Tuesday, February 22, 2011

No Bake Compromise

I do my best to eat right and cook healthy meals that are quite tasty as well.  However, I am not above a little compromise to please my husband by trying to preserve the food he loves.  One of his all time favorite cookies is the always simple to make No Bake Cookie.  Chocolate, peanut butter and oatmeal deliciousness.  As a side note, they are one of my favorites too.  I experimented today and came up with a delicious version with a few healthier alternatives. Big bonus....the smile on my husbands face.  P.S.  He doesn't know about the "healthy touches".  At least not until he reads this blog in the morning :)

Chocolate No Bake Cookies

2 cups organic sugar
4 tablespoons cocoa powder
1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup olive oil
1/2 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup organic almond butter
3 cups oats

Mix the sugar, cocoa powder, butter, olive oil and milk in a saucepan stirring often until it comes to a boil.  Let boil for1 minute.  Then add the remaining ingredients and quickly stir thoroughly as it thickens fast.  Drop by tablespoons onto wax paper.  Let cool.  They will harden as they cool.  Enjoy!

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Meyer Lemon

A couple of days ago I went to Costco (as I do quite often) and in the produce section noticed they had Meyer Lemons.  I recognized the name and remembered hearing something amazing about them.  I still have no clue as to what that amazing thing was, but knew I must try them.  So into the basket they went.

When I got home and looked at the lemons, the first thing I noticed was their gorgeous color, deep yellow with a hint of orange.  The second thing I noticed was how full and plump they were.   I pulled out my cutting board and knife and sliced into one.  The skin was nice and thick. The inside was bright, juicy, and fragrant.  I reached into the cupboard for a glass and filled it with ice.  After removing the seeds from the lemon halves, I squeezed each half into the glass.  I then opened a bottle of Perrier Sparkling Mineral Water and poured the liquid into the glass over the lemon juice.  After a quick stir, I took my first drink.  Cold, crisp, fizzy, lemony, and tart.  Delightful!!

Whatever it was that I heard about these wonderful lemons in the past does not matter because now I have my own "amazing" thought of Meyer Lemons. 

Friday, February 18, 2011

Split Pea Soup

Split pea soup is such a simple meal to make, yet it is so nutritious. I love meals like this that are so healthy and filling, yet super easy from start to finish.  Of course I have added a few extra ingredients to mine for a little extra flavor and nutrition.  You can either cook this in a pot on the stove or put the ingredients in the slow cooker and have it ready when you get home from a busy day.  Try it out and see what you think!

1 small onion, diced
1 carrot, shredded
1 tablespoon minced garlic
16 ounces dry split peas, rinsed and drained
6 cups water
2 cups chicken broth
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1 cup cooked ham, diced

In a large pot, saute the onions and carrots in olive oil until soft.  Add the garlic and saute for a minute more while stirring.   Add in the remaining ingredients.  Bring to a boil.  Once the soup begins to boil cover and turn the heat down to low.  Let simmer for about an hour or until the peas are soft.  Make sure you stir it every so often so that it does not stick to the bottom of the pan.  If the soup thickens too much add a little more water until you reach the desired consistency.  Enjoy!

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Follow up appointment

This morning, while visiting other blogs and catching up on the news of my fellow bloggers, it occurred to me that I have not followed up on the February 1st visit to my Rheumatologist.  In my post, Just Get Moving, I had shared with you that due to returning back to my bad eating habits, I was in a great deal of physical pain.  My doctor was not at all on board with my view of treating my RA through diet and wanted me to inject myself weekly with an RA treatment.  I absolutely did not want to add another medication with the many side effects, so we made a deal that I would eat right and return to him on February 1st to show the results.  Of course, any challenge is quite motivating to me, so once again I completely overhauled my diet. 

I am very pleased to say that I am pain free once again.  My doctor was absolutely in shock and thanked me for showing him that nutrition can make a huge difference in healing.  It is quite a challenge to eat for healing and sometimes I fail.  As long as I remain true to eating correctly the majority of the time, I feel great. 

There is one thing that is so very important in nutritional healing where RA is concerned.  People talk to me about the changes they have made and yet they do not notice a big difference.  The problem is that they make a few dietary changes, but still hang on to some of the old eating habits.  It has to be all or nothing.  If you truly desire healing you can not just dip your toe into the water and expect results.  You must jump in all the way.  For instance, let's say that you switch to whole grains and make a fantastic oatmeal cookie recipe that has whole wheat flour for added fiber, plus cinnamon and ginger that are anti-inflammatory.  Those are wonderful choices!  However, if you use shortening or margarine in the same recipe you are sabotaging your efforts because those are both very inflammatory. 

