Monday, May 30, 2011

Cooking with Zucchini Ribbons: Gluten Free,Salads,Pastas,Panini's and Quiche!

I absolutely LOVE cooking with zucchinis and yellow squash! It has been nearly a year ago now that I eliminated ALL GLUTEN from my diet and cooking with zucchini's may be hands down one of my favorite gluten free finds and pasta alternatives ever! Here are a few ideas to spark your imagination and get you cooking with zucchinis.:)

You will need:
A wide blade vegetable peeler or a vegetable mandoline.

*Slice your zucchinis lengthwise to about 1/8-1/4 of an inch slices.

Warm Zucchini Salad with Goat Cheese, Pine Nuts and Italian Parsley
Brush your preheathed grill or cast iron grill pan with olive or coconut oil
In a bowl lightly dress your raw zucchini ribbons with salt, pepper, and diced garlic.
Place on grill and let cook for about 2-3 minutes on each side or until you get golden brown grill marks.
*Eat warm with with fresh goat cheese crumbles (or feta cheese) , toasted pine nuts and chopped italian parsley.

Picnic Perfect Zucchini Salad with Lemon, Dill and Walnuts
Lightly sauteed 8 whole zucchini ribboned with olive oil or coconut oil
Season with salt and pepper (3 minute total cook time).
Add 1 T. fresh chopped dill
1/4 T. of fresh lemon zest
3 T. of roasted and roughly chopped walnuts
fresh cracked pepper and salt to taste.
*Chill or serve room temperature.

Grilled Vegetable and Pesto Panini

For the Pesto:
1/4 cup of fresh herbs ( I use flat leaf parsley, mint and dill)
2 cups of spinach
2 cloves of garlic
1/4 cup of pine nuts or walnuts (toasted)
1 Lemon (zested)
1/2 fresh lemon ( juiced)
4 T olive oil
sea salt and pepper to taste
* you may add 1 t. of Balsamic Vinegar if you wish (* I love it!)
Place all ingredients in food processor and blend until smooth

To Prep The Veggies:
3 Zucchini's (ribboned)
1 Portobello Mushroom sliced lenghtwise in thin strips
I/4 red onion sliced lengthwise in strips
1 red bell pepper cleaned and cut lengthwise into strips
Ina bowl coat vegetables with pesto.
Lightly sautee vegetables in a pan for 3 to 4 minutes. ( or grill vegetables in a grill pan)

1. Select your bread. Lightly coat your pre heated panini press with olive oil.
2. Build your sandwich. Coat the inside of your bread with a thin layer of pesto. If adding cheese(this is fantastic with fresh or smoked mozzarella cheese, provolone or goat cheese).Place cheese on top of the pesto layer,* add fresh arugula or spinach if you wish layer your vegetables in the middle.
4. Cook sandwich for about 5 minutes until cheese is melted and bread is toasty.

Other FANTASTIC IDEAS: Zucchini ribbons taking the place of your favorite pasta, lasagna or stuffed manicotti recipes!

Zucchini Ribbon Quiche

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Get Grillin: Rosemary Skewers

Grilling season is upon us and it is time to get outside, light up the ole grill and think beyond the standard bbq fare of hotdogs and hamburgers. I challenge you to get creative! Here is one of my favorite grilling ideas that I came across a few years back- rosemary skewers! Take your rosemary sprig and either skewer your selected meat or vegetable with or without the leaves on and grill it up on the BBQ. Not only is it super clever and cute but it is also way tasty! Shrimp, lamb, pork, beef, mushrooms or veggies- all super yummy. Get outside and get creative! For more ideas on grilling fresh fruits and vegetables check out my earlier post:

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Spice It Up!!!

