Friday, June 25, 2010

Rosemary Chicken and Veggies

While my parents were in town meeting their new grandchild, my mother whipped up a delicious meal. Rosemary is the star performer in this dinner. This dish is elegant enough to serve to special guests, a romantic night at home, or just every day life. It's a beautiful dish and very tasty! If it's been awhile since you've tasted rosemary, you will fall in love all over again. Here is her recipe. Thanks Mom!

Rosemary Chicken

Chicken Breast (best quality you can afford, preferably hormone/antibiotic free)
1 or 2 sprigs of Rosemary per chicken breast
tsp Basil
Dash of salt and pepper
1 large onion, sliced into rings
1 slice of Bacon (nitrate free) per chicken breast

1. Salt and pepper chicken breast. Chop basil and sprinkle on chicken.
2. Lay sliced onion rings on top of chicken breast.
3. Place sprigs of rosemary on top and wrap chicken breast with the bacon.
4. Make sure the ends of bacon are underneath the breast. Place the pieces on a jelly roll pan.
5. Cover and Bake @ 425 degrees for about 30 minutes, uncover cook for additional 15 minutes, until juices run clear.

Rosemary Potatoes, Broccoli, and Onion Medley

1 Head of Broccoli, cut into pieces
12 New Potatoes, sliced thickly
1 large onion, sliced thick
1/4 cup of Olive Oil
salt and pepper to taste
2 sprigs Rosemary, chopped

Place all chopped veggies in a glass casserole dish. Pour olive oil over vegetables. Add the salt, pepper, basil and Rosemary to the veggies. Stir well, until all is well coated with the oil and spices. Cover vegetables with tin foil for about 30 minutes and bake in oven at 425 degrees for 45 minutes. Uncover and bake 10 more minutes. Enjoy!

Nutritional Tips:

Rosemary is a potent anti-inflammatory due to caffeic acid and rosemarinic acid. These are strong antioxidants which protect our bodies from degenerative diseases. Rosemary has a long history of culinary use and it is exciting to hear the research proving the medicinal effects for protecting us from cancers, asthma and pain-causing inflammation. Eat rosemary regularly for the protective benefits to build up in your system!


Monday, June 21, 2010

Pizza- The cooking Easy Button

Having a new baby home for 5 days has made my usual joy of cooking turn into a chore. Sleep deprived and exhausted, emotionally thrilled but overwhelmed, I am looking for the cooking easy button. So, what do you cook when all you want to do is order a pizza and let someone else do the work? This pizza fits the bill. It is quick and delicious, and when you cook it yourself you do not have to worry about cheap, harmful ingredients like high fructose corn syrup, preservatives or any added flavor enhancers, aka. excitotoxins that many fast food restaurants put into their foods. Here's the quick solution:

Spinach and Pepper Pizza
Pizza Dough:

1 pkg. Quik Rise dry Yeast
1 cup lukewarm water
2 TB oil
1 TB Honey
1 1/2 Cup Whole Wheat Flour
1 Cup All-Purpose Flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp Italian seasonings

Mix in yeast and water in large glass bowl. Add in oil, honey, flours, salt, garlic, onion powder and Italian seasonings. Let it sit in the bowl for 5-10 minutes. Flatten on a greased pan.

Easy Pizza Sauce:

Open can of tomato sauce. Add in 1/4 teaspoon of italian seasonings, garlic and onion powder. MIx well.

Spinach and Pepper Toppings:

1/2 cup Frozen Spinach
1/2 Cup Frozen Bell Peppers
1 tsp of Oil

Heat oil in a frying pan. Add in frozen vegetables and cook until they are seared down. I used a cast iron skillet to get a nice roasted flavor on mine.

Assembling the Pizza:

Roll out the dough, spoon on the pizza sauce and add the vegetables. Place a generous amount of cheese on top of it all and bake for 12 minutes at 450 degrees.

Changes in your life and routine can set you back, but with a little determination, you can eat fast and healthy from home! When you need comfort food that is easy, reach for this recipe.

Going with the flow,

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Tarragon Mushroom Cream Sauce

Here is the delicious dish made with fresh picked chanterelles. The dish that will make your momma cry with pride. The recipe is from one of my FAVORITE cookbooks! Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone by Deborah Madison. She is hands down the best at teaching others to cook amazing food! If there is one cookbook I would recommend this would be it!

