Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Favorite Gifts for Foodies List!!




The giflt of local farm fresh food straight to your door with the gift of a CSA basket( community supported agriculture). Sign up for one today in your community and get CONNECTED! Here is the link:http://www.localharvest.org/csa/


If you are going to eat meat why don't you make it beautiful, grass-fed, sustainable, yummy ORGANIC meat. U.S. Wellness meats is one of THE BEST companies out there. They ship directly to your house. Here is the link:http://www.grasslandbeef.com/Page.bok?file=about.html


The ONE cookbook EVERYONE should own, Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon. Get it here:http://www.amazon.com/Nourishing-Traditions-Challenges-Politically-Dictocrats/dp/0967089735/ref=sr_1_cc_1?s=home-garden&ie=UTF8&qid=1323303728&sr=1-1-catcorrA Vegetable Mandolin! This is the perfect way to make scalloped potatoes, veggie lasagna, or to thinly and perfectly slice fruits and vegetables in no time. I love my mandolin! Here is the link:http://www.amazon.com/Mandolin-Food-V-Slicer-Interchangeable-Blades/dp/B003VI9IHY/ref=sr_1_sc_2?s=home-garden&ie=UTF8&qid=1323303510&sr=1-2-spell

A Dehydrator for making dried fruits, vegetables and KALE CHIPS!!! Here is the link:http://www.amazon.com/Nesco-FD-75PR-700-Watt-Food-Dehydrator/dp/B000FFVJ3C/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1323303330&sr=8-
Do you love Cappuccino foam but HATE the cofeehouse prices? THIS is the tool for you this hand held frother foams milk to perfection in about 60 seconds. I use this every morning in my coffee. LOVE THIS!! Here is the link:http://www.amazon.com/HIC-Brands-That-Cook-005/dp/B0002KZUNK/ref=sr_1_1?s=home-garden&ie=UTF8&qid=1323302723&sr=1-1
A Cast iron Grill pan. I use mine ALL the time for vegetables and meats. I love this pan!!! Here is the link:http://www.amazon.com/Lodge-Color-Square-Grill-Island/dp/B001QFYAKE/ref=sr_1_8?s=home-garden&ie=UTF8&qid=1323302585&sr=1-8
Need ONE pan that does everything? Buy an enameled cast iron dutch oven. This one is 7.5 Qt. They are amazing! Here is the link :http://www.amazon.com/Lodge-Color-7-5-Quart-Dutch-Caribbean/dp/B0039UU9U4/ref=sr_1_2?s=home-garden&ie=UTF8&qid=1323302461&sr=1-2

THE BEST grater ever are MICROPLANES!! I have one and I LOVE IT!!! This is great for greating cheese, zesting citrus, nutmeg, garlic, chocolate...;) You name it. Everyone should own one! These are available at all kitchen stores but here is the link from Amazon.com:

The coolest peeler out there. This is called a Kuhn Rikon peeler it makes ' noodles' out of zucchini= "Zoodles"- seriously fun and way cool! It is available at Amazon.com. Here is the link:http://www.amazon.com/Kuhn-Rikon-Julienne-Peeler-Red/dp/B000H7MTU0/ref=sr_1_1?s=grocery&ie=UTF8&qid=1323302001&sr=1-1
Never cry while chopping onions again with these ONION GOGGLES!!:) They are available at Sur la Table, Bed Bath and Beyond and Amazon.com. Here is the link:http://www.amazon.com/White-Tear-Free-Onion-Goggles/dp/B0013HVYTU/ref=sr_1_cc_2?s=grocery&ie=UTF8&qid=1323301781&sr=1-2-catcorr

An Herb Grinder! I use this when I cook exotic foods . I toast my spices and then grind them up. YUM-O!

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Focused Eating: My Go To Guide For Optimal Digestion.

Where are most of your meals and snacks consumed.....

In front of the television?


In front of the computer?

Go, go go! We are a nation of multi-taskers and efficiency wizards. We are overworked, over scheduled and manically scrambling around to get all the things done we set out to accomplish each day. Having a nice home cooked dinner is the last thing that many of us think of. Dinner has become yet another thing to juggle and many of us do not have the time to plan out a menu, shop for it and cook it. The typical American eats out 4-5 times per week. In a highly concerning new study, reports show that one of the fastest growing diseases in America is Gastreoesophogeal Reflux Disease (GERD) now plaguing over 60 million Americans. Do you think that our food choices and lifestyle could have anything to do with this new rise in GERD in our society?
I do.

The Symptoms of GERD:

- Heartburn

- Acid Reflux

- Laryngitis upon waking.