One of my absolute passions in life is traveling. I have been fortunate enough to travel quite a few times outside of the United States and each time has left such a fantastic impression that I have each destination filed away in my mind under ' happy places'. If my budget allowed I pack up all of my earthly possessions, put on my backpack and leave indefinitely, destination: 'I'll tell you when I get there'! There is something so magical about far off lands, cultures, music and flavors. I am completely taken with everything exotic and different. For the past ten years I have kept myself interested and my traveling passion ignited by bringing the flavors of afar into my kitchen. If I ever find myself in a life/culinary slump, I know just the fix- I 'GO GLOBAL'. Happiness and inspiration returns when I crank up the Egyptian music and cook some Lamb Tangine or Moroccan stew. A rainy Tuesday outside- I hadn't noticed- it's a Mexican Fiesta inside my house! From Creole, Filipipino, Ethiopia, Indian,German,Thai, Greek and Peruvian- it's always a party! The next time that you need a bit of inspiration get online or head to the bookstore and get some fantastic cookbooks and start exploring new flavors to spice up your life! Stock your spice cabinet with some yummy spices and dried chilis. Play around with:
Curries, galangal, lemongrass, kaffir lime leaves,tamarind, rose water, fenugreek, cajun file, canella, coffee, herbs and wines- Oh My! Cooking is an adventure! If you cannot travel to the exotic places bring the exotic flavors to you!

Cheers to exploring the flavors of the world!

My Favorite Global Cooking MUSIC:)*let's get the party started*
- Rodrigo Y Gabriella - Acoustic Flamenco
- Putumayo Prestsents: Afro-Latin Party
- Gypsie Kings- Spanish
- Habib Koite- African
- Bob & Ziggy Marley- Reggae
- Niyaz -Egyptian
- Egyptian Beats- Various Artists
- Iz- Hawaiian
- Buddah Lounge Collection
-Pink Martini- Jazz/ Salsa

*This is a fantastic link to a global cooking site, this gal picks a country weekly, cooks their traditional cuisine and posts recipes:

Monday, May 23, 2011

Wendell Berry's Advice For Urban Farmer's

Wendell Berry's Advice for Urban Farmer's

* Excert from his full article, The Pleasure's of Eating located:

1. Participate in food production to the extent that you can. If you have a yard or even just a porch box or a pot in a sunny window, grow something to eat in it. Make a little compost of your kitchen scraps and use it for fertilizer. Only by growing some food for yourself can you become acquainted with the beautiful energy cycle that revolves from soil to seed to flower to fruit to food to offal to decay, and around again. You will be fully responsible for any food that you grow for yourself, and you will know all about it. You will appreciate it fully, having known it all its life.

2. Prepare your own food. This means reviving in your own mind and life the arts of kitchen and household. This should enable you to eat more cheaply, and it will give you a measure of "quality control": you will have some reliable knowledge of what has been added to the food you eat.

3. Learn the origins of the food you buy, and buy the food that is produced closest to your home. The idea that every locality should be, as much as possible, the source of its own food makes several kinds of sense. The locally produced food supply is the most secure, freshest, and the easiest for local consumers to know about and to influence.

4. Whenever possible, deal directly with a local farmer, gardener, or orchardist. All the reasons listed for the previous suggestion apply here. In addition, by such dealing you eliminate the whole pack of merchants, transporters, processors, packagers, and advertisers who thrive at the expense of both producers and consumers.

5. Learn, in self-defense, as much as you can of the economy and technology of industrial food production. What is added to the food that is not food, and what do you pay for those additions?

6. Learn what is involved in the best farming and gardening.

7. Learn as much as you can, by direct observation and experience if possible, of the life histories of the food species.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

My Healing Journey and New Found Passion

Hello! Many of you know me personally and some of you don't. Let me introduce myself, I am the creator of the'Food For Thought' blog. I have been working in the restaurant industry for the past 15 years, cooking, catering and running events and weddings in the Napa Valley wine country. My normal work schedule consisted of 10-14 hour days running around working 'full throttle', forgetting more times then not to drink or eat regularly. This was my life, it was fast, exciting and adrenaline charged! One day I woke up and noticed I wasn't feeling well and I really hadn't for some time. I was in indescribable debilitating lower back pain, I wasn't digesting well and I had NO energy no matter what I did. I was living off of salads and coffee and couldn't figure out why I had gained nearly 30 pounds! I was always tired, I couldn't think clearly, I was accumulating new food allergies by the week and I was spending more days on the couch sick then at work. I hit rock bottom when I, a self proclaimed workaholic, had to call into work "sick indefinitely". Life comes into focus when you become that sick. The counltess doctors appointments that I went to left me nothing more then frustrated and broke. At one point in a incredibly defeated low, I claimed no other explanation then either: 1. I had some misdiagnosed form of cancer or 2. I was allergic to life in general. I do have a flare for the drama, but I knew deep down inside that something SERIOUSLY was wrong with me. It was NOT okay to be 28 years old and feel so terrible every day of my life.

