Livliga

Celebrate the Holidays!

Friday, October 28, 2011

Book Review- Eat This Not That Supermarket Survival Guide



I recently picked up a copy of Eat This Not That Supermarket Survival Guide by David Zinczenko. It is one among many Zinczenko has written. I was interested to see what insight he could offer to the weekly grocery shopping I do. There are a number of interesting tidbits.

For instance, did you know that the healthiest food in the supermarket is found along the walls? This includes the dairy case, produce,  meats and seafood. The nutritional "dead zone" is in the middle where all the highly processed foods can be found.

If you find yourself in the "dead zone" isles looking for the healthiest options, Zinczenko points out that they tend to be on the top and bottom shelves. The reason for that being that the big companies like Kraft and Kellogg pay the "slotting fees" to be placed in the middle shelves that are easy to reach and see.

Another helpful tip is that the more packaging a product has, the more likely it is to be less nutritious. Check it out...Also, did you know that "multi-grain" is VERY different from "whole grain"? "Multi-grain" sounds healthy but all it means is that more than one kind of grain is used in making the product. It DOES NOT mean that it is healthier. In fact, it can be easily as processed as a product made with only bleached flour!

An eye opener for me was that products promoting "reduced fat" may, in fact, be worse for us!  Often when fat is reduced the sugar and salt is increased! It is important to ALWAYS read the label to see what each product contains and in what percentages.

Should you buy this book? This book is a great educator. For some it might act as a reference prior to going to the grocery store. For others, it may make sense to get it from the library, brush up on the "does and don'ts" of grocery shopping and then drop it back by the library for someone else to read. It is worth the review, regardless.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Great Healthy Living Quote #10

Life changing advice about being creative-

About twelve years ago, I was running a lot and feeling the wear and tear on my knees, so I decided to try yoga. It was the answer. I do Ashtanga yoga for an hour every day now. It tones my whole body, soothes my stress, and gives me energy. My creativity and focus came back and it changed my whole spirit.

Quote by Tommy Hillfiger, designer
Men's Health magazine

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Apple N'Spice Muffin

The thrill  of exploring different muffin recipes continues! There is a section in the Complete Cooking Light Cookbook with a variety of different muffin recipes that I am trying out one by one. The latest is this Apple N'Spice Muffin. Instead of chunks of apple it instead uses shredded apple. The flavor of the apple is infused throughout the muffin. Another interesting dimension is that cornmeal is used. I am looking more and more for recipes that limit the amount of white flour used. Cornmeal adds fiber and protein refined flour lacks.

These muffins are flavorful, hearty and attractive. If you like toppings on your muffins, these are great with their dash of cinnamon sugar on top.  We paired these muffins with a Layered Mediterranean Breakfast Bake to make a meal. It was a yummy flavor combination. I also found this muffin recipe on line at My Recipes.Com . They were a hit with the family and a definite repeat.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Nothing Like the Challenge of a 100 Year Old Man

There is nothing like the challenge given when you read about a 100 year old man who is now the oldest marathoner in the world. And to rub it in a little more...he got started running at the mere age of 89! I am humbled and in awe of him...guess I really do have to start training... Here is the article and link -

A 100-year-old Briton has become the world's oldest marathon runner after finishing a race in Canada.
Fauja Singh, from Ilford, east London, ran the Toronto Waterfront Marathon in eight hours, 25 minutes and 16 seconds.
The record-holder "hit the wall" at 22 miles but soldiered on for another two hours and finished in 3,850th place, ahead of five other competitors.
Mr Singh, who took up running 11 years ago after his wife and son died, trains every day by running 10 miles.
Curry and tea His coach and interpreter Harmander Singh said Mr Singh was "overjoyed".
"Earlier, just before we came around the (final) corner, he said, 'achieving this will be like getting married again'.
"He's absolutely overjoyed, he's achieved his lifelong wish."
Born in India in 1911, Mr Singh was a farmer in the Punjab but moved to Britain in the 1960s.
He puts his stamina down to ginger curry, tea and "being happy".
He holds the world record for the over-90 category after running the 2003 Toronto marathon in five hours and 40 minutes. His latest feat earns him another spot in Guinness World Records.
On Thursday he broke another eight records for 100-year-old men by completing all eight distances ranging from 100m to 5,000m.
Mr Singh said: "The secret to a long and healthy life is to be stress-free. Be grateful for everything you have, stay away from people who are negative, stay smiling and keep running."

