[Remember Erin’s past posts about kale? It’s a superfood! I NEVER ate kale before reading Erin’s blog, so I started adding it to my smoothies. PS: Don’t be scared. You won’t taste it. Promise.]

Then, I add whatever else I’ve got in the kitchen, at least one or two other fruits and veggies.

The great thing about smoothies is that you don’t have to follow specific measurements. Experiment! You will learn what you like!

A little bonus: The kids LOVE them! So, I don't feel so guilty if I end up serving frozen fish sticks for dinner.

Do you have a favorite smoothie recipe? If so, please send it to fullatlast@gmail.com. Either I or Erin will respond and will share it with our fellow FALsters.

Cheers, Jeannie

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Quinoa Summer Salad

Here it is. The salad I currently salivate for each and every day. Mel posted it in the comment section of the previous post but I felt it deserved a day all to itself. So here it is. Make it. Eat it. Love it.


The Perfect Quinoa Salad

3 Cups Quinoa Cooked & Cooled

3 Sweet Potatoes - diced in 1/4 inch cubes
1 Tbls Olive Oil
Salt & Pepper

Toss potatoes in olive oil & Salt & pepper. Roast in the oven on 425 degrees for 30 minutes or until done/golden brown. Remove from oven, cool & add to quinoa.

4 Fresh Corn on the Cob--husks removed
1 TBLS Olive oil
Salt & Pepper

Mix olive oil, salt & pepper in a bowl. Paint corn on the cob with the mix. This is a super fun activity to get the kids involved. It's fun & they can't really mess it up! Roast in the oven with potatoes about 20 minutes or until done. Rotate half way through. Remove from heat, cool & cut off the cob. Add to cooled Quinoa.

2 Bunches of Green Onions - chopped
3 Jalapenos--seeded & chopped
1 tsp olive oil
Salt & Pepper

Sautee green onions & jalapenos on the stove top with a bit of olive oil & salt & pepper until golden. Remove from heat, let cool & add to quinoa.

1 Bag Baby Spinach coarsely chopped
1 cup Pine Nuts

Add spinach & pine nuts to quinoa.

Dressing:
2 TBLS spoon Olive oil
3-4 limes juiced
1/2 cup chopped Cilantro
salt & pepper to taste

Place all ingredients in a food processor & pour over the salad. You can always substitute water for the olive oil to make for a lighter version.

Toss it all together & serve either at room temperature or cold. Experiment with all sorts of other ingredients like mango, roasted red peppers, sun-dried tomatoes, pecans etc.

Enjoy all Summer long!

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Vegemite



Vegemite is a dark brown Australian food paste made from yeast extract. It is a spread for sandwiches, toast, crumpets and cracker biscuits, and filling for pastries.

Vegemite is one of the world's richest known sources of B vitamins, specifically thiamine, riboflavin, niacin and folic acid.

I also have a strong suspicion that it does not taste very good. That is just a hunch though as I have never tasted it. However, since we are moving to Australia later this summer I will likely have ample opportunity to try it.

That's right, I said we are MOVING TO AUSTRALIA. Western Australia. Perth to be exact. Eric has a wonderful career opportunity and the twins and I have an equally wonderful opportunity to live in a Mediterranean climate. I'm already planning my wardrobe and considering what my new beach-friendly hair style will look like. Thankfully my husband is concerned with more practical matters like finding housing, shipping our goods, learning to drive on the other side of the road and other minor details.

With that said, we are very busy packing up our home in Steamboat and temporarily relocating back East while we wait for the work visa and the rest of the details to fall into place. The actual move to Australia should take place later this summer.

As such, our very own Jeannie is going to start contributing recipes, tips, tricks and the like to FullAtLast on a fairly regular basis. She's going to keep the torch burning while I attempt to keep my head above water. I will still be posting, as time permits, but we will be hearing more and more from Jeannie which makes sense since so many of my recipes and ideas are "liberated" from her anyway.

I also encourage other readers with a taste and flair for healthy living and cooking to share your recipes and ideas with us. You can still email fullatlast@gmail.com with your thoughts, inspirations and recipes and either Jeannie or myself will get back to you as soon as possible and/or publish your guest post on the blog.

Finally, I need Mel to send the recipe for the most amazing salad she whipped up this weekend. My mouth waters for this salad. It's a medley of baby spinach leaves, fresh corn, sweet potato, avocado, quinoa and I forget what else, in a tangy little vinaigrette. So delicious. So nutritious. So satisfying.

