Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Purity Bests Organic

Good. Better. Best.  When I worked for a window treatment company we had three grades for our products.  The discount, big box stores bought and sold "good", department stores offered better...but the premium stores and design houses offered the BEST.
As we wrap up 30 days of clean eating in our home I thought I should digress from the clean food topic for a bit, and bring up another subject that affects our health - that would be our skincare.  As I have discussed in my cancer prevention workshops, when it comes to toxic food - thankfully our bodies have a liver to filter the toxins.  When it comes to what we put on the largest organ of our body, our skin, there is no filter.  Everything we put on our skin is absorbed into our system, and per the EPA reaches our bloodstream and organs in less than 30 seconds.  So why should we be concerned about our lotions and shampoos?
Toxins in - does not necessarily mean toxins out (unless you are on some sort of regular detox program).  Toxins store up inside - a little toxin a day multiplied by 365 days a year multiplied by.....  get the picture?  It creates a hormone imbalance, interupts our divinely created endocrine system.  Consider that for a moment...and then - be on guard.  Just because a label states "all natural" or "organic" does not mean it is toxin free.
Truth of the matter is - organic farmers have a hard time keeping their produce pure, in some parts of the world more so than others.  I learned a while back from my chiropractor, Dr. Joe Teff, also a highly respected nutritionist, that the fall out of radiation from Japan has affected organic food crops.  Where, you might ask? Well, California, Hawaii and another friend tells me the fall out has reached much further north. To help the organic farmers of California, the state simply raised the allowance of radiation in order to label a product organic.  If you would like to be your own personal watchdog on this topic - check out or and look for the effects of the Fukushima disaster.  It is affecting much more than I could have imagined.
This is not to say you should not eat organic - you can obtain 40% more nutrients from organic than traditionally grown produce, but for certain -wash it! Small organic farms adjacent to Monsanto's huge, chemical laden farms also fall victim to chemical fall out from their genetically modified crop farm/corporation.
So my point here is the ORGANIC label on skin care.  Unless you are growing it yourself - I feel you need to have a higher standard than organic. 
PURITY bests organic.  For myself and my own family - we look for purity standards, and frankly, the European cosmetic industry has standards that far exceed any skin care products made here in the U.S.  Having said that - watch out for foreign sounding names on your product labels. They may sound French, Swiss, or whatever, but may actually be formulated here in the U.S.  I remember a friend telling me her mother uses a high end French sounding product from a fancy department store...and when I researched the ingredient labels the product contained petrolatum (a derivitive of crude oil) and parabens.  It turns out the product line is simply a more expensive offshoot of the Big L in cosmetics.
Know the company from whom you purchase products.  What is their ingredient policy? Are raw materials tested for purity on a regular batch-tested basis?  Even organic soy beans contain naturally occuring toxins such as formaldehyde and trace metals from the soil.  Just one example of why PURITY is the standard by which skin care products are chosen for our family.
Labeling is what labeling does - MARKET. I think about the irony of products who wash their labels PINK in October to support the Komen foundation...when the products themselves have cancer causing ingredients.  All I am saying is be a WISE consumer, and do your research.
Check out those web sites I offered above, and become a SMART consumer about the truth of the nuclear disaster.  Mainstream's media coverage, or lack of it, is rather disturbing. How would you like to apply a skin lotion made with organic ingredients that contain radiation? Think about that. The thought makes me shudder.
European standards, specifically the European Union Cosmetics Directive and the European chemicals agency known as REACH (Registration, Evaluation, Authorization, and Restriction of Chemicals) are two watch dog agencies that I trust more than any U.S. resource. Therefore, the products we use in our family,  adhere to these European standards - and I feel very very good about the safe approach to skin care that my family is using. The company has been formulating with green science and offering pure and safe products for 33 years, before organic was a popular word.
Many of my readers may be familiar with Safe - and I will leave you with a link to their article which points out the level of excellence that is established by the European cosmetics directive:

May you feel great, look great and live great as you make wise decisions, not only in your food choices, but in your skin care as well!

To your health,
Rita S.