Here is the link- Oldest Marathoner

Monday, October 24, 2011

Enjoying Fall Super Foods


There are so many wonderful Fall Foods to take advantage of now in preparing our meals. Many of then are considered Super Foods. With the cold and flu season revving up it is especially good to incorporate these foods into our diets. A recent article I read on Aol Healthy Living gave a great list of Autumnal Super Foods: Pumpkin, Pumpkin Seeds, Apples, Persimmons, Pomegranates, Beets, and Brussel Sprouts.

I love the idea of using my pumpkins not only for decoration but for eating. It suits our desire to reuse, repurpose and recycle! Pumpkins are good for us because they are a great source of fiber and vitamin A, which according to the Harvard School of Public Health, stimulates white blood cell activity and regulates cell growth and division. I haven't cooked with pumpkin yet but I went on the Eating Well Website and found a whole host of yummy looking recipes I plan to try. First on my list is Pueblo Pumpkin Stew which is a vegetarian recipe which will be perfect for one of my vegetarian meals I want to incorporate into my menu planning each week.

Pumpkin Seeds are rich in healthy fats and oils says Judy Caplan, a registered dietitian and spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association. Pumpkin seeds are healthy for us but for those of us also watching our calories they are similar to nuts in calories. Here is a link for more information on Pumpkin Seed Nutrition. One Tablespoon is 57 calories. I found a recipe for Pumpkin Seed and Cilantro Pesto I plan on trying. They can also be a great afternoon snack and can be easily added to granola or used as a garnish for soups and stews. It has been a long standing tradition in our family to simply soak and roast our pumpkin seeds as part of our Halloween /Thanksgiving activities.

Apples have long been a mainstay in our family. I grew up with the saying "an apple a day keeps the doctor away". They are one of the best fruits and help us guard against a whole host of health problems and diseases from diabetes & heart disease to breast & colon cancer. We relish the Fall for all the variety of apples that are available and because they are the most crisp and juicy. Eating Well has a variety of yummy looking recipes using apples. One in particular that caught my eye is the Salmon Over Warm Lentil Apple Walnut Salad.

Persimmons are a great source of fiber, vitamin A and antioxidants. A recent Japanese study has shown is it good for fighting cancers.  Cooking Light has an appealing Spiced Persimmon Pecan Muffin recipe that should pair well with a soup or salad.

Pomegranates are a an antioxidant-rich superfood which may help protect against arthritis, diabetes and a long list of other diseases. Growing up we had a favorite fall salad with grapefruit, avocado, and lettuce topped with pomegranates. A delicious looking recipe I found uses pomegranates in a Moroccan stew- Chicken Tagine with Pomegranates.

Beets are a vegetable we love roasted in salads during the summertime but they are also plentiful in the Fall.  The health benefits of beets include lowering cholesterol and anti-aging. A combination I have not seen before but looked appealing for a recipe is a beet risotto with greens goat cheese and walnut. 

Finally, Brussel Sprouts are packed full of benefits from providing lots of critical antioxidants and vitamins to protecting us from heart disease and stroke; it also protects our DNA.  We often just roast brussel sprouts for our vegetable at dinner time. Another recipe I found delectable looking was Citrus Curried Couscous with Brussels Sprouts.

I can't wait to try out all these new found recipes, all the while providing my family with delicious Fall Super Foods to help guard against .... just about EVERYTHING!

Friday, October 21, 2011

Autumn Chicken Stew in the Slow Cooker


Our cooler days are compelling me to design menus with stews, soups and chilis. What is great is to make use of the produce in season so I have been looking for recipes that call for them. The slow cooker/crockpot makes it that much easier to accomplish.

