Eat Food (Or Advice from Michael Pollan or What’s in Your Bread?)

This past weekend my husband and I visited my son in St. Paul. It was a delayed celebration of his 21st birthday. Every kid’s dream, right? 

Logan typically has an itinerary planned for when we visit. He is quite adept at finding great places to eat (even making sure there are plenty of vegan options for me), and for finding fun, out of the ordinary places to hang out.

Friday night he had a track meet, so after watching him compete, the Hubby and I dined sans Logan at a place called Shish, just a block or two off of campus. Best portobella burger ever. And the fries were quite yummy as well.

Saturday morning we picked him up and had brunch at the French Meadow Bakery (vegan waffles, fresh fruit, and a soy latte). Afterwards we ran some errands, and wrapped up the afternoon at this quaint little bookstore near his school. I absolutely love bookstores, and could literally spend hours browsing through books.  As could Logan…the hubby? Not so much, but he’s always a good sport about this sort of thing.

This bookstore came complete with a squeaky wood floor, books piled high to the ceiling, tiny little signs marking the genre or subject of the books in the vicinity, and the smell of, well, the smell of an old bookstore. Very comforting. Plus, the wall behind the cash registers was painted with the chalkboard paint, and filled with creative writings/poems. Very fun!

In typical Karen fashion, I migrated toward the “Health and Wellness” section. After digging through stacks of books, I came across this book:

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It has been on my “list” of books to read for quite a while now. So I bought it.

Guess what I did on the car ride back home Sunday?

Yep. And I finished this with an hour to spare, giving me lots of time to reflect upon all that I read.

I couldn’t even begin to share all the information in the book (at least not all in one post), but I can share Pollan’s advice on how to eat for optimal health. You may have heard it before.

“Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.”

Sounds simple, doesn’t it? Well, it should be. Unfortunately, despite all of the research and advances we are making, Americans are “fatter, sicker, and more poorly malnourished” than we were thirty years ago. Something is not right. Pollan points his finger at nutritionism. (Nutritionism being the belief that the key to understanding food is in the nutrients.)

According to Pollan, “while nutritionism has its roots in a scientific approach to food, it’s not a science.” It’s an ideology. And Pollan holds the food industry, journalism, and the government accountable.

“All three helped amplify the signal of nutritionism: journalism by uncritically reporting the latest dietary studies on its front pages; the food industry by marketing dubious foodlike products on the basis of tenuous health claims; and the government by taking it upon itself to issue official dietary advice based on sketchy science in the first place and corrupted political pressure in the second.”

Preaching to the choir, Mr. Pollan, preaching to the choir.

Anyway…

let’s get back to Pollan’s simple advice.

First…eat “food”. And by food, he means food that would be recognized by your grandparents (or great grandparents, depending on your age). Specifically, he recommends avoiding food products that contain ingredients that can’t be identified as food, ingredients that aren’t pronounceable, and any food product containing more than five ingredients.

You would think that would relatively easy to do. But, unfortunately, not so much. Let’s take a look at bread. Your grandparents ate bread, right? But they certainly would not recognize the following products as food given Pollan’s criteria.

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After reading this list, there may be many people who don’t like Sara Lee.

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Yum?

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Pepperidge Farm? Nope…not food.

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Bimbo Bakeries…with that name, who would have expected it to make the cut?

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Brownberry…at least it has a shorter list of ingredients.

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This shocked me! Bread made in the bakery at the grocery store…HIGH FRUCTOSE CORN SYRUP?! (Caps AND an exclamation mark…dang.)

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My favorite bread!

And one of my favorite ways to eat my favorite bread!

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Avocado Mash on Toast

2 slices of your favorite bread (I LOVE One Degree brand)

1/2 ripe avocado

2 slices tomato

1/2 T. hemp seed

sea salt

Make toast. Please don’t make me give you directions on how to do this. Smash avocado on toast with fork. Layer on tomato. Sprinkle with hemp seed and salt. I’ve also been known to put a layer of kale/spinach on the toast before the avocado. Warning: this makes it very messy to eat…slides all over the place. So, if you want to try this, make sure you are eating alone, or with people who love you regardless of what you look like while eating food.

Go ahead…check to see if your bread qualifies as food.

 

What’s Your Life Purpose?