In the Spring of 2010, I met with a long time friend of mine who was studying to become a nutritional therapist. We met for a 4 hour long cup of tea, discussing all things food and nutrition. She mentioned to me that day that she thought that I should remove the two most common stressors to a body, which she identified as sugar and gluten. She encouraged me to eliminate both of these out of my diet for two months just to see if I felt any different. Our conversation got me thinking, but for me to actually follow through with this elimination diet took a lot of commitment and three months. Two weeks into my gluten detox I removed all sugar from my diet. The first month was beyond rough. I was horrified of cooking, eating, or navigating a grocery store with my newfound gluten free diet. My diet consisted of a pretty narrow field of eating only: keifer, fruit, vegetables and meat. I went through a pretty heavy depression trying to reconfigure my identity as a "food lovin chef/foodie" to " a gluten & sugar free moodie". For the next four months I ate a clean lifestyle. No gluten. No Sugar. No grains. I was surprised by my new appetite for meat(?!) which I found to be an incredibly interesting development because I had danced with years of being a pseudo-vegetarian and vegan in my early 20's. I also had a ravenous appetite for leafy greens, brussel sprouts, asparagus, broccoli- I really couldn't eat enough. I was shocked that my cravings for sugar disappeared ENTIRELY. I had mental clarity, I was digesting better, I was not in any pain for the first time in two years(hooray!)- but I was EXHAUSTED!!!

I had barely enough energy to work 6 hour days for the first 4 months of my sugar and gluten detox.I would come home barely able to blink or put one foot in front of the other. I would fall into bed and sleep 14- 16 hours straight and get up and go to work the next day. I was diagnosed with CELIAC DISEASE in September of 2010, after countless frustrating doctors visits. This was a pivotal life change moment, finally an ANSWER!! I was feeling better, but I still wasn't feeling great. I was still exhausted and beyond discouraged with my new gluten free life/identity. I was put on an 'adrenal fatigue diet' by the same friend who encouraged me about the gluten and sugar, to also cut CAFFINE out of my life. You have got to be KIDDING me!!You can take my chocolate, my bread and my pasta, but for the LOVE, leave me my latte!

EVERYTHING that I loved, knew, and cherished was now eliminated from my diet. I will be honest, I had many self defeated days just letting the maginitude of the reality of my new lifestyle soak in. This was my identity, my passion and my livelihood-it was a lot to take. I used to be this carefree, try anything food lover, and now suddenly I was a high maitenence, specific, food recluse. Going out to eat was nearly impossible, and often times more stress then I could manage. Here, I the one who loved to eat, explore and try the newest restaurants had become isolated to eating at home in fear of a dishonest chef or a slacking waiter. Suddenly all of this mattered. I had a hard enough time feeding myself, let alone navigating a menu, trusting a chef, or instructing others how to feed me. It was all A LOT to handle. But with each day that passes, the more I learn it has all gotten easier. I did have days that I would let myself eat whatever I wanted including sugar and gluten just to see if just maybe all of this was in my head? This played out time and time again resulting in next three days on the couch in pain, cursing gluten, lesson learned. I can be incredibly stubborn it turns out.;)I had to realize that this was a HEALING JOURNEY and a NEW LIFESTYLE rather then just a temporary diet.