I found the Autumn Chicken Stew recipe in the 400 Calorie Fix by Liz Vaccariello. It is packed full of vegetables including butternut squash, parsmips, sweet potato, red onion and baby spinach. It is on page 247.  A serving is 2 cups which includes a 1/2 cup of couscous. Total calories is 380. I found virtually the same recipe on line Autumn Chicken Stew in the Slow Cooker.

It was very filling, visually appealing and suits the season. Besides some initial chopping of vegetables, it was easy to make. The seasoning is mild. In the future I think I will add other spices, like cumin, to the dish.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Enjoying Homemade Herbal Teas


Have you been noticing, as I have, that more and more people are focusing on ways to enjoy cooking and creating delicious alternatives to store bought goods? Not only is it fun and creative but it is more economical, great for lessening our carbon footprint, undoubtedly healthier since there is no need for preservatives or additives, and it is so much more meaningful as gifts for our family, friends and hosts who invite us over for parties. I plan on writing much more on this topic as we get closer to the holidays since I plan on making many of our gifts this year.

As the days get shorter and the days are numbered for harvesting my herb garden, I thought I would write about a fun, delicious and simple herbal tea I have enjoyed brewing and sharing with friends when they come over for dinner. It is also very appealing to me as a "comfort food" when my mind and soul needs a little extra nourishment.

We have been growing the same mint for 30 years which we acquired from a relative. It has moved with us from home to home and from state to state. Mint is very hardy. I love the flavor of our particular variety of mint. It is sweet and fragrant. It is great for many dishes, marinades, beverages and...teas.

Recently I have been enjoying cutting our mint right before a dinner party, harvesting the leaves and then tearing them a bit as I put them in our Coffee Press. I am generous with the leaves, filling the bottom of the press with a solid inch of mint leaves. Then all you need to do is pour boiling water over the leaves and let it steep for 4 - 5 minutes before pressing the leaves to the bottom with the filter..and presto!... You have a great after dinner tea that is fragrant, flavorful and great for digestion. Best off all, it is fresh from your garden and therefore, homemade, which is bound to impress your guests and make them feel very special that you took the time and effort to provide this tasty treat.

Many herbs are perfect for tea. The most popular tea herbs are chamomile, rose hips, lavender, mints, sweet fennel, orange thyme, hibiscus, lemon balm, lemon verbena, linden flowers, dandelion, St. John's wort, licorice root, ginger root, raspberry leaf and goldenrod violets.

Try mixing your favorite herbs for an herb tea blend.

Some plants should never be ingested. Know what you're growing if you're making tea from your own plants. Never make tea from herbs such as borage, calamus, chaparral, comfrey, ephedra, germander, life root, pennyroyal or sassafras. In certain strengths those herbs can cause liver damage and other organ risks.

Be extremely careful that you don't make tea using any herb plants that have been sprayed with pesticides. Always good to have good control and management of the herbs you use.

Time for my afternoon mint tea...hope you can make the time to enjoy a cup too!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

How to Shuck an Ear of Corn and have them silk free!



One of the many benefits I have found in writing this blog is the information I am learning from others. There is nothing better than engaging in conversation, sharing and learning thanks to your friends. I learned of another easy "trick" in food preparation from a friend this week.

If you hate shucking ears of corn and ending up with all the stringy silks to pick off, try this. It is absolutely unbelievable and yet so simple. I wonder what took the world so long to figure this out. Click on the link below and be amazed! It is a cute video that is also charming to watch, even if you don't have an ear of corn to shuck!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YnBF6bv4Oe4 



Wish it was the peak of the season for fresh ears of corn...but fortunately we can hold on to this information for next summer and make it even more easy, fun and healthy with fresh corn on the cob. No more need to avoid it!