Tarragon Mushroom Cream Sauce

2 TB butter
1 pound mushrooms, sliced 1/2 thick
salt and freshly milled pepper
1/2 cup white wine
1/4 cup cream
1/2 cup sour cream
2 TB parsley, chopped
1 garlic clove
2 tsp tarragon, chopped

Heat butter in large skillet over high heat, add the mushrooms, and saute until a nice color. Season with a little salt and pepper, add the wine and lower the heat. Let the wine cook down to about half. Add the cream, sour cream and simmer until thickened slightly. Chop the parsley, garlic, and tarragon together. Add them to the mushrooms and serve!

I served it over wide egg noodles and it was a perfect match. This dish will work well with any kind of mushroom, so use your favorite.

Nutritional Tips!
Chanterelles can be as much as 23% Vitamin C. They are considered to be one of the best wild mushrooms in the world. They are fruity and have a apricot smell mixed with an apricot, nutty flavor. They are high in potassium and mushrooms have powerful antiviral, antitumor, and anticholesterol properties!

In Mushroom Heaven,

Chanterelles, Turtles, Snakes, OH MY!

Unfortunately it was raining when we took off on our favorite running trails today. Since, I didn't want to harm the camera, I left it behind and missed some truly fantastic pictures. The rain was only coming down slightly and a few minutes into the run it quit. It was a muggy, humid evening run... just the kind that the creatures come out for!
Our first sighting was a beautiful box turtle laying eggs in a hole on the side of the trail, which at that point ran along side a creek, so the soil was a perfect sandy mix for her eggs. We stopped to admire it and let our dog sniff it before we took off further down the trail.
The next spotting was beautiful mushrooms of all kinds. It looked like the mushroom scene from Alice in Wonderland! We spotted red, purple and green bolete mushrooms.
But the best find was a huge patch of chanterelles - a beautiful and tasty culinary delight! At Whole Foods yesterday, we noticed the Chanterelles were $29.99 a pound! Imagine our excitement when Doug took his shirt off and filled it to the top! In all, we picked about 3/4 gallon, which probably weighed a pound or so.
On the way back, we were treated with a tiny black rat snake on the path. I picked its whopping "5 inches" up and a let it slither and hunt for the dirt again! Such a cute little black snake the size of a large worm. We also surprised an unsuspecting deer as it stood by the creek bed.
Just another exciting run on a terribly ordinary day. It's the little things that make me appreciate life. Seeing a blue jay, or watching my dog sniff a turtle and jump scared when the turtle moves into her shell. Finding chanterelles and making a mushroom cream sauce that would make your momma cry! Taking deep breaths as a deer runs past the trail and smiling as we run past the most intelligent architectural wasp nest that I have ever seen. The little things will keep you happy. The little things will keep you connected. The little things will make you breath deeper. May we all open our eyes to the little things and count our blessings every day.

Live the Little Things,

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Swiss Chard and Garbanzo Bean Soup

My garden has beautiful stalks of Swiss chard growing. Luckily, the Vegetarian Times placed a delicious sun-dried tomatoes and Swiss chard recipe this week. With a little tweaking to match what I had in my garden and kitchen, I made a delicious soup with swiss chard, tomatoes, LOTS of fresh herbs and garbanzo beans. Here's the happy outcome!

Swiss Chard and Garbanzo Bean Soup

2 TB olive oil
3 cloves of garlic (or 1 TB)
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
1 large onion, chopped
3 stalks celery, chopped
3 med carrots, coined
1/2 tsp fresh rosemary, chopped
2 cups vegetable broth
2 15 oz. cans tomatoes
1 15 oz. can garbanzo beans (chick peas)
1/2 bunch of Swiss chard (about 2 cups)
1/2 tsp thyme, chopped
1 cup of basil, torn

Heat the olive oil in a large stock pot on medium heat. Add the garlic and red pepper flakes. Let it cook for 1 minute until fragrant. Add the onions, celery, carrots, and rosemary. Let it cook for 15 minutes until onion is transparent. If it needs more liquid, add one cup of the vegetable stock and let simmer for the 15 minutes.
Add the rest of the vegetable stock, one can of tomatoes, and the garbanzo beans.
Place one cup of the soup in a blender and blend till smooth.
Add the blender contents, Swiss chard, and thyme into the stock pot. Stir for 5 minutes until the Swiss chard cooks down.
Take off heat and stir in the basil.

All finished! I like to put a dollop of Greek yogurt on top and serve with a crusty whole grain bread. Yummy!!

