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


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!


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


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.


1 bunch kale
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon sea salt

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. JalapeƱos
JalapeƱos 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


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

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)

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.


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