Monday, December 10, 2012

Calming Food for the Holidays!



As usual, when November, December and all the holiday treats arrive, I have trouble resisting.  Since I control my RA with nutrition, it makes for a painful season if I am not careful.  I haven't done extremely bad, but have definitely indulged in enough sugary and fatty foods recently to have some stiff and swollen joints that called for drastic action with a Prednisone Taper.   So that I stay pain free when the taper wears off, I am also attacking the pain and swelling in my body with the foods that I know calm inflammation.
        
             A smoothie in the morning with berries, yogurt, and flax starts my day out right.
                       I am adding avocado as a side to one meal per day for the good calming effect.
                                 When snack cravings come calling,  I am eating almonds with dried cranberries. 

All of these foods have inflammation fighting properties and help calm dangerous inflammation. 

Tonight I wanted to cook with curry and turmeric as they are powerhouses when it comes to fighting inflammation, not to mention...... I love curry!  I came up with this simple and wonderful curry rice dish that has a comfort food feeling perfect for a cold winter day. 

Curry Rice

2 cups cooked white rice
1/2 cup red onion
1/4 cup diced carrots
1 tablespoon minced garlic
2 teaspoons curry powder
1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 cup chicken broth

Saute the onion and carrots in olive oil until the onions begin to caramelize or brown just a bit.  Stir in the garlic and saute for a minute more.  Add the curry, turmeric and salt.  Stir.  Add the chicken broth and let simmer until the mixture reduces by half, about 5 minutes.  Add the rice and stir together until mixed well and rice is hot.  Serve.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Coyote Ugly girls night in the hood!


Girls nights can be a fun time to relax and cut loose with friends and neighbors.  Our neighborhood is one in which we enjoy each others company and have fun getting together.  We talk, laugh, cry, eat, drink and laugh some more.
 
Several months ago we had one of those nights in our neighborhood.  The theme was Coyote Ugly and the hostess is a very talented person when it come to creating decorations. She went all out on the decorations and we were transported into the old west.  She made a jail and gave us three taboo words that we were not allowed to say.  Drink, hat, and I can't remember the last one, which explains why I did some jail time that night.  (Yes I took my glass of wine in with me so it wasn't that bad!)



As usual, the food was remarkable.  The girls always bring plenty!  There was vegetarian chili, taco salad, green salad with strawberries and glazed nuts, cornbread with honey butter, potato salad, and more! 

Since chili was on the menu, I decided to make mini Whole Wheat Cornbread Muffins and honey butter.  Now that fall is in the air, chili and cornbread are sounding pretty good so it is time to share this recipe with you.  There is no saturated fat since I use canola oil.  There is no white flour or sugar.  Local honey is used as a sweetener.  They are surprisingly light, fluffy and delicious! You can even get away with eating a little bit of the honey butter if you follow Mrs. Mac's Honey Butter recipe made with part olive oil. 

Whole Wheat Cornbread Muffins

1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1 cup cornmeal
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 egg
1 cup milk
1/3 cup canola oil
1/4 cup honey

Mix dry ingredients together and make a well in the middle of the ingredients. 
In a seperate bowl, beat the egg gently and then add the remaining wet ingredients.
Pour the wet ingredients into the center of the dry ingredients.
Stir until completely mixed together.
Pour into prepared muffin tin.
Bake at 350 for 20 to 25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of a muffin comes out clean. 

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Avocado, Cheese and Egg Stacks

 
 
 
My desire to try new recipes seems to come and go in spurts.  I am in one of those spurts again.  So, I pulled out a few Whole Living magazines and ran across this super easy and scrumptious recipe.  What I really love about this is that it works for any meal or even snack time. 
 
I changed the original recipe just a little. The avocado adds a powerful anti-inflammatory presence, so I use more than the original recipe suggests. I have been using Dave's Killer Bread and it is great in this recipe.  This is really filling and fuels the body.  Give it a try :)
 
Avocado, Cheese and Egg Stacks
 
4 tablespoons avocado
1 slice of whole grain toast cut in half
1 slice of low-fat cheese
1 hard boiled egg, cut into four slices
2 tablespoons salsa
 
Spread 2 tablespoons of avocado onto each half of toast.  Top each half with half slice of cheese, 2 slices of egg and a tablespoon of salsa.
 