Monday, October 17, 2011

Combatting the Common Cold

Part of the challenge of living a healthy lifestyle is that sickness does creep in from time to time. I have been struggling with a cold, for instance, for the past couple of weeks. Rest and Fluids are most recommended when you have a cold. What else can help? This is what I found out (cold remedies)-

Cold remedies: What works

If you catch a cold, you can expect to be sick for one to two weeks. But that doesn't mean you have to be miserable. These remedies may help:
  • Water and other fluids. You can't flush a cold out of your system, but drinking plenty of liquids can help. Water, juice, clear broth or warm lemon water with honey helps loosen congestion and prevents dehydration. Avoid alcohol, coffee and caffeinated sodas, which make dehydration worse.
  • Salt water. A saltwater gargle — 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon salt dissolved in an 8-ounce glass of warm water — can temporarily relieve a sore or scratchy throat.
  • Saline nasal drops and sprays. Over-the-counter saline nasal drops and sprays combat stuffiness and congestion. In infants, experts recommend instilling several saline drops into one nostril, then gently suctioning that nostril with a bulb syringe (push the bulb in about 1/4 to 1/2 inch, or about 6 to 12 millimeters). Saline nasal sprays may be used in older children. Unlike nasal decongestants, saline drops and sprays don't lead to a rebound effect — a worsening of symptoms when the medication is discontinued — and most are safe and nonirritating, even for children.
  • Zinc. For years, cold sufferers have treated their symptoms with over-the-counter remedies containing zinc. But without sound evidence to support this treatment, doctors generally didn't recommend it. Now a comprehensive analysis of clinical-trial data on zinc and colds has concluded that zinc really does appear to be beneficial. The conclusion comes with a few caveats. Researchers haven't determined the most effective formulation, dose or duration of zinc treatment for colds. Zinc lozenges can leave a bad taste in your mouth, and some trial participants reported nausea as a side effect of the lozenges. Zinc-based nasal sprays, not included in the recent, positive analysis, pose a different problem; the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) warns that these products can take away your sense of smell, possibly for good.
  • Chicken soup. Generations of parents have spooned chicken soup into their sick children. Chicken soup may be soothing because of its possible anti-inflammatory and mucus-thinning effects.
  • Over-the-counter cold and cough medications in older children and adults. Nonprescription decongestants and pain relievers offer some symptom relief, but they won't prevent a cold or shorten its duration, and most have some side effects. If used for more than a few days, they can actually make symptoms worse.
    Experts agree that these medications are dangerous in children younger than age 2. The FDA is evaluating the safety of over-the-counter cold and cough medications in older children.
    Keep in mind that acetaminophen (Tylenol, others) can cause serious liver damage or liver failure if taken in doses higher than recommended. It's common for people to take Tylenol in addition to flu medications that also contain acetaminophen, which can lead to acetaminophen overdoses. Read the labels of any cold medication carefully to make sure you're not overdosing.
    If a cough lasts after your other cold symptoms have resolved, see your doctor. In the meantime, try soothing your throat with warm lemon water and honey and humidifying the air in your house. Avoid giving honey to infants.
  • Antihistamines. First-generation (sedating) antihistamines may provide minor relief of several cold symptoms, including cough, sneezing, watery eyes and nasal discharge. However, results are conflicting and the benefits may not outweigh the side effects.
  • Humidity. Cold viruses thrive in dry conditions — another reason why colds are more common in winter. Dry air also dries the mucous membranes, causing a stuffy nose and scratchy throat. A humidifier can add moisture to your home, but it can also add mold, fungi and bacteria if not cleaned properly. Change the water in your humidifier daily, and clean the unit according to the manufacturer's instructions.
I also went to Whole Foods and have added a couple of supplements to help boost my immune system. The first is Kick-Ass Immune by Wish Garden Herbs. This one has a variety of herbs from Yerba Santa, Baptisia, Goldenseal, Elder Flower, Yarrow, Osha and Echinacea, The other is DefensePlus by NutriBiotic. It includes Grapefruit Seed Extract, Echinacea, Astragalus, Vitamin C, Mushrooms Etracts, Goldenseal & Ginger Root.