Excuse me?

No “How’s it going?”, or “Hi. How are you?”

Who needs trite conversations like that anyway? Let’s save those interactions for the people standing next to you in the checkout line at the grocery store, shall we?

You and I? We are on a totally different level.

Wondering where that “life purpose thing” came from? I can assure you, there IS a method to my madness. (Insert evil laugh here.)

You see, I am currently taking part in the Wellness Council of America’s “The Road to Wellness”. The school district in which I work, is offering this program to all of its employees. Pretty cool. All I needed to do was sign up, which I did, and then a book magically appeared in the school mail.

I am now on a quest to find my “path of health and well-being”!

I can’t wait. And I say that with complete honesty, because this is totally my kind of thing.

The book (more like a fancy magazine), is written by Dr. Brian Luke Seaward, who just happens to be an internationally renowned expert in the field of stress management and mind-body-spirit healing. It (the book, not Dr. Seaward) is composed of seven chapters, each focusing on a different component of wellbeing. At the end of each chapter, wellness exercises encourage self-reflection and assist in goal setting.

Again, totally my thing. (Reading AND writing..win, win.)

Before diving into the book, I was asked to think about my “Life’s Purpose”. Then, if I chose, I could share my purpose with all other participants in the program via a social networking platform.

Hmmm….my life purpose.

Easy! My life purpose is to positively impact the world. You know—I want to leave the world a better place than when I arrived some 47 years ago. Pretty straightforward. Pretty generic too.

Ho-hum…

I just could not leave it at that—maybe because I’m a teacher. Or maybe because I think way too much (…not saying that’s a good thing…just saying.) Or maybe because I was stuck in the car for 4 hours and I didn’t have anything better to do with my time. (Let’s face it, correcting papers was not what I was feeling at 5:00 on a Friday evening.) I felt compelled to make it more personal.

So, I slouched down in the passenger seat, put my stockinged feet up on the dash, and thought.  And then thought some more. As soon as a thought popped into my head, I pulled my phone out of my pocket and made a few notes using my note app. This went on for many, many miles.

Phone in pocket. Phone pulled out of pocket. Make notes. Put phone back in pocket. Phone pulled out of pocket. Yeah…you get the idea.

When suddenly…

I had my “aha” moment.

Ready?

In all honesty, I’m willing to bet my life purpose is similar to yours. People, for the most part, are good…and want to “do” good things. However, chances are, we are going about achieving our life’s purposes in a way uniquely our own. Chances are, the way we go about achieving these purposes change as we acquire life experiences. 

As it should be.

So, how was I going to do to ensure that my “life purpose” came to fruition? How was I going to have a positive impact on the world?

Well, I needed to be more specific!

So…I broke it down a little.

As a Christian, my life purpose is to accept others, to make meaningful connections, and to trust that God’s plan for me is better than anything I could have conjured up myself. He has proven this to me time after time.

As a wife, my life purpose is to love my husband with my whole heart, to share my life experiences with him, and to be there with him, and for him, through the good times and the bad.

As a mom, my life purpose is to offer experiences for my kids, which provide opportunities for them to practice the skills they will need to be successful in life (how to deal with disappointment, how to treat others— especially how to get along with people whose views are not the same as theirs, and how to find their own purpose in life), and to be a role model in all that I do.

As an educator, my life purpose is to do exactly what I do with my own children. (Plus share my passion for reading and writing!)

As an eating disorder survivor, my life purpose is to give hope and encouragement to those who are struggling to make peace with food and their bodies by sharing my experiences, and my passion for health and wellness. I hope to accomplish this through my writing.

As someone who cares about the earth and all of its creatures (except for snakes-I hate snakes, and spiders-not a fan of them either), my life purpose is to make sure the choices I make, regarding the food I eat, and the products I use, do not harm the environment.

Okay…your turn.

What’s your life purpose?

What’s In Your Pancake?

I know what’s in mine! I can even pronounce all of the ingredients! Plus, no hydrogenated fats. No high fructose corn syrup. No bleached flour. No artificial ANYTHING. We’re talking the real stuff here, people! Plus…they are rich in nutrients and provide 100% taste bud satisfaction!

