Monday, January 23, 2012

Eating Clean - Mushroom Soup

Eating clean seems to be relative – I guess it all depends what you want to get away from. For our family, the focus is on lowering cholesterol, cancer prevention and avoiding Type II diabetes. When you eat for these purposes, you also lose weight, because of course you are eating healthier.
I found several “eat clean” websites, but was surprised to see whole grain wheat flour being used (gluten) and soy milk in recipes. Besides the estrogenic properties of soy, unless organic and certified non-GMO, the seeds of soybeans are impregnated with Round Up herbicide so as to resist Round Up effects when the soybean fields are sprayed. Soybeans also take up more trace metals from the ground than any other plant in the plant kingdom. These are three very good reasons to avoid soy – I am not sure which bothers me more, the estrogenic properties that are thought to contribute to a lot of infertility problems and miscarriages in today’s “health conscience” society as young women think they are making a healthy choice, or the fact that we are consuming traces of herbicide when we eat unfermented soy products, such as milk. Although my family does not have allergies to either gluten or soy, the first we have cut back on in our eating as much as 80%, and the latter 100% (reading labels as soybean oil is in a LOT of foods, including gluten free crackers). We have become a very healthy family since we started reading labels and mostly whole foods.
Several times a year my husband and I do a full body detoxification by eliminating all allergenic foods for various periods of time – these include wheat/gluten (this includes oats, buckwheat, barley), dairy, soy, vinegar (which can cause fermentation in the gut), caffeine and sugar. The main focus is to cleanse the liver so it can do its job of removing toxins, that we expose ourselves to daily, from our body. A healthy liver is able to help the body lose weight, and necessary for successful weight loss. It’s a great way to start the new year, and on this day 19 I have lost 10.5 lbs. so far.
Today’s recipe idea is what I call a CLEAN mushroom soup, made with almond milk, and gluten free. Portabellas were used, but the more affordable white button mushroom can be substituted. Recent findings show that white button mushrooms contain an enzyme that helps inhibit aromatase activity, and subsequently estrogen production. Therefore, white button mushrooms can help reduce the risk of breast and prostrate cancer.
We are personal fans of the more flavorful portabella mushrooms. One medium portabella mushroom has even more potassium than a banana or a glass of orange juice. One serving of mushrooms also provides about 20 to 40 percent of the daily value of copper, a mineral that has cardio-protective properties.Mushrooms are a rich source of riboflavin, niacin, and selenium. Selenium is an antioxidant that works with vitamin E to protect cells from the damaging effects of free radicals. Male health professionals who consumed twice the recommended daily intake of selenium cut their risk of prostate cancer by 65 percent.
So how about some mushroom soup? I have to say that a number of years ago there was a restaurant in the area called Morels. Their wild mushroom soup was famous, and as I enjoyed the soup I am sharing today, it reminded me of that particular soup – I do believe the almond milk made for one of the best mushroom soups I have tasted to date.
3 cups chicken stock, homemade is most flavorful (vegetarian soup stock is fine)
20 oz. Portabella mushrooms, rinsed and sliced
1 medium onion
3 large cloves garlic, minced
1 T. olive oil
3 c. + 3 T. Silk plain almond milk
4 T. almond flour
Himalayan sea salt

Saute chopped onion and minced garlic in olive oil until onion is translucent. Add to chicken stock placed in a large soup kettle.
Slice mushrooms, using either a knife or an egg slicer, add to stock.
Add in 3 cups of plain almond milk.
Make a slurry in a small bowl by adding 1 T. almond milk in a small bowl, adding in almond flour; alternate between almond milk and almond flour until blended. Slowly stir into soup. Continue stirring. Heat through and serve.

Suggested Sides:
Saute’d chicken bites with onion and garlic
Gaucamole with chopped fresh tomato
Brown rice/vegetable pilaf

I want to point out that Himalayan sea salt is superior in health benefits, to white, processed table OR SEA salt. Look for salt that is pinkish in color as opposed to white. It has more flavor and lesss is needed. Also, we use SILK brand almond milk as it does not contain soy milk mixed in. If you want a thicker, more creamy soup use brown rice flour rather than the almond flower, as it does make a better slurry to add into your soup.

To your health!
Rita S.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Green Smoothie Tests the Ninja Pro Blender - Can it Juice?