In September, I started cooking at a private high school. I believe greatly in the cause to nourish and educate our children because ultimately they are our future. At school we cook from scratch, with local and organic. The kids grow a garden for their science class so we use fresh herbs, kale, fava beans and whatever random food is growing in our daily lunch menus. It is absolutely fantastic and rewarding! In the beginning of the school year I was still dealing with bouts of extreme exhaustion as well as an onset of newfound allergies(this time accompanied with hives and rashes). It seemed like EVERYTHING I tasted or touched created a reaction in my body. I was less then humored. I had given up SO MUCH to heal and now it seemed like my career as a chef was coming to the end. How can I cook the beautiful food that I love if it is literally making me sick?! I spent many frustrated days on the couch trying to figure out the answer to this very question. I wanted food to remain BEAUTIFUL but at this point in my life I was taking a great risk of being sick or breaking out in an allergic reaction with every bite. The more I learned about gluten and adrenal fatigue the more I learned about the disbyosis of our guts, and just how much that has to do with your overall health. I read Natasha Campbell McBride's, Gut and Psycology Syndrome, and I had an ' AH HA! moment'. Here I was a 28 year old, who ate healthy, and was extremly active and I was in the middle of a debilitating health crisis. If I could get to this point, to be beyond frustrated by Western medicine, how many MORE people are there in this world who need someone like I so desperatly needed my nutritional therarapist friend ?!

With that epiphany moment, I joined the Nutritional Therapy Association in January of this year and I have been blown away with all of the amazing, life changing and powerful information that I have been learning. My class is made up 15 AMAZING individuals all from different backgrounds in fitness, business and nutrition. Tosca Reno, the 'Clean Living' rockstar is one of my classmates! I still cook at the private high school up the street where coincidentlally enough Michael Pollan's (of the Omnivour's Dilemna) son attends. It turns out that I have more passion about this new holistic healing lifestyle then I have ever had about anything in my life. As the months go on, and my health is increasingly better, I have more and more energy, more thought clarity and a distant recollection of my former sick self. I rejoice in my renewed life, my restored health ( and continuing to get better with every day that passes) and new found passion. I cannot wait to spread the word and to help others who are dealing with unexplainable heath issues and dietary frustrations. My head is humming with all of this inspiration and news that I want to share with the world! I want to inspire people to cook well and educate others to really nourish their bodies with GOOD food! Its been a long road but well worth it!


Saturday, May 14, 2011

Cooking ExperiMINT!

Recently I have noticed that I absolutely LOVE cooking with mint! Have you tried it? I have been adding it to almost every culinary adventure lately from sauces, and dressings, stir fry's and diced up and mixed into salads- I just can not get enough of it! I must admit, I go through pretty intense food and flavor explorations pairings, tasting and learning along the way. Sometimes these culinary explorations don't turn out so great, but other times I find some new, awesome, out of this world flavor combinations, and through this process, I learn. Three months ago I was totally into cooking with sage. A couple of months ago I was adding cinnamon into savory dishes. Last fall I was adding finely ground coffee into random recipes, from meats dishes to baked goods. Cooking is all about having fun and I encourage you all to get in the kitchen and get creative. Explore flavors and try NEW things!!

Rosemary Lavender Mint Tea
1/4 cup of mint leaves
1/2 t. fresh rosemary or 1 sprig
4 sprigs of lavender
5 cups of water
Raw honey to taste
Add all ingredients into a teapot or saucepan and bring to a boil. Let ingredients steep for 10 minutes. Sweeten to taste. ENJOY!

Basil-Mint Lemonade

To make infused mint and basil simple syrup:
Mix 1 cup of water and 3/4 cup of sugar into a saucepan
Set stove to medium heat
Wisk water and sugar to incorperate the sugar crystals
Add 1 sprig of basil + 2 sprigs of mint
Steep for 10 - 20 minutes until mixture is not cloudy.
Remove from heat and discard mint and basil.
*Fill a large pitcher 1/2 way up to the top with ice.
Pour simple syrup over ice.
Add juice of 6 freshly squeezed lemons or
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
Add the juice of 2 feshly squeezed limes or 3 T lime juice
Add the juice of 2 freshly squeezed oranges or 3 T.
Fill the rest of your pitcher with cold water.
Stir and ENJOY!
** This is fantastic by itself or paired with Thai or Indian recipes!!
( This can also be made into Mint- Lavender Lemonade by swapping out the basil leaves for lavender sprigs when you make your simple syrup).:)

Apple & Beet Salad with Fresh Mint, Walnuts and Goat Cheese

*This is an extraordinarily tasty dish!
In a large mixing bowl combine the folowing:

1 Honey Crisp or Pink Lady Apple cut into1 inch chunks, seeds and core removed.
1 Cup of oven roasted beets cut into 1 inch chunks.
1 sprig of mint ( leaves
removed and sliced)
1/4 cup of walnuts toasted and chopped
2 T of fresh goat cheese or feta
Serve over a bed of fresh spinach or arugula