Clean Eating Breakfast Muffins

Our 15 yr old decided to go the gluten free route, to see if it would help his sinus issues.  Since gluten in inflammatory and sinus issues are a result of inflammed sinus passageways - many have found relief once they either went gluten-free, dairy-free, or both. Now, I will tell you right tnow that he lasted about 10 days going GF.  On the last day of finals week his ride home from school stopped at Culvr's for lunch, and well, gluten free was toast!
Fifteen year olds don't have the the same drive as an adult may have when learning a certain type of food is what ails them. Of course, many adults would rather deal with the pain and disease than give up bread, cheese or ice examples. It is tough for sure!
During this teenage effort in going gluten free, he asked for recipes so he could have some tasty alternatives. (Did I mention this boy bakes, cooks, and cleans... and reads his bible every day? Just saying...he has no intentions of getting married. He IS fifteen - plenty of time for that 10 years from now.)  Kyle baked up some delicious muffins from a recipe I downloaded from - I tweaked the recipe just a little, to make them a bit more clean in regards to sugars.
We absolutely loved the baked much so that I decided to order a silicone muffin pan as our old, and very little used rusty pan should be retired. For the sake of the environment we don't want to buy paper liners each time Kyle wants to make muffins. The recipe is so simple and quick I suspect, and hope!, he will be baking these often.
For your delight...enjoy this recipe. The texture and flavor of these muffins is best once they have completely cooled. Whole LIfe Nutrition recommends serving with a dollop of honey, but I don't find it necessary.  Since we do not have a large food processor, we found that pulsing the ingredients in our Ninja Professional blender worked well.

Paleo Friendly Almond Banana Muffins
1 cup organic roasted almond butter
4 large organic eggs
2 medium ripe bananas
1/4 cup maple syrup
2 teaspoons vanilla
6 tablespoons coconut flour
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon sea salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a 12-cup muffin pan with paper liners, or use a preseasoned silicone muffin pan.

Place all ingredients into a food processor fitted with the "s" blade and process until smooth. Scoop batter into muffin cups.
Bake for 25 to 30 minutes. Cool on a wire rack. 

Eating healthy does not mean you must live a life of food goodness deprevation. It is about learning to make choices that improve your body's movement and physical well being.  And yes, it may require a few experiments in the kitchen an example, as I finish up this post I am enjoying a piece of almond cake made with almond flour (my very favorite gluten free flour), eggs and raw stevia.  It's good, but not perfected. I will be tweaking and sharing that as well in the future. 

My wish for you is that you feel great, look great and live great!

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Gluten Free Living - If Only Temporary

"Our genes load the gun; lifestyle pulls the trigger." 

How true! Many of us may be pre-disposed to this or that, but that doesn't mean we accept it as a deck of cards dealt to us. It is how we play the game that, in the end, determines who wins - our health or not.
Our 15 year old has been dealing with sinus issues. His allergies have been pretty non existent for the past couple years since we started him on a high quality, pure and artificial free vegan vitamin supplement.  We also made some eating changes, or perhaps better said, a lot. Speaking of lots, type II diabetes could be mine. Both parents, a brother borderline, and I was about there myself. But I made the decision change the game, change my lifestyle and product choices and bring it under control. No smoking gun here!
In the fall a doctor informed our son his nasal cavity is inflamed (as his mother said) and that allergies/pollen were particularly bad because of the drought. Well, now it is winter, so what's the excuse. Not pollen!  I had mentioned two things that are likely inflaming his passageways, that being dairy and gluten. Indeed, as soon as our son finishes a bowl of ice cream he notices his sinuses worsen. Not surprising, but not bothersome enough for him to give it up.
But now it's a couple months later and he is getting tired of sinus issues. Some people eating clean have said that their sinuses cleared up while on the 30 day detox program. I don't expect a 15 yr old boy to give up the top 7 allergen foods at once, but he did decide to give up gluten this past weekend. Thus more time that I have  spent in the kitchen experimenting with gluten free baked foods.
One food we had given up some time back is oatmeal. It's one of those foods that we, as a general public, have been made to believe is a healthy choice. Most oatmeal, unless specified, contains gluten. Also, most oatmeals are heavily refined and processed. Per Dr. Russell Blaylock one of the greatest deceptions in "healthy eating" is the consumption of Quaker Oatmeal - after all, it is endorsed by the American Heart Association so it must be good, right? If you can cook it in 5 minutes - leave it at the store. Processed and refined foods contribute to high cholesterol. That's the bottom line -although it may be a better choice than "heart healthy" Cheerios. If you want to eat oatmeal for breakfast, buy organic, gluten-free rolled oats and DON'T cook it in the microwave.  
Recently I thought about all the money we save as a family when we don't buy the processed cereals, which are expensive! Eating healthy costs much less.
Likely worthy of its very own post - microwaving foods. Microwaves change the molecular structure of foods and we are basically consuming "franken-foods" when nuked.  I am actually surprised when someone buys organic and then they microwave their food. Seems like  it is equivalent to throwing away money, in my opinion.  At work I have no other choice, which is why I prefer salads. But I did take leftover turkey chili the other day and it is not something I can eat cold. I cringe when I have to nuke my lunch, and of course stand back or leave the room so I am not exposed to the leaking emissions.
Back to gluten free...I know when I am eating a GF lifestyle my joints no longer ache or make noise. Gluten is very very inflammatory. I can't help but wonder if we could avoid all the hip and knee surgeries in this country if we simply became a gluten free nation. (gasp!!)
It will be interesting to see if this testing of the gluten free waters will help alleviate Kyle's sinus problems, which by the way, does run in my family. He is predisposed...poor young man. He had increased his bread intake considerably, hence pulling the trigger, since I had gone gluten free on January 2. He figured he had to eat my share of whole grain goodness.  Subsequently, the sinuses worsened. I will be sure to share if this gluten free living choice helps him or not.
Fortunately for my family, we use skin care and hygiene products that are made with zero gluten...not even a trace. I wonder how many Celiacs realize, or don't, that many lotions, hair care products, and more contain wheat glutens....
In the meantime, keep on checking back for more gluten-free recipe ideas. And I would love to give credit to that quote starting this post today...but unfortunately I don't recall the author. It wasn't me, although I find it very inspiring in helping me make healthy choices.