I LOVE my Ninja Pro Blender - it puts the Magic Bullet to shame. All my AB team friends who have seen my Ninja in action, inevitably put their Bullet in a garage sale and go out and get the Ninja. We have had ours since September 2010 and it has been used just about every weekday morning to blend up a breakfast protein shake/smoothie for myself, and sometimes my husband as well. We have certainly gotten our $65 investment from it - and now I see the system for $50 regularly on sale.
If you are looking for a great blender for smoothies I highly recommend this system - it turns ice cubes into fine ice in seconds. I always use either ice cubes or frozen fruit in my breakfast smoothies and my meal is made in about 2 minutes. I wanted and needed quick and convenient...and since teaming up the Ninja pro with my AB pea/rice/cranberry based protein shake it has been a win win!
I've been eyeing juicers - but I don't want to waste my grocery bill by tossing pulp into compost. As well, the greater part of the nutrients is within the pulp. I don't have time to bake with pulp (all I can think of to do with it is to make muffins). I have watched the infomercials for the Ninja kitchen system - which makes juice with no pulp - however, a friend bought this and said it is definitely thick, not juice-like to drink. He ended up taking it back.
Curious, I decided to see if the Ninja could handle parsley or cilantro - grass like smoothie ingredients, both excellent for liver detoxification. As I read reviews on juicers it seems there are masticating kind, which do great with ingredients such as wheat grass - but fail at root vegetables such as beets; and then there are the heavy wattage juicers...great with making juice from anything other than grass like ingredients.

The Ninja blender is powerful, and perhaps just as good as the Ninja kitchen system as far as juicing goes - and I thought I would test it out. Today it was tested out on a green smoothie, all vegetables are washed beforehand, even if organic:

I tossed in...

-2 cups detox green tea (cooled)

-5" seedless cucumber, with peels on

-1 celery stalk (cut into 2-3" chunks)

-1 c. steamed broccoli (left from dinner)

-Handful fresh cilantro

- 2 to 3 ice cubes

I pulse blended the Ninja - if you do decide on a Ninja blender you should always pulse the motor for 15 second spurts rather than run it constantly for several minutes. When I first read reviews on this blender several said their motor burned out soon after getting it - everyone else reported pulsing is key, which I have always done. After about 1.5 minutes I checked for stringy celery or cilantro stalks, and finding none, pulsed a few more times for good measure.

I then poured my pretty green drink into a glass. It tasted super fresh, like spring! Very good, although I would end up chewing a bit on what I surmise was celery bits. After a little bit, I decided I did not want to chew my smoothie, and opted to pour it into a saucepan on the stove, and heated it up to use as soup instead. Much better!! I can handle chewing soup! (LOL)

I am not giving up on experimenting with the Ninja. I know of the many benefits to celery, but will try to make a green smoothie again without, OR simply blend it for longer. What I had set to find out was if the Ninja Pro Blender could tackle herb greens such as cilantro and it indeed could do that, and I suspect it can handle wheatgrass just fine as well.

This soup is FULL of anti-oxidants and I recommend warming it up on lower heat - and not bringing to a boil to preserve the nutrients as much as possible. If it were summer time I would find this soup as a refreshing COLD SOUP and envision a side of fresh tomato salad.

To your health,

Rita S.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Anti- Cancer Super Foods

Live to eat well. FINALLY, our box arrived that Jesse and I had been anticipating since making our PBS pledge in mid-December. We decided to gift ourselves with a health resource for Christmas, and bought Dr. Joel Fuhrman's Eat to Live Well package. We anticipated watching the DVDs and reading the books over Christmas break to prepare us for our new year challenge...oh well, we will get 'er done with a late start!
The set has 3 books and 6 DVDs, one of the books includes some recipes. The DVDs are titled:

  1. 3 Steps to Incredible Health

  2. Eating for Incredible health

  3. Say No to Heart Disease and Diabetes

  4. Winning the War Against Cancer

  5. The Skinny on Fats

  6. Success Stories Before and After

We watched the first video and thought I would share Dr. Fuhrman's G.O.M.B.S. top 5 anti-cancer food recommendations.
G = Greens. Green vegetables contain many different nutrients and organisms that create a slippery coating on the inside of your blood vessels. Greens activate something called the Nrf2 mechanism that prevents plaque from sticking and speeds up the rate at which fat melts away – all this occurs inside our tiny blood vessels. Basically, think of eating greens as a way of cleaning out your blood vessels and coating them with protection.
O = Onions. When you cut an onion, you cry for good reason. The gas released actually creates disulfides and anti-cancer nutrients that are formed. A large study in Europe revealed that people who ate onions regularly showed a 60% – 70% reduction in all major cancers. Source -The Medical Journal of Clinical Nutrition. Think of preventing ovarian cancer or prostate cancer just by eating more onions… I am so glad we cook with mushrooms constantly, but I do wish they would not make me cry so!