Apple Balsamic Dressing

In a food processor add the following ingredients:
2 cloves of peeled and crushed garlic
*PULSE food processor until garlic is finely chopped*
1/4 t. black pepper
1/2*t. sea salt
2 t. dijon mustard
1/4 cup of apple juice
3 T. of Balsamic Vinegar
*BLEND food processor*
Keep food processor going and pour blended oil 2 cups (olive oil and canola) in SLOWLY in a small CONSTANT stream to emulsify the dressing.
Amazing Cilantro-Mint Chutney

In a food processor, add the following ingredients:
1 cup of fresh cilantro ( bottom stems removed)
1/2 cup of fresh mint leaves
1 to 2 serrano peppers ( seeds
removed if you don't like spicy food)
2 cloves of peeled and crushed garlic
1 t. of fresh ginger
1 Lime zested and juice
1 t. sugar
1 t. salt to taste
2 T of fresh plain yogurt (Greek- style preferably)
** This can accompany pretty much everything from bread, to chicken, seafood, meats and vegetables.

Tzatziki Sauce ( Cucumber Mint Yogurt Sauce)

In a mixing bowl add the following ingredients:
1 16 oz. tub of plain Greek- Style yogurt
3 cloves of garlic peeled and crushed and finely diced
3 sprigs of mint leaves removed and chopped
1 t. black pepper
2 t. of sea salt or to taste
2 cucumbers ( *see preparation notes below)

To prepare the 2 cucumbers:
Peel the outside skin. Cut cucumbers in half length-wise.
Take a spoon and scoop out the seeds ( discard)
Grate the remaining seedless cucumbers.
With your hands SQUEEZE the grated cucumbers and remove all excess liquid.

* stir in grated cucumbers to the yogurt mixture.
**Refrigerate for at least 2 hours before serving.

**This is fantastic with chicken, turkey, meat, bread, and vegetables.Enjoy!!!

Chickpea ( Garbanzo Bean) and Quinoa Greek Salad
1 19 oz. can of Garbanzo Beans (drained and rinsed)
1 cup of cooked quinoa
1 cup of cherry tomatoes sliced in half
1 cucumber * striped with peeler 4 times and cut into 4 long strips, and again into 1/2 inch chunks.
1 can of artichoke hearts, cut into 4 ( drained and rinsed)
2 sprigs of mint ( leaves removed and chopped)
1/2 small red onion diced small
* a potential fancy it up option: just add kalamata olives, blanched asparagus, or sliced pepperoncinis

For the dressing:
3 T of olive oil
2 T. red wine vinegar
1 T of fresh squeezed lemon juice
1/2 t. dried oregano
1/4 t. sea salt
1/4 t. cracked black pepper

Mix in dressing over garbanzo bean and quinoa salad.
Top with crumbled feta cheese.

Friday, May 13, 2011

It's Okay It's ORGANIC

Organic foods are foods that are produced using methods that do not involve modern synthetic inputs such as pesticides and chemical fertilizers, do not contain genetically modified organisms, and are not processed using irradiation, industrial solvents, or chemical food additives.

Too many of us use organic foods as the new health standard, claiming them be well worth the extra cost to keep ourselves and our families healthy and safe. This is exactly what the marketing giants want you to believe. 'Organics' have jumped to the highest grossing food market in the past five years. The cooperate giants like Kraft, General Mills and Nestle have realized the income potential and have eagerly jumped on the 'organic bandwagon,' either buying out the small natural food manufactures like Cascadia Farms, OR they created their own Organics lines. Case and point, entering from stage left, the new and improved, healthier....Organic Oreos!?!

This might seem like a great thing at first glance. There is great satisfaction in the aisles of the grocery store when you are reunited with a healthier version of your old familiar friend. It seems like such a good idea. But one cannot help but to ask: What exactly is an Organic Oreo? Organic Coke? Or an or an Organic Cheeto? Well unfortunately, we are being sold the same items that have destroyed the health of our society plaguing us with an overwhelming obesity epidemic.(Now in a shiny new organic package with newly improved organic ingredients such as Organic: sugar, milk, flour,and hydrogenated oils). So its basically the same food only slighly fancier and more'Organic'.