May you feel great, look great and live great!
Rita S.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Amazing "CLEAN" & Detox Friendly Pancakes!!

Can you believe it? Pancakes that are actually GOOD for you, do not contribute to inflammation, insulin spikes, and even taste good?  It doesn't seem plausible, but these moist and flavorful pancakes were an absolute HIT with my family this weekend.  I found Teff  and tapioca flour at Willy Street Co-op.  Probably at Woodmans and Whole Foods as well. I think I need to start petitioning Costco to carry these items - actually, I would love for Costco to have an entire section of Bob's Red Mill gluten-free products. I met someone tonight at the WWE meeting that might be able to help with that.
I made two changes to the original recipe, which originates from my favorite detox friendly recipe site:   I used plain almond milk and we didn't have applesauce.  I don;t recall that I substituted additional moisture for the missing applesauce, but perhaps I did add a squirt of water.  I will pay more attention next time.  I also used agave nectar - 1T. in place of the high glycemic maple syrup.
Instead of syrup I pureed raspberries and strawberries to use as a topping, however, the pancakes were SO moist and cinnamon-ee that they could have stood alone as a delicious breakfast roll up.  Had I had the applesauce I know they would have not needed anything else for certain. I cut the recipe in half which made 7 pancakes total.
Because Teff is a grass (originates in northern Africa) and the flour is made from the grass seed - I feel this could be considered a Paleo recipe. Pumpkin seeds and sesame seeds are allowed for Paleo diets, right?  Same with qunioa - considered a seed and not a grain, from what I have read, although I hear Paleo enthusiasts debate this topic.  Teff flour and quinoa are both gluten free, of course, and staples in our pantry.
The following is direct from Nourshing Meals. If you are vegan and want to make the pancakes egg free, explore the website for Teff Banana Pancakes - on our list to try soon as well. You can get a great cookbook from the authors of Nourishing Meals, too.

Apple-Cinnamon Teff Pancakes
Dry Ingredients:
2 cups dark brown Teff flour
1/2 cup tapioca flour
2 teaspoons baking powder*
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1 tablespoon cinnamon
Wet Ingredients:
2 cups non-dairy milk (we used plain unsweetened almond)
1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
2 large organic eggs
3 tablespoons melted virgin coconut oil
3 tablespoons pure maple syrup (Grade B) (we used 1 T. agave nectar)

Begin to heat a 10-inch skillet over medium heat. (You may need to adjust the temp for cooking). Melt the coconut oil in skillet while mixing the dry ingredients. Measure it after it as melted.
Whisk the dry ingredients together in a medium-sized mixing bowl. Add the wet ingredients. Whisk together well.
Make sure your pan still has a little coconut oil on the bottom (just a little). Use a 1/2 cup measure to pour the batter into the pan. Cook for 60 to 90 seconds on one side, then flip and cook for 30 to 60 seconds on the second side. Add about 1/2 teaspoon of oil in between pancakes. Adjust the cooking temp as needed.