The challenge with being sick is that it is hard to stop and take time to heal. I think I compounded and caused a further flare-up of my cold by traveling, staying up too late and going out when I should have stayed home. Now I am paying for it.  I am hoping the immune boosting concoctions will help me finally turn the corner on this uncommonly extended common cold.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

An Economical Dinner...and Vegetarian!

In the book Longevity Made Simple the authors, Drs Flanigan and Sawyer recommend we eat fish two times a week and a vegetarian meal two times a week as well. The great thing about eating vegetarian is that it has the smallest carbon foot print and is very economical to prepare. Better for us and the earth.



Tonight I prepared Red Beans and Rice. We completed the meal with fresh pineapple. It was delicious. The meal reminds so much of the time when I was in the Peace Corps. We were taught that beans and rice made a complete protein. It was a good thing since it was a staple meal in the world I lived in for two years. In fact, there was a 3 month period of time when the IMF (International Monetary Fund) called for Zaire to demonetize its currency. That meant that the money any of us had on hand was suddenly worthless. And then the banks were closed...so I lived on beans and rice for 3 months solid until the Peace Corps could get money to me. Beans and rice kept me going...but it gets really old, day after day, for breakfast, lunch and dinner!


For an occasional dinner it is an easy and tasty meal. My recipe came from the the 400 Calorie Fix cookbook. To give the dish the smoked flavor normally provided by ham hocks it calls for Liquid Smoke. I thought is added a great taste to the dish. I found the recipe on line (red beans & rice). It calls for a serving of 1 1/2 cups of the bean mixture over 1/2 cup of brown rice for 376 calories. Add a slice of pineapple to the meal for 85 calories and you have a perfect dinner for a total of 461 calories.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Why it is Good to Spice Up Your Life

Flavors are such an important part of our enjoyment of eating. The combination of flavors can make for an exquisite experience. How things taste is our guide in life for what we will and will not eat. For me, it is a way to entice me to eat foods that are good for my health...I am still working on not eating foods that aren't tasty and just a waste of calories. I do believe the more we treat our lives and mouths and noses to fresh foods with delicious flavors and smells we will be less willing to eat those other foods that are not about flavor but just about calories.

Spices are the key to flavor. They are also great for our health. They can do everything from ward off colds to increase our metabolism. I first became aware of the breadth and depth of the power of spices when my husband and I went on the "Fat Flush Diet" a few years ago. The author, Ann Louise Gittleman, PhD, CNS, explains the benefits of various spices in her Fat Flush Plan. She also explains why each spice is good for you. Below are her favorites-

Anise- Mildly aromatic. Helpful for liver, kidneys, and stomach. Some consider it an aphrodisiac. Good to use with cauliflower, cabbage, turnips, beef, shellfish, cakes and cookies.

Basil- Aromatically robust. Helps nervous exhaustion, anxiety, colds, depression, substance abuse, and drug withdrawal. An petite stimulant. Good to use with salads, sauces, stews, soups, stuffing and dips. And a pesto staple.

Bay Leaf- Semi-mild taste and aroma. Known to relieve bronchitis, arthritis, and atherosclerosis. Tones and strengthens digestive tract. Good to use with soups, chowders, stews, roasts, gravies and marinades.

Cardamom- Strongly aromatic with an aftertaste reminiscent of lemons. Helps treat indigestion, asthma, bronchitis, celiac disease, bad breath, spastic colon, and vomiting. Some consider it an aphrodisiac. Goes well with curries, rice and breads. Especially nice in herbal teas and coffees.

Cayenne- Hot and spicy. Helps soothe irritated tissues. Stimulates circulation, relieves migraines, assists digestion, breaks up congestion and stimulates the adrenal hormones which speed up the breakdown of fat by 25 percent. Good to use with sauces, vegetables, beans, dips, fish and meat.

Cilantro- Mild and spicy. A heavy metal eliminator. It relieves bloating, diarrhea and GI tract disorders. Good to use with salads, soups, tomato-based dishes and as a garnish.