These are so much better than opening a box of Aunt Jemima’s Homestyle Pancakes! Unless of course, your body functions well on high fructose corn syrup, modified corn starch, and artificial flavors.

Prefer making your “own” from Hungry Jack mix? Well, the ingredients are basically the same, but your flour is now bleached flour, and your soybean oil is partially hydrogenated soybean oil, plus you get some corn syrup solids. Bonus. Not. (Actually AJ’s may have the same ingredients as HJ’s…they may just be sneakier in how they list them…not that I don’t trust food companies, but…yeah…I really don’t.)

Perhaps you are more of a Bisquick type person. Oh, oh. Did know that Bisquick Original contains 4.5 grams of trans fats per cup? You don’t want to put that into your body, do you? I didn’t think so.

So how about trying these instead? They are super easy to make. (I can whip up a batch on school days in no time.) And they taste out of this world! Really. You have to try these! The only real “issue” is that they are quite addictive. And I don’t like sharing.

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1

flax egg

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liquids

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flax eggs, coconut oil, maple syrup, baking soda, baking powder, and sea salt

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Whisk!

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Keep whisking as you add the almond milk!

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Throw in the flours and oats!

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Stir until just combined!

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Place on sizzling griddle!

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Beautiful!

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Topped with cashew butter, bananas, goji berries, and cinnamon!

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Or…cashew butter and homemade blueberry chia seed jam!

The Best Pancakes Ever!

(recipe adapted from Minimalist Baker)

Makes 6-8 pancakes (Enough for 2…or if you hide half, you can have the other half the next day…)

1 flax or chia egg (3 T. water and 1 T. ground flax seed or chia seed)

1 T. coconut oil (melted)

1 T. maple syrup (room temperature)

1 t. baking powder

½ t. baking soda

pinch sea salt

1 cup + 1 T. almond milk (warmed)

1/4 cup whole wheat flour

3/4 cup spelt flour

2 T. rolled oats

Make flax/chia egg by mixing seeds and water. Let sit for 5 minutes or so. Whisk “egg”, coconut oil, maple syrup, baking soda, baking powder, and sea salt in mixing bowl. Keep whisking and add almond milk. Stir in fours and oats until just combined. Put on a sprayed hot skillet. Cook until bubbles appear in the middle of your pancake and the edges look dry. Flip. Cook for a minute more.

I highly recommend topping these with nut butters and fruit. Cinnamon is a nice touch as well!

 

Chocolate and Peanut Butter is the Answer (And I Don’t Care What the Question Is)

There are days that require chocolate.

And there are days that require peanut butter.

And then there are days that require chocolate and peanut butter.

Today was definitely one of those days.

And that’s kinda weird, because “those days” typically have something to do with the size of the moon. Or on days of “socials” (You remember 6th grade socials, don’t you?) Or on days leading up to Christmas vacation, or Spring vacation. Or the entire week before school gets out for the summer.

So what was up with the weirdness today? I’m not really sure, but there definitely was a lot of it going around.

On the bright side, I was reminded of how incredibly fortunate I am to work with people I truly enjoy being around!

So much so, that when one of those people has a bad day, I want to make them feel better. (Believe it or not, I didn’t even win the “I’m having the worst day” award today.)

At any rate, is it wrong that food is my answer to a bad day?

I didn’t think so. Especially when the food not only encourages emotional well being (because it’s peanut butter and chocolate, silly), but it’s also guaranteed to make you feel better physically. ‘Cuz it’s made with a lot of good stuff!

Look what I’ll be sharing with some of my favorite people tomorrow!

There's nothing wrong with these little bundles of deliciousness!

Little bundles of deliciousness!

Throw everything in your food processor...

And they are super simple to make. Throw everything in your food processor…

Process!

and process!

Add a little water, and process a bit longer.

Add a little water, and process a bit longer.

Roll into balls!

Roll into balls!

Sample one. You'd hate to share something that didn't taste good.

Sample one. You’d hate to share something that didn’t taste good.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Brownie Bites

(recipe from Katie Higgins of ChocolateCoveredKatie)

1/2 c. old fashioned oats

1/2 c. peanut butter (I use peanut butter that consists of peanuts. That’s all. Just peanuts.)