I am looking forward to making these pancakes again soon, and I hope to have the unsweetened applesauce in our pantry. Quite honestly, if  my children had not been sleeping I would have simply processed some applesauce from scratch real quick using Granny Smith apples on hand. Then I would have the freshest, most yummy minimal ingredient sauce, and have some set aside for a topping as well.  Doesn't that sound mouth watering to you? It does to me!
I encourage you to give these pancakes a try and let me know what you think. I was asked about my pantry and the types of flours and such that I have in it. At some point I will write about that topic, but I am still learning and stocking.  I know I don't want to have 20 types of exotic flours so I am playing with recipes and substituting, so that I can bake and cook gluten free from ten or less basic ingredients.
Oh...and I have to share... I came home from my meeting tonight to an amazing smell in the kitchen. Our 15 yr old son had baked some gluten-free muffins while I was gone using another recipe I had found.  It uses almond butter as a base. I snitched a bit off the top of one (they raised beautifully!) and all I can say is YUMMY!!!  I should get to bed so I can get up early enough to photograph a muffin before I eat it. (LOL)  When I remake the Teff pancakes I will photograph them as well and add it to this post. 

May you feel great, look great, live great!
Rita S.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Heartburn Tip - focus on Alkaline Food

DID YOU KNOW?   "It takes 20 times as much alkaline to neutralize 1 part acid. For example, you would need to drink 20 cups water (which is considered alkaline) to neutralize 1 cup of acid-forming milk, coffee, alcohol or cola." from the pH Balance Diet .
Have I mentioned how bad my heartburn used to be? Gave up milk, cut back on gluten - used Arbonne Digestion Plus (formulated with probiotics, prebiotics and ELEVEN digestive enzymes that our bodies cannot manufacture for the breakdown of specific foods) for a month straight to restablish my good gut flora, and haven't had heartburn in nearly two years.
As the daughter of a dairy farmer, it seemed wrong to give up on milk, but the improvement in my health was so great that I would put up with any flak from my family. As it turns out, my dad is reading health news as well and he had read the same thing about dairy and heartburn - so my news was not a shock.
Previously I used to wake up in the middle of the night with that burn and awful taste in the back of my throat. I now sleep really well, even if I enjoy salsa after 8 pm. (which I know I shouldn't do.)
Nor do I  have to worry about developing leaky gut syndrome from the acid-reducing meds, and we save lots of money considering the cost of OTC drugs! I was a Zantac popping fool - and the generic version wasn't cheap either!

Know that if you suspect you already have LGS you can repair your stomach lining. It doesn't require surgery - but does require a commitment to food lifestyle changes.
Symptoms of LGS:
- loose stools, chronic diarhehea
- constipation to the point of constantly requiring laxatives
- cramping every time you eat
- terrible gas

Just to name a few...  There are several good books and resources available on GI issues and disease and how you can help your body heal naturally.  One book is called "Breaking the Viscous Cycle" was written by biochemist and cell biologist Elaine Gottschall, who cured her daughters ulcerative colitis. 

Authors Steve Wright and Jordan Reasoner of the Specfic Carb Diet write, Despite what others might tell you, if you continue using drugs and eating the same foods, it's likely that your digestive disease will continue to get worse. One of the biggest myths of conventional medicine is “diet does not affect your digestion.”  Another HUGE myth is that “no natural ways exist to stop the symptoms of digestive disease” These are MYTHS that can cost your livelihood and leave you stranded on the toilet for hours a day.
These guys have been there, so check out their SCD Lifestyle site if you are struggling with digestive issues that are affecting your quality of life.  
Personally, I had to change only a few things for my nasty heartburn. Life is good. Stay tuned as I share more from the pH Balance Diet cook book.  I love their little "Did you Know" factoids.
To your health,
Rita S.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Turn Up the Heat for Turnips!