Look through your cupboards, pantry, refrigerator.  What do you see?  If it is processed, full of omega 6 fats, white flour, white sugar, or if you simply cannot pronounce or recognize the ingredients on the label....don't eat it.  Eating whole foods that nourish and strengthen your body can be delicious.  God created our bodies and gave us the food to nourish it.  Man has processed and changed the food so much that our bodies are breaking down.  If you want to make changes and feel alone and need encouragement, please feel free to contact me.  I am definitely not an expert but I am on a lifelong journey to wellness. 

I am closing this post with a quote I have used before from Kevin R. Stone, MD, "The way you live directly affects your joints.  The healthier your lifestyle, the healthier your joints."

Saturday, February 12, 2011

My new favorite grain...Spelt!

Since I purchased the book, "Whole Grain Baking,"  I have learned so much about a wide variety of whole grains.  My most recent cooking adventure included spelt flour, which I had never heard of.  Spelt is a whole grain flour that is delicate and light to bake with.  It has a surprisingly mild flavor that differs from whole wheat, but packs a punch of high fiber and protein content. It does have gluten, but it is imperative not to over mix spelt because it breaks down easier than that of the gluten found in other flours.  Spelt is low on the glycemic index, which means the carbs break down slower and therefore your blood sugar rises slower, and this is better for your body. 

The first recipe I tried using spelt was a bar cookie and was quite successful.  Of course, I began with the original recipe but added my own touches to make it even more healthy.   I replaced the butter with a combination of Mrs. Macs butter/olive oil spread that I make and applesauce.  The spread is simply 1/2 stick of butter and 1/2 cup of light olive oil with a pinch of salt.  Beat well and refrigerate.

My husband loved the dessert.  We were both pleasantly surprised by the delicious flavor and texture of this recipe.  If you are being careful about what you eat this would make a great Valentine's dessert.  Well, even if you are not being careful about what you eat this is a great dessert. 

Banana-Chocolate Chip Squares

1/2 cup Mrs. Macs butter spread
1/4 cup applesauce
1 /4 cups brown sugar (light or dark)
3 ripe medium bananas mashed to make about 1 cup
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 large egg
1 3/4 cups whole spelt flour
1 cup dark chocolate chips
1 cup chopped walnuts (optional)

Cream Mrs. Macs butters spread, applesauce, and sugar in a medium bowl until smooth.  Beat in the bananas, lemon juice, vanilla, baking powder, salt and spices.  Add the egg and beat until smooth.  Stir in the flour, mixing thoroughly.  Spoon the batter into a greased 9 X 9 pan.  Allow the batter to rest for 15 minutes before baking.  That allows it to thicken as it stands.  Sprinkle the chips and nuts on top.  Bake at 350 degrees until the center is moist but not liquid.  Let cool on a baking rack.  If you allow them to cool over night the original recipe says that you get even better results.  We couldn't wait that long and dug into them as soon as they cooled.  They were absolutely delicious!

This recipe was adapted from Whole Grain Cooking.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

7-Layer Mexican Dip

Photo by:  Christopher Walker/Photoxpress.com

This Super Bowl Sunday, pass on those greasy potato chips and fatty dips, and opt instead for this 7-Layer Mexican Dip.  It is sure to be a crowd pleaser.  Serve with Multigrain Tortilla Chips for added fiber.  I buy the Food Should Taste Good brand at Costco for a much better price than the grocery store and they are delicious.

7-Layer Mexican Dip

4 cups shredded romaine lettuce in the bottom of a bowl

1 16 oz. can of non-fat refried beans
1 teaspoon cumin
Then spread on top of the lettuce

3 chopped medium roma tomatoes
½ of a diced red onion
1 chopped avocado
Sprinkle over the bean mixture

1 cup of salsa
Over the top of the vegetables

1 cup of non-fat sour cream
1 teaspoon chili powder
Then spread over the salsa

¾ cup of reduced-fat Cheddar cheese
On top of the sour cream mixture

Serve with
Multigrain tortilla chips


Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Mrs. Macs Sticky Wings

With game day just around the corner, I want to share a great recipe to replace the traditional buffalo wings that tend to be fried.  These are the most amazing chicken wings I have ever had and they have great ingredients, including a good amount of anti-inflammatory ginger.  You can also make them the day before and then a few hours before serving, place them in a crock pot to re-heat them. 

Mrs. Macs Sticky Wings

4-5 pounds of chicken wings or drummettes
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup soy sauce
3/4 cup sherry
2 Tablespoons ground ginger
5 cloves minced garlic

Combine the all ingredients except for the chicken.  Simmer the sauce until it bubbles.  Place the chicken in a sheet pan and pour the sauce over the chicken.  Bake at 350 degrees for 2 hours.  Turn the chicken every 30 minutes.