2 T. cacao powder

1 t. vanilla

1/2 c. dates (pits removed…and the softer, the better)

1-2 T. water

a handful of mini chocolate chips (I used Enjoy Life brand)

Place all ingredients in food processor EXCEPT for the water and chocolate chips. Process until “crumby”. Then add enough water to make it stick together (squeeze some  and see if it sticks). Stir in chocolate chips if desired. Put dough into a large baggie and squeeze into a big ball. Break off pieces and roll into balls. I managed to get 18 balls. Store in plastic container in the fridge.

 

Rant #3 (Or Why MyPlate Irritates Me)

My Plate pisses me off  irritates the living daylights out of me.

myplate_green

 

The Healthy Eating Plate makes me feel better.

4162618_origLet’s compare the two, shall we?

One was created by experts at Harvard School of Public Health and Harvard Medical School. The other was created by the USDA.

One is based exclusively on the best available science. The other is subject to political and commercial pressures from food industry lobbyists.

One emphasizes whole grains. The other suggests making 1/2 of grain consumption whole grains. (Make your sandwich out of one slice of Wonder bread and the other slice whole grain, I guess.)

One encourages protein choices of fish, poultry, beans or nuts, while limiting red meat and avoiding processed meat. The other merely suggests that adult eat at least 8 ounces of cooked seafood per week. That’s it. No more. (Bacon in the morning, bacon in the evening, bacon at suppertime…)

One encourages eating a variety of vegetables, with the exception of potatoes (Ahem…french fries.) The other does not distinguish between potatoes and other vegetables.

Both recommend eating fruit! Yay!

One encourages the use of healthy fats, but says trans fats are an absolute no-no. The other remains silent on fats. (Which is rather sad, as healthy fats reduce harmful cholesterol and are good for the heart.)

One encourages water, unsweetened tea, and coffee, but limits fruit juice. One says dairy at every meal, despite the fact that there is little if any evidence that high dairy intakes protect against osteoporosis, and there’s evidence that too-high intakes can be harmful to your body. This one also says that 100% fruit juice counts as part of the fruit group.

So…using the logic of one of these, a wholesome meal could consist of a hotdog on a white bun, french fries, applesauce and a glass of whole milk.

Right. Now do you understand my “pissiness” “irritability”?

No wonder we are so confused about what to eat! So many people feel like they can’t eat carbs, or they should load up on the protein, or they should avoid fats, because that’s the message My Plate gives them. And the truth is…

we need carbs! Foods high in carbohydrates are an important part of a healthy diet. Carbohydrates provide your body with energy, as they are used to make glucose. But, we need to eat carbs that contain a lot of fiber, like vegetables, fruits, and whole grains.

And for those of you who are saying, “But I lose weight when I cut out carbs!”…what kinds of carbs were you eating before you cut them out of your diet? Were you eating vegetables, fruits, beans and whole grains? Or were you eating easily digested carbohydrates found in processed foods?

we need fats! Healthy fats promote good health. Your body needs fat to function normally. Avoid fat and you risk getting insufficient amounts of fat-soluble vitamins and essential fatty acids. Monounsaturated fats and polyunsaturated fat improve blood cholesterol levels, which can decrease risk of heart disease, and can be helpful if you have type 2 diabetes. Omega-3 fatty acids, found in decreases the risk of coronary artery disease. It may also protect against irregular heartbeats and help lower blood pressure levels. Plus, they help you feel satiated!

and protein? Well, protein is crucial to every function of the body, BUT extra protein will not make you build more muscle or make you stronger. (This, according to Leslie Bonci, MPH, RD, director of sports nutrition at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center.) Most Americans get too. Much. Protein.

Side note: do you know what happens if you are deficient of vitamin C? I bet you said, “Scurvy”.  Very smart! Do you know what happens if you don’t get enough protein? Exactly. (Kwashiorkor or maramus, in case you really wanted to know.)

Whew! Thank you for letting me rant! I feel better now.

 

 

 

Clean Eating? What’s That? (Or Bring On the Cinnamon Rolls)

Today, a friend from my elementary school days messaged me about wanting to eat “cleaner”. And that got me thinking…

What does it really mean to “eat clean”?

It certainly has been a buzz word as of late. But what does it actually mean?

Well, to me it means eating whole foods. Foods that are rich in nutrients. Foods that are unprocessed. Foods that make me feel great!