- Unexplained sore throat.

- Thinning enamel on teeth.

- Irritated gums.

- Bad breath.

- A bitter or sour taste in the mouth.

- Dysphasia- irritation while swallowing or a sensation that food is getting stuck in the esophagus.

- Feeling of a lump in your throat.

- Asthma

- Ear aches.

- Chronic dry cough.


Let's take a moment to give you the EXTREMELY BASIC version of digestion. 


The very FIRST place that digestion starts is in the BRAIN. Your senses register the food that you are going to be eating: your eyes gaze upon the beauty, you smell the aroma and your mouth begins to water in anticipation of the incoming tasty delight. The brain sends a message to the stomach letting it know that something will be making its way to it shortly and to gear up for the job. This triggers a chain reaction that is continued to the liver, gallbladder, pancreas, small intestine and finally the large intestine and beyond.The problem with eating on the go is that when we are not present with your food you are forfeiting yourself of the optimal digestive experience leading to stress to our body. Studies show that it takes nearly 20 MINUTES for the brain to register that the stomach is full. If you were to answer honestly, how long does it typically take you to eat a meal? 10 minutes.... maybe? Many of us take the momentum of life and apply it to our meal times. We are disconnected from the food we eat and aren't even aware of what it was that we just put in our mouths. We do not appreciate the beauty, the aroma, or even the taste when we are eating food carelessly and without mindfulness. We eat too fast and too much.We do not properly chew our food which causes more stress on our stomach and irritates our intestines.We eat in stressful situations and make poor food choices which directly effects our level of stomach acid in our stomach. 


Stomach acid is one of the first lines of defense against bacteria and pathogens, it is imperitive for healthy digestion. Poor digestion leads to a myriad of health complications including mineral and vitamin deficiencies that control basic health and body function. Our food choices and lifestyle has made us sick. We are now a nation that pops Tums and Rolaids like after dinner mints. We drink Pepto-Bismol and take Prilosc and other beta blockers because we didn't slow down and take the time to think about what and how we are eating. The problem with relying on these pills is that it covers up the symptoms and may actually exacerbate the problem.

Here Is My 'Go to Guide' for Proper Eating and Optimal Digestion:

- Slow down. Be present with your food allowing 30 minutes of undistracted time for your meals.
- Practice Gracious Eating- be thankful for your food.
- Chew your food thoroughly and slowly. (Remember, this is NOT NASCAR.)
- Put your fork down between bites.
- Eat until you are 80% full.( It takes 20 MINUTES for your stomach to send a message to your brain to register that you are full.)
- Sip no more the 6 oz of water with your meal. Avoid ice water as it stresses out your digestive system. Also note that too much water can dilute stomach acid which you need to break down your food.
- Make sure you have a variety color and texture on your plate. Food should be fun! Crunch it, slurp it and chew it!
- Practice Conscious Eating: Be AWARE of HOW the food made you feel after you eat it.
Do you feel: energized, tired, bloated,irritable,unable to think, gasy?


My Natural Approach to Living With GERD:

1. Quit taking Rolaids, Tums and Prilosec that bandaid symptoms and screw up your body! Prilosec is a beta blocker which means that it inhibits the stomach acid pumps from firing and producing stomach acid. This is a major problem because YOU NEED STOMACH ACID to help break down your food. As mentioned earlier, stomach acid is also one of the first lines of defense for bacteria, germs and pathogens. If you aren't producing stomach acid you are more susceptible to digestive issues, vitamin and mineral deficiencies, it causes more stress on the other organs of your body and makes you more vulnerable to sickness and disease.



- Incorporate Natural Omega 3 and Omega 6 's into your diet. For example: Avocados, Coconut Oil, Grass fed beef, Wild Caught Salmon, and Cold Pressed Olive Oil. These fight inflammation in your body.

- Cook with anti-inflammatory herbs like: turmeric, fresh ginger and cinnamon.

- Incorporate probiotics into your diet: Saurkraut, Kefir, Kombucha, Kavass, Yogurt, Lassi's, Fermented Cod Liver Oil and Raw Milk and Cheeses.

- Eat SLOWLY.

- Do NOT overeat. Eat until you are 80% full.

- CHEW your food. (The more you break up your food in your mouth the less work your stomach has to do.)

- Eat 5- 6 small meals/snacks throughout the day rather then eating large meals.

- Eat your last meal at least 3 hours before you go to sleep to give your body time to digest your food.

-Drink 2 t.of Raw Apple Cider Vinegar in water before each meal. (This helps naturally lower stomach acid).