Nutritional Information:

Swiss Chard is a good source of Vitamins A and C, both powerful defenders against cancers. It is also a good source of minerals like iron, needed to boost immunity and help fight fatigue. Many people feel exhausted all the time. They do not realize it is due to low iron in the body and that an increase in this mineral could alleviate their fatigue .
Swiss Chard also has calcium, magnesium and potassium, all needed in controlling a good blood pressure.

It is that time of year when Swiss chard abounds. Why not pick some up today and make a quick, easy dinner for you and your loved ones. Let me know if you do!

Cheers to Chard!

Friday, June 4, 2010

We Are All Going To Die Sometime....

"It doesn't matter." "We are all going to die sometime." These two sentences make me cringe when I hear them spoken, and unfortunately, I have heard them often.
What bothers me the most, is that it's always the 'healthy' that speak these words. The ones whose health has not quit on them and who take it for granted that smoking, drinking, and eating whatever they like will never affect them. They can not imagine themselves bent over in stomach pain, cancer-ridden, arthritic, with fibromyalgia, or diabetic. Yet according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, 7 out of 10 Americans will die from a chronic PREVENTABLE illness. These diseases, such as diabetes, heart disease, cancer, and strokes account for 50% of all deaths every year. In 2005, 1 out of every 2 Americans has a chronic illness that keeps them from performing one or more daily activities. Diabetes is the number one reason for kidney failure, amputations, and blindness for ages 20 to 74. Clearly, we are doing something incredibly damaging to our bodies. What is it? Does nature just pick someone and pull the trigger? I know with these kinds of statistics it is easy to give up, say it doesn't matter, and allow our culture to carry us away into chronic disease land. One of my favorite quotes is from Dr. Andrew Saul of the Journal of Orthomolecular Medicine, he said, "The only way to win, is not to play."
Lifestyle changes are difficult at first. Many people around you will tell you what you are missing out on - burgers, fries, sugar, cakes, chips, donuts, etc. - without ever considering your life at hand. You will feel exhausted by our culture of endless chemical food options. Walking into a grocery store will feel like walking into the Charlie and the Chocolate Factory with tempting neon-blue cakes, orange colored sugar drinks, purple cookies, and every other brightly unnatural colored food to tempt your eye and stomach.
However, if you keep going....keep slowly building resistance and saying, "NO", one whisper at a time, within a few short weeks that "no" whispered with little strength will become a "NO" spoken with strong resolution and determination. You will feel the difference in your heart and body. In choosing whole foods, foods that your grandmother or grandfather would recognize, your body will know how to quickly respond. It knows what to do with an apple. It breaks it down and feeds the cells. What does it do with chemical-laden, sugary, fat globules called apple cinnamon stripe cookies? The body is well trained on what to do with a consistent diet of processed, overly salted, high fat foods- Store them! But what happens if you UP the nutrition you send down your throat? All of the sudden, the body wakes up! Little cells that have been starved for the micro nutrients in fresh foods get shocked! The vitamins and minerals that the body has been craving from fresh vegetables, fruits, beans, and whole grains begins to change the inner environment for your cells. Just once, do not think of your tastebuds when you eat, think of the tiny cells that you are caring for. There are MILLIONS throughout your body and each one needs fresh water and fuel to work efficiently.
Today, give your cells what they need. Drink plenty of fresh water and choose healthy greens, fruit for desserts and whole grains. You are worth the work and your body will reward you with less pain and more happy days.
Are we all going to die sometime? Yes, we will. But not all of us will die in our 40's, 50's or 60's from debilitating and cruel degenerative diseases. Let's up our chance of being in the 50% percent that lives vibrantly into old age with more painless days than painful, more smiles than tears, and more family around us than gone. Take charge of your health and choose to live each day to the fullest!

Wishing you Love and Life!

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Carrot Banana Sugar-free Muffins!

In trying to clean up my diet, I am cutting back on sugar. Sugar is so addicting it takes time to kick, so I am going easy on myself and looking for alternative ways to sweeten my life. My dilemma started with all the carrot fiber left over from juicing. What else can I do with it besides composting? I decided to cook up some carrot banana muffins and let the bananas be the sweetener. They turned out delicious and they are nutrient rich, so it's not a waste of calories or mindless eating!