Here's a breakthrough thought, maybe instead of resorting to the so-called healthier versions of the same junk foods, we should be CHANGING the way we eat.( Now that is a novel idea!) Instead of justifying our actions and being proud of the fact that we are now eating 'healthier and organic' we should stop one second and ask ourselves, what we are REALLY eating? Organic ice cream is absolutely dreamy and fantastic, but it is STILL ice cream! Organic cookies, chips, chocolate, power bars, pizza, burritos... all remain the SAME foods. Sugar is still sugar anyway you want to put it, organic or not(although organic may be less processed) it is still sugar. Hydrogenated oils are still hydrogenated oils. Somehow I think we as a society have gotten so backward in our thinking believing that all things 'organic' come with a golden halo, free of ' food sin'-this simply is not true. When you chose to eat organic food, it DOES have a potential for better ingredients free of pesticides, chemicals, and GMO's, but if you are buying organic processed junk foods you are missing the point.

NEWSFLASH: These organic foods may be a healthier version of the same junk food with new shiny 'Organic' text written across the front so you think you are eating healthier, but are you? WAKE UP! We are smarter then this!

So the next time you are out at your grocery store, co- op or Trader Joe's, please pay attention, don't fall for the organic labeling trap. We have got to act smarter.We have to bring our ' A Game' and navigate the aisles of our grocery stores like unyielding food wizards!* HA!* Just because the label says that a food is ' all natural' or 'organic' please read the label, pay attention and ask yourself: Is this food going to nourish my body supplying it with nutrients, or is it simply going to satiate my sweet tooth or snack craving?

Together we can bring on food change by educating each other, demanding higher standards and choosing our food wisely. Be EMPOWERED! Together we can create a healthier future for ourselves and our families.


Wednesday, May 11, 2011

3 Delicious Portobello Mushroom Recipes

I absolutely adore portobello mushrooms! They are incredibly versatile and straight up delish!
Here are a few recipes that I thought I would share with you for all things portobello.

My ALL time favorite of the moment, Marsala Mushrooms:

Heat a sautee pan.
Remove stem and cut portobellos in strips.
Add olive oil, 2 T of minced garlic and 1/2 diced onion into the bottom
of the sautee pan.
Add three sprigs of fresh thyme( leaves removed- stem discarded)
*or 1 sprig of chopped fresh sage
Add 1 T of dijon mustard to coat onions and garlic
Add portobello mushrooms.
Add 1/4 cup of Marsala wine
Salt and pepper to taste.
Cook for 8 minutes until tender.
ENJOY over rice, pasta,salad,
or a side dish to meat and chicken!

Grilled Portobellos

I love grilling portobellos instead of or in addition to a nice burger or steak.
*remember to remove the stem and marinate for at least 20 minutes prior to grilling.
My three favorite marinades are:
1. Pesto (garlic,basil,mint,dill,olive oil, lemon juice and salt/pepper blended in food processor).
2. Balsamic reduction ( literally pour balsamic vinegar in a saucepan and let simmer until the sauce reduced by half and the consistency becomes thicker resembling molasses).
3. Teriyaki:(2 cloves of minced garlic, 1 T. of diced fresh
ginger,1/2 cup of soy sauce, 1 T. sesame oil, 3 T of brown sugar, 3 T of orange juice, 1 t. black pepper)

Stuffed Portobellos

I just made this today.
You can literally stuff mushrooms with just about anything, meats, seafoods, vegetables, and cheese.
This summer I made these with marinara and pizza cheese and called them 'Pizza Shrooms' for the summer camp I cooked at for elementary kids. They LOVED THEM!!

I will show you how to make a fancier 'pizza shroom' with more vegetables.
You will first need to clean the mushroom by taking a spoon and cleaning out the 'gills' (*for the lack of a better word;)
Drizzle with olive oil, salt and pepper are place in the oven for 10 minutes at 350.
Dice fresh zucchinis, red peppers,onions, carrots.
Sautee these with minced garlic, salt,
pepper and italian seasoning until 'el dente'(*not hard, but not mushy).
Add black olives.
Cover in marinara sauce
Spoon onto cooked portobellos and cover with shredded mozarella cheese.
Place back in the oven for 6 minutes or until cheese is melted.


