Archive for healthy

Quinoa … Superfood?

Quinoa (pronounced keen-wah) is a grain-like crop grown primarily for its edible seeds. It originated from the Andes Mountains of South America and where they refer to it as the “mother of all grains”. Quinoa contains a balanced set of all 8 essential amino acids, making it an unusually complete protein source among plant foods. It is a good source of dietary fiber and phosphorus and is high in magnesium and iron. Quinoa is gluten-free and considered easy to digest. Sounds pretty super to me!

We really enjoy it in the summer as some recipes are chilled salads, but it can be substituted for rice or really any grain in recipes. One thing you must do to prep it for cooking is to throughly rinse it. The seeds are coated with saponin which is bitter tasting. Most boxed quinoa is pre-rinsed but I always try to rinse it first before I cook it. I like to buy Bob’s Red Mill Organic Quinoa that is pre-rinsed but last time I got a huge package of Earthly Delights Organic quinoa from Costco and it definitely needs to be rinsed.

Here is a recipe of my Mom’s that is really refreshing on these HOT summer days. We’ve had it once fresh and twice left over this week – yum!

Summer Quinoa Salad
Prep Time 10 mins
Cook Time 15 mins
Chill in fridge before serving

1 c quinoa
1 mini cucumber, sliced
1 red or yellow bell pepper, diced
½ c broccoli florets
1 tomato, chopped
1 carrot, sliced
½ c spinach, sliced in ribbons
1/3 c basil, sliced in ribbons
¼ c olive oil
1/3 c (juice from 2 small lemons and couple T balsamic vinegar to make 1/3 c)
2 cloves garlic, minced
Sea salt and pepper to taste

Cook quinoa in water according to directions. Rinse it first in a fine-mesh colander until water runs clear!

While quinoa is cooking, whisk together lemon juice, balsamic, olive oil, garlic cloves, fresh basil and salt and pepper.

When quinoa is finished cooking, allow to cool slightly then, toss with vegetables and lemon juice mix, stirring well to combine. Chill before serving.

This can be served as a main dish with a nice big salad or as a side dish.

I hope you like this grain-like seed as much as we do.



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A Look Into My Kitchen

A well-stocked kitchen is the key to providing your family with healthy meals and snacks.   The following lists are what I like to keep on hand making healthy cooking and eating easy and convenient.

Nuts and Seeds  – I add these to salads, breakfasts, baking items and eat for snacks.

Raw Almonds
Raw Walnuts
Pine Nuts
Flax Seeds
Sunflower Seeds
Pumpkin Seeds

Dry Grains and Beans
Red Quinoa
Arborio Rice
Brown Rice
Dried Lentils
Dried Beans (black, white)
Dried Fruits (Apricots, Blueberries, Cranberries, Cherries, Dates, Raisins)
Dried Unsweetened Coconut
Whole Grain Pastas (spaghetti, bow ties, penne pasta)
Annie’s Organic Whole Wheat Shells and White Cheddar
Annie’s 5-Grain Elbows and White Cheddar
Whole Grain Bread
Whole Grain Wraps (love the Whole Food wraps in the fridge area)

Snack Items – I use these in addition to or as a fresh fruit and veggies.
Annie’s Organic Snack Mix Bunnies
Newman Own’s Organic Spelt Pretzels
365 Golden Round Crackers
New Morning Honey Graham
Pirate Booty Veggie
Freeze Dried Veggie Crunchers
Lara Bars – I love these date and nut bars – they are fabulous and I cut them and have a bit after meals if I have a sweet craving.

Cascadian Farm Organic Purely O’s
Cascadian Farm Organic Cinnamon Crunch
Organic Steel Cut Oats
Old Fashion Oats

Pacific Organic Vegetable Broth
Quartered Artichokes
Black Beans
Small White Beans
Tomatoes (various)
Raw Tahini
Sunflower Seed Butter
Raw Almond Butter
Wild Blueberry Spread
365 Bread Crumbs Italian Style
365 Bread Crumbs Panko

Olive and Vinegars
Red Wine Vinegar
Balsamic Vinegar
White Balsamic Vinegar
Apple Cider Vinegar
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Extra Virgin Coconut Oil

Baking Items
Organic Agave
Local Raw Honey
Maple Syrup
Vegan Carob Chips
Nutritional Yeast
Flours (Whole Wheat, Unbleached white, quinoa, soy)
Unsweetened cocoa
Baking Powder
Baking Soda
Pure Vanilla Extract