M = Mushrooms. Recently a study published in the International Journal of Cancer showed that women who regularly consumed about 10 grams (that’s a small handful of sliced mushrooms, usually 1) are 64% less likely to develop breast cancer. This study went even further to reveal that the group of women who ate this same amount of mushrooms daily along with regular consumption of greens or green tea were 89% less likely to develop breast cancer. This research is more than mind-boggling, it’s significant, remarkable, and extraordinary news that inspires and encourages the need to eat healthier foods – all from about 1 mushroom, wow.
B = Beans and Berries. Beans and berries have highly potent, concentrated levels of anti-cancer antioxidants. They promote healthy brain function as well.
S = Seeds. Raw seeds and nuts contain phytochemicals and good fats that work to reduce cholesterol, help our bodies better absorb important micronutrients, and decrease inflammation. ADD NUTS AND SEEDS whole and raw to your salads - the properties of these good fats allow your body to absorb the micro nutrients of the salad 10X as much than if you ate them as a snack on the side.

I also learned that mushrooms must be cooked! Light cooking of mushrooms dissipates the toxins, and promotes anti oxidant benefits which help fight cancer. Per Fuhrman t is important to know which vegetables should be consumed raw and which should be cooked, which we will learn as we go through the DVDs and books. Also, you can lose micro-nutrients in some vegetables by chopping them after being cooked, therefore it is important to know which vegetables should be cut before being cooked.
Fortunately, we find that we eat GOMBS quite regularly - especially since all are within acceptance of the elimination/detox diet we are currently doing. I look forward to sharing more as I learn.

To your health,

Rita S

Friday, January 13, 2012

Homemade Ranch Dressing

This post is for my sister, who has asked several times for my homemade ranch dressing recipe. I guess I kept intending to post it here on my blog, and I have simply not gotten here. I am going to do this from memory as I have no idea where my scratch pad is from when I originally concocted a formula, to which our daughter replied, "tastes just like its from the bottle mom!"
I use plain, unsweetened probiotic yogurt in this recipe - organic if you can find it, would be the healthiest choice. Look to ensure your yogurt has live cultures, and is not sweetened with lots of "ose" words and artificial sweeteners. An unsweetened, plain yogurt will taste, in comparison to sour cream. (In fact, we use it in place of sour cream on our tacos, etc.)

It  is pretty quick and simple - as our daughter is the only one who uses ranch dressing (the rest are vinegrette people) I make small batches. She likes to dip carrots, celery, etc. for snacking. It is also mayonaise free as it is difficult to find a store bought mayo that I would consider "clean" to eat.
1/2 Cup Plain Yogurt
1 tsp. Garlic Powder
1 T. lemon juice or balsamic vinegar (to taste)
1 t. Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1/4 tsp. Sea Salt (Himilayan preferred)
1/4 tsp. ground Celery Seed
1/2 tsp. organic raw Stevia, or organic honey
1/4 tsp. freshly ground Pepper
1/4 t. turmeric (optional)
1/2 tsp. dried Parsley
1/2 t. dried chives
1/8 t. white pepper
1/8 cup of bGH FREE skim milk (rice or coconut milk are good, non dairy choices)
Combine all ingredients well with a small wire whisk or in a blender. Add milk to thin to desired consistency. Taste, and adjust seasonings as desired. Refrigerate.
So for all you ranch dressing lovers - I hope this helps and you like it. The turmeric will make this dressing more flavorful and healthful, but if the yellow tint in your dressing will turn of those you would like to eat it from doing so, skip it. Adjust herbs and spices 'til you get the marriage of flavors desired.

To your health, thanks for the reminders Diane!
Rita S.

