Archive for January, 2010

New year, new foods

With the second week of Whole Living’s detox and get healthy program (I just made up that name), I noticed that there is a section on modifying typical foods that show up on our plates. Instead of croutons on a salad, walnuts–or any nuts really–have tons of health benefits and are just as crunchy.  Or what about trying sweet potatoes instead of yellow/ white ones? I have also heard about adding cauliflower or white beans to mashed potatoes to add extra fiber and nutrients. There are a ton of ways to get those little extra health boosts all day long, but you have to look for them and get creative!

Do you know of any other ways to add to our daily menus without sacrificing on taste? Please share tips and tricks!


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Digestion aid


After starting the detox program that I wrote about earlier, I wanted to have something that I could continue to put in my diet to keep the digestion track clean (without having to detox all over again!) I did some research and found this article from 1978. Now before you roll your eyes at me, let me say quickly that it is posted on a well-known site–Mother Earth News.

The premise is to use natural methods to keep your body healthy and strong and as we have gotten into the 80s and 90s, we saw a movement towards drugs as our salvation, instead of the traditional herbs that had been used for centuries by native peoples. One of these ancient medicines was Lemon Grass, a tall grass that grows in a warm climate (think CA or Mexico) and is used to make a tea with many healing properties. One of the selling points (for me) is that it aids in digestion and it is something that can be grown easily indoors in a pot (for those of you living outside the ‘warm’ climate of CA) or outdoors. With spring just around the corner, I am starting to look for what I will be planting  so that I can begin starting my seeds and planning my layout of my garden. I will keep my eyes out for Lemon Grass and try my hand at cultivating this ancient herb…it should be an adventure!

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Yoga for all problems

I can’t believe that it has been 2 weeks since my last post! (And I thought I was doing so well!) Anyway, at the start of January, I began a yoga class that runs for 15 weeks. Part of the class is to keep a yoga journal where you explore the ways that yoga can affect your life outside the class and the teacher encourages the students to do research on different yoga topics. With this motivation, I began to look for yoga to relieve sciatic pain.

My mom suffers horribly for her sciatica and while she has tried many medicines, therapies, and acupuncture, nothing seems to help. Maybe some yoga will do the trick! I found two sites that I believe anyone could benefit from but especially those with sciatic pain. One site offers poses for relief, while the other gives a great scientific explanation of what is happening to cause sciatic pain and gives a book to look into that can offer natural remedies. If you suffer from this condition, try these moves and see if you notice any improvement.

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I just ran across the most horrid post–the post wasn’t horrid, but the topic made me sick. It was all about eating animals…while they are still alive! It has always bothered me when people joke about the cow still ‘mooing’ when they cut into steak and blood runs out (ick!), but to actually see an animal still breathing while you are about to eat it seems barbaric and inhumane.

What is wrong with people that they can’t put themselves into this animal’s situation? We look down on societies that had human sacrifices and cannibalism, but when it isn’t one of our species then it is ok to watch something suffer?! I cannot believe that this happens today; it seems that we are pushing the limits farther and farther to see what we can get away with, and in the process, we callous ourselves to the pain of others, animals and people alike.  How sad for our world and everything that lives here.

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Traditional Monday dish

In New Orleans, LA, a traditional dish made every Monday is red beans and rice. Its history comes from the time before washing machines, when every Monday was wash day. While all the women were out washing clothes, they would leave veggies, beans, and meat (usually a piece of ham) to simmer on the stove all day long. This was great because they didn’t have to watch the food and actively cook it, it would cook on its own like a slow cooker down days. When dinner time rolled around, the food would be all warm and ready for them, and the wash would be complete. Talk about killing two birds with one stone!

I omit the meat from my version (obviously), but I have a secret to get that smokey taste in–liquid smoke. Here is my vegetarian version of red beans and rice. (Pictures to follow shortly!)