Root Veggies
Potatoes (organic, sweet potatoes)
Onions (yellow, purple)
Ginger Root

Fridge Items
Edamame Hummus
Flax Seed Oil
Stevia – Vanilla or English Toffee
Omega 3 Eggs
Tofu (extra firm)
Salsa – tomatillo and red
Basil Cilantro Pesto (homemade)
Sun Dried Tomatoes
Roasted Red Peppers
Salad Dressings

Broccoli Salad Mix
Broccoli Sprouts
Fresh herbs (basil, cilantro and parsley)
Fruits (seasonal items – berries, pears, mango, banana, melons, etc)
Organic Apples *stored in a bag
Organic Grapes
Organic Spinach (from Sam’s $3.99)
Organic Spring Mix (from Sam’s $3.99)
Organic Carrots
Red, Yellow, Orange Bell Peppers

Dairy or Alternatives
Horizon 1% Organic Milk – My husband uses this.
Organic Almond Milk Original – Kids and I use this.
Horizon Organic Cheddar Cheese Slices
Goat Gouda (occasionally have this for a pesto pizza I make)
So Delicious Coconut Milk Kefir
Fresh Organic Parmesan
Earth Balance Olive Oil Spread

Frozen Strawberries
Frozen Peaches
Frozen Blueberries
Petite Green Peas
Lean Ground Turkey
Boneless, skinless chicken breast
Veggie Burgers

Now all you have to do is open up your pantry and wallah healthy meal in minutes! If there is anything I may have missed let me know in the comments : )

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Favorite Meal

I have concluded that since I have become a mom of three it is difficult to please everyone when you serve a meal.     When they were babies you had to have separate meals and sometimes that is the case when they are toddlers but that is tiring.  I got smart and put an end to that and now it is eat what is served and like it – ha!  If only it were that easy.

Luckily, my children will eat what I serve without too much complaint but I want to share our favorite meal of the moment.

Baked Cilantro Salmon with oven roasted sweet potato fries, steamed broccoli and mixed fresh berries for dessert.  Yum!  The whole family devours it and asks for more!

Baked Cilantro Salmon

Serves 3

1/2 c cilantro, stems removed, chopped
1 large garlic clove, finely chopped
2 T lime juice
2 T olive oil, separated
3  7 ounce salmon fillets –  I usually get fresh (or farmed) atlantic salmon fillets  and have them remove the skin off the fish.  Try to get them all the same thickness.

Preheat oven to 425.
Grease pan with 1 T olive oil.

Place fillets, skin side down in an 8×8 baking dish.  (Might splatter)
Combine cilantro, garlic, lime juice, remaining olive oil in a small bowl.
Pour mixture over fish.

Bake at 425 for 12-15 minutes, to desired doneness.  (Thicker fillets will require additional time.)

I just love this recipe.  It is so healthy, easy and delicious!  In the picture, I ran out of cilantro so I usually have more and I LOVE cilantro so usually do extra but I had to work with what I had in the fridge at the time : )

Oven Roasted Sweet Potato Fries

Serves 2-3
1 large sweet potato
1/2 T olive oil
1/2 t kosher salt
sprinkle of cinnamon (if desired)

Preheat oven to 425.

Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil coated with cooking spray.

Spread the sweet potato strips out onto the baking sheet in a single layer, coat with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and spices, turning them over to evenly coat all sides with oil and spices.

Bake for 30 minutes, turning every 10 minutes with spatula.  Serve warm.

The tricky part of this menu is at home I have a double oven so I can cook both sweet potatoes and salmon  at the same time.  But I am not at home right now so I cook the sweet potato fries and then the salmon.  It is tough to keep the sweet potatoes crispy but we’ll eat them no matter what.


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Not In My Pantry! …NIMP

Ok, time to go look in your pantry. I know you have food in your pantry, cereals, pastas, breads, snacks. Do you know what is in them? Do you check the labels before loading them into your cart at the supermarket? Are all the ingredients pronounceable?

If you don’t know it is time to go and check it out and pitch the bad stuff or at least decide that is the last time you will buy it.

Here are the top 10 ingredients that I avoid and why:

1. High Fructose Corn Syrup – Highly processed and shown to cause the liver to release more fat into the bloodstream – so will make you FAT instead of giving you energy like sugar.

2. Artificial Sweeteners like Aspartame, Saccharin (Equal, Sweet ’N Low) – Increase your risks for cancer, especially in young children.

