I recently read a great article by the Institute for Integrative Nutrition that discussed 9 uses of coconut oil for to help solve your beauty problems. I love this product so much. It makes cooking so much easier and is also a clever way to solve some typical cold weather issues we have with our skin and hair this time of year. Here is their list of 9 surprising beauty uses for coconut oil:
An estimated 15% of the US population is affected by gluten intolerance. 1 of every 133 has celiac disease, a disease with over 300 symptoms. 97% of those effected with celiac don’t even know they are. There are 0 drugs to treat celiac. The only way to treat this disease is to know what exactly you allow in your body.
Wow it’s been a long time since my last post! Time flies when you’re having fun and living life.
Over the summer I learned how to make an amazingly tasty and simple shrimp ceviche dish. My brother’s girlfriend came to visit from San Diego and made us this delicious and refreshing dish for pool side eats. I’ve been meaning to share this recipe because it really is so simple and makes for a great snack or when you are entertaining.
1 (1lb) Bag of Frozen Shrimp (already cooked)
1 Bunch of Cilantro
4 Tomatoes (more if you really like tomatoes)
1- 1 1/2 cucumbers
1 Med Onion (white or yellow, it doesn’t make a difference)
1 bunch of radishes (optional)
Lemons or limes (a bunch, it depends on what sizes they are & either one or both is fine. I used 2 – 3 each. It all depends on how much citrus you like)
DIRECTIONS: Dice all the veggies & shrimp into little pieces, except for the avocado. The smaller the pieces the better. Once everything is diced up finely in the bowl add salt, pepper and squeeze the lemons/limes to taste. I encourage you to taste as you go. You may decide you want more cilantro, citrus or tomato etc. It’s best served chilled so cover and let it marinate in the natural flavours and juices for about 30 minutes to an hour. Once your ready to eat take your tostadas and scoop as much ceviche as you want onto it. Then apply slice avocado and hot sauce. Now you’re ready for a taste explosion! Sometimes I put the avocado on the bottom of the tostadas because it stays on easier.
If you are entertaining it may be easier to use the Tostitos Multigrain Scoops. They are a bit cleaner 😉
One of the things I love the most about summer is the ability to BBQ when I want. There really isn’t anything that can compare. I think most people can agree. This summer I came across one of Rachel Ray’s recipes for what I consider an amazingly delicious turkey burger. As for toppings I have found that virtually anything goes. If you have something that you always have to have on your burger chances are it will go with these flavours.
However there are a few things that I do different from the recipe that I’ve decided I prefer over time:
I usually forego the cilantro sour cream sauce (even though I have tried it