Take these cinnamon rolls for instance!

Yuck!

Yuck!

Yeah, they definitely DON’T qualify.

How is your body suppose to process that junk?

Well, it can’t. At least not very well.

But it definitely could process these!

Cinnamon Rolls

Cinnamon Rolls  ala Karen

While these may not be completely unprocessed, they are definitely nutrient dense! And they are made with real food! And I can eat these (okay…several of these) and feel great!

And sometimes, for me, that is more than enough.

It’s funny, but once I started eating whole foods, and avoiding foods filled with chemicals, I lost my taste for all things highly processed.

Plus, I love finding healthy alternatives for not so healthy foods.

Case in point…these yummy cinnamon rolls! And they are so simple to make! Really…if I can make them, you can make them.

Dry Ingredients

Place dry ingredients in a bowl.

Wet ingredients

Place wet ingredients in a blender.

Wet ingredients...blended!

Wet ingredients…blended!

Wet meets dry!

Wet meets dry!

The dough!

The dough!

Roll out the dough.

Roll out the dough.

The filling.

The filling.

Roll up!

Roll up!

Cut and place in pan.

Cut and place in pan.

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Put frosting ingredients into a blender...

Put frosting ingredients into a blender…

and blend. Obviously.

and blend. Obviously.

Fresh out of the oven!

Fresh out of the oven!

DSCN5816

Cinnamon Rolls

(adapted from a recipe by Kathy Patalsky of Healthy.Happy.Life.com)

3 c. sprouted whole wheat flour (I used One Degree Organics)

1 1/2 T. baking powder

3/4 t. sea salt

1/8 t. cinnamon

1/4 t. nutmeg

1 banana (the riper the better)

1 c. almond milk

1/2 t. vanilla

1 t. apple cider vinegar

1/4 c. + 3 T. coconut oil (melted), and divided

3/4 c. + 2 T. date sugar, divided

maple syrup to drizzle (about 2 T.)

cinnamon

Preheat oven to 400. Spray pie pan with nonstick spray. Combine flour, baking powder, sea salt, cinnamon and nutmeg in a large mixing bowl. Put banana, almond milk, vanilla, apple cider vinegar, 1/4 c. coconut oil, and 2 T. date sugar in blender and blend. Add wet to dry and stir until combined. You might have to get your hands in there to completely incorporate flour. Then, sprinkle counter top with flour and roll out dough into a rectangle about 1/4 ” thick. Spread 3 T. melted coconut oil over the top. Then, sprinkle with 3/4 c. date sugar and enough cinnamon to cover (I probably used 3-4 T.). Drizzle maple syrup on top if so desired. I desired. Carefully roll into a log, and then cut into1 1/2 ” pieces. Bake for 25 minutes or so (I prefer mine on the soft side and this was perfect!)

While rolls are baking, make the frosting.

Cinnamon Roll Frosting

4 T. cream cheese

4 T. silken tofu

2 T. almond milk

1/2 t. vanilla

2 T. maple syrup

Place all ingredients into a blender and blend away!

I frosted my rolls as I ate them and kept the frosting in the fridge until needed!

 

 

 

Chocolate Peanut Butter Cake (Or What I Made My Honey for His Birthday)

Last week, my Honey celebrated his birthday! I believe he called it the 14th anniversary of his 39th birthday. You can do the math.

As it was a weekday, we didn’t really have time for anything super special, but I did ask him what he would like for dinner. Stand up guy that he is, he requested roasted veggies and tofu. I am not even kidding! I am a very lucky woman! (And I get reminded of this quite often.)

I was all on board with the entree, but I really wanted to make something special for dessert.  I had my eye on this recipe for quite a while. So, no better time than the present.

Was it vegan? Yes, absolutely! Was it healthy? …not so much.  We each ate (devoured, inhaled…you get the idea) a slice, and then I brought the rest to work to share with my team. Because it was the right thing to do.

That definitely increased my popularity for the day! Yay, me!

Yum!

You really can’t go wrong with chocolate and peanut butter!