Carrot Banana Muffins

2 cups spelt flour
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp Celtic sea salt
1 TB cinnamon
4 ripe bananas
1 duck egg (or 2 chicken)
1/4 cup almond milk (unsweetened)
1 tsp apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup coconut oil, melted
1/8 cup flax seed, milled
3/4 cup carrots, shredded
1/2 cup walnuts

1. In a small bowl combine flour, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon.
2. In a blender, combine bananas, egg, vinegar, oil, and almond milk
3. Transfer blender contents into the flour mixture
4. Fold in carrots, walnuts and flax seed
5. Spoon mixture into paper lined muffin tins or well-greased tins.
6. Bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes

Makes 10 Large muffins

Nutritional Tidbits:

Spelt is a cousin to wheat flour but has a nuttier and sweeter taste. You can substitute spelt flour for most recipes that call for whole wheat flour. If you are worried about heart disease, try using spelt flour in baking since it has more niacin than other whole grain flours. Niacin is essential in heart health and helps to reduce platelets from clumping together and causing blood clots. You can think of niacin as little hydroelectric power plants in your body! They help living cells generate energy from food.

If you are worried about the coconut oil in this recipe, or if all you've ever heard was to stay away from it, I have provided a link from Dr. Mercola below to show how trans fats are what's killing us and NOT saturated fats. It is only one source from many, explaining the new studies on heart disease. Coconut oil helps with supporting our thyroid and our heart. These are very well documented benefits and deserve to be studied further.

Surprise! Coconut Oil Is Also Good For Your Heart...

FACT: Heart disease is the #1 cause of death in the U.S. And heart disease is often a silent killer. The first sign of cardiovascular disease is commonly a heart attack, and sadly, over one third of heart attacks are fatal.

And despite the propaganda, the truth is this: it is UNSATURATED fats that are primarily involved in heart disease, not the saturated fats, as you have been led to believe. As you saw earlier, countries that subsist on a coconut-based diet appear to enjoy good heart health.

The U.S. Department of Health and the FDA estimate that artificially hydrogenated trans-fats -- the type found in fast food, processed foods and your favorite pastries -- are ultimately responsible for a huge number of fatal heart attacks every year. These dangerous unsaturated fats are the ones you should ban from your diet, not naturally pure coconut oil, which is a better alternative because it contains very few fats with highly perishable double bonds -- and also has NO TRANS-FATS.

Plus, those commonly-used polyunsaturated fats encourage the formation of blood clots by increasing platelet stickiness. Coconut oil helps to promote normal platelet function.

(excerpt from his page)

As you can see, these muffins are nutritious and yummy! They allow the carrots and bananas to be the sweetener and are perfect for a quick morning breakfast. They are loaded with fruit, nuts and flax seed, which has 2600 mg of Omega-3 oils per serving!

You can always add a touch of honey to the muffins as you eat them, if you are still getting your sweet tooth under control. Over time, you will crave less and less sugar and find most baked goods too sweet for your liking. These muffins will become one of your favorites!

Happy Eating!

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Juice Glorious Juice!

If you have ever tried to feed a child, spouse, or yourself 5-9 servings of health-protecting fruits and vegetables a day, you know it can seem impossible at times. This is why I decided to try a new plan- JUICING!
Juicing has become an incredible way to consume huge amounts of fruits and veggies everyday without much effort. It floods the body in nutrients and helps wash out harmful toxins. If your cells have any mineral deficiencies the juice will quickly correct it. A diet high in sugar, processed foods, and too much red meat causes inflammation in our system and increases pain throughout our bodies. Juicing with fresh, organic vegetables and fruits feeds the cells and they calm down, or de-flame!
Juicing has been shown to help fight diseases and promotes a strong immune system. Since the juice is fiber-free it is rapidly absorbed and goes to work within minutes- healing, energizing, generating health!
One of my favorite mixtures is carrots, apples, and beets with greens. You will notice a difference in less than a week if you start to juice a couple times a day. Your energy will be boosted and your mind will be clearer thinking. How else can a person take in 5-10 pounds of vegetables a day without a massive amount of work?

Sunshine Energy Drink

4 large carrots
1 apple
2 celery stalks
1 beet
1/2 cup beet greens

Wash and chop vegetables. Send through juicer, alternating greens with harder vegetables.

That's it! So simple! This is a VERY rich drink and if you are not used to the taste of vegetables, you might want to leave the beets and greens out for the first week. Slowly, your taste buds will get used to the bitters and begin to crave these flavors more and more.

The taste buds do get used to a diet high in fat, sugar and salt. They must be given enough time and exposure to develop an appreciation for vegetables and salad greens once again. If it has been awhile since you had large amounts of vegetables, it might take upping the apples in the juice for the first few weeks. This will sweeten the flavors and make them more enjoyable until the taste buds for bitter or pungent flavors are revived. After a few weeks of regularly juicing greens, you will enjoy it thoroughly!

Cheers to Juicing!