 
 
 


Friday, August 31, 2012

Summer Rhubarb Coffeecake



For the second summer in a row, we have had an abundance of rhubarb to havest all season long.  We have given away rhubarb, made Rhubarb Sauce, cooked rhubarb chicken (did not taste good so there is no recipe to share), and baked a Rhubarb Coffee Cake.

I found this recipe in King Arthur's Whole Grain Baking cookbook.  I made a few changes to decrease some of the saturated fat.  By decreasing the butter and replacing it with organic cold pressed canola oil, it takes away some of the saturated fat and replaces it with  Omega-3's.  Also, instead of using buttermilk with saturated fat, I added 1 tablespoon of lemon juice to non-fat milk.  Since rhubarb has such a tart flavor, I use the full amount of sugar in the recipe. I buy organic sugar so I feel a bit better about using it occasionally in recipes.  If you have rhubarb, give this recipe a try.  It is moist, delicious, and has become one of our summer favorites!

Cake

2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
1/2 cup unbleached flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup canola oil
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 egg
1 cup milk with 1 tablespoon of lemon juice mixed into the milk
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
2 cups rhubarb cut into small pieces

Topping

3 tablespoons butter, softened
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 tablespoons flour
1 1/2 tablespoons cinnamon

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Grease and flour two 9-inch round pans or one 9x13 inch pan.

Cake:  Mix the flours, soda and salt in a medium mixing bowl.  Cream together the butter, oil, and sugar in a large bowl.  Beat in the egg.  Add the dry ingredients, half at a time, alternately with the buttermilk.  Add the vanilla.  Stir in the rhubarb until completely mixed.  Pour the batter into the prepared pan(s).

Topping:  Combine the softened butter, sugars, flour, and cinnamon in a small mixing bowl.  Sprinkle the mixture over the batter.

Bake until the top is golden brown and a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean.  20-25 minutes for rounds and 30-35 minutes for 9x13 pan.  Remove from the oven and cool on a rack for at least 20 minutes before serving.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Grilled Turkey Breast for a Working Woman's Summer Meal!


Wow!  It has been well over a month since I have posted. July was a fun month...an interesting month..and as you can probably tell, a busy month.  We have been kayaking, had a lot of company, gone on vacation, and I got a job! 

Now that I work outside of the home, the challenge is to keep eating right.  By right I mean a balanced diet that also helps calm inflammation in my body.  As a side note I will mention that the building I work in shares a parking lot with Dairy Queen.  No temptation there on a hot summer day :) 

The first couple of weeks after I was hired were spent training on a full time basis.  Believe me when I say it is taking a bit of time to get used to the new working schedule.  I am trying to be organized and plan meals in order to curb the temptation to dine out. 

Since summer is here, and I am a summer girl through and through, I prefer to be outside whenever I can.   After work it is wonderful to relax on the patio, visiting with my husband while we wait for the barbecue to cook our meal.  We are doing a lot of grilling to keep meals simple, relaxing, and healthy.

Our garden is supplying us with an abundance of lettuce so we put together a salad to go with whatever we decide to grill.  One of our favorites has become Grilled Turkey Breast with a side salad.  The rub that I use on the Grilled Turkey Breast is made with spices that calm inflammation.  Of course, the salad is healthy and calming as well.  Enjoy!

Grilled Turkey Breast

1 Turkey Breast
1 tsp each of paprika, cumin, chili powder, garlic powder, and salt
1/8 tsp pepper
Olive oil

Rub the turkey breast with olive oil.  Then mix the spices together and rub them onto the turkey breast, coating it completely.  Place the turkey breast on the grill and cook for about 35 minutes or until done.  Turn the breast over half way through the cooking time. 

Salad

Fresh salad greens
Sliced red or sweet onions
Sliced sweet peppers
Parmesan cheese

Balsamic Vinaigrette

1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup olive oil

Whisk ingredients together until mixed well.  Pour over lettuce, onions, peppers, and Parmesan cheese.  Toss together and serve.