Edible Madison magazine, a freebie I find at the local coffeehouse, is usually good for an interesting new recipe or two using sustainably grown ingredients.  I found one recently using turnips that I thought would be worth trying on the 30 day clean eating challenge.  I tweaked it a little, basically increasing portions as 5 turnips came in my package vs. the two the recipe called for.
The original recipe called for butter vs. EVOO and if I were not going dairy free this month I certainly would have used butter! Next time....

I admit, I had never had turnips before. We all agreed that they reminded us of kolarabi, which we have only eaten raw. I will tell you right now the family opinion of this recipe. I thought they were good. My husband said it was VERY good. Our 15 year old son, who eats more healthy than any teenage boy I know, said they were alright, but he wouldn't beg me to make them again. Our 10 year, more picky child, gave the turnips 2 thumbs down and would not any more after one bite. I will say that she says this about a lot of things first time through, and as we give her the same thing to try another day - in all likelihood she will eat it.  When we first gave her the children's AB chewable vitamins she didn't want anything to do with them. Afterall, she had been accustomed to the toxic gummy vitamins - made with real juice (of course), and a whole lotta other things I would never serve my children now.  I offered the all natural kid's chew again - flavored with real cherries, nothing artificial and not loaded with sugar or fructose or high fructose corn syrup, and she decided they were okay. Months later she commented that the vitamins were the best vitamins ever. It is all a matter of tastebuds adapting to new flavors - and it is especially difficult if our tastebuds are addicted to sugar. Maybe one day she will not turn up her nose at my glazed turnips!

Ginger & Orange Glazed Turnips

5 medium turnips peeled andcut into wedges or slice semi-thin
2 T EVOO sprinkled with turmeric spice, or use coconut oil
1 inch piece of ginger, grated
5 large cloves garlic, minced
Celtic sea salt, medium coarse grind
Freshly ground black pepper
4 Mandarin oranges, juiced plus save a little zest

In a medium cast iron or heavy bottomed skillet, warm oil over medium heat and sprinkle with turmeric spice to prevent the EVOO from oxidizing. This also releases the anti-oxidant cumin and makes the cumin bio-available for your body. Add turnips and season with salt and pepper. Saute over medium low heat for 6-8 minutes, stirring occassionally until turnips just start to caramelize. Add ginger and garlic, and saute for another cuople of minutes, stirring frequently. 

Meanwhile use a lemon juicer to sqeeze your mandarin oranges!  The original recipe called for oranges, but seeing as we had a bag of mandarins I discovered how easily they juiced in my lemon press - walah!!!!  Juice in seconds!  Add orange juice and increase heat to medium. Cook until liquid is evaporated to a glaze, another 3-4 minutes. Stir in orange zest, test for salt and pepper, and serve.

Makes 6 servings.
Original recipe from Edible Madison Magazine -Winter 2012

Turnips are loaded with vitamin C with cancer-fighting phytonutrients. Chinese medicine maintains that turnips help to cleanse the blood and increase energy flow.  They can help break up mucus and treat bronchitis - wish I had known that when our son had bronchitis in November. The greens from turnips are a nutritional powerhouse, rivaling that of kale, chard and watercress in levels of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants phytonurients.

I just learned in the article that there are gold and scarlet varieties that are more mild in flavor than the more common white/purple.
From a dietary standpoint, turnips turn out less starch than a potato, and I found they have a lower glycemic index than many root vegetables. On that note - not all potatoes are alike, with fingerling potatoes having less starch and a less GI than their Yukon Gold cousins.  Who knew?!

So if you are looking for an alternative to potatoes or you want to try a new vegetable - give turnips a try! If you can find them with the greens still on you can juice the greens for a nutritious dose of energy.

To your health,
Rita S.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Heated Protein Dangers and Colon Cancer

An article on Dr. Joe Mercola's website today is QUITE the eye opener - and I feel very important, possibly life saving and a must to share.  It almost makes me want to become completely vegetarian, and never eat cooked meat again. I am glad we have reduced our meat consumption, and I now realize the importance of COLD-PROCESSED protein powders as well as consuming the required daily minimum of fiber each day. We're told 25 mg., but for colon cancer prevention 30-50 is a greater preventative measure. A year or so ago I created a post specifically geared towards colon cancer prevention and need for much fiber in the diet, of which most Americans do not intake.
The main focus of the article below talks about what happens to proteins when exposed to heat. My particular interest was regarding protein isolates found in protein shakes - as the majority of brands found in the market are heat processed. Proteins that are already an acidic base become even more so when exposed to heat in processing.