And, it's another use for quinoa which should make Kelly happy since she has a very large bag of it in her pantry just begging to be used.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Quinoa Cakes

Let's hear it for quinoa ... again.

I know you thought we were done with our quinoa series last week but I just have to share this recipe for the little people in your life. Now, it's not really a recipe per se b/c I didn't measure anything and I just kind of made it up on the fly. However, that gives you complete creative freedom to add your favorite ingredients.

Combine a cup, or more, of cooked quinoa with 3 or 4 eggs, a 1/4 cup of cheese and several handfuls of whatever vegetables you have on hand. I tossed about 1/3 cup of both corn and peas into the mixture but you could really add anything. Fully combine the above ingredients and season with a bit of black pepper and sea salt. Heat a tablespoon of olive oil in a pan and drop 1/4 cup of the mixture into the hot pan and cook until golden brown, turning once or twice.

The twins gobbled these up, especially when I offered a little katsup for dipping. The big surprise was how much Eric enjoyed the quinoa cakes. I was getting ready to freeze all of the leftovers when he promptly stopped me and grabbed two for himself. Voila, dinner was served :-)

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Spaghetti with Beans & Greens



As I've mentioned before, we eat a lot of beans around here, mostly because they are easy to prepare and inexpensive. The fact that they are tasty and nutritious is just a bonus because I'm pretty sure I would still sneak them into meals for the cheap and easy reasons.

Here is a delicious, light spaghetti recipe that is as easy on the wallet as it is your waistline. I always rinse and drain canned beans to remove any excess sodium but you can usually find sodium-free canned beans as well.

Spaghetti with Beans and Greens

Ingredients:
8 ounces uncooked spaghetti (I use whole wheat)
3/4 kosher salt, divided
3 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
2 Tbsp. minced fresh garlic
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper (or more to taste)
2 cups cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
1 (16-ounce) cannellini beans or other white beans, rinsed and drained
5 ounces arugula leaves
2 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
1/4 or 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese, to taste

Directions:
Cook pasta according to directions and drain, reserving 1/2 cup pasta water. Add 1/4 teaspoon salt, tossing gently, set aside and keep warm

Return pan to medium heat and add oil, garlic and pepper; cook 2 minutes until garlic is slightly browned, stirring occasionally.

Stir in remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt, tomatoes and beans and cook 2 minutes. Add pasta and cook 4 minutes, stirring frequently.

Add reserved pasta water and arugula, tossing gently to combine.

Remove from heat and stir in lemon juice and cheese. Serve immediately.

Make yummy noises. Enjoy.


(Just 290 calories and 4 grams of heart-healthy fiber in a 1.5 cup serving)

Monday, May 24, 2010

The Dog Days of Summer



Summer is right around the corner which means more time spent outdoors, and more time exposed to the sun's harmful rays. To help protect yourself and your family please visit the Environmental Working Group's web site for a list of top-rated sunscreens with the fewest chemical ingredients.

There is some controversy about chemical sunscreens and whether or not those that contain vitamin-A actually speed the growth of cancer cells. Your best bet for fail-safe sun protection will always be a hat and lightweight clothing, but when you must expose your skin to the sun consider using natural sunscreen products that contain either zinc or titanium minerals.

Surf's up!







Thursday, May 20, 2010

The King of Quesadillas


This recipe reminds me of something the King - Elvis Presley - would eat. His love of peanut butter and bananas is legendary so why not grill up a tasty version of this classic combination?

I would like to take full credit for this super easy recipe since both my children (well, all three of them if you count Eric), as well as myself, enjoyed this little concoction. However, it was our very own Jeannie C. who shared this recipe with me.

Banana Quesadilla
Spread all-natural peanut butter (or almond butter) on a 100% whole wheat tortilla.

Sprinkle a little cinnamon and slice bananas on half of the tortilla.

Fold in half and grill until warm and golden brown.

Slice, serve and enjoy.

How easy, easy, easy is that? And, if your kids are into dipping food into something, consider a side of plain yogurt or fresh fruit salsa for dunking and dipping.

This is a fast, nutritious lunch for kids and toddlers but would also be a great pre- or post-workout recovery snack for the kid in all of us.

Thank you Jeannie!

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Summer Reading List

For those of you looking for some books to add to your summer reading list, I have a couple of suggestions.

Last week acclaimed author and speaker Geneen Roth was on Oprah talking about her new book, 'Women Food and God: An Unexpected Path to Almost Everything.'