3. Trans Fat usually says Partially Hydrogenated Oils – Raises levels of bad cholesterol, increasing the risk of heart disease.

4. Monosodium Glutamate (MSG) – Unfortunately this is a tough one to pinpoint since there are 40 names on the list that might be MSG. The only way to know you don’t have MSG in a product is to buy organic. MSG is known to interfere with brain chemistry and have been implicated in many neurological diseases, such as brain cancers, MS, fibromyalgia, depression and hyperactivity (ADHD) as well as being linked to obesity.

5. Nitrates (Sodium Nitrates) – Commonly found in lunch meats, hotdogs or any prepared meats. Nitrate is harmless, but it can convert to nitrite, which can form nitrosamines, a powerful cancer-causing chemical, in your body.

6. Potassium Bromate – Chemical used in commercial bread causes cancer in animals and has been banned every other country around the globe except US and Japan. FDA has yet to do anything about it.

7. Artificial Coloring – Blue No 1, Blue No 2, Green No 3, Red No 3, Yellow No 6 – All of these have shown tumor or cancer risks. Since it is hard to remember those I try to avoid all artificial coloring.

8. Added Sugars – Sugar, Sucrose, Dextrose, Honey, Fruit concentrate, Fructose, Corn syrup, High fructose corn syrup. I use organic agave nectar, or organic maple syrup, or local honey.

9. Enriched flours/pastas – Enriched means the bran and the germ that contains all the vitamins and minerals in wheat have been removed. Why is this bad? Because the body absorbs enriched flours quickly flooding the blood stream with sugar and then turns it into fat.

10. Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO) – Seeds containing GMOs have been engineered to withstand pests and harsh growing conditions and produce vegetables/fruits that are identical in size, shape and taste. Look for “No GMO” or “GMO Free” produce stickers or buy organic.

I live by what Michael Pollan’s, author of In Defense of Food and Food Rules, says “Avoid food products containing ingredients that are a)unfamiliar, b) unpronounceable, c) more than five in number, or that include d) high-fructose corn syrup.”

Check out this label, what is wrong with it?

First, more than 5 ingredients, ingredients include partially hydrogenated oils and MSG.  Ick – put this one back on the shelf!

Now, check your pantry.  Next time you go to the supermarket check those labels!  Or better yet keep to the outskirts of the supermarket aisles where the fresh foods are and away from the middle where the processed food like items are.

Stayed tuned for my next post of what I do have in my kitchen….

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Why this blog?

I believe healthy habits start with Mom, Dad or whoever does the majority of food prep; cooking, grocery shopping and general decision-making that affects the health of the family.

We as Americans are an unhealthy nation through no fault but our own. We work too many hours, drink too much caffeine, and don’t exercise enough; which results in a constant fight with our body instead of a relationship where we take care of our body so it can take care of us. We allow farmers to spray our fruits and vegetables with pesticides and inject the animals we consume with hormones and antibiotics. Everything else we eat is convenience food filled with preservatives, refined sugars, excess salt and artificial colors. But it doesn’t stop there. We send our kids to school with processed packaged lunches or worse yet, let them buy the unhealthy school foods, and eat at fast food restaurants. Outside of dietary concerns, we allow doctors to immunize our babies 24 or more times in the first year of life, take antibiotics or other medications to speed up our recovery time to go back to work sooner and so on. Then, we wonder why there is more cancer, obesity, diabetes, heart disease, autism and food allergies! Well, I think it’s time to put a stop to all the unhealthy habits and it all starts with you!

A few days ago I was very disturbed while shopping online when I noticed that both Old Navy and Gap sold clothes in ‘Husky’ sizes for kids! These clothing companies are saying it is ok to be FAT because we will make clothes for you in your age group so it is easy for your child to dress like his friends. Instead let’s teach those to eat better and be more active. Jamie Oliver, the founder of Food Revolution to reform US school lunches, said the estimated life expectancy for our children’s generation is now much shorter, so much so that theoretically we may actually outlive our own children!

I’m passionate about the nutrition and health of our children. I’ll be posting information I’ve learned from research and experience during the 5 years I’ve been a mom that I feel is vital information to maintaining good health. I’ll post recipes and reviews, along with health tips and holistic ideas. Our family has begun the journey to good health, and I’ll be documenting our experiences for you here. I’ll be happy to answer any questions you may have as you pursue a healthy lifestyle for you and/or your family.

I truly hope you’ll find some things here to inspire and support you on your journey to good health and feeling great!

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