Irony of Endorsements

Marketing is everything. Here in the U.S. - we have put our trust into American icons, such as the American Heart Association and American Diabetes Association - believing that our best interest is truly "at heart".
Yet both Dr. Russel Blaylock and Dr. Chris Kressler, and others, divulge in their publications the irony that both organizations put their seal of approval on food products that contribute to both heart disease and diabetes. Have we as Americans bought into this? You bet we do!
For years I thought eating Cheerios was a smart choice - because the heart association said it helps lower cholesterol? Really?  Refined processed flours, simple carbs - contribute more to high cholesterol numbers than a fat, juicy steak!
It boils down to glucose and insulin - simple carbs are treated like table sugar in our body (I learned this from Dr. John Lee in hish book, "What your doctor may not tell you about breast cancer".) To learn more about insulin resistance visit
I won't get too technical here, but we all know what too much sugar does to our body, right? Well, if simple carbs from refined, processed flours are treated just as table sugar ....big revelation, don't you think? Well, it was for me and this realization is what made me turn my lifestyle around.
The number one food toxin, per Dr Kressler, is cereal grains - especially that made with refined flours. Which is pretty much ALL! In minute amounts its not going to cause sickness and disease, but we as a population eat a greater percentage of cereal grains than all other foods. Kresser titles "Cereal grains - the unhealthiest "health food" on the planet". Wheat, corn, rice, barley, sorghum, oats, eye and millet have become staples in our diet. They have also become, as he puts it, "poster children" of the low fat, high carbohydrate diet promoted by organizations like the American Heart Association and American Diabetes Association. Grains with gluten are the worst as it damages the intestine and makes it leaky - per Kressler. Blaylock concurs in his newsletters as well.
Leaky guts cause things to enter the bloodstream that should not, to put it simply, including undigested gluten proteins. This causes an immune system response that can lead to auto immune disease, allergies and more.
Interesting, don't you think? This certainly helps explain why so many adults develop allergies, Celiac's disease and more. Researchers now believe that one of the major predisposing factors for conditions like obesity, diabetes and even heart disease.
Does this mean give up grains forever? No, not necessarily - I guess that depends on your health and symptoms. For myself, my health turned around when I gave up cereal grains (other than organic quinoa and brown rice) 50%, then 75%, working up to 90% - not missing the breads and such much at all. I have "indulgent days" - such as Friday morning with my daughter at the local coffeehouse and I enjoy a  bakery treat, or maybe a pastry with my family on Sunday after worship.
The real message today - don't believe everything you see on labels at the grocery store. The job of the manufactuer is to MAKE YOU WANT to buy it. What about trusting the AHA and ADA? Food for thought...if we did not eat the same foods they promote, we might put them out of business. The head haunch of the American Cancer Society makes multiple millions a year, no doubt the counterparts in these other organizations do as well.
The bottom line is money, the bottom line is not conceren for our well being, although we trust these endorsements because marketing is such a driving force in our world.
All that I continue to learn certainly has made me take a good look at my charitable giving these past two years. The veil has been lifted and the curtain torn in two, as far as I am concerned.

To your health,
Rita S.

Monday, January 9, 2012

What's In Your Health Drink?

In a few days I will be sharing a talk on taking care of your liver - or more importantly, loving on your liver. We each only have one. The liver is the body's filtering system. Just as you would not let your furnace filter get totally clogged, nor would you want the city water treatment plant to not be operating to par - we need to ensure the filtering system that God created for our bodies - the LIVER, is loved on and not taxed, which leads to disease and illness.
Come to learn more on Sunday at Crossroads Coffeehouse from 3-5 pm as we kick of a community group - Vitality 2012.

Today is a couple thoughts about, I am referring to health drinks. Not soda, and not even energy drinks, as both are the opposite of health drinks.
This is a complete cut and paste, and wish I could remember from whom I found this - but I do believe it was Dr. Mercola's web site although I JUST downloaded 4 Myths- Sick, Tired, Fat by Dr. Kresser (another web site I just subscribed to) and he reiterates the same thing.
4 health drinks to avoid

Here are 4 of the top so-called "healthy" offenders:
NUMBER 1: 100% "Natural" fruit juice
Ok. Yes. Fruit juice is a better choice than drinking fake high-fructose corn syrup juice … but … it's still a truck-load of calories per ounce of liquid.
On top of that, it has almost all of the blood sugar regulating fiber stripped out of the fruit—this means the natural fruit sugars will trigger insulin surges and send your blood sugar soaring into the diabetic range!
NOT what you want at all.
This is a BIG one because most parents think fruit juice is a "healthy" choice for their children … but … the science shows it's definitely not.
In a study* of 4 to 12 year old children researchers from Deakin University found children who drank more than two glasses (500ml) of fruit juice/drinks per day were more likely to be overweight or obese.
"These odds increased as the amounts of fruit juice/drink consumed increased," Dr Sanigorski said. "Children who drank more than three glasses of soft drink (three quarters of a litre/750ml) or 4 glasses of fruit juice/drinks (1 litre) on the day in question were more than twice as likely to be overweight or obese compared with children who did not drink these drinks."
So the best thing to do is keep fruit juices far out of the hands of our children.
But it's not just the kids who fall prey to these health wrecking Trojan horses—adults fall for it too!
In fact, one particular juice is extremely dangerous for ANY man to consume …
Can you guess what it is?
100% Pure Orange Juice.
Orange Juice is rich in IRON
… which is potentially toxic if your blood levels become too high.
The reason men have to worry about consuming too much orange juice (as little as two big glasses each day) is because we men don't menstruate each month … … And that means we lack an efficient method of clearing excess iron from our blood each month.
The "healthy" glass of orange juice you're having at breakfast not only spikes your insulin levels into diabetic ranges (which … along with your energy … will come plummeting down later in the morning) …
… But if you're a man it can also be loading your body with a potentially dangerous heavy metal.
Not good.
So with all this in mind …
It's a much better idea to EAT fruit the way nature intended, with all of the fiber intact, and use a whole foods base multi-vitamin/antioxidant supplement to get enough of the super-nutrients contained in fruit juice.
Let's move onward …