And before you get turned off by her mention of God in the title, you should know that she explains "God" as that longing for something bigger, better and deeper than our daily grind. She uses the word "God" to represent the wonder, mystery and miracle in life that you can't quite pinpoint but that you know is all around you.

Roth says that "if you suffer about your relationship with food -- you eat too much or too little, think about what you will eat constantly or try not to think about it at all -- you can be free. Just look down at your plate. The answers are there. Don't run. Look. Because when we welcome what we most want to avoid, we contact the part of ourselves that is fresh and alive. We touch the life we truly want and evoke divinity itself."

Packed with revelations on every page, this book is a knock-your-socks-off ride to a deeply fulfilling relationship with food, your body...and almost everything else.

Get it. Read it. Love it.


This next book, 'Animal, Vegetable, Miracle' is one that I am currently enjoying:



If you've read any of Kingsolver's novels you know that she is talented writer with a gift for wit and humor and her first nonfiction narrative is no different. This book chronicles the year that Kingsolver, along with her husband and two daughters, made a commitment to become locavores–-those who eat only locally grown foods.

Those looking for healthful alternatives to processed foods will find inspiration to seek out farmers' markets and to learn to cook and enjoy seasonal foods. However, the book's purpose is serious food for thought: it argues the economic, social and health benefits of putting local foods at the center of a family diet and opens your eyes to the age-old truth that you are what you eat.

Get it. Read it. Love it.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Another for the Wee-Ones

I found another crowd-pleasing quinoa mixture for the little ones this weekend. It even got rave reviews from a certain difficult-to-please-little-peanut of ours:



In a food processor, I mixed together a cup or so of cooked quinoa, a baked sweet potato (skin removed) and a ripe banana along with a teaspoon of cinnamon. Voila, dinner was served ... and even enjoyed.



This, along with the quinoa, black bean and banana puree, freezes well so don't be afraid to make a big batch and then store in smaller containers in the freezer. We do and it definitely makes the age-old question, 'what's for dinner mom?' an easy one to answer.

Bon appetite!

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Quinoa & Roasted Vegetables


Quinoa with Roasted vegetables

Ingredients:

1 red pepper
1 green pepper
2 red onions
2 zucchinis
2 large mushrooms
10 cherry tomatoes
8 cloves garlic
olive oil
fresh thyme
ground black pepper

1 cup quinoa
2 cups water


Directions:
Wash and slice all the vegetables except the tomatoes and garlic.

Leave the tomatoes whole and the garlic cloves in their skins.

Toss all the vegetables together in a large roasting tin with olive oil and the thyme.

Season with ground black pepper and a little salt.

Roast at 400 degrees for 30-40 minutes, or until tender.

Meanwhile, combine quinoa and water and bring to the boil; cover and simmer for 10-15 minutes, until it is cooked.

Serve roasted vegetables over quinoa and enjoy.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Quinoa for Breakfast

Quinoa with Plant Milk and Berries



Add some plant milk (soy, rice, almond, coconut) to cooked quinoa and warm in the microwave. Sprinkle with cinnamon, add a drizzle of agave nectar and top with fresh berries or your favorite fruit. Enjoy!

You can also puree cooked quinoa, plant milk, a ripe banana and a sprinkle of cinnamon together for a healthy breakfast for your favorite baby or tot. Yummy and nutritious!

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Quin-What's for Dinner?

Spicy Spinach & Butternut Curry over Quinoa
Chicken or extra firm tofu works well in this recipe as an addition



Ingredients:
2 TBLS sesame oil
1 TBLS mustard seed
1 lb. butternut or pumpkin, peeled, seeded & cut into 1 inch cubes
1 onion, finely sliced
2 cloves garlic
1 inch fresh ground ginger, peeled & grated
1 tsp turmeric
2 TBLS curry powder
2 14.5 oz cans diced tomatoes, drained
1 ½ cups unsweetened or plain So Delicious brand coconut milk, (typically found in refrigerator section next to other plant milks)
1 16 oz package of fresh baby spinach
Pinch of cumin
Sea salt & fresh ground pepper to taste


Directions:
Heat oil in a non-stick skillet or wok, add mustard seeds, and stir-fry until they pop. Add ½ the butternut squash or pumpkin and all the onions & stir-fry gently until the onions are softened & translucent. Add chicken or tofu if using. Add the garlic, ginger, turmeric, curry powder, salt & pepper and stir-fry for 1 minute.

Add tomatoes, remaining butternut or pumpkin and the coconut milk. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat, and simmer, covered for 20 minutes, or until tender.