**You can also use Apple Cider vinegar on salads, marinades and sauces.
-Pineapple and Papaya Digestive Enzymes help with digestion and Stomach acid.

- Licorice Root Extract taken 20 minutes before meals also helps with digestion and stomach acid.
**NOTE: Taking HCL ( hydrochloric acid+ Pepsin), pancreatic enzymes and gallbladder support can aid in optimal digestion.

Cheers to Epic Health!!

References:

Pictures:
thelastingweightlosssystem.blogspot.com
diet.lab88.com
healthforthewholeself.com


Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Calling All Foodies.

I started writing this food blog: 'Food For Thought' just over a year ago. I had NO idea that this hobby would turn into such a passion and take on a life of it's own. Suddenly, I became a food stylist taking photos of every breakfast, lunch and dinner to share with all of you. (I even lost my iphone to a bowl of coconut curry soup while photographing it, for this blog three months ago. HA!) I bring my camera everywhere I go now: every restaurant, grocery store, farm and farmer's market may be a potential blogging opportunity. I buy things at the grocery store to review. I talk to my farmers, food vendors and artisan food producers to find out where my food comes from and encourage you to do the same. I  spend countless hours reading food science articles, cookbooks/cooking blogs and books to get you connected to the best information out there. Every single one of you out in the 'food blog-o-sphere' have inspired these changes. We talk all about food and the politics, beauty and freedom surrounding it. Every recipe you post, every dinner you make, every article you link, every product you review has inspired me more then you will ever know. We have become a tight knit community and food is our universal language. I have learned that there are many ways that we all translate the perfect diet: vegan, primal, paleo,vegetarian, and raw - but regardless of what lifestyle we follow, we have one thing in common at the end of the day- WE ALL LOVE FOOD. As we gear up for the holiday season, I would like to remind you how truly BLESSED we all are that we can take the time to "talk food". Many people out there don't have the options to eat as well, cook as well, or even have access to the beautiful nourishing foods that we talk about each day. We are so very fortunate. Which leads me to my "Foodie Call to Action," I challenge YOU to GIVE BACK to your community this holiday season. I want you to connect with your: local food bank,church, charity or your local homeless shelter and GIVE BACK. This can be done by donating time, resources or money. Get creative and have fun. We all love good food and we all have been so fortunate to have options, choices and opinions, lets pass on the blessing to those less fortunate. Rise up foodies, this is your call to action- let's BLESS those less fortunate with the gift of GOOD FOOD.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

My Quest For Epic Health: My Health Journey.


Two years ago I diagnosed myself with Celiac Disease after spending 3 years and $3000 on doctors office co-pays. That continues to be the best decision I have ever made( besides marrying my husband) and I am never looking back. Despite my doctors constant reassuring comments that "I was fine" and that "all of my labs checked out", I knew and my body knew, that I wasn't "fine". I was 27 years old at the time, spending days unable to get off the couch laid out in indescribable back and stomach pain. I was calling into work "sick indefinitely".How had this become my life?! Four years earlier, I was a vibrant adrenaline junkie: surfing, swimming, hiking, kayaking and spending 2 to 3 hours at the gym working out every night. Now here I was four years later, hardly able to get off the couch or stay awake for more then 6 hours each day. How did I get to this point? "No doc. sorry, but I am NOT ALL RIGHT." I remember distinctly a moment the day before I cut gluten and sugar out of my life, sitting in a doctor's gown on the cold table and the doctor asked me on a scale of 1- 10 what would I rate the quality of my life? My answer still haunts me to this day... in that moment, all things considered .....I replied," a 3." He sent me to the pharmacy with a slip for anti-depressants which I put in my glove box of my car and drove away and have yet to return to this day.

I cut gluten and sugar out of my life the very next day. I had trusted and had relied on my doctor to guide me to restore my health and vitality. I invested three years of my life having every scan, scope, lab and test imaginable and at the end of the day I had nothing more to show for my efforts then a medicine cabinet full of pain killers and a presciption for anti-dperessants in my glove box. I had a good friend who at the time was attending classes at the Nutritional Therapy Association that suggested to me to eliminate both sugar and gluten out of my diet for 30 days to see if that would help. I followed through with her advice and got INSTANT relief for my pain, mental clarity and lethargy. She became my guide helping me navigate holistic healthcare putting me on a strict healing diet, liver detox and adrenal restoration regiment. It was all fascinating and NOT EASY. ( To this day I think going on a liver detox may be one of the most challenging thing I have EVER done in my entire life and I am pretty fearless.;) Most noticeable for me right away was the mental clarity-- I could THINK! Next came the impressive weight loss, I lost 18 pounds in 2 months, without exercising! Boo-ya! This was followed by restored energy and pain free days turned into months which have now turned into two years!