Red Beans and Rice

Serves 3-4

1 (15.5 oz) can red beans, drained and rinsed

1 celery stalk, chopped

1/2 red onion, chopped

1/2 pepper, any color, chopped

2 tsp oil

3 garlic cloves, minced

1 bay leaf

1 tsp liquid smoke

1/2 tsp oregano

2 cups vegetable broth

1/2 to 2/3 cup of cooked rice per person

In a large pan heat oil to medium high and then sauté onions, peppers, garlic, and celery until onions are transparent. Watch that you don’t burn the garlic! Add the broth, beans, bay leaf, liquid smoke, and oregano and bring to boil. Reduce heat, cover, and cook for about 20 mins. Take out 1 1/4 cup of the mixture, liquid and solids, and put into a small bowl. Mash or blend (with an immersion blender) the part that is still in the pot until it looks mostly liquid. Add the mixture back into the now liquid mixture in the pot and stir. Bring back to a boil for a few mins. Put rice on a plate and ladle the bean mixture over, letting the rice soak up some of the liquid. Serve hot and enjoy!

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With the beginning of a new year, I have heard many people tell me they are going to start by detoxing themselves and then try to go onto a healthy eating plan. The detox programs range from the Master Cleanse, to Standard Process’s specially designed system, to several over-the-counter, everything you need for however many days, in a box type program. What really works? What is the healthiest way to rid our bodies of the toxins and chemicals that we are exposed to everyday?

While looking for a simple detox plan (I figured I could work up to the hard core ones), I found the WholeLiving magazine and the front cover of Jan 2010 boasts about a detox plan and recipes!

These recipes are for smoothies and soups that are to be eaten at breakfast and dinner. Some of the recipes require a juicer—which I don’t have—so those won’t be very useful. However, the idea as a whole has intrigued me and so I began looking for more juice/ smoothie recipes for detoxing. Here is the thought behind the WholeLiving detox plan:

 “Liquid meals for breakfast and dinner are less taxing on the digestive system than solid foods, says “Clean” author Alejandro Junger, M.D. — who designed the recipes on the following slides — and they allow the body to focus on cleansing itself. ”

On the Vegetarian Times site, I found several recipes that require NO intricate machinery! Some of the recipes look like they might take a couple extra steps to create—I would not be able to throw all of the ingredients into a juicer, but would rather cook, then blend—but not having to go out and buy an expensive juicer makes me very happy.

I also have been looking for some other soup recipes because the ones provided were a little too fancy for my taste; what do you think? Good Housekeeping has a great soup diet that I think could be used for the soup part of the detox program. You could add more or less veggies depending on what you have and what you like. Also, the additions make it fun and keep you from getting bored with the same tasting soup. I only tried the vegetarian varieties, but they were great and I think I could alter some of the others to also be vegan/ vegetarian.

I think I’ll try this detox plan (the soup and smoothie one), subbing in the smoothies and soups that I found, and leave the more extreme programs to those braver than I! Anyone want to join me?!

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An apple a day…

This is a great way to eat up those apples that might still be rolling around in your fridge from the fall. It makes a fast, easy lunch and you can dress it up or down by choosing to use (or not) the onion topping. (Picture coming soon!)

Apple Quesadillas

Serves 2

-Cooking spray

-1/2 a medium onion, thinly sliced

-1/4 tsp vinegar (I like balsamic)

-1/2 tsp sugar

-1 tsp oil

-1/2 to 1 medium apple, thinly sliced (depending on your taste)

-2 (10 inch or large) flour tortillas

-2 to 4 oz cheese of your choice

In a small fry pan, heat the oil to medium heat and then add the onions, vinegar, and sugar until the onions are translucent (about 5-7 mins.) Spray a large fry pan with cooking spray and then heat one tortilla at a time over medium heat. (Flip after a few mins. to make sure both sides are warm.) Layer cheese and apples on one half of the warmed tortilla and fold the other side over to form a half circle. Let the cheese melt and apples warm, and flip after 2-3 mins. to make sure both sides of the tortilla get crispy. Cut into wedges and cover with warm onion mixture. Enjoy!

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