Add cumin and spinach, cover with lid, and steam for 2 minutes until the leaves collapse. Serve over Quinoa.

Quinoa: Add 1cup quinoa to 2 cups boiling water. Bring back to a boil, reduce heat & simmer 12 minutes. Turn off heat & let set covered 15 minutes. Serve spinach and butternut curry over quinoa.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Keen-What?


Hello Friends. I've missed you.

And I've missed sharing recipes and ideas for living healthier with you as well. It would seem that when I'm not sharing these things with you and being inspired by your tips, tricks and efforts that I'm less inclined to make the best choices myself.

So, without further ado, I offer you a week long series on quinoa. Quin-WHAT you may ask? I will tell you.

Quinoa (pronounced keen-wah) is actually not a grain; it is a seed. It is closely related to the spinach family but when cooked, it is light, fluffy, and slightly nutty in flavor. It is a complete protein, meaning it contains all essential amino acids that are required by the body as building blocks for muscles. It also contains high levels of magnesium which helps relax your muscles and blood vessels, helping to lower blood pressure. Quinoa is also packed with fiber, manganese and copper which act as antioxidants in your body to get rid of dangerous cancer and disease-causing substances. It is also non-allergic and can be used in a wheat-free or gluten-free diet. ‘Nuf said.

Quinoa cooks and tastes like a grain so you can use it anywhere you would use rice or couscous. However, it cooks much FASTER than brown rice and really is a snap to make:

Combine 2 parts water (or broth) to 1 part quinoa (e.g., 2 cups water with 1 cup quinoa) and bring to a boil; reduce heat and simmer for 10-15 minutes until the water is combined.

How easy is that?

For a super simple lunch or light weeknight dinner, toss together baby spinach leaves with sliced strawberries, toasted pecans, cooked quinoa and a sprinkle of goat cheese. Dress the salad with a little bit of extra virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Yum.



Mel’s variation of this includes baby spinach, cooked quinoa, sliced cherry tomatoes, pecans and kalamata olives.

Experiment with your favorite ingredients and let us know what you discover!

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Something Sweet



I have received several questions and emails about the use of Agave nectar and the recent controversy surrounding it.

For the record, we do use agave nectar, sparingly, but we use the raw blue agave which is heated at a lower temperature. (Click on the above link for a full explanation of the process). And the fact that agave is sweeter than HFCS, honey and refined sugar means you can use less of it to achieve the same sweetness.

However, real maple syrup is not processed and is my sweetener of choice. I also use sucanat, primarily for baking, which is processed twice versus white sugar that is processed up to 20 times.

I think the real issue is not that agave nectar should be avoided at all cost but rather that we should all be trying to eat more whole foods and less refined, processed and fast foods. Processed sweeteners are just one culprit in the larger health epidemic that essentially boils down to the fact that we no longer know what real food is. Fresh vegetables, fruit, whole grains, nuts and legumes are no longer the staple of the American diet and that, in my opinion, is the real problem.

So, in your quest for better health I urge you to look at the whole picture – the totality of your diet and whether it is one that promotes health – rather than getting hung up on one particular aspect. Any sweetener, whether refined or raw, should be used sparingly.

The good news is that the less refined, processed foods we consume the more we are actually able to enjoy the natural sweetness found in fruits and vegetables.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Greatest Achievement

I believe my greatest achievement occurred last night when I served my dad a black bean burger ... and he ate it. My dad. The man who would eat cow at every meal if given the opportunity. Yeah, him. He ate a black bean burger. With mild protest, sure, but he ate it so I am chalking it up in the win column.

If you haven't tried a meatless burger yet, try these and let me know what you think. Scroll down towards the end of the page for the black bean burger recipe.

Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Ceviche!

I made this appetizer on Sunday and it was a huge hit. Huge.

It really is the perfect starter for a backyard BBQ, Cinco De Mayo party or any fair weather fiesta. Make it for your next party and watch it disappear in a hurry.



Shrimp Ceviche!

Ingredients:

8-10 limes, juiced

1 sweet onion diced

1 bunch cilantro Chopped

1 pound shrimp raw chopped into small pieces – (any white fish can also be used; just make sure you let it all marinate in the lime juice for 24 hours before eating)

2 baskets grape tomatoes, sliced or diced

1 cup bold & spicy Bloody Mary mix (look for an all-natural mix that does not contain high-fructose corn syrup)

4 Jalapenos, diced

2-4 Avocados, diced

Directions:


Dice all veggies and put all in a bowl. Let set in fridge 24 hours, stirring a few times. Just before serving, slice and add the avocados. Serve with all-natural blue corn chips.