Tuesday, May 10, 2011

My Dinner: Shrimp Lettuce Wraps with Mango Salsa


Fresh Watermelon Margaritas

One of my absolute FAVORITE drinks in the whole world is FRESH Watermelon Margaritas! This is not to be confused with Chevy's happy hour watermelon syrup margaritas. These are so refreshing and beyond dreamy!!

To make:
5 cups of fresh watermelon (seeded and rind removed- 3 lb whole* )
1 cup of silver tequila
1/2 cup of fresh lime juice
1 cup of ice
Blend and enjoy!

*A way to 'fancy this up' is to:
1. add 1/2 cup of Cointreau
2. steep a whole bunch of mint in equal parts water and sugar for about 15 minutes creating a mint infused simple syrup-- Add 3 T. or to taste.

My Mango Salsa Recipe

2 ripe mangos diced small
1 small green apple diced
1/4 cup of chopped cilantro
1/4 cup of chopped mint
1/2 small red onion diced
1/2 red bell pepper diced
1 serrano chili (seeded)
2 T. rice wine vinegar
1 T. fresh lime juice
2 cloves of garlic diced finely.
1/2 t. of salt to taste

Monday, May 9, 2011

Spanokopita(ish) Pasta

My inspiration for dinner tonight:

I like the idea of all of these pasta's. I love asparagus, feta and walnuts, as well as my love for all things pesto! I also like the idea of adding roasted cauliflower to stretch the pasta (less carbs more yumminess). So, although I have no picture to show you of my complete vision, I will take all these concepts and add some spinach and we have what I would like to call Spanikopita(ish) Pasta.

To make the pesto:

1/4 cup of fresh herbs ( I use flat leaf parsley, mint and dill)
2 cups of spinach
2 cloves of garlic
1/4 cup of pine nuts or walnuts (toasted)
1 Lemon (zested)
1/2 fresh lemon ( juiced)
4 T olive oil
sea salt and pepper to taste
* you may add 1 t. of Balsamic Vinegar if you wish (* I love it!)

Place all ingredients in food processor and blend until smooth.

For Pasta:
In a large stock pot boil water for pasta.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees
Cut Cauliflower into bite sized 'florettes'.
Slice Asparagus into 1 inch chunks
Arrange cauliflower and asparagus on roasting pan.
Drizzle with extra virgin olive oil or coconut oil
Add Sea Salt and Pepper
Roast for 15 -20 minutes until cauliflower is golden on the tips.

In a sautee pan :
Wilt 3 cups of spinach
* toast and chop walnuts

When pasta is 'el dente' not hard, but not mushy, drain water and place in bowl.
Add cauliflower, asparagus and spinach.
Pour pesto sauce over the top and coat liberally.
Add chopped walnuts and crumbeled feta.


Sunday, May 8, 2011

The Truth Blows:Chewing Gum And Your Health

I love chewing gum! I like blowing bubbles and have greatly enjoyed instances of rapid-fire crackling it against my teeth. I buy a pack of Extra gum each week at the grocery store, I keep it in my purse and usually have 2 pieces a day. I know I am not alone. Gum is EVERYWHERE: gas stations, grocery stores, airports, ect. Chewing gum is now even endorsed on the show 'The Biggest Loser' to help the contestants lose weight, promoting that by chewing gum will help you curb your cravings and satiate your sweet tooth. This delightfully delicious 'go to', that freshens your breath and somehow keeps your mind off of food, it seems so innocent, right?! Well, it made sense to me up until recently when I heard mention that chewing gum can actually be BAD FOR YOU?! Whaaa??! (That's what I thought to). I did a bit of research and found some INTERESTING findings that I thought I would share with you.

1. Many of us mindlessly cram sticks of gum into our mouths out of habit without ever stopping to question what IS gum? Gum is made from chewable synthetic polymers (rubber) and polythene mixed with latex, with 'flavors' added and then sweetened with sugar or aspartame. So basically to recap: a rubbery, synthetic, flavored and sweetened sugary wad of 'yum'= Gum!

2. The act of chewing gum, can cause unnecessary strain on the muscles and cartilage in your jaw which can result in long term jaw pain and headaches/migraines.

3. When you put any substance into your mouth your salivary glands are stimulated sending messages to your brain to stimulate your digestive system. By introducing gum, a stationary non digestible 'food like substance' into your body, you are stressing your expectant digestive system. Your body is in 'go mode' expecting FOOD to make its way down the digestive system, all organs firing waiting expectantly, for no reason.

4. Gum is not food. It's basically rubber-like chemical nastiness (however tasty). If you do swallow it, you are introducing something that is very hard for your stomach and digestive system to break down and process.

*Sorry I just couldn't resist!;)

5. People who are suffering from IBS(irritable bowel syndrome) or other digestive problems should not chew gum. In the process of chewing gum, you swallow excess air that can cause bloating and pain for someone with a compromised digestive system.

6. If you chew sugar-free gum you are consuming aspartame that has many health implications such as cancer. If you chose to eat gum that is made from processed refined sugar, you are setting yourself up for a higher risk or tooth decay and potential diabetes.

7. It is true that the act of chewing gum does produces excess saliva, that can help 'bathe' the teeth killing bacteria which IS beneficial to your health. However, the con's far outweigh the pro's in this list.

I had NO idea that the simple act of chewing gum was so highly involved and potentially so detrimental to my health. Now that I know, I may think twice about reaching for the next pack of Extra. This may be a hard habit for me to quit, but reading back over this list, I think it is in my best interest to find a new hobby.

Cheers to being an informed consumer!

Monday, May 2, 2011

Supplemental Knowledge

I just returned from a week long nutritional conference where I am studying to become a certified nutritional therapist. My mind is spinning from all of the absolutely fascinating facts things I learned and continue to learn through this program. There is SOoooo much to tell all of you but ONE of the'golden nuggets' of information that I received, and I am stuck on just how life changing it is, is about the world of supplements.We live in a very 'band aid' society, in the sense that we are all seeking a quick fix for a situation or ailment rather then digging deeper into the root of the problem. When you go to your doctor for heartburn they give your Priolosec, depression-Zoloft, muscle pain- Flexerol, and although some of these things may be effective in some cases, we as a society have become so hard wired to get a 'band-aid/quick fix' that we may be glossing over and forgetting to explore the potential for deeper issues that are causing the pain in the first place.

Over this past weekend, my professor mentioned that: if people take random supplements like : fish oil( many of which are rancid on the store shelves and toxic to the body), zinc, magnesium, calcium... ect. to supplement their diets and to support their body, and if their body is NOT digesting well (for a myriad of reasons: stress, allergies, inflammation to name a FEW) and their organs are not supported correctly, people will NOT get the benefit of these supplements AND by ingesting them they are causing a STRESS on the body which leads to INFLAMMATION!!!!! This was a total 'Ah ha' moment for me. THIS makes so much sense! This is one of the underlying problems in our society. THIS is why some people who take calcium for YEARS can still show Calcium deficiencies on bloodwork.

Over the weekend I had a chance to work with a fellow student,' client' and tested him through a series of enzyme points and functional body work and I found that he was EXTREMELY deficient in Zinc. He was pretty confused because he says that he takes a Zinc supplement religiously every morning, and had for the past TWO YEARS! I proceeded with further investigation and found that he had SIGNIFICANT chronic inflammation in his gut. Ah ha!!!!The pieces are ALL coming together. I know that there may be more to this story and I acknowledge that, I am a student after all, so I don't want to claim this as the end all truth, but THIS is some pretty fantastic information. If anything it offers up an potentially amazing explanation to some of inflammation and supplement imbalances that has manifested and is currently plaguing our society. So AMAZING!!!! Ah Ha!!

So I leave you with this, there are TONS amazing supplements that will DRASTICALLY improve your body functions and vitality. But you MUST do your research, and talk to your doctor or herbalist before you just start supplementing your diet with things that you hear are good for you, or things that benefited your neighbor, friend, or relative. EVERYBODY IS DIFFERENT AND EVERY BODY IS DIFFERENT. Please remember that!!:)

Cheers to fantastic information!!:)