Friday, June 22, 2012

Thank goodness it's (a sweet sweet) Friday!


I chose this picture because these are now my favorite items first thing in the morning.  I have had a french press for years, but it has been in the back of my cupboard.  A couple of days ago I saw it and cleaned the press up and I am using it again.  I now say "It's a crying shame that I have left it unattended for so long!" 

On the left is my milk frother that I purchased on sale at Macy's about four years ago.  It is the best little invention for a foamy drink fix.

In the center of the picture is a mason jar of local honey that I use as my sweetener.  Local honey has the added benefit of helping your body build immunity to local allergens.  For cost effectiveness we purchased a large container at the local farmers' market and keep a small amount in a mason jar for easy access.

On the right is a container of cinnamon.  I add cinnamon to my coffee not only for the flavor but, because cinnamon is good for controlling sugar levels in the body as well as calming inflammation. 

After I sat down this morning with my hot mug of goodness, I knew I had to share this with you.  The coffee was piping hot, rich and lightly sweetened from the honey.  The cinnamon added a special sweet spice and the frothy milk on top was an extra luxurious treat.  What a great way to start this beautiful Friday!  I wish you all a most wonderful day filled with a touch of sweetness :)

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

The first day of summer 2012



I love summer and today is the official first day of the season that brings....
sunshine
     warmth
          flowers
               vegetable garden
                    strawberry patch
                        time at the lake
                              barbecues in the backyard with family and friends. 


It is just a low key and relaxing season.  Everything about summer says "slow down and relax."  Today is our first sunny day in a couple of weeks and we have been enjoying every second of it out in our yard working on our landscaping project, which I might add is very relaxing for both of us.  Today, several truck loads of soil gave us our workout.  Well mostly my husband got the workout :)  But, now comes the really fun part...planting flowers and shrubs.  


After the work was completed we enjoyed lunch out on the patio while admiring our project.  Truthfully, I think I spend more time admiring projects than actually working on them.  Lunch was a big salad made with fresh lettuce from our garden and an ice cold glass of sun tea. The salad has kalamata olives, avocado, and olive oil that are all rich in healthy fat which helps calm inflammation in the body and tastes amazing as well.  


Fresh Summer Salad

3 cups of torn lettuce (your favorite kind)
12 kalamata olives, sliced
1 avocado, sliced
3 hard boiled eggs, diced (I only use the cooked egg white)
3 ounces of shredded cheese (I used pepper jack for a little extra zip)
Balsamic Vinaigrette (1/4 cup of balsamic vinegar and olive oil whisked together)

Split all ingredients evenly between 2 plates.  Place lettuce on plate. Sprinkle the olives, avocado and egg whites over the lettuce.  Then sprinkle the cheese over the top.  Finish with Balsamic Vinaigrette. Enjoy!

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Snack attack!



My husband and I have a big, huge, gigantic, humongous problem.  We love snacks!  It doesn't matter if we are outside in the yard, inside watching TV, or playing games, one of us will undoubtedly bring up the idea of a snack.  Then we are both on a mission to find something to munch on.  Fresh fruit and veggies are great, but they just don't cut it when we are having a snack attack. 

In an attempt to make a snack that we wouldn't regret, I whipped up a batch of Sun Dried Tomato Hummus.  THEN....I realized we didn't have anything suitable for dipping, except of course veggies, and I...uh...well... already mentioned that the veggie option was not exciting.  After searching the pantry and fridge, the only possibility was a package of whole grain tortillas.  I decided to try and make tortilla chips with them.

I brushed olive oil on both sides of the tortilla and sprinkled with just a little sea salt.  Then I used a pizza cutter and sliced the tortilla into eight wedges.  I placed them on a pizza pan and put them in the oven at 375 degrees.  After 7 minutes I flipped the wedges over and baked for another seven minutes. 

The homemade chips turned out well and were a healthy and yummy alternative for dipping into the hummus.  And.... the best part was that our snack attack was satisfied with no guilt!

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Planting day in May with an evening barbecue


Yesterday was a perfect sunny May day with a temperature of 82 degrees. My husband and I went and bought veggie plants for the raised beds and flowers for the pots in front of the house.  We stayed outside in the yard all day planting and soaking up the sunshine. I always enjoy planting day!