Pour leftover ceviche over a green salad for a delicious lunch the next day!

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Kale Chips



By now you probably know that I am obsessed with the nutritional benefits of kale, so much so that I blend it into my morning smoothie. It is, quite possibly, the single most nutritious thing you can eat (even though it didn't land on The Doctor's top ten spring food list). And now I offer you another way to enjoy this nutritional powerhouse: kale chips.

That's right, I said chips.

Admittedly, they are hardly an even swap for potato chips; however, if you are craving something salty and crunchy these will definitely do the trick. They also make good "croutons" for soup and are a great healthy snack option for little people.


Ingredients:

1 bunch kale
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon sea salt

Directions:
Preheat an oven to 375 degrees.

Wash and thoroughly dry kale.

With a knife carefully remove the leaves from the thick stems and tear kale leaves into bite size pieces.

Drizzle kale with olive oil and sprinkle with sea salt.

Bake until the edges brown but are not burnt, and kale is crispy; about 12 to 18 minutes, depending on your oven.

Enjoy :)


Also, I am headed back to VA today to spend time with family and meet our newest addition, baby Lucy, so I will be posting on reduced schedule the rest of April. If you enjoy the blog, I encourage you to sign up as a follower so you know when a new post is up and ready for viewing.

I will miss you all but I am really looking forward to smothering my newest little cousin, and her adorable older brother, with a thousand smooches. And escaping the snow. I'm really excited about that too.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

You Are What You Eat



I am a firm believer that you are what you eat. If you want to look and feel your best it all starts at the dinner table. And the lunch line. And the breakfast nook.

Evidently The Doctors agree with me because they aired the top ten Spring foods for good health on yesterday's episode. Try and work some of these into your diet and consider it your internal Spring cleaning.


1. Dandelion
Dandelions have been used for centuries to treat liver problems. The weed is rich in vitamins A, C and K, as well as beta-carotene and antioxidants. Taking a dandelion supplement can help improve production of bile in the liver. (You could also try dandelion tea).

2. Ginger
Ginger root, a diuretic, helps the kidneys flush toxins from the body.

3. Blueberries
Blueberries are the ultimate brain food. The tiny fruit packs a big punch with the highest concentration of antioxidants per serving among fruits. They also helps boost neuron signals in the brain.

4. Salmon
Omega-3 fatty acids, the unsaturated fats found in salmon and other fatty fish, help reduce the risk of heart disease. The American Heart Association recommends that people eat fish rich in omega-3 fatty acids at least twice a week.

5. Avocado
Avocados are high in vitamins C, B6, E, K, as well as potassium and copper, all of which work wonders for the skin. The fruit helps restore hair’s luster as well. See how to make your own avocado hair mask!

6. Spinach
Spinach is high in the carotenoid lutein, a natural antioxidant that can help protect the eyes from cataracts, macular degeneration and other diseases.

7. Broccoli
Broccoli helps condition hair. The vegetable is high in vitamins A and C, which the body needs to produce sebum, an oily substance secreted by hair follicles to keep it healthy and shiny.

8. Flax Seeds
Flax seeds are an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids and protein, which help build muscles.

9. Jalapeños
Jalapeños contain capsaicin, an active component of chili peppers that has potent antibacterial properties. Capsaicin stimulates secretions that clear mucus from your nose, which relieves nasal congestion and helps fight and prevent sinusitis, or chronic sinus infections. See the sinus buster in action!

10. Celery
Celery is one of the best foods for teeth. The amount of chewing required to break down the crunchy vegetable increases the production of saliva, which helps destroy bacteria that cause plaque.

.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

So Long Soda Update

Big news people. Big. I'm talking HUGE.

Since this post, my dad has not had a single soda. Not one. That's over an entire month without soda. It just goes to show that you can teach and old dog (no offense dad) new tricks. Who knew?

So, it got me thinking about how everyone else is doing with their various goals. Em, are you adding in strength training? Kelly, are you getting in that extra day of cardio? Chimmy, are you exercising like it's part of your soul once again? Courtney, are you walking on the treadmill? Glennon, are you squeezing in a day or two of yoga - perhaps on your new porch overlooking the bay?