Roasted Veggies and Tofu with Anti-Inflammatory Turmeric Tahini Sauce

The main course: Roasted Veggies and Tofu with Anti-Inflammatory Turmeric Tahini Sauce

While the cake was absolutely delicious, I couldn’t resist the urge to “healthify” it. I really struggle to use ingredients that don’t benefit my health (you know…white flour, white sugar, vegan butter…) And I needed to reduce the size!! Too much cake is not a good thing for me. I suck at self-control.

I made this!

So I did it…here it is…a mini-cake! Perfect for 2!

Dry ingredients...

Dry ingredients…whole wheat pastry flour, date sugar, cacao powder, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and flax seed…

almond milk and apple cider vinegar...

almond milk and apple cider vinegar…

water, coconut oil, and vanilla...

water, coconut oil, and vanilla…

mix

Wet meets dry!

mini springform pan

Bake in mini springform pans.

Cool!

Cool!

Frost and sprinkle with mini chocolate chips!

Frost and sprinkle with mini chocolate chips!

Yum!

Inhale!

This was absolutely delicious! While it was not quite as sweet, it was super moist!

Why not try this out on your honey this Valentine’s Day?

Chocolate Peanut Butter Cake for 2

1/2 c. whole wheat pastry flour

1/2 c. date sugar

1/4 c. cacao powder

1/2 t. baking soda

1/4 t. baking powder

1/4 t. salt

1/2 T. ground flax seed

1/4 c. almond milk (I used vanilla)

1/4 t. apple cider vinegar

1/4 c. water, room temperature

1/8 c. coconut oil, melted

1/4 t. vanilla

Peanut Butter Frosting

1/3 c. chunky peanut butter

1 can (5.4 fluid ounces) coconut cream

1 T. maple syrup

2 T. mini chocolate chips (I use Enjoy Life brand)

Preheat oven to 375. Whisk apple cider vinegar and almond milk together. Set aside. Mix all dry ingredients. Combine remaining wet ingredients. Pour all wet ingredients into dry ingredients. Stir until combined. Place in 2 mini (4″) springform pans, sprayed with nonstick spray. Bake for 17-20 minutes. (Check for doneness using a toothpick.)

Remove springform part of pan, place on rack and cool. Once cool, remove cakes from bottom of pan.

While cakes are baking, make frosting. Combine all ingredients with an electric mixer. Then place in freezer until it gets thick. Whip again right before frosting cakes.

Once cakes are cool, place one cake on serving plate. Put a generous amount of frosting on top. Place second cake layer on first cake layer. Put more frosting on top. As the frosting warms, it will drip down the sides. Sprinkle with mini chocolate chips.

EAT immediately. A glass of almond milk is highly recommended.

Love yourself for providing a yummy treat with healthy ingredients!

 

No Whey! (Or Watch Out…I’m Getting on My Soap Box…or Why I Don’t Drink Milk)

Have you ever been in a relationship that you thought would last forever?

I mean, you never had any reason whatsoever to believe that it would come to an end? Ever? It never even crossed your mind, because you totally took it for granted that it would always be there?

Well, I have.

You see, milk and I had that kind of relationship.

I was passionate about milk for as long as I can remember. I looked forward to a glass of milk with each meal. Nobody ever had to threaten me to finish my milk. While my friends were stirring Hershey’s syrup (or whatever that powdery substance was…I can’t remember) into their milk, I was drinking mine unadulterated. I just loved the taste!

This love affair lasted well into my adult years, although somewhere along the way, 2% turned into skim milk. And I started throwing a couple of ice cubes into my glass of milk to make it extra cold.

Then, a little over two years ago, the relationship came to a screaming halt. It was a pretty instant break-up without any regrets. At least not any on my part. Not sure how the milk feels about it.

Sound pretty severe? I mean it’s milk for crying out loud. Produced by cows. Very natural.

So what initiated the breakup?

Well…

let me tell you. (Or if you want to skip this part and just head for the recipe, that’s okay too.)

Note: I’ve warned you…I’m getting on my soapbox now.

1. Cows need to be pregnant in order to produce milk. Seems like a no brainer, but I never really thought about this. And more importantly, in order to be profitable, they need to produce A LOT of milk. Therefore, they need to be impregnated A LOT. This does not bode well for the cow. Not at all.