Cinnamon- Subtle and sweet-spicy. Helpful for diabetics by making cells more insulin-sensitive, can boost the body's ability to balance blood sugar by twenty-fold. Good for cramps, bloating and flatulence. Can be used in lamb, beef, chicken and with fruits, breads, onion dishes, squash, tomatoes, sweet potatoes, cereal grains, cookies and cakes.

Cloves- Highly aromatic and sweet. Acts as a parasite fighter.Also aids in relieving diarrhea, sore throats, toothaches and stomach cramps. Good in stewed fruit, roasts, wild game, sweet potatoes and tea.

Coriander- Moderately spicy with a hint of orange peel. Helpful in reducing bloating, cramps and GI disorders. Good to use in curry-based dishes, carrots, fish, chicken, eggs, beans and rice.

Cumin- Distinctively spicy with earthy, meaty flavor. Improves liver function and relieves gas, colic and digestive-connected headaches. Good to use in beans, dips, stews, lamb, beef and sauces.

Dill- Mildly aromatic. Helpful for indigestion, colic, bad breadth and insomnia. Good to use with fish, cucumbers, beans salads and salad dressings, cabbage, soup, cottage cheese, egg dishes and tofu dips.

Fennel- Mild taste and aroma. Helpful as a natural digestive aid and as a phytoestrogen. Also good for bad breadth, diabetes, kidney stones and nausea.Can be used with fish, turkey, cabbage, onions, tomato sauces, stews, cookies and cakes.

Garlic- Pungent. Helps to protect against heart disease, asthma, diabetes, flu and stomach cancer. Well known as an antiparasitic, antifungal and antiyeast herb. Good with fish, poultry, game, vegetables, soups, beans, salsas, salad dressings, casseroles, marinades and just about anything else you can think of when cooking!

Ginger- Hot, pungent and warming. Good for motion sickness, muscle soreness, arthritis, headaches, poor circulation, flatulence,  and menstrual cramps. Serves as a natural blood thinner and anti-inflammatory. Perks up meats, marinades, root vegetables, fruits, cookies and cakes.

Horseradish- Pungent. Helpful for relieving sinus congestion and clearing excess mucus and phlegm. Great addition to dips, meatloaf, egg dishes and sauces.

Marjoram- Fragrant and flavorful. Relieves mentrual cramps, bronchitis, calms nerves, and is helpful for insomnia. A nice addition to sauces soups, stews, stuffings, and salads.

Mint- Mildly aromatic. Helps relieve flatulence, fatigue, gallbladder problems, morning sickness, and nausea. Also acts as a parasite fighter, antimicrobial and digestive aid. Perfect for lamb, peas, salads, lentils and beverages, including hot tea.

Mustard- Moderately spicy. Increases our body's fat burning ability, raises body temperature, acts as a diuretic and increases circulation. Used with eggs (think-deviled eggs), meats, sauces, dips, as a condiment, in salad dressings, marinades and with shellfish.


Nutmeg- Warming, powerful and sweet. A natural digestive aid, it relieves flatulence, coughs and reduces pain. Great to use in soups, sauces, cheese and shellfish dishes, sauteed spinach, with cauliflower and in cookies and cakes. Also tasty in eggnog.

Oregano- Pungent and mildly spicy. A well-respected antibacterial, antiviral, anti-inflammatory and antioxidant. It also relieves candida, nausea, colic, bronchitis and motion sickness. Oregano seasons tomatoes, vegetables, salad dressings and sauces.

Parsley- Mild taste and aroma. Treats problems with kidneys, gout, anemia, jaundice and arthritis as well as being a natural diuretic. Complements all cuisine, especially salads and salad dressings, soups, tofu dishes, souffles, dips and pates. Great as a garnish on anything.

Rosemary- Pungently spicy. Potent antioxidant, energy booster, relieves upset stomach and good for memory and hair. Great with lamb, chicken, potatoes, marinades, casseroles and breads.

Sage- Sharp, spicy and highly aromatic. A great astringent, good for colds, flu and fevers. Also good for the flow of bile and a remedy for menopausal symptoms. Goes well with stuffing, poultry, egg casseroles and omelets, sauces, peas, onions, cottage cheeses and other casserole dishes.