Article: The Innocent Cooking Mistake that Could Cause Cancer
Excerpted conclusions from the article are below (link is below the points for the entire article)

-Avoid eating roasted or fried proteins and melted cheese – yes, this includes grilled meat or fish, fried chicken, roast beef, barbeque, and pizza. To be on the safe side, avoid all kinds of carmelized sugar, toasted starch and roasted nuts.

-If you still choose to eat grilled, roasted or fried food, try cutting off the burned or browned outer layer part.

-Time under heat is a crucial factor. Short pasteurization is safer than long pasteurization – the longer a protein is heated the more degraded and toxic it gets.

-Make sure your protein product does not include thermolyzed casein – which has shown to be the most carcinogenic among all other thermolyzed food.

-You can still enjoy eating most of your protein foods warm if you cook them in a broth. This will limit the cooking temperature to a 100ยบ Celsius threshold, which has shown to be quite safe and presents minimum health risk. Cooking, stewing or poaching fish, meat or eggs in a broth can be your alternative to frying, grilling or roasting. But note that cheese must be eaten raw. Heating destroys fragile peptides and amino acids in cheese so to be on the safe side, avoid all kinds of pizzas and melted cheese treats.

-Avoid protein powders which are exposed to ultra heat or heat/acid treatment. These often include protein isolates such as casein and whey isolates as well as soy, hemp and rice protein isolates.

-Avoid whey proteins derived from ultra pasteurized milk. If the whey manufacturer fails to provide you with a certificate of conformity (CoC) which clearly declares that their whey is manufactured from raw milk, then most likely the product is ultra pasteurized.

-Increase your fiber consumption particularly in your protein meals. Note that protein supplements formulated with digestive resistant fiber are more digestible, and safer.

This entire article can be found here. If colon cancer in particular is of concern in your family - it is very important to read. I feel strongly that we can only make better choices for our health when we read and educate ourselves, as this is not information the "meat industry", for example, is going to publicize.
I have to admit, for quite some time, having friends who are paleo eaters, I have wondered how much meat is comprised in the paleo diet versus vegetables and fruits.  Is it 20% protein, 75% produce and 5% fats (random figures thrown out), or is the meat protein to vegetables and fruit ratio more like 50/50?
I wonder about this primarily out of concern, since it is becoming well known that cancer thrives in an acidic body, and cannot survive in a body that is properly pH balanced.  Meat is low on the pH scale, meaning it is acidic. Whereas vegetables are alkaline based, with a pH higher than the neutral point of +/-7.
Processed meats, in particular, are unhealthy. Certainly a steak from a grass-fed beef animal or free-range chickens should be the meat of choice if one is concerned for cancer prevention or wish for aging in good health.
Dr. Russel Blaylock devoted two consecutive newsletters to the link between "iron toxicity" and cancer - which is becoming more evident.  As Americans, in particular, he states we eat too much meat. As an example, we should consume no more than 8 OUNCES of red meat per week. The week I read that two days later we were out for dinner, and I was having a 12 oz organic rib-eye. Glad for it to be from grass-fed animal, but it was more than my entire week's allowance at one setting, per Blaylock. Of course, I split it and took home a box of food as I always split my meals when we eat out at the start of the meal, so I am not tempted to overeat.  Ever since learning of iron toxicity it has caused me to be concerned about those important to me, that seem to really enjoy an abundance of meat consumption.
Vegetable protein is much easier to digest than animal meat, and therefore does not tax our body's proper functioning in the same manner.  As I alluded to at the start of today's post - I am not a vegetarian, although my lifestyle food choices probably includes about 15% meat, 50% vegetables, 10% fruits, 15%  gluten-free grains such as brown rice and quinoa, and the balance in good fats such as coconut oil and Extra Virgin Olive oil and nuts.
I'm not going to invest in a paleo cookbook - so for those of you who have and are - please do comment and clue me in on your diet and the meat to vegetable/fruit ratio.  I have concern, but perhaps it is unfounded. My perception may be more of what I feel I am seeing at a gathering vs. what the true paleo enthusiast consumes on a daily basis.