I began to think of food as medicine. Each day I would think about what NUTRIENTS I could fuel my body with to help HEAL. Nothing was off limits, every ounce of bone broth, kombucha, keifers, kavass, vegetable, fruit and meats made me feel STRONG and ALIVE! I cut out sugar and for the first time was able to be in tune with my body and LISTEN to what it was telling me. Before I would eat what I thought my brain wanted which usually justified my need for ice cream or chocolate.;) When I cut out sugar my body distinctly craved red meat and greens- all greens: sauteed spinach, brussels sprouts, broccoli. Real food that was full of life and nutrients became my medicine, every bite provided my body with energy, healing my body and restoring my health.

In the past couple years I have been "glutened" a number of times, each notable and each debilitating me for 3 days+ reuniting me with my former self and my couch. Those days are fewer and farther in between as I continue down this journey to reach epic health. This past year I completed the Nutritional Therapy training course at the Nutritional Therapy Association and my goal is to pay the blessing of my restored health forward. My story is rather extreme but I know I am not alone. I had a friend that suggested for me to eliminate an allergen and to heal my body with food I regained my life and my health. I know that there are many people out there that are being failed my western medicine, that have a similar story not so unlike mine of tests and co pays, unanswered questions and mounting frustrations. Its hard to advocate for your health when you don't feel well . I have been there. But I didn't accept " you're fine" as an answer. This is my story, my passion and my new path in life to be your advocate and guide to health and wellness so that is someone where to ask you to rate the quality of your life between 1-10 you could honestly say your life is an 11!

Cheers to epic health!

Monday, November 21, 2011

To Brine or Not to Brine? That is the Question.


Yesterday, while I was at the Whole Foods Market checkout I and saw a display of Turkey Brine Mix for $9.00!!?? I was shocked!! People actually PAY for a Turkey Brine MIX???!!! Brine mixes are SO INCREDIBLY EASY to make, please don't spend your hard earned money buying one.

What is a Brine?

A brine is a marinade comprised mostly of sugar, salt and water that you marinate your raw turkey in to seal in the flavors and to keep it from drying out while being cooked. Brined turkey's taste better and are more moist then non brined turkeys.

Here is how to make a brined tukey:

1 gallon of ice water
1 cup of salt
1/2 cup of brown sugar
1 cup of orange juice( or 4 cut oranges)
1/2 cup of lemon or apple juice
10-15 whole peppercorns
4 bay leaves
2 sprigs of rosemary
4 sage leaves

1. Add all ingredients into a stock pot.
2. Add raw and thawed turkey.
3. Refrigerate overnight, or up to 3 days.
4. Remove turkey from brine and pat dry.
5. Roast turkey to perfection.

Cranberry Sauce: Life Beyond The Can

Most of my childhood and into my early adult years I thought THIS was cranberry sauce. This cylinder shaped gelatinous goo that came right out of a can into a cut crystal serving bowl only at Thanksgiving dinner. The sad part is that I grew up in the Southern Oregon coast where I was surrounded by cranberry bogs! How had I never had actual homemade cranberry sauce? I guess in hindsight that if I were to really think about it , compared to all of the other Thanksgiving day contenders of: roast turkey, stuffing, gravy, and pie that cranberry sauce pales in comparison.It was about 5 years ago that I actually thought about this how overlooked cranberry sauce was. I LOVE the tart flavor of cranberry sauce and one of my absolute favorite sandwiches in the world was a left over Thanksgiving day turkey, cranberry and cream cheese sandwich. What could make this sandwich that much more dreamy- if the cranberry sauce was amazing and not just a " moist maker". Here is my recipe for show stopping cranberry sauce that holds its own in the Thanksgiving line up.



12 oz of fresh whole cranberries.
1 cup of water
1/2 cup of orange juice
1/2 cup of sugar or (3 T Agave or Stevia)
1 Orange -Zested
1 sprig of fresh mint leaves.
1/2 t. cinnamon- or 1 cinnamon stick
1/4 t. fresh grated nutmeg
* Options add ins: 1 apple diced, dried cherries and currants.