Since it was such a gorgeous evening we decided to make shrimp kabobs with mushrooms, peppers, onions, and of course shrimp rubbed with BBQ Rub.  We grilled the kabobs, put them over lettuce and then drizzled Lime Honey Dressing over the top.  Yummy....delicious.  Perfect ending to a great summer day. 

*Now that BBQ weather is here I made a big batch of my BBQ Rub and stored it in a container to use as a rub for chicken, pork, and steak. It's made with spices that are very anti-inflammatory and tastes amazing. 


1/2 cup Grey Poupon Dijon mustard
1/2 cup honey
3 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons sesame oil
3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lime juice

Combine all ingredients until smooth








Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Good news to report



Since my last post, I have been as good as gold!  My healthy eating habits and exercise are primary in my life once again.  The thing is, when I eat an anti-inflammatory diet my inflammation calms down and I lead a very normal  and pain free life.  My diet is absolutely delicious as I love Mediterranean food, which tends to be very anti-inflammatory.  I get to eat delicious and whole foods.  Avocado, olives, whole grain breads and pastries, whole wheat pasta, salmon, almonds, fruit and vegetables.  The list goes on and on. 

The tray you see above in the picture is an appetizer platter I made to take to Super Bowl Sunday.  I always try to have something available at parties that I know I can eat.  This platter has Kalamata olives, green olives, baby tomatoes drizzled with olive oil and sprinkled with feta cheese.  Grapes are lining the side of the tray.  It was a big hit with everyone. 

Yesterday, my husband and I decided to go to one of our favorite restaurants, Bardenay's.  This place is super trendy,  they have their own distillery where they make gin, rum, and vodka.  It has that hip and happening warehouse feel with comfortable and gorgeous seating.  On a warm day you can sit outside and overlook the water.  Simply fantastic.

 Bardenay's offers a Mediterranean platter that is divine.  It comes with freshly baked pita bread wedges, 2 types of olive tapenade, hummus, sliced and marinated onions, cucumber, and kalamata olives.  A glass of red wine from their extensive wine list compliments this meal perfectly. The platter of food is large so we split the meal. 

One of my downfalls in the past has been blowing my diet when dining out.  We enjoy a lot of friends and family who all love going out to eat.  My goal is to continue finding anti-inflammatory dishes at restaurants.  They are there if you look past the burgers, fries, and deep fried appetizers. The key is willpower and a strong desire to stay pain free. As you know, I am working diligently on both of those areas.

Each day that goes by, I count my successes with eating properly to heal my body and making sure to fit in daily exercise.  So far it has been a great week! 

Monday, April 2, 2012

Why oh why oh why oh WHY?

Strange title but it will all make sense as you read this post.  Why, when I absolutely, positively know better, would I choose to make inflammatory food choices.  Here is how it went down:

I let the Reuben sandwich and fries on St. Patrick's Day woo me. 
 Last week I let the garlic mashed potatoes side dish tempt me and I caved. 
I allowed the giant cupcake at an adorable little bakery to become my appetizer while waiting for a sandwich on white flour focaccia bread. 

I won't bore you with any more details.  I think you get the picture.  Since the list of my poor food choices goes on and on, it is no wonder that I have been in pain.  I am undisciplined and weak where food is concerned.  However:

I won't give up.
I know how to turn this around.
Here I go.....

Today, I have spent time stocking my refrigerator with my arsenal of anti-inflammatory foods.  I seem to do a lot better if I can see great choices in front of me that are ready to eat.  I have both green and kalamata olives, plenty of avocado, mango, salad fixings, and much more.  I am making a menu plan that will keep me on track and help calm inflammation in my body. This will also help us to resist the temptation to dine out on a whim, where I generally make unhealthy choices. 

I began by putting a cleansing drink in the refrigerator that will keep me hydrated.  I cut up a few delicious Meyer Lemons and added them into a pitcher with water.