NUMBER 2: Soy Milk
This used to be an often recommended "healthy" alternative to milk …
The truth is:
Most soy products these days are heavily processed with little nutrient density… and … this includes most soy milk you see at the grocery store.
Without question, most soy milk has become too sugary and is controlled by the same food and beverage giants that are still manufacturing and marketing other products that promote degenerative disease.
What's more: high levels of soy consumption have been linked with un-naturally high levels of estrogen production in both men and women …
For men this is death to your sex drive, decreased sperm production and could cause problems such as gynecomastia (abnormal enlargement of men's breasts) …
… For women, even though estrogen is considered a "female sex hormone" … like most anything … too much of it is also bad.
Estrogen dominance has been linked to thyroid disruption, a host of autoimmune diseases and some research questions the connection to hormone sensitive cancers such as breast cancer.
Your best bet? Just avoid it.
And whatever you do, if you are raising a small child, do not feed your child soy-based breast milk replacement products …
… Hopefully, the potential dangers of this commonly accepted practice are evident now.
That said, not all soy is bad …
The only soy based food I have found that is in it's fairly natural state is edamame (green vegetable soypods found at most high-end Japanese restaurants).
Keep in mind I still eat it VERY rarely if I'm dining out or added to a healthy stir fry using walnut, macadamia nut or grapeseed oil.
Speaking of dining out … here's one to REALLY avoid …

NUMBER 3: Crappuccinos
Ok, I mean Cappuccino, but I'm really referring to those high priced gourmet coffee drinks.
While black coffee can help you burn fat because the caffeine content gives your metabolism a slight boost, these tempting coffee calorie hogs can hide up to 1,000 calories!
In one drink!
YES … you are correct … that's insane!
Still craving one of these gourmet coffee drinks?
You can make your own fat-burning version pretty easily:
You'll start by spooning sugar-free, nonfat vanilla yogurt in an ice cube tray and freezing it into cubes overnight.
Then you'll add them to a blender with a splash of organic fat-free milk, a teaspoon of instant coffee crystals, and a scoop of natural vanilla or chocolate whey protein powder.
Lastly, just sprinkle on some cinnamon to add a little fat-burning kick. If you want to cut down on the caffeine, just use decaffeinated instant coffee instead.
This will taste so good that you'll swear it isn't good for you, but it definitely is … and … it's much lower calories than those commercial brands!
Plus, the added protein will give your metabolism a good nudge and help to power your muscles throughout the day.
And last but not least, here is …

NUMBER 4: Zero Calorie Flavored Waters
The good news is these are 0 calories.
That's where the good news stops though …
… most of these still use questionable artificial sweeteners which have been shown to inhibit fat burning, increase appetite, and block the absorption of nutrients into your body in a variety of studies.
Don't be too bummed out though…
A couple of 0 cal flavored drinks use the all-natural stevia plant as a sweetener, include Zevia (a stevia based soft drink), and the 0 cal varieties of Sobe Lifewater for example.
So your best bet?
If you need a little more taste than water every once in a while—look for one of the brands I just mentioned …
… Or … you could always squeeze some lemon in water and maybe add a natural sweetener like stevia to satisfy your taste buds.
So now that you know some top diet drink disasters to avoid … and … you know a few good alternatives to popular "health" drinks.
I hope you found that information helpful. Today, for the first time ever I drank more than half my body weight in ounces! I drank a 32 oz bottle of body cleansing solution mixed with water and was done by 10 am! I then managed two more 32 oz bottles during the day. At bible study I drank a large mug of detox tea, and two protein shakes. I should be floating!

I do feel more skinny and my pants are loose - celebrating my little moment in the spotlight as the top person in a privage Biggest Loser challene I am a part of.

to your health!
Rita S.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Think Outside the Box

Are you thinking outside the box in 2012? Now, that can refer to a lot of things, but I think my readers will know where I am going with this. "Outside the box" meaning - boxed foods. No boxed rice, no boxed pasta, no boxed crackers, etc., etc., etc. I feel too often we think we HAVE to HAVE starchy potatoes, starchy and refined WHITE rice (brown whole grain is different), or gluten compounded pasta in every meal. I know this has been the train of thought for my family for a long, long time.
This is one of our "VITALITY 2012" goals that my husban and I discussed - to think outside the box. To realize that dinner does not need to revolve around potatoes, rice or pasta. Or any grain as far as that goes. Look at the revolution going on in our pan above...notice that it contains 90% vegetables and about 10% chicken. The green is fresh asparagus, we have orange bell pepper (so pretty!!), button mushrooms, chopped onion, minced fresh garlic (NOT powder), and bite sized pieces of chicken that were sauteed in EVOO with turmeric, garlic and onion. The turmeric is what gives the chicken a yellow cast and wonderful flavor, as well, it was left from Friday evenings meal of chicken vegetable soup, and also left from Saturday evenings meal of spinach salad with chicken. There is not much chicken left by the third meal (originally started with one package of 4 boneless chicken breast - from which three meals came for four people! Tonights meal was made lickety-split, in less than 30 minutes!