Directions: Add all ingredients in a saucepan and cook on medium heat for 15 minutes until cranberries *pop*. Serve immediately or chill if preferred.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

SlimFast, Powerbars and Protein Shakes



In the late 90's I took part in the 'SlimFast Craze'. My personal favorite was to add a banana, some ice, and cinnamon to the vanilla shake for what I thought was a healthy breakfast. I was charged up and ready to take on my day until 2 hours later when the sugar/chemical high wore off and I was left STARVING. No worries, I was prepared, I had a Diet Coke to come to my rescue. Wheee!! Hooray for more chemicals! And off I went until I could have another SlimFast shake for lunch.....followed of course, by a sensible dinner.;-)

Oh man, looking back on those days I get chills. My poor body! I had NO idea what I was doing to it. I honestly thought I was being healthy.
Let's lay it out on the table and look at the ingredients in a SlimFast Shake:

Fat Free Milk, Calcium Caseinate, Milk Protein Concentrate,
Maltodextrin( SORRY, NOT GLUTEN FREE), Cocoa processed with alkali, Canola Oil, Gum Arabic, Cellulose Gel,Sugar, Mono and Diglyceride Fructose,Potassium Phosphate, Soybean Lecethin, Cellulose Gum,Carageenan, Artifical Flavors, Isolated Soy Protein, Sucralose and acesulfame, Potassium (non nutrative sweetners), dextrose, * VITAMINS AND MINERALS, Maganesium Phosphate,Calcium Phosphate,Sodium Ascorbate,Vitamin E Acetate, Zinc Glucanate,Ferric Orthosphate,Niacinamide,Calcium Panthonate,Magnesium Sulfate,Pyridoxide Hydrochlorine, Riboflavin,Thiamin Monoitrate, Folic Acid,Chromium Chloride, Biotin, Sodium Molybdate,Potassium Iodine,PhylloQuinone,Sodium Selenite,Cyancobalamin. Sweetened with Nutrative and Non Nutrative Sweeteners. C0ntains MILK AND SOY.

* Sugars in Bold
* 52 INGREDIENTS!!!

Hello, SUGAR AND CHEMICALS! Lets say that you wanted to make a similar healthy shake at home how many of you have Pyridoxide Hydrochlorine hanging out in your pantry? Thiamin Monoitrate? Isolated Soy Protein? Yeah, that's what I thought, nobody.
Seriously though, how is this a HEALTH FOOD? There is NOTHING HEALTHY about SlimFast. Even the listed vitamins and minerals are NOT your 'One-A-Day Multivitamin'. These are processed chemicals that are being labeled as vitamins. They are not regulated, they are not naturally derived, they are often times NOT even healthy. SlimFast is NOT a health food.

On a sidenote: Healthy or not, I will aknowledge that whoever came up with the concept for SlimFast is pretty brilliant. Who would have ever thought of marketing a chocolate milkshake as a diet food?! The concept was simple:get people drinking milkshakes twice a day, throw in some 'vitamins' for good measure and thus the $limfast empire was built. No one felt deprived, they got to satiate their sweet tooth and drink dessert all day long while claiming to be on a diet. BRILLIANT!

You may scoff at SlimFast thinking "that was so 1990's" and that you would NEVER fall for that today. Oh yeah? You think so, huh?
The only difference is MARKETING.
It's time to wake up America.
This is NOT health food.
This is NOT diet food.
This is not a HEALTHY snack or a Meal REPLACEMENT.
This is Nasty Processed Chemical FOOD-LIKE SUBSTANCES.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

My Epic Vegetarian Enchilada Recipe




One of my favorite things in the whole world are THESE ENCHILADAS! I have perfected this recipe over the past 2 years. This is truly an EPIC MEAL. Are you ready for this?;)

You will need the following:

2 cans available at Whole Foods Market- the MEDIUM is the BEST flavor.
OR
*My Enchilada Sauce Recipe at the bottom of this page.;)
Or any kind of beans-- these just happen to be my favorite for THIS recipe.
Ingredients:
1 Large yellow onion finely chopped
4 cloves of garlic diced
1 Serrano pepper diced * optional for added heat
1 Red Bell Pepper diced
1 Poblano Pepper diced
4 Zucchinis or Yellow Squash Diced
1 basket of button mushrooms sliced or 1 portobello mushroom
1 large can of black olives sliced
2 cups of spinach- cleaned
2 cups of corn fresh or frozen
1 can of S&W Piquito Beans
2 cups of grated pepper jack cheese
1 bunch of cilantro- chopped
1 T. Red Chili Flakes
1 T. of New Mexican Chili Powder
1 T. cumin
1/2 t. Cinnamon* Optional
1 T. sea salt
1 t. cracked black pepper

1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees
2. In a large sautee pan over medium heat cook: onions, garlic and pepper.
3. Add mushrooms, zucchinis and corn. (Let cook for 6 minutes)
4. Add olives, beans and spinach and seasonings including cilantro (save 1/4 for topping)
5. Remove from heat.
6. In casserole dish build your enchilada's :
* place tortilla in your hand- add a a nice sized pinch of jack cheese in the middle of the tortilla in a line. Add 1/8-1/4 cup of vegetable mixture and place in pan with the tortilla edges DOWN and touching each other.
Continue this step until you have used all of your tortillas.
* Pour enchilada sauce: either my recipe( see bottom) or 2 cans of Hatch Enchilada Sauce in covering all enchiladas evenly.
Spread any remaining vegetable filling evenly over the enchiladas.
Cover with remaining jack cheese and cilantro and place in oven for 20 minutes until warm.