Consider this post a friendly little nudge to remind yourself of your goals. Perhaps you need to adjust those goals to fit within your current life-demands. That's okay. It's never an all-or-nothing proposition because, here at Full At Last, we are always focused on progress, not perfection.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Wee-licious



I get a lot of questions about what I feed my babies. The short answer is, anything they will eat. And, at least for my little peanut, that usually isn't much. She is famous for her hunger strikes and for chewing food but not actually digesting it. And that is probably why she's still a peanut and her brother is more of a walnut. Or a coconut.

The long answer is that when I find something healthy that they actually like I make large batches of it and freeze smaller portions so I always have something on hand when the natives get restless. For the most part you can freeze just about anything, with the exception of cooked pasta which tends to get gummy when thawed. So, I make whole wheat pancakes, french toast and various "chunky" purees and stock my freezer each week. That way I have all the convenience of packaged foods with none of the preservatives, chemicals or processing.

Two of the twins' current favorites are Banana French Toast and Black Bean Banana Quinoa.

For the French toast, I combine organic eggs, soy milk, cinnamon, agave nectar or honey and a ripe banana in a blender. Then I soak 100% whole wheat or spelt bread in the mixture and grill it until golden-brown. I literally make this by the loaf and then cut it into sticks that I freeze in twin-sized portions. It makes a great on-the-go snack for the babies that is both nutritious and minimally messy, my only two criteria for snacks. This is also the only thing that I can get Abby to eat on certain days so it's critical to keep the freezer stocked.

Black Bean Banana Quinoa is another big crowd-pleaser. I know it sounds kind of gross but the babies LOVE it. And it couldn't be easier. In a food processor, or blender, combine a ripe banana, 1 can of black beans (rinsed and drained), a cup of cooked quinoa and a drizzle of agave nectar or honey. Quinoa is crazy nutritious and is a complete protein that contains all 8 essential amino acids. Black beans are no slouch either thanks to their high fiber and protein content and anti-oxidant rich properties. It's so stinking nutritious that I turn a blind eye to the fact that, without fail, Abby massages little fist fulls of it into her hair each time I serve it.

Black beans, or any beans really, make great "finger food" for babies and toddlers so don't be afraid to experiment. You might be surprised by what your little one will enjoy.

And, when you have a chance, check out Weelicious which is a great resource for baby and kid-friendly recipes.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Four Moves to Fab Abs

Fab abs are as easy as 1-2-3-4.



OK, well it's not that easy. But these are some good tummy tightening moves worth trying.

It's true that you can't spot reduce per se, but the four abdominal exercises explained in the link above will strengthen your core and, with proper diet and cardiovascular exercise which burns body fat, will yield a tighter tummy. More importantly, strong abs help reduce low-back pain which at least 1 in 4 adults suffer from at some point during their life.

So, whether you want to look better in a bathing suit or stave off low-back pain, it is worth incorporating these four moves into your exercise program.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Too Good to Be True Tacos


These tacos are good.

Too good to be good for you.

Too good to be true I tell you.


Vegetarian Tacos with Spinach, Corn and Goat Cheese

Ingredients:
1 Tablespoon olive oil
1/2 onion, chopped
1 teaspoon chopped garlic
1 1/2 teaspoons chili powder, or more to taste
Sea salt and black pepper to taste
1 red bell pepper, chopped
1 package extra-firm tofu - drained and patted dry, then crumbled
1 10-ounce package frozen corn (2 cups), thawed
1 5-ounce package baby spinach (about 6 loosely packed cups)
8 small flour tortillas, warmed
3/4 cup crumbled fresh goat cheese
3/4 cup fresh salsa (store bought or homemade)

Directions:
Heat oil in large pan over medium-high heat; add onion, garlic and red pepper and saute for a few minutes (until onions are translucent).

Add the crumbled tofu (or crumble as you saute) and the chili powder and 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon black pepper. Cook, tossing occasionally until golden brown (4-5 minutes).

Add the corn and cook until heated through, about 2 minutes. Add the spinach and 1/4 teaspoon salt and pepper and toss until wilted.

Fill the warmed tortillas with the tofu mixture and top with goat cheese and salsa.

Enjoy.


PS. this is NOT an April Fool's joke: Eric actually ATE and ENJOYED the tofu tacos.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

A Party in My Mouth

We interrupt our regularly scheduled blog post to tell you about the salad I just had for lunch. Picture crisp Romain lettuce tossed with caramelized onions, sweet dried cherries, spicy pecans and creamy goat cheese, dressed lightly with some sort of a fruity vinaigrette. It was a party in my mouth and I'm sad to report that there are no leftovers.

If you live in Steamboat you need to swing by Freshies immediately for the "Meadows" salad. For those of you who unfortunately do not live here, you really should whip up this little number at home. You won't be disappointed.