Tarragon- Mild and aromatic. Supports digestion function and acts as a natural diuretic. Enhances chicken, fish and other seafood, egg dishes and salad dressings.

Thyme- Delicate and aromatic. A natural antibiotic, good for colds, asthma, colic, hangovers, hay fever, headaches and cough. Helps with digestion of fatty foods. Goes well with stuffing, soups, sauces, stews, peas and lentils.

Turmeric- Mildly spicy. Stops food poisoning (think-salmonella), a great anti-cancer antioxidant, detoxifies the body of harmful chemicals and treats arthritis. Used with curries, beans, fish dishes and scrambled tofu.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Oatmeal Muffins with Muscat Raisins


The days are definitely cooler. I have noticed that the light is also softer. Everything seems quieter, except the animals scurrying about gathering their nuts for winter. Our dogs seems to be in a constant tizzy, eager to chase the squirrels and other creatures as part of the daily sport of Fall. My arms are growing stronger by the day!

It is so interesting to me that when it is hot outside I have so little desire to cook...and especially bake. But now that it is cooler, I am poring over my healthy cookbooks looking for fun recipes of muffins and biscuits to bake. Today I went for a muffin to go with a chopped chicken with blanched snap peas, toasted almonds and Mandarin orange salad with Romaine Lettuce and Soy-Orange Dressing. I went for an Oatmeal Raisin Muffin from a Cooking Light Cookbook. It was a big hit.

It is a heartier muffin with the oatmeal and raisins. I am big on finding good recipes with oatmeal these days since it is a "sticky fiber" and particularly healthy for us in lowering our cholesterol.  I found the same recipe on line at Cooks.com (Oatmeal Raisin Muffin). According to my cookbook, the muffins have 128 calories a piece. I couldn't find any Muscat raisins, as the recipe calls for, so I used regular raisins. Another recipe, with similar calories and ingredients, but without the raisins, I found at the American Heart Association website (Applesauce Bran Muffin Recipe). It might be worth a try if you are not big on raisins but are in the mood for a heartier muffin. They are also great with a cup of coffee mid-morning. Give it a try!

Friday, October 7, 2011

Great Healthy Living Quote #9

What we inherit from our parents are not harmful genes, but their harmful habits.

From- Longevity Made Simple by Richard J. Flanigan, MD and Kate Flanigan Sawyer, MD, MPH

Thursday, October 6, 2011

How to Peel a Head of Garlic in Less Than 10 Seconds


Cooking more at home is a commitment. Granted it provides us way more control on how the food we eat is prepared and in what amounts. It is so much healthier for us. There are many more benefits as well. We can save money...lots of money. We can even have friends over for a meal and decent bottle of wine for less than my husband and I can go out to dine. So it is good for friendships, camaraderie and conversation. Being a professed "foodie", I also find cooking incredibly creative and expressive. Like a painting, poem or garden, it is the way I express myself; cooking says a lot about who I am and what I see as important. But it takes time.

The more you cook, the quicker and better you get at it. The more you pre-plan your meals the less time you spend daily on executing your meals. But ultimately there it the chopping and peeling and measuring that can't be gotten around....until my son sent us this video...How to Peel a Head of Garlic in Less Than 10 Seconds...Peeling Garlic Video . My husband tried out the process last night and it really worked! It is not often you find something that can really save you time on ordinary tasks so it is a real find when it happens. Since garlic is one of the SuperFoods I wrote about yesterday, it is good to know there is a way to encourage us to use it often and in more ways!

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Super-Foods that will Save Us

The list of Super Foods, fortunately, is growing. Everyone has a slightly different list, I have found. But all the foods are ones that have been found to be packed with nutrition and scientifically proven to provide many health benefits.