ENJOY! This is fantastic with Toasted pumpkin seeds as a garnish!:)

My Enchilada Sauce Recipe:

3 dried ancho chilies
3 dried guajillo chillies
* Rehydrate in a sauce pan with 2 cups of water covering chilies over low heat for 15- 20 minutes*
Blend in a food processor and strain through mesh strainer to remove seeds and skins.

In a saucepan add:
1 T. Olive Oil
3 cloves of garlic minced
* Let cook over medium heat for 2 minutes until slightly golden*
Add:
1 can of tomato paste
1 1/2 cup water
1/4 t. cumin
1 1/2 t. sea salt
1/2 t. black pepper
1/2 t. New Mexican Chili Powder
1 t. dried oregano
1/2 t. sugar
* add reserved pepper liquid and let simmer for 10 minutes on low heat.

Enjoy!!!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Soup Showcase: Borsht a la Lynne

Here is our first submission for our community Soup Showcase! Thanks Lynne for sharing, this looks incredible!

As the story goes---when my Ancestors came from the Ukraine to Canada (first settling in Saskatchewan)---they spent their first winter in a mud hut on their land and the neighbouring farmers brought Borscht to them. It’s a good hearty soup, simple yet so satisfying. For ‘winter’ borscht, add navy beans, ‘spring/summer’ borscht contains the leaf tops of the beets.

The Beets:Boil with the skins on until tender, drain and wait until they cool a bit---cut into julienne slices (not sure why but this is the way my Baba did it!)

The Other Stuff:Carrots, cabbage, beans (yellow/green), potato

Start with oil (of your choice) in a large pan. Add some butter and heat to medium/high. SauteĆ© carrots and cabbage (lots of cabbage as it will ‘disappear’ until they are tender but still firm. During this process, add fresh dill. If you don’t have fresh the dill you can get in a tube (produce section) works well and dried will be “OK” if you have nothing else. Season with pepper. .

You can add some green/yellow fresh beans and some potato. Potato doesn’t freeze well—so omit if you intend to freeze the soup and add potato as you serve. Add your cooked, sliced beets and cover the mix with chicken broth. Simmer. It will become ‘borsch-i-fied’ (everything will turn a nice beet red)! After you have simmered, add some tomato juice so it has a nice ‘zing’ to it.

Allow to sit for a while and adjust the seasoning (pepper, dill, salt if you wish).

Serve in a nice white bowl with a ‘dollop’ of sour cream (avoid zero fat stuff---go for the good stuff)!

Curried Butternut Squash and Apple Soup



1 Butternut Squash- peeled and seeds removed
2 Apples -seeds and core removed
1 cup milk or cream
1/4 cup Apple Cider Vinegar
3 cups of Chicken or Vegetable stock
1 Leek sliced
4 cloves of garlic finely chopped
1/2 yellow onion diced
2 carrots diced
3 stalks of celery diced
1 T. Curry Powder
1/2 t. smoked paprika
1/4 t. nutmeg
1/8 t. cayenne
2 t. salt
1t. pepper to taste

In a stockpot/large soup pot over medium heat combine the following:
1 T of butter or olive oil ( let melt and coat the pan)
1 Leek-sliced
4 cloves of garlic- finely chopped
1/2 yellow onion-diced
2 carrots-diced
3 stalks of celery -diced

Sautee until vegetables are tender.

2 Options for preparing the Butternut Squash:

Option 1.-Cut squash in half lengthwise, scoop out the seeds. Cut squash into 'Lego' sized chunks and place on flat baking pan. Drizzle with olive oil and roast for 15- 20 minutes at 425 degrees.

Option 2- Cut squash in half lengthwise, scoop out the seeds. Cut squash into 'Lego' sized chunks add into a soup pot. Add 3 cups of chicken stock( or vegetable stock) and let boil until squash is soft.