Check out the post below about Seal Team boot camp training, especially if you live in the Richmond, VA or Northern VA/DC areas. There's no time like the present to sign up for serious ass-kicking. You'll be glad you did!

Seal Team



As most of you already know, I was a personal trainer for several years before trading in my sneakers and spandex for my oh so glamorous day job as mom, maid and short-order cook. However, it wasn't until I moved to Denver, where the weather is more often fantastic than not, that I started teaching fitness boot camps. I am now a HUGE proponent of boot camp style exercise. There's something magical about how intense, outdoor group fitness classes can transform you, both mentally and physically.

First of all, there's just no substitute for good old fashion fresh air combined with a friendly ass-kicking. Combine that with an opportunity to meet new people and be pushed beyond your limits and you have the recipe for success. It's also relatively cost-effective. A private personal training session can cost upwards of $70/hour and most boot camps charge around $10-$15 per class. You get the same instruction, experience and motivation for a fraction of the price. And, since every workout is different you are constantly challenging new muscles which is the key to seeing results. Finally, of course, there is the accountability factor. Most of us, by nature, are more likely to keep a commitment if we have made a verbal and/or financial commitment to do so.

Once upon a time my sister-in-law was not much for exercising. Sure, she was always active, you know, working in the garden and chasing children but she would typically not run unless she was being chased. And then she discovered Seal Team training which is essentially an outdoor boot camp that is run by ex-Navy Seals. Can you say, hard core?

Anyway, she absolutely LOVES this training program and has been doing it for a few years and, two years ago, she started running marathons. That's right people, MARA-FREAKING-THONS. The same girl who used to shake her head in confusion when I would say I loved running now chooses to run. I know that she attributes much of her lifestyle change to her experiences with Seal Team. (Alycia, please add your two-cents in the comments about your experiences with this particular program. You've always had nothing but the best things to say about it.)

The reason I'm telling you this is that she recently informed me that Seal Team has just started offering classes in the Northern Virginia area. I know many of you reside in the NoVa/DC area and I thought you might be interested in checking out this program. Spring is here and there really is no better time to get outdoors and get your heart pumping.

For more information, please visit:
www.sealteampt.com

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Plastic Shoes & Vegan Brownies


Grab your plastic shoes ... I have another vegan recipe to share, courtesy of our very own Mel.

Let me preface this recipe by saying that these are not "low-cal" so they should be enjoyed in moderation, especially if you have a weight-loss goal. However, the fat comes from heart-healthy, unsaturated sources like walnuts and avocados and the dates and agave nectar supply the all-natural sugar, making them a superior, health-conscious choice to traditional brownies.

This recipe is also gluten-free and contains no dairy so they are a good treat for those with wheat or dairy allergies as well as anyone looking to eliminate refined sugar, flour and saturated dairy-fat from their diet. Or for those with mean doctors who tell them to stop eating processed foods entirely. See Glennon you CAN have your brownie and eat it too! And they don't require any cooking either.

Raw Vegan Brownies

Ingredients
Brownie:
1 c walnuts
1 c dates
1/4 c cocoa powder

Icing:
2 ripe avocados
1/4 c agave nectar
1/4 c cocoa powder
2 T coconut oil
1 T vanilla extract
dash salt
dash cinnamon


Directions
Combine brownie ingredients in a food processor (or Vitamix or blender) and blend until completely combined (mixture will be dry and slightly chunky); press into a pan.

Combine icing ingredients in a food processor (or Vitamix or blender) and blend until completely smooth. Spread icing over brownies and pop in the freezer to set for at least one hour before serving.

Optional:
I added a few drops of peppermint oil to the icing to create decadent mint chocolate brownies. Seriously good people.

Taste Notes:
I did not have coconut oil on hand so I omitted it from the recipe altogether. The icing tasted fine without it but I think it did not "set up" quite as firm as Mel's batch that included the oil. However, it was not a hugely noticeable difference and I store mine in the freezer anyway.

Taste Team:
Mel's three boys went nuts for these brownies. They absolutely loved them, as did the rest of us with the exception of Eric who refused to try them on the grounds that I was "bastardizing" the brownie.

For those of you familiar with Lara Bars, the brownies have a similar consistency. And, as long as we are on the topic of Lara Bars, they are the only packaged "energy" bar that I generally recommend because they contain raw, all-natural ingredients and are minimally processed. (Sorry SLM, they all contain nuts).