2. Some cows are injected with bovine growth hormone to increase their milk production. Yum. This often leads to…

3. Mastitis. Which is treated by antibiotics. Double yum.

4. Lots of pregnant cows=lots of baby cows. Male cows cannot reproduce, therefore, they are expendable.

5. We are the only mammals that drink the milk of other mammals. This just grosses me out when I think about it.

6. According to Susan Levin, director of nutrition education at the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, “There’s no biological requirement for cow’s milk…” The USDA wants you to think you need it, though. Those wonderful Dairy Council lobbyists can be quite influential. They have more power ($) than scientists and nutritionists. (Don’t get me started…I feel another idea for a post coming on.)

7. There is little, if any, evidence that eating dairy prevents osteoporosis or fractures. Just check out The China Study.

8. There is considerable evidence that high dairy product consumption can be harmful to your health.

9. You can get your calcium in many other places.

Getting off my soapbox now…you can continue reading here!!

10. Nut milks are so delicious AND you can easily make your own at home, allowing you to monitor all the ingredients!

Take this yummy cashew creamer for instance…

DSCN5685

Raw Cashews

Soak!

Soak overnight…

Rinse!

and rinse!

Throw in the blender!

Throw in the blender!

Blend away!

Blend away!

x

Strain…

X

admire.

Put back in the blender with

Put back in the blender with a few dates, some cinnamon, and a pinch of salt…

Blend again!

blend again!

Nut milk bag round 2.

Nut milk bag round 2.

Cashew Coffee Creamer

Cashew Coffee Creamer

x

No cow required!

Cashew Creamer

1 c. raw cashews (soaked overnight)

2 1/2 -3 c. water (to your liking)

2-3 dates (again…your call)

1 t. vanilla

sprinkle of cinnamon

pinch of salt

After soaking cashews, rinse and put in blender with desired amount of water. I hate to state the obvious here, but the more water, the thinner the creamer. Blend. Strain with nut milk bag. Rinse blender. Put milk back in with dates, vanilla, cinnamon and salt. Blend again. Strain again. Put in a glass container and keep in the fridge. Make a pot of coffee and get ready for the experience of a lifetime!

 

 

 

 

Lovin’ My Lattes! (Or Nuts…and Seeds…About Lattes)

Pretty, isn’t it?

This is how I started my Saturday morning!

This is how I started my Saturday morning! Not bad, huh?

Feeling a slight twinge of jealousy? That’s okay…

I’ll have you feeling better by the end of this post!

I’ve always had a “thing” for lattes! Lately, however, I’ve been on more of a tea kick. So this was a very nice change of pace. A very nice change of pace, indeed.

(Just in case you were all impressed with my artistic abilities…don’t be…I didn’t make it, I just drank it.)

NIce and frothy...just the way I like it!

I could make you one that looks like this, though! I can take full credit for this one! See the pretty design? No? Look closely!

Nah…just kidding. If you do see something, I would love to know what you thought you saw!

Anyway, while it may not be quite as pretty, it definitely is(was) every bit as tasty!

And dare I say good for you?

I’ll say it. This is good for you!

This is an incredibly effortless, speedy way to make coffee!

If you’ve never made coffee this way, you really should try it! Easy and quick! (Plus minimal clean-up…bonus!)

I just made some coffee…a bit on the strong side.

All set to blend!

And then I made some nut milk…using cashews and hemp seed.

I find it amazing that this makes "milk".

I find it amazing that you can  make “milk” out of nuts and seeds.

Best Buds!

A match made in Heaven!

Lovely!

Too bad I can't make this into a sniff and smell!

Too bad I can’t make this picture into a scratch and sniff!

Tasty, yes. But “good” for you? I mean, why would your body thank you profusely for drinking this?

Well…do you realize what hemp seeds can do for you??

Not only are they complete sources of protein and high in iron, but they also provide your body with omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. These are  “essential” fats. We need them for many bodily functions, but unfortunately, our bodies can’t produce them. The only source is food. 

Plus, hemp gives you a perfect balance of omega-3’s and omega-6’s. This is a pretty big deal, as we tend to get too many omega-6’s and not enough omega-3’s. (This is a bad, bad thing.)

These wonderful little fatty acids promote heart health, lower triglycerides, reduce inflammation, promote brain health AND support your immune system!

Enough said!

[And to put your mind at ease, hemp seeds DO NOT contain THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), the active substance in marijuana.]