**Add Together: Squash, apples, chicken stock, apple cider vinegar and vegetables together in one pot.
Cover pot and let simmer on medium low for 20-30 minutes.
Puree.
Add 1 cup of milk or cream if desired.
Season with : 1 T curry powder, 1/4 t. nutmeg, 1/8 t. cayenne,1/2 t. smoked paprika, 2 t. salt + 1 t. pepper to taste.

Garnish with: sour cream, creme fraiche, chopped chives, toasted pumpkin seeds,crispy sage, or my FAVORITE: Fresh CRAB MEAT!

Enjoy!!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

September's Favorite Food Finds

Coconut Chai- YUM!!!

Dragon's Tongue Beans ( how cool are they?!)
Yellow Watermelon- who knew?
Lavender and goat cheese a dreamy combination!
The BEST butter!!!!
Probiotic coconut water!
The BEST yogurt I have ever had.
I love EVERYTHING about spaghetti squash- have you tried it?
Spicy Hummus- YES!!
Pamela's Gluten Free Pancake and Baking mix, AH-MAZING!!!:)
Roasted Garbanzo Beans- my new addictive snack!

Saturday, September 10, 2011





If only I would have known those moments of trial, self doubt, frustration and debilitating pain would lead me on this path of wellness, health, healing and new found passion. It has been a little over a year and a half now that I demanded change in my life and began my health journey. It has ALL been worth it: every lousy and pointless doctor visit, every week spent on the couch in debilitating (undiagnosed celiac) pain, every time I felt sorry for myself and my new gluten free and sugar-free life.In those self pity moments I had NO CLUE what life had in store for me, and how every one of those moments would define my story and set me on a path to trailblaze my future.

My soul is on fire in this moment. I cannot read and learn enough! So much divine intervention has been given to me restoring my health and my hope- I have to pay this forward. This journey has taken me out of the trenches and trained me up to become a wellness warrior. This new found passion for life and health is hard to contain. I have to practice self control to not slide-tackle strangers on the street and give them the message of hope for their health. I have to restrain myself from lecturing people at the grocery store to tell them that the food they are buying is making them feel like crap. I want to scream from the rooftops: WAKE UP WORLD!! THE FOOD YOU ARE EATING IS HURTING YOU AND MAKING YOU SICK! Newsflash: You don' have to accept poor health and live your life in pain. Quit paying for medications that bandaid your body's cry for help! When was the last time you actually LISTENED to your body rather then stifling its response? Do you really know what it feels like to BE HEALTHY? There ARE answers out there that can help you. They may challenge your normal train of thought. They may require you to try NEW things, NEW foods and say goodbye to some of the foods that you love that may be making you sick. It may require effort and discipline; the two things that we as a society reject. There is no quick fix for health. Health is a journey, it took you awhile to make yourself sick and it will take awhile to heal and restore your health. You owe it to yourself to change things up and demand a better life. You have this one life, this one body. It is time to demand change for your health and your future. Change starts TODAY. Are you ready to take the first step?

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Gluten Free Chocolate Chip Pecan Cookie Bliss Recipe


1/2 cup melted butter or coconut oil
1 egg OR 1/4 cup choice egg substitute
1/2 cup sweetner of choice: brown sugar, maple syrup or honey
1/4 t. sea salt
1/4 t. baking soda
1 t. vanilla extract
1/4 t. ground cinnamon
1/4 cup of toasted and chopped pecans
1 1/2 cup of almond flour
1/2 c. of good quality gluten free chocolate chips

Pre heat oven to 350 degrees.
1. Combine:butter( or coconut oil),egg, sugar, salt and vanilla extract in a mixing bowl.
2. Mix in baking soda, almond flour and cinnamon.
3. Add in chocolate chips and pecans.
4. On a lightly greased sheet pan place 3/4 inch dough balls.
5. Place in preheated oven and bake for 10 minutes.
6. Prepare yourself for chocolate cookie bliss.:)

ENJOY!

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Tales of a Lunch Lady: NOT Your Typical School Lunch.

If I were to tell you that I am a high school lunch lady what image would pop into your head? An overweight, bitter older woman with a hair net, blue eye shadow( with or without a lit Virginia Slim Cigarette hanging out of her mouth) wielding a heaping spoon of Sloppy Joe's made "EXTRA SLOPPY"? This image is what most of my friends and family think when I tell them that I have a new job cooking at a private high school. Why on earth would I sign up for a job doing THAT?! I have worked in and cooked at some of the best restaurants, golf courses and catering companies on the west coast. So what in the world am I doing cooking in a high school? It's simple, I am using my skills to make a difference by educating and investing in the next generation.