Last night I realized I have not scrapbooked one bit of my journey as a health and wellness consultant with the company I work for eves and weekends. My goodness - I need to do that as I am a changed person, and the entire ride thus far has been an amazing journey... not only to wellness and weight-loss, but self-growth, self-education, and someday I will be driving a white Mercedes! What a shame it would be not to have any record of my journey.

On Friday I received an e-mail from Stian, the founder's son, about a product proposal I had mailed along with my before and after photos. Anyone could have e-mailed me, but the fact that he took the time really speaks for the type of company I am working for, and one day hope to be solely working for. It was then that I realized I need to print that letter and put it in an album. One day, if they make my suggested product, I can say, "that was my idea and it could change the world!"

So today I actually spent most of my afternoon at the Scrapbook Superstore, saying hello to my friends Jo and Kate, and had a chance to visit with my former employer/store owner as well. Jo did not know who I was when she first saw me. I get a lot of that...and of course, I love it! (LOL)

I did not have a watch on, and became totally absorbed in stocking up on some things before I could no longer buy scrapbooking supplies locally. I realize I still love, love BoBunny best! I had left my watch at home, and my phone charging in the car. Not only had I spent 2 hrs. more in the store than planned, I had missed taking my daughter to girl scouts. My husband had tried to reach me, but could not. Ooops!

Ah well...I am set to preserve the memories of the journey I am on. My daughter forgave me.

Today I am celebrating a pretty successful weight loss for my first week of the new year. Even though I did not officially start the 30 Days to Feeling Fit Detox program until January 3, or should I say the 4th without cheating, I managed to lose 6.9 lbs. Today is January 8 mind you, woo hoo! After worship this morning I totally rewarded myself with a mocha latte made with almond milk at my favorite coffeehouse. No, caffeine and sugar are not allowed to detox, but I am not an "addicted to caffeine" person as I have been a water drinker see my teenage son was a wee one. My liver will forgive me and after passing up two of my three favorite flavors of Culver's frozen custard in the past 64 hours - I deserved a reward! (LOL)

Back to thinking outside the box....keep your crisper drawer in the frig stocked with colorful vegetables. Cook up a whole lot of chicken breasts at once - yesterday I put organic stock, onions, garlic and spices in the crock pot and cooked up 2 large packages of chicken breasts. Cutting them into bite sized pieces, some will be frozen and some will be available to go on our lunch salads, more dinner meals - making preparation pretty darn quick. When I got out of the scrapbook store I called home, asked my husband to cut up the vegis, which he had almost done when I got home. I added extra virgin olive oil and turmeric to a large saute/fry pan - and cooked up my vegetables. Remember, turmeric prevents your olive oil from forming free-radicals when it is heated, and the Penzey's turmeric label states it contains an impressive 5% curcumin, which is one of the most powerful anti-oxidants and high on the list of recommended foods for cancer patients. In addition, I used Penzey's "Mural of Flavor" combination of spices for extra zest and flavor. Sauteeting onions and garlic first, the asparagus was added, pushed to the side, then the peppers were sauteed with mushrooms added last. The chicken, already pre-cooked, was added last to heat through. This colorful dish was a delight for our tastebuds, and filled our plate with a huge portion of vegetables in comparison to 5-7 bites of chicken per person. It was very satisfying, and best of all - both our 14 yr old and 9 yr old gave it a thumbs up, with the youngest giving her mushrooms to her dad. (LOL)

My challenge to you is to THINK OUTSIDE THE BOX - and at least twice a week omit the side dish of potato, rice or pasta, that we as Americans are so accustomed to. The more color you have on your plate (and I am not talking M&Ms!) the healthier you will be.

To your health in 2012! Vitality 2012 Community Classes begin January 15 at Crossroads Coffeehouse in Cross Plains from 3-5 p.m. Reserve your seat by sending me an email. Everyone is welcome. There is no fee to join this group. Together we will encourage one another, share ideas and recipes, and learn more about living healthier in 2012.

Colorfully eating,

Rita S.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Gluten and Dairy Free Chicken Pot Pie Soup

As promised...I pinned a soup recipe by Gina on my Pintrist board and vowed to make a detox version...and here it is.