To your health, 
Rita S.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Clean Cowboy Caviar & Gluten Reaction

We just returned from our annual family reunion. It is January 5 and day 4 of our 30 Day Clean/Healthy eating challenge.  Typically the reunion has always been held January 1, which would have worked very well for us. However, a vote moved it to the first Saturday in January. I would like to go back to January 1 as I know that come January 2 we will probably be ringing in the new year with healthy eating to detox from not so good choices for the holiday season.
Fortunately my two sisters are detoxing with my husband and I, so we had a couple of healthy choices from which to choose, although it was hard to resist the holiday fudge, cookies, cakes and pies. My husband asked if he could skip this day, and I said "what? no way!" Gosh, am I a touch team coach or what? Sorry, honey.
I had taken my Asian slaw (recipe found in this blog), one sister brought turkey/quinoa chili, and another brought baked beans - of which I hope were detox friendly, I should have asked what was in it! We did well, and held fast to our cleanse.
On the way to our reunion I was inspired by another member on my team. It is day 4 and she has lost 5 lbs. and  her pants are already loose.  She has been eliminating all the allergenic foods, and was doing very well until last night...when they went to a fish fry. (It is Wisconsin on a Friday night for many.)  The fish was lightly breaded, and she thought a little wouldn't hurt, right?  So she at it.
This morning she awoke with swollen fingers, ankles that could barely bend, and stomach bloating. Have you figured it out? She was having a gluten reaction. Her body became immediately inflamed - gluten is not her friend and as a sufferer of fibromyalgia, it is one ingredient I have repeatedly urged her to give up for good. She had been feeling great for several days, but not this day as she awoke to pain. 
Her reaction to gluten has reaffirmed her resolve to folllow the 30 Day Arbonne Healthy Living plan for the entire 30 days. She also has a wedding coming up this year - and she is looking forward to looking great and feeling great as the mother of the bride.
As we noticed the limited foods on the buffet table, I was inspired by my friend's pretty immediate results, and decided to come home and make a detox friendly salad often served as a party dip or appetizer. I had all the ingredients from last weekend.  A tip on keeping your fresh herbs, such as cilantro, fresh - place them in your refrigerator in a glass with water.  I pulled my week old cilantro from the refrigerator and it was perfectly fresh - love this!

(Use organic/fresh ingredients when available.)
2 (14.5 ounce) cans organic black beans, rinsed and drained
1 cup organic white corn (can be frozen, thawed)
4 Roma tomatoes, seeds removed and diced
1 bunch green onions, greens only (use scissors to snip 1/8-1/4" pieces
1/2 bunch cilantro, chopped finely
1 red sweet bell pepper
1 lime, juiced
Chipotle Seasoning by Pampered Chef
2 ripe, but firm avocados, diced (add just before serving)
1 cup detox friendly Italian homemade seasoning

Detox Friendly Italian Dressing
1/4 cup organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1/2 cup Bragg's Apple Cider Vinegar
3 minced garlic cloves
1 tsp. Hermamare seasoning
1/4 tsp. celery seed
Pepper to taste
Rinse and drain the black beans, and corn if needed. Add to a large bowl. Dice the tomatoes, pepper, making sure the seeds and insides are removed. You want to do this to make sure that there isn’t too much liquid. Add the diced tomatoes and cilantro to the bowl. Slice the green onions finely (or use purple onion as a substitute) and add to the bowl. Tip: use a scissors.
Sprinkle generously with Chipotle seasoning to taste for a little zip, or use a diced jalapeno pepper if desired.
Add the Italian dressing and stir to coat all the ingredients. Add pepper to taste. (Herbamare seasoning contains sea salt.) Chill in the refrigerator until cold and flavors have marinated together. This is best served the same day as prepared. 
Before serving....dice the avocados and squeeze a little of the lime juice over the avocados so they don’t brown as quickly. Squeeze the rest of the lime juice into the bowl. 
Serve with homemade sweet potato chips or organic, GMO free corn chips, such as Xochitl brand.
This gluten free salad or appetizer is certain to become a favorite. It is great as a side salad along with grilled chicken breast and brown rice, or on top a bed of greens with diced, grilled chicken - very filling and satisfying - a delight for the tastebuds!