So, if you have 10 minutes to spare, all this nutrition could be yours, as it took all of 10 minutes to whip this together! (Minus the soaking time for the cashews.)

Cashew Hemp Seed Lattes

Recipe by Gena Hamshaw of ChoosingRaw.

This will make about 4 cups of nut milk. Add that to the coffee, and you should be in the latte business for days! Starbucks will have to make their money off of someone else this week!

2/3 c. cashews (soaked for at least 2 hours)

3 T. hemp seeds

3 1/2 c. water

1 t. vanilla

4 T. maple syrup

a pinch of salt

coffee

Prepare coffee however you want to prepare your coffee. Stronger will be better, however. Rinse cashews, and place them in a high speed blender along with water, hemp seeds, vanilla, maple syrup, and salt. Blend for a couple of minutes. Wah lah…cashew/hemp milk! Put your nut milk bag away…NO STRAINING required! Then, place equal amounts (I used equal amounts…you may enjoy a different ratio) of coffee and milk into a microwaveable cup. Microwave for a minute or two. This makes the milk nice and frothy!

Close up!

Close up!

Just Listen

Do you know anyone who…

obsessively counts every calorie they put into their mouth?

eats meager meals, filled with low fat, low calorie “blah” foods?

talks (or thinks) incessantly about diets…fixating on calories, carbs, and the evilness of fats?

jumps on the latest weight loss band wagon?

exercises to extremes or feels remorse about not working out “enough”?

Well, I do, and I find their situation frustrating. And sad. Sad and frustrating.

And to be honest, it breaks my heart.

But I understand; I’ve been there.

About 3 years ago, I relapsed. After years of freedom from an eating disorder, a stressful work situation prompted unintentional weight loss.(If you are extremely bored, you can read my whole story here.) I instantly fell into old patterns; the familiarity giving me a sense of control. Restricting food, and excessive exercise quickly became my entire world. And it was a pretty depressing place to reside.

Eventually, I reclaimed my health, working diligently to establish a healthy relationship with food and eating.

And now, after 2 1/2 years of trusting (hoping/praying) that the food I put into my body would allow me to maintain a healthy “Karen” weight, I can say that the trust factor has paid off. My body has proven to be a whole lot smarter than my mind. But it took me a long time to get there. 

I am grateful for the experience, however. As it has taught me a valuable lesson.

Listen to, and trust your body. (I guess that’s two lessons.)

Because, believe it or not, your body comes equipped with these wonderful little hormones that are designed to regulate your appetite and control your weight. When these hormones are in balance, your body operates efficiently and effectively.

Regrettably, there are times we believe we are smarter than our bodies natural ability to sustain homeostasis. We try to outwit the system by severely restricting food, or exercising to extremes, or ignoring our bodies need for sleep, or dealing with stress in  unhealthy ways.

One of the two wonderful hormones is leptin. Leptin is a chemical made by your adipose tissue, and secreted into your circulatory system. It then travels to the hypothalamus, where the hypothalamus responds by sending a signal to your brain telling you, “Hey! You’re full. Put down the fork.” Leptin signals satiety to the brain, suppresses appetite, and regulates weight loss.

The other hormone influencing appetite is ghrelin. Whereas leptin suppresses the appetite, ghrelin increases it. And while leptin is produced in fatty tissue, ghrelin is produced primarily in the stomach, when the stomach is empty. Normally, ghrelin levels are high before you eat, signaling hunger, and decrease after eating.

One factor affecting the amount of leptin in your body, is the amount of sleep you get. When you are sleeping, your brain receives the message that you have plenty of energy, so there is no need to feel hungry.  Lack of sleep results in a decrease of leptin, which can result in feelings of hunger. Studies show a relationship between short sleep time and and increased body mass index (BMI).

So what can one do to make sure their body is operating efficiently and effectively? This is what I have found works for me.

I get enough sleep each night. (7-8 hours)

I eat real food (not processed) most of the time.

I eat foods that make me feel good. (For me, this means vegan.)

I eat when I’m hungry. (And I trust my cravings.)

I deal with stress with exercise and prayer.

I listen to my body when I workout.

And I marvel at all the things my body can do, instead of judging myself on what my body looks like.