Gluten and Lactose Free Chicken Pot Pie Soup
1 32 oz carton organic chicken broth or stock
2 c. almond milk
4-6 cups vegetables - broccoli/cauliflower florets and julienne carrots
1 red bell pepper diced
3-4 chicken breasts cut into bite sized pieces
1 onion, diced
3 stalks celery, chopped
4-6 cloves garlic, minced
3/4 c. brown rice
Shitake mushrooms (optional)
1/4 c. rice flour
1/2 c cold water

Cut chicken into bite sized pieces. Cook chicken, onions and garlic in EVOO with touch of turmeric spice. Set aside.
Place vegetables and rice in kettle with broth on simmer (just under a boil). Tonight I used Freshlike vegis from the freezer section as florets were done and carrots julienned - after a long day at work - easy!
Add Mural of Flavor from Penzeys or other spice as desired. Keep an eye on soup and add water or more broth if needed for rice to cook.
Add 2 cups almond milk once rice is cooked, plus additional spices if desired.
Make a surry with rice flour and cold water and slowly add, heat through, stirring.
Almond milk will bubble a lot if lid is left on kettle. I forgot the mushrooms at the store but it was still packed with flavor - I think sauteeing the chicken with garlic and onions make it sing!
We made it with quinoa at Abby's request - it tasted good but the quinoa is going to get quite mushy with reheats, and I am not fond of mush texture. RICE is my recommendation!
I was also very disappointed when I realized I forgot mushrooms at the store as I love shitakes! next time!
I will note that I also did not buy celery as I am not a huge fan - however, tonight I read that celery contains a good amount of a flavanoid called apigenin, that prohibits the cancer causing enzyme aromatase from growing and spreading. I want to learn to LOVE celery!
A cancer preventative benefit of onions is that it contains quercetin, which also inhibits aromatase, although celery is the winner with quantity. If you like turmeric add more in to your soup as well as it contains curcumin - another POWERFUL nutrient on the cancer prevntion/healing list.

To your health!
Rita S.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Toxins in Western Culture

A couple of weeks ago I was introduced to Pintrist, and have been slowly adding many of the links I share in the sidebar of this blog to my Pintrist bulletin boards. Unfortunately, it only accepts those that have an image to link to. Therefore, some important research studies and such in my list of what I feel is important information for people to read, or for me to revisit, cannot be "pintristed".
I came across such a link in my rolling list just now, Dr. Myhill of the United Kingdom, and one section in particular was very interesting. Although the article focuses on WHY we NEED nutritional supplements this day and age, I thought some of the info to be useful for an upcoming presentation on the reason we detox. The entire read on nutritional supplements is HERE, but below is the part I felt important to share right off. I do know it is difficult to lose unwanted weight if your body is deficient on a number of nutrients.

  • Increasing toxic stress of Western environments
    Xenobiotic chemicals (pesticides, volatile organic compounds and heavy metals) all need to be detoxified and excreted from the body, but this process is highly demanding of micronutrients. Our increasing xenobiotic load increases micronutrient requirements. Furthermore, xenobiotics are directly anti-nutrient: so, for example, nickel increases our requirement for zinc; fluoride increases our need for iodine; and mercury increases our need for selenium.
    Xenobiotics come from:
    Contamination of our food and water in ways indicated above.
    Contamination by packaging – many products are wrapped, and sometimes cooked, in plastics with phthalates leeching into food.
    Contamination of the environment by persistent organic pollutants from agricultural industry, polluting industry, war, fires, road traffic and waste disposal.
    Cosmetics often contain volatile organic chemicals and/or heavy metals such as nickel and aluminium – this increases the toxic load and thereby the requirements for micronutrients to detoxify them.
    Jewellery and piercings increase exposure to toxic metals.
    Prescription medication – the best example of this would be the malabsorption induced by proton pump inhibitors and other acid blockers, resulting in an increased risk of osteoporosis. Most drug side effects result from micronutrient deficiencies.
    The medication of healthy people, including children, with vaccinations which often contain heavy metals together with live or attenuated viruses. Vaccinations have immune disrupting potential and the potential to switch on novel disease processes.
    Dental work and surgical prostheses – these often involve use of heavy metals such as mercury, palladium, titanium, nickel, gold and silicones, all of which may be toxic either directly or through their potential to disrupt the immune system.

Much of the above is a recap of previous posts I have shared from doctors Blaylock, Mercola and Weil's newsletters, but I always find affirmation in my sources when I see multiple doctors stating the same thing.

If you have a new years resolution to lose weight, be aware that most of us are deficient on more than one nutrient. Also be aware that when it comes to vitamin supplementation you truly get what you pay for. The less it costs the more likely you are gaining little nutritional benefit and instead your money spent is being flushed, if you know what I mean. (LOL)

I encourage you to get the best vitamin supplementation you can afford. Sometimes all one has to do is make the decision to give up soda, or daily Starbucks, and exchange those expenses for an investment in one's health. Often times we do not realize how much our little habits add up, and an exchange for a healthier option is going to be one of the greatest investments you can make in your own health. It is the type of gift that keeps on giving as you begin to feel better and become more healthy. From a personal experience, I can think of no better gift to give my family.