Here is the current list of SuperFoods-

Almonds and Walnuts- lower both total and LDL cholesterol levels
Avocados- rich in monounsaturated fat and fiber; source of plant sterol and antioxidants
Bell Peppers-great source of beta-carotene and Vitamin C; rich in bioflavins and phenols
Apples-low in calories, high in soluble fiber, which helps lower cholesterol
Blueberries- great source of antioxidants and dietary fiber
Citrus Fruit- lots of Vitamin C, folate, thiamine, and potassium
Cruciferous Vegetables (broccoli, cauliflower. brussel sprouts, bok choy, for instance)- have unique sulfur-containing compounds that are felt to be cancer protective.
Low Fat Milk- excellent source of calcium
Garlic- linked to anti-clotting, cholesterol lowering and cancer protection
Legumes (including beans, peas, lentils, peanuts & soy)- a vegetarian source of protein, low in calories and saturated fat, and good source of Vitamin B6, potassium and zinc
Melons- good source of lycopene and Vitamin C which reduces LDL  and overall cholesterol levels in the blood; it may also reduce macular degenerative disease, and lung, cervix, bladder, prostate and skin cancers
Virgin Olive Oil- good source of monounsaturated fat and polyphenols which are considered to lower cancer and coronary artery disease because of having antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties
Plant Stanols and Sterols- lowers cholesterol
Red Wine- contains bioflavinoids, phenols, resveratol, and tannins which have antioxidants and anticlotting properties, also raises HDL
Salmon- rich in omega-3; also a source for protein and iron
Spinach- source of Vitamins A, B6, C & K; also riboflavin, folate and potassium
Squash- great source of beta-carotene, potassium, fiber, folate and Vitamins A & C
Sweet Potatoes- high in fiber, beta-carotene, Vitamins B6 & C, folate and potassium
Tea (green or black)- contains antioxidants, bioflavonoids and tannins
Tomatoes- rich in lycopene, Vitamin C, folate and potassium
Vegetable Juice- an easy way to include a variety of vegetables in your diet with all their benefits
Whole Grains (brown rice, oats, wheat germ and whole wheat)- source for Vitamin E, zinc, thiamine, folate, magnesium and fiber




As Drs. Flanigan and Sawyer state in their book, Longevity Made Simple:

Healthy foods (SuperFoods) not only lower your weight and cholesterol levels and provide the essential vitamins, minerals, and nutrients you need on a daily basis, but they also work at a biochemical level to reduce oxidative stress, reduce inflammation, improve the elasticity of your arteries, improve insulin sensitivity, improve blood pressure, and decrease clotting tendencies. This is important becasue these mechanisms have been found to play a role in preventing heart disease, stroke, cancer, and diabetes.

The challenge now is to build these foods into our daily diet and each meal to reap the full benefit of their "superness".

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Sweet Potato Biscuits


Somehow when Fall comes around I have the urge to bake again. The smells that come with baking are warm and comforting. It is part of enjoying the season, enjoying being inside a little more and always, sharing good conversation over a good meal.

Biscuits are not something I have baked a lot of. I have always found them a bit intimidating. You can so easily over do the cutting in of the butter, or the kneading or over bake them. But when you do it right...ummm...so good.

We had friends over for a brunch and somehow as I was looking through my cookbooks my eyes rested on the Sweet Potato Biscuit recipe. I thought I would give it a go. It was actually much easier than I remembered. I used two knives to cut in the butter which was very doable. I probably did more kneading than I needed too but I was nervous about how un-integrated the dough was at first. Fortunately it did not cause the biscuits to be too rubbery...in fact, everyone made noises of delight while eating them!

One thing I realized is that a normal sized biscuit is much smaller than what we are used to. Finding the right-sized biscuit cutter is key to making these biscuits part of a well planned meal. I found one in my cookie cutter stash that was probably a great grandmother's! It is about an inch and a half in diameter. The recipe on line makes it simpler by having you put it in a baking pan and then cutting it into squares to make them the right size. There is no waste that way, but I like the look of an old fashioned, round biscuit. One biscuit is 124 calories. The link to the recipe on line is- sweet potato biscuits. I would definitely recommend them. And now to try more varieties of biscuits...how does a spiced pumpkin biscuit sound?....