To your health!
Rita S.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

"BEST EVER" Gluten Free Banana Bread

"Best ever mom - next time bake at least two loaves gotta!"
Ok, they didn't say please, but their enthusiasm over my latest gluten-free baking accomplishment was please enough!
The recipe starts with the one found on the backside of a package of Bob's Red Mill All Purpose Baking Flour. However, I have been having success in substituting half of what is asked for with almond flour, which in my opinion results in a better tasting baked product.
Granted, I haven't been doing 100s of recipes with this substitution, as overall I bake very little, but I do know that Bob's GF Baking Flour has a bean base and too much of it makes your baked goods taste a little beany, and some what strange.
If you are doing the 30 Day Elimination plan to kick off your new year - this is a great alternative when you are giving up gluten, dairy, soy, sugar, etc.  Our children loved it so much that all I managed to get were two slices shortly after it came out of the oven, and my husband didn't get a single nibble.  Did I mention we have a teenage boy in the house?

Gluten Free Banana Bread
1/3 cup organic coconut oil (brought to liquid – melts at approx. 72 degrees)
2/3 c packed brown sugar OR 1/3 c. raw organic agave nectar OR 2/3 c. organic granulated coconut sugar
1 t. pure vanilla extract
3 brown free range eggs (eggs don't range, but the chickens that laid them do!)
1 cup Bob’s Red Mill GF Baking Flour*
¾ c. almond flour*
2 tsp. GF baking powder or use substitute blend below
1.5 tsp. Korintje cinnamon
½ tsp. fine Celtic sea salt
1 tsp Xanthum gum
1.5 cups mashed banana (2 large or 3 smaller)

Whisk first four ingredients together in large bowl.  Slowly fold and work in dry ingredients.  Add crushed walnuts or pecans if desired.  Bake in 9x5 bread loaf pan, greased with coconut oil, at 350 degrees for 45 min.

Gluten Free Baking Powder Substitute
·           1/3 cup baking soda
·     2/3 cup cream of tartar
·     2/3 cup arrowroot

Below are links to the products in my gluten-free pantry below.  An asterisk in the recipe above means that you can find these products at Willy Street Co-op if you are local to Madison, Wisconsin.  Almond flour can be purchased in bulk, so you can take as much or little as you want. Amazon offers a few products individually packaged, but where you have to buy four of one item you may want to split with a friend, depending upon how  much you bake.
Almond flour (great tasting baked goods and breakfast crepes)
Arrowroot Powder (thickening and binding agent – great for sauces and soups)

Another product I just ordered for my gluten free baking pantry is Tapioca Flour to go with the gluten free Teff flour I already have. I noticed the two are simultaneously  used together in almost every recipe, so I need the tapioca flour to utilize my Teff.

I hope you will try this banana bread. It is super moist which is what made it so good. I am not sure what I did the first/last time I made a gluten free version of banana bread, but it was almost on the dry side and not nearly so good.  I did use a bit more banana than what the recipe asked for, perhaps, but all I knew was I had three browning bananas and I needed to use them all up!

To your health and healthy baking!
Rita S.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Detox Friendly Raspberry Vinaigrette Dressing

Simple and kind of sweet.  Who said eating clean has to be torture?  Any bed of tossed greens will be especially delightful with a made from scratch CLEAN vinaigrette dressing.
Using only a few ingredients, all are detox friendly and perfect for the 30 Day Healthy Living Challenge that begins on January 2.

What you'll need:
1/4 c. extra virgin organic olive oil
1/2 c. Bragg's organic apple cider vinegar
1/4 c. frozen or fresh raspberries, pureed
1 T. organic agave nectar (optional)
1/2 t. Herbamare original spice mix, or other organic spice blend free of artificial ingredients/MSG

When we are eating clean for the challenge, vinegars are eliminated, with the exception of Bragg's.  Indeed, a year ago when I detoxed I cut out everything EXCEPT for my balsamic vinegar homemade dressings. I continued to have some issues with bloating and such. I was eating clean, so I  was confused as to why I was having issues.  Then I read the program booklet for the 30 day plan and realized I had not cut vinegar. So I did. and guess what? The difference was immediate.

If you do have issues with vinegar, even Bragg's, substitute with freshly squeezed lemon juice instead.

I hope you will try this delicious homemade dressing. It would also be good as a chicken marinade, I suspect.

To your health!
Rita S.