Monday, March 29, 2010

Perfect Pasta

Phew. I was busy last week. In addition to spending time with good friends, I spent the week learning to make my own pasta. And by "make" I do not mean boiling water and waiting 5-7 minutes for store-bought, dried pasta to cook. I mean actually making the dough and using my new Kitchen Aid pasta attachment (happy early birthday to me!) to make whole wheat linguine and butternut squash ravioli.

Last year for my birthday my parents got me this gorgeous, shiny stand-mixer that, I must admit, makes my heart beat a little faster when I see it:



It's like a shiny new car, without the new-car smell of course.

And this year, much to Eric's relief, I purchased myself the pasta attachments for my birthday since my pasta-making-fool of a friend, Sam, was coming to visit. I wanted to take advantage of her know-how so I wouldn't actually have to read the directions on how to operate the various attachments. Directions can be so ... tedious.



The whole process is actually pretty simple and you can make the dough ahead of time and freeze it so you have some on hand whenever you want fresh pasta. Or when your friend comes over with her three boys looking for an activity as well as something to feed her family for dinner. You can also make batches of fresh pasta and freeze them in little bundles which will cook in about the same amount of time as dried pasta. The twins devoured the homemade linguine and I felt a strange satisfaction seeing them eat something I made from scratch.

I think the ravioli is particularly fun because you can experiment with the fillings and enlist help from your children. Well, not my children ... but you know, older ones who understand raw dough is not for eating or shoving in a sibling's ear.

We roasted butternut squash with some olive oil, salt and pepper and then pureed it with some fresh sage for a ridiculously delicious filling. However, you could literally fill the ravioli with anything. I think that concocting your own filling really is half the fun and, as an added bonus, the puree can double as baby food.

I realize the process of making pasta from scratch may seem daunting for some of you but I wanted to share the dough recipe I used for those of you who may be feeling ambitious. I actually found the whole experience very relaxing and think it will be a fun activity to do with the twins when they are a little bit older.


Basic Wheat Pasta Dough

In the bowl of stand-mixer, combine:

2/3 Cup whole wheat flour
1 1/3 Cup all-purpose flour
3 eggs
1 teaspoon salt
2 Tablespoons olive oil

Stir ingredients with paddle attachment for 30-60 seconds, until slightly combined. Switch to dough hook and mix for approximately 2-3 minutes on medium speed until dough forms a ball. You can add water 1-2 teaspoons at a time if necessary to form ball.

You can use dough immediately or allow to chill in refrigerator up to 24-48 hours prior to use or freeze for future use. We used the same dough for the linguine as well as the ravioli.


Has anyone else dabbled in making their own pasta? If so, please share your tips, tricks and recipes with us since I am clearly a novice in this department.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Yes, We Have No Bananas Today

Meet my partner in crime, former training buddy and dear friend, Sam:



She is here, in Steamboat, with her boyfriend visiting us for the entire week. Yeah for me. Not so yeah for you. I will not be posting the rest of the week because I will be devoting my time to being the hostess with the mostess and catching up with sweet Sam.

A couple of updates before I go:

LWL informed me that she completed her half-marathon. Yeah LWL! Well done!

SouthLakesMom told me that Pollan's "Food Rules" is on sale for just $5 on Amazon.com.

And, finally, if you haven't tried the almond red pepper hummus that Jeannie shared with us last week, please do so. We made it yesterday and it was a big hit.

Have a great week!

Friday, March 19, 2010

No Excuses Workouts



OK, I admit that I usually don't think much of the workout segments featured on morning television; however, this segment featured on the Today Show this week has some excellent full-body moves that really engage the core. The moves don't require any equipment (you can use paper plates for the "slides") and only take about 15 minutes. And, come on, we can ALL find 15 minutes to do a few exercises at home or while traveling. No excuses friends.

This video segment is another great workout series you can do at home with just a pair of light dumbbells. As you get stronger you can increase the amount of weight you are using. Each move is a "compound" movement, meaning that you are working multiple muscle groups with each exercise. Compound movements are great because they elevate your heart rate and work several muscle groups at a time, increasing your calorie and fat-burn.

These workouts are great for those of you trapped at home with little ones or too busy to get to the gym between full-time jobs, family and busy social calendars. Find 15 or 20 minutes in your day and fire up one of these videos for some full-body strength training. You'll be glad you did.

Also, let's take a moment to give LifeWithLove a big shout-out. She is running a half-marathon this weekend and could use our support. You go girl!

Let's get to work friends, summer is fast approaching!