I work at Marin Academy High School, which is located in San Rafael, California. I cook the EXACT same food for the kids that I did for my high end restaurant patrons. Paella Tuesdays, Pad Thai Wednesday's, Artisan Pizza Friday's. We use organic meat, milk, and cage free eggs. ALL: stocks, soups, dressings, marinades and sauces are made from SCRATCH. The pasta is whole wheat and organic. The only thing in our freezer is local Strauss Creamery ice cream and frozen hand made veggie burgers. There is no high fructose corn syrup or trans fat allowed in the kitchen EVER- no exceptions. A farmer from Marin Organic brings me fresh produce from County Line and Star Root Farms every week. Some weeks he even brings me bags full of gleaned vegetables for free, 10 pounds of fennel? Aesthetically challenged green beans, chard, kale, beets?! Um... YES, PLEASE! Oh, and if I am missing any ingredient in my recipe, all I have to do is walk across the street to the student garden and get fresh herbs, kale, fava beans and squash. This is not your typical school, and I am not your typical lunch lady.

These kids eat beets faster then I can prepare them. They eat kale by the TRUCKLOAD.They love spinach, arugula and radicchio. They drink my apple balsamic vinaigrette by the gallon- seriously. I was on a roasted brussel sprout kick last year, so out of curiosity I ran it on the menu, turns out, the kids loved BRUSSEL SPROUTS! I am still surprised by that one! Cauliflower, chard, roasted fennel, bock choy, butternut squash, you name it these kids are all over it! One kid told me that he had been craving my stuffed portobello mushrooms all summer, so those will be back on the menu this next week. To me it is thrilling that I cannot clean and cut vegetables fast enough for the demand put on me by these 'veggie monger' kids!

There is great reward in cooking for and educating the next generation. Not only because I am a nutrition geek and a studying Nutritional Therapist, but because my heart honestly gets happy when kids eat nourishing foods. I take pride in NOT taking the shortcuts and actually cooking good, yummy, nourishing food! I am responsible for educating 400 high school kids for the next 26 weeks. Its a great responsibility, and I take it as a challenge to take these kids on a 'culinary adventure', introducing to them as MANY flavors and foods as I possibly can during this next school year. Monday, we are having Korean Beef Tacos with homemade Kimchi or Garden Pesto Pasta with sauteed summer squash and mint infused limeade. This is NOT your typical school lunch.

One can't help but to ask the questions: What would happen if we made it a priority and employed more passionate chefs at our children's schools? Could we actually get kids excited about cooking and eating healthy foods? Could that food experience educate kids to make better choices potentially lessening the childhood obesity epidemic? Could NUTRITION be the missing link to childhood behavioral problems? What are your thoughts?

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Kitchen Secrets : How to Slice Grapes, Cherry Tomatoes and Olives Like a Pro.

This is such a fast and fun way to slice olives, grapes and cherry tomatoes, I just had to share it with you.:)

What you will need :
2 matching medium sized plastic lids
A sharp knife ( I find large or serrated knives work the best).

1.Place tomatoes on lid.

2. Place matching lid on top. Place your hand on the lid and apply pressure to keep lid in place. With your knife slice fruit in half. Be CAREFUL not lose fingers in the process.;)

3. Take off lid and ENJOY your perfectly cut tomatoes!!!:)
Simple.Fun.Oh So EASY!!!
Your days of slicing cherry tomatoes one-by-one are O-VER!!
Hooray for you!:)
Happy Slicing!

Thursday, August 11, 2011

My Summertime Favorite Finds


Dehydrated Kale with cashews, sea salt and lemon! A super delicious and overly addicting snack!:)

Italian sparkling mineral water. Grapefruit Perrier my soda substitute.:)
Farmhouse Culture Saurkraut!:)


Greek yogurt. Plain, or in this case honey flavored. This stuff is so decadent you feel like you are eating ice cream!
Smoked WILD Salmon Lox my favorite snack or addition to a meal. Yummy protein goodness!
The miracle working coconut oil. It is my favorite thing to cook with these days!:)
Candy Cane beets, artstic, delicious and nutritious. **WIN!:)**
Almond Butter, a truly divine yummy snack!
Cooking with pink peppercorns!! One of my favorites= pink peppercorn ice cream!:)
Raw Watermelon and Green Tea Kombucha, yes please!
Saba= a sweet balsamic like wine reduction- DELISH!!!
Apricot+Plum= PLUOTS..... so dreamy!! You have GOT to try them!:)

$2.00 at Trader Joes, a wondeful way to add flavor to your culinary masterpeices!
Dehydrated Heirloom Tomatoes! Fun to cook with or snack on.

My Favorite Kombucha Synergy Flavor: Raspberry, Ginger, Lemon.