To your health,

Rita S.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Gluten Free Polenta

Happy New Year to all my readers! This is the year my husband and I plan to make even more changes to our daily lifestyle to increase the vitality we reclaimed in 2011. We are looking forward to learning more about healthier choices through some resources we recently ordered from a PBS pledge drive, which will benefit you as well as I find time to share.
Beginning January 15 I will be leading a "Vitality 2012" group the 3rd Sunday of each month at Crossroads Coffeehouse in Cross Plains, WI. Everyone is welcome to join. We will meet from 3-5 pm and be not only an accountability group, but gathering to share ideas and recipes as well. I will present a topic at each meeting with information that attendees will be encouraged to explore further. For January I decided we should start the year out with reasons to detoxify, and am calling my mini talk "LOVE ON YOUR LIVER". If weight loss is a goal, it is difficult to do if your liver is not functioning at optimal levels.
Earlier this week I had polenta for the first time, even though my mother's family is Italian. At my grandmother's funeral my uncles were reminiscing about her polenta, but I had never enjoyed the delight they spoke of as visits to my grandparents revolved around fish freshly caught by my Polish grandfather, and potatoes, as I recall.
Polenta is truly a traditional Italian food, often made on the stove top, and then placed in a cookie sheet to flatten out, allowed to dry and broil something like a flat bread. It is then served with marinara sauce. I did a bit of web surfing, and there were many 5 star reviews for Bob's Red Mill corn grits to be used for making polenta, thus I recommend it for the recipe I am sharing today, which was quite tasty.
Today's recipe is a combination of one I found in Edible Madison magazine as well as a web site where a Cleveland chef went into great detail about cooking polenta to get it just right.
In this recipe polenta is served with spinach and onions, and the cheese is optional. Without the cheese this is both a gluten and dairy free recipe, and is "approved" for the Essentials 30 Day Feeling Fit Detox diet my husband and I are beginning in this new year. If you have not made polenta I encourage you to give it a try. It is fairly simple, and it seems to take on the taste of the add-ins, or the sides that you serve with it. Personally, we love caramelized onions, which is the key flavor that make this dish sing. Enjoy!

Polenta with Caramelized Onions
6 cups water
1 t. sea salt
2 cups Bob’s Red Mill Corn Grits
1 bunch green onions
3 large garlic cloves
½ c. parmesan or asiago cheese finely grated (optional)
2-3 cups fresh organic baby spinach
1 sweet onion, sliced into rings.
Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO)
Turmeric spice*
Penzey’s Zatar seasoning

Bring 6 cups water to a boil with teaspoon of salt added. Generously grease a deep dish pie plate or quiche pan with olive oil.
Meanwhile, in a saucepan add 2 T. EVOO and lightly sprinkle with turmeric. (The whole purpose of adding a touch of turmeric is to prevent the EVOO from oxidizing when it is heated, and forming free radicals.) Slice the green onions, mince garlic and saute on medium heat. Add ½ t. Zatar seasoning and stir to ensure onions and garlic do not stick to bottom of pan.

Once water is boiling, slowly add corn grits stirring with wooden spoon until blended and reduce heat to medium. It is important to stir frequently for the next 20-30 min. so as not to burn the polenta. Add sautéed green onions and garlic, blend. Polenta will be correct consistency when you pull it away from bottom of pan with wooden spoon and it does not fill back in. If adding cheese to recipe, stir in ¼ c. now. Stir spinach into polenta as well, and then transfer polenta to deep bake dish. Bake at 350 for 30 min. until top begins to turn golden.
Caramelize onions in EVOO sprinkled with turmeric. (Turmeric will add a pretty yellow color to the onions.) Sprinkle with Zatar seasoning.
Prior to serving Polenta top with caramelized onions, and serve with a side of bright vegetables and small portion of protein, such as fish.
Suggested Side Dishes:
Alaskan Wild Caught Cod seasoned with Penzey’s Mural of Flavor seasoning, steamed.
Julienne Carrots sautéed in olive oil with sprinkle of turmeric, Penzey's Zatar seasoning if desired to add a bit of zip to carrots.

Take note of the small portion of fish served with this recipe. As Americans we tend to consume way too much protein, which makes our liver work overtime. Of course fish is much easier to digest than red meat, but the point is, we should have no more than a small fist size of meat on our plate each night. As I view this plated dinner, it could use more greens and had we been more hungry a side of greens as a salad would have been a nice addition and would have increased the percentage of alkaline food intake, which is a topic I promise to blog about in the future.

To your health,
Rita S.