Next I made a batch of my Sun dried Tomato Hummus.  This is a favorite of both my husband and myself.  It can be a quick snack as a dip for veggies or whole grain crackers.  It can also be spread on sandwiches and in sandwich wraps or pitas. 




I also whipped up a couple of batches of Salmon Croquettes to keep in the refrigerator.  They can be frozen if you are not going to eat them in a few days.  I enjoy having the croquettes with sliced avocado and kalamata olives on the side.  It is a super charged Omega 3 meal. 



Tonight I will be putting Steel Cut Oats in the crock pot for breakfast tomorrow.  After cooking the oats I add flax meal, cinnamon, and a touch of pure maple syrup. 


It is sometimes hard to realize that I absolutely must give up many foods I enjoy.  However, being pain free without having to take extra medications for Rheumatoid Arthritis, makes the journey worthwhile.   I wish you a healthy and pain-free week :)

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Lemon Chicken and Penne Pasta



The past couple of weeks I have been getting back into my kitchen in a creative manner.  It has been so enjoyable and tasty to boot.  My husband has recently been told that he has high triglycerides and is completely on board the healthy eating train.  I don't even have to hide the healthy switcharoos that I do at mealtime.  He has always been more than supportive when trying recipes and encouraging me to eat my anti-inflammatory diet.  Now, though, it is nice to see him REALLY take an active role in eating well.

This recipe turned out very good expect that it was a tad bit too tart.  I have adjusted the recipe to reflect the changes and it should turn out perfect!  This has become one of our new favorites :) 

Lemon Chicken and Penne Pasta

2 chicken breasts
1 medium onion
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon garlic powder
10 ounces whole wheat penne pasta, cooked according to package directions
1 cup white wine
1/4 cup lemon juice
2 tablespoons capers
1 tablespoon dried parsley
Olive oil
Parmesan Cheese

Drizzle oil over the raw chicken breasts and sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder.  Rub the mixture into both sides and cover.  Allow to marinate for 1 hour.

While waiting for chicken to marinate, saute diced onion in olive oil until tender.  Remove from pan. This is a great time to cook the pasta as well.   

When chicken is done marinating,  cut into bite size pieces and saute in olive oil until done.  Add the cooked onions and saute until caramelized.  Then add in the white wine and let simmer so that the mixture reduces by half.  Add in the remaining salt, garlic powder, lemon juice, parsley and capers.  Allow to simmer for 10 minutes.  Add in the cooked penne pasta, stir well.  Serve with Parmesan cheese sprinkled lightly over the top. 




Thursday, January 19, 2012

My true confession of 2011


My blog is long overdue for a post (2 1/2 months overdue), so today is the day. I will start by being painfully honest.  I had a very rough summer and fall in 2011, with only myself to blame.  I quit eating the way I need to in order to stay inflammation free.  I indulged in saturated fatty foods, processed foods and sugary treats. By fall, my body could no longer cope.  I had so much pain I could barely walk up and down our stairs.  Tasks so simple as turning a door knob, squeezing a shampoo bottle, opening a jar, using a can opener had become impossible.  Sleep would beckon me, but my body would scream in pain and not allow the sweet slumber that I so desperately needed. I stopped exercising and put on 10 extra pounds in a very short time.  I felt hopeless.  I came really close to giving in to my doctor and allowing him to set me up for self injections of Rheumatoid Arthritis medications.  Deep inside though, my conviction to eat right was resurfacing at the thought of having the awful side effects of new meds.  Since an anti-inflammatory diet works for me, it is a pretty obvious choice, diet instead of medication is the healthiest option.

In October, I began eating an anti-inflammatory diet again.  I quit processed food, sugar, saturated fats, white flour.  Instead of mindless eating, I began fueling my body again with foods that calm inflammation.  I took my own advice and  practiced what I preached.  It took over two months to calm the inflammation in my body. I am finally feeling great again.  I have been able to exercise and as of yesterday have lost 10 pounds. 

I would like to say, "lesson learned."  I truly hope that I don't give in again and eat food that hurts me. I am ashamed that my self-discipline becomes so weak that I eat wrong.  For now though, the pain and suffering I went through is fresh in mind and I have a very strong resolve!  So, here is to a happy and healthy 2012!