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Archive for the ‘Real Food & Nutrition’ Category

See the original post at A Life Enchanted

Breakfast truly can be considered the most important meal of the day. It sets the tone. It helps stabilize blood sugar, provides fuel to function properly and helps prevent cravings and over eating later in the day. When our bodies begin to use up it’s energy supplies cravings are triggered. This leads to over eating and poor food choices. Having  a healthy breakfast within 2 hours of waking is essential for proper body function.

We all know my love of quinoa. It’s a complete protein. It offers a multitude of nutrients. It’s holds up and it’s diverse. You can mix in any combination of vegetables, herbs and spices and have something delicious that will stay in the fridge for days and still be enjoyable.

But get this…. you can even mix in fruit and enjoy it for breakfast!
Check it out.

I had pear and walnuts with extra honey

Quinoa Breakfast

2c water
1c quinoa
1/2 rice, soy or almond milk
1/4 – 1/2c fresh fruit
1/8 – 1/4c nuts or seeds
cinnamon, cardamom, nutmeg, vanilla beans for seasoning – 1 or a combination of your favorites
honey, agave or maple syrup for sweetening

Bring the water to a boil. Add quinoa, reduce to low and simmer for 10-12 minutes until cooked through. Top each serving with fruit, seeds and nuts, sweeten and add milk.

Simple.

This makes a batch large enough to last for days in the fridge. Keep the cooked quinoa separate and add fruit, nuts and milk to each serving.

Eat your breakfast!

Live Well!
~S

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Lovely Coconut Oil. I love it. And you should too!

It’s thick and creamy. It offers substantial health benefits. It works wonders on detoxifying the body. And even helps curb appetite.

For your health –
  • Is antibacterial therefore, helps fight infection
  • Take a spoonful 20 minutes before eating to curb appetite
  • Assists with weight control
  • Use to strengthen immunity
  • Helps treat arthritis
  • Improves thyroid function
  • Increases energy
  • Improves digestion
  • Treats and prevents acid reflux, heart burn and indigestion
  • Treats sore throats and ear infections
  • Even been known to help ADHD and Autism

Coconut Oil is for more than cooking with!

Coconut oil is also great for your hair and skin! For real.

For the hair –

  • It is great for all hair types
  • It works especially well on dandruff
  • It offers incredible shine and softness
  • Great for color treated hair
  • Used to treat lice
  • Removes gum from hair

For the skin –

  • Heals burns fabulously
  • Is antibacterial so works wonderfully for cuts and scrapes 
  • Is nourishing and moisturizing
  • Offers sun protection
  • Is a fantastic eye make up remover
  • Treats rashes, fungal and yeast infections like ringworm and athletes foot
  • Soothes stings and bites
  • Softens cracked rough feet
  • Strengthens nails
  • Treats eczema and psoriasis
You love coconut oil now, too, don’t you? I told you you would!

Over the next few weeks I will offer a tremendous amount of tips on using coconut oil throughout your life. Stay tuned! 

Live Well!
~S 

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I have had made just about everything you can imagine at one point or another. But there are two things I have yet to add to that long list…

Beer and Kombucha

Seriously! You’d think I would have done this by now.

Well, let’s change that shall we?

Starting Kombucha Mother is really quite simple. You can purchase SCOBY (Symbiotic Colony of  Bacteria and Yeast) at a number of health food suppliers, but why bother? Besides being more expensive – the average mother is around $20, this way will cost you about $3.50 – it’s easy and you get to say you made it yourself!

Here’s what you need – 

  • A bottle of Organic Raw Kombucha (right from the grocery store)
  • 1 cup of sweetened tea
  • A large glass jar ( a wide mouth mason jar is perfect)
  • A kitchen towel or cheesecloth
  • A rubber band

First, steep your tea – one tea bag in one cup of water. You can use any kind you like. For this batch I am using a black and orange pekoe blend. I will experiment with others next.

Sweeten your tea while it’s warm. For this you want to use regular sugar. One tablespoon. From all of my research, all other forms of natural sweeteners will cause the kombucha to be bitter. The sugar is only food for the bacteria.

Add the bottle of kombucha to the  room temperature tea and cover. You want the cover to be thin enough so it can breath, yet keep out any bugs and what ever might be floating around the kitchen. Place it on the counter or in a cupboard.

Now you wait.

That’s it! I told you it was easy. My kombucha mother has been brewing for a few days now. The temperature of your house will determine just how long it takes for the mother to be ready. A thin layer will begin to form on the surface. This is the SCOBY. You are looking  for a layer about 1/4 inch thick. When you have achieved this, you’re mother is ready and you are ready to make kombucha! It could take a week. It could take 3.

I will give you an update when mine is ready.

Happy Brewing!

Live Well!
~S 

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I am fairly well versed in wild New England Edibles. I love to spend time, basket slung over my arm wandering the woods, fields and riverbanks of New Hampshire foraging for greens and berries and the like.

There is something inspiring, comforting and even exciting about making a meal from things found. Last year, while the Mister and Macala were fishing, I gathered berries. I made a lovely black raspberry crostada. Many Summer nights we enjoyed salads of wild greens found in my travels.

My thirty six years, though, have not been sufficient to leave me anywhere near an expert in such things.  Perhaps under other circumstances. Perhaps were we in a time when survival meant being so. Perhaps, no, certainly, then I would be schooled by a ten year old in the matter of wild edibles.

But I press on! I am determined to learn more.

So what will be next? 

I’m spending some time with my favorite guide this lovely, warm Spring afternoon in the Shire to pick.

My feeling, pick something and learn as much as you can about it before moving on to anything else.

I wonder what it will be this Spring? 

I’ll let you know as soon as I choose.

Live Well!
~S

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Did you know that eating fat doesn’t make you fat? It’s true!

That stuff they call margarine isn’t real food either. It’s gross, it’s harmful and you should stop using it! But you don’t really use that junk, right?

Real food is always better. Always. But even the ones you think are real and wholesome aren’t always as they seem. Take butter for instance. Did you know that butter, yes, the real kind, usually has added preservatives? It’s sad but true. But there’s hope.

Making butter is ridiculously easy! 

Cream, a mason jar and twenty minutes easy.

Fill a mason jar half way with heavy cream.

Put the cover on.

Now shake the day lights out of it!

Shake, shake, shake…

Shake, shake, shake….

The cream will get thick. Keep shaking.

When you think something MUST have gone wrong, keep shaking.

You are almost there….

And then all of sudden, it will happen! The thick cream will separate – buttermilk and butter.

Strain the buttermilk….

But save it for something else like soaking chicken or making biscuits.

Now you have to rinse the rest of the buttermilk out of the butter.

Add some salt if you like and roll into a log and refrigerate.

You have butter!

AND buttermilk!

This butter doesn’t have preservative like that other stuff, as I mentioned, so you want to use this within two weeks.

It isn’t always cheaper to make your own butter but it can be. It depends on the cost of cream and the amount of fat. Some cows produce a fattier milk. If you are lucky enough to know someone with goats (or even better, have your own!) butter can be made with goats cream too. It will be a bit different, but just as good.

I got about 3/4 of a  pound of butter from one quart of milk. Plus about 2 cups of buttermilk. That is a savings over purchasing butter and buttermilk separately. And I don’t get the preservatives.

There is an easier way….

You can use a blender, mixer, hand mixer or food processor and cut the time in half.

There can be mistakes…

The second time I made butter, or attempted to make butter, it was a disaster. We took turns shaking the jar, the mister, babes and I. How fun! We sat and watched TV, chatted and made butter together. But in our fun we somehow missed the separation phase and just kept shaking. We ended up with what looked like chunky whipped cream. Which is just what I turned it into, with a bit of honey (or sweetener of choice) and a bit more whipping.

What happened? We shook the buttermilk back into the butter. Yes, it can happen. I had no idea. I also don’t know if the process can be altered again. I had had enough shaking for the night and never cared for the experiment to be finished.

Now let’s get a wee bit technical…

I’m not saying go ahead and smother everything you eat in butter. I’m not Paula Dean. Although I do love her to pieces. I’m just saying butter isn’t as scary and horrible as we tend to think. And it’s way better for you than something bugs won’t even touch! (Some still claim this isn’t true,but I tried it once and found the margarine free of ants and butter loaded with them. I did not, however, leave it long enough to find out if they moved over once the butter was gone.)

  • A 1994 Harvard Medical Study showed that eating margarine can increase heart disease in women by 53%
  • More recent studies have shown a strong link between consuming trans fat and earlier death
  • Butter does not contain trans fat – margarine does (minus a few newer varieties)
  • Both butter and margarine have the same amount of calories
  • Eating butter increases the absorption of many other nutrients in other foods
  • Butter has many nutritional benefits – margarine does not, unless they are added
  • Butter tastes better!
That old urban legend about margarine being one molecule away from plastic is truly false, however, real food is always best. Something made with “ingredients” like margaric acid, used in making margarine, is not.
If you aren’t into making your own butter at least opt for the real thing. Ditch that tub of tasteless, dyed stuff.

Tomorrow we will talk about flavoring your butter!

Live Well!
~S 

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I am very excited to announce todays guest blogger!

Heather and I met in elementary school. We were in the same grade. The summer going into seventh grade my house burned down. We lost everything. That morning Heather had her father bring her over. She showed up with bags full of clothes. We became fast friends that morning. I love her dearly. She has an amazingly beautiful heart.  She really is such a lovely person. She is spiritual, she loves to sing, enjoys music, makes the people around her laugh and feel good and is here to share a great recipe with us!

If you can’t get enough of sweet potato or quinoa like me, you are going to be thrilled when you see this. In her quest to eat better she found this recipe and wanted to share with us.

“I decided to try the recipe from shine.yahoo.com because I love sweet potatoes and tater tots; plus, I am trying to eat more healthy. The recipe was easy to follow and they were super yummy. I thought you’d enjoy them as well since you are so enamored with sweet potatoes and quinoa!

 Xoxoxo
Heather”

Sweet Potato Quinoa Tater Tots

INGREDIENTS
1 cup quinoa flakes
1/4 cup golden flax meal
Non-stick cooking spray
1/3 cup finely chopped small onion (from 1/2 small onion)
4 sweet potatoes or russet potatoes, peeled
1 Tbsp. kosher or sea salt, plus more
1 egg, beaten
1 tsp. cayenne
1 tsp. smoked paprika
1/2 tsp. garlic powder (I LOVE garlic so I also added 1 tsp. dehydrated garlic)
Freshly ground black pepper

PREPARATION
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Combine quinoa flakes and flax meal in a bowl; set aside. Heat a medium nonstick skillet over medium heat. Spray generously with nonstick spray. Add onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft, about 8 minutes. Transfer onion to a bowl; set aside. Wipe out and reserve skillet.

Using the small holes of a box grater, finely grate potatoes to make 4 cups. Transfer to a colander and sprinkle with 1 Tbsp. salt. Massage salt into potatoes and squeeze out the excess liquid. Transfer potatoes to a medium bowl; add egg and mix well. Add reserved onion, cayenne, paprika, and garlic powder; season lightly with salt and pepper. The mixture should resemble a potato pancake mix but be on the dry side. Using your hands, form potato mixture into 1″ balls.

Roll potato balls in quinoa flake mixture. Heat a medium nonstick skillet over medium heat. Spray lightly with nonstick spray. Working in batches, cook balls, turning occasionally, until golden brown, about 2 minutes on each side. Transfer tots to a rimmed baking sheet. Bake until cooked through, about 10 minutes.

I’m making them this weekend! Let me know what you think.

Live Well!
~S

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Ok, maybe it’s olive oil, but it’s not Extra Virgin Olive Oil.

Have you seen this study from The University of California – Davis? They tested the top producers/suppliers of olive oil in this country and guess what they found. What we think is extra virgin olive oil really isn’t. Blasphemy! And worse, some of it isn’t even olive oil! Yes, it says so on the label! But it isn’t. It’s been mixed with inferior oils. Also, as if that weren’t enough, much of what was tested was rancid or made from damaged or overripe olives. Whaaat!?

How do you feel about this statement?“oils can be tainted, cut with other oils, deodorized and sold as extra virgin”

Deodorized!?

Don’t believe me? Look for yourself. And worse? I bet you have one of these in your kitchen!

Yes! That is Rachel Ray. And her EVOO was on the naughty list.

So how do you know if your oil is actually what it states on the label?

Here are the oils that topped the list of REAL Extra Virgin Olive Oil –

Kirkland Organic
Corto Olive
California Olive Ranch
McEvoy Ranch Organic

There is also a small test you can perform, if you are in to that kind of thing, like me.

Try this –
Place a small bowl of your oil in the refrigerator for 24-48 hours. If the oil crystallized it is extra virgin. If it is solid it is NOT extra virgin olive oil.

It’s really a shame we can’t trust what we read on a product label, but the truth is friends, we simply can’t. We have to educate ourselves. We have to be proactive and knowledgable about our choices.

So what, you ask?
Well, sure you can go ahead and continue using these oils. I mean, they ARE often cheap. I suppose we all should have known the truth by that fact alone. But, if you hate being lied to. If you want to experience the amazing flavor of REAL extra virgin olive oil, which should be flavorful and rich, go try one of these that made the “good” list. You may still decide on the rancid can of lies, but at least you will know the truth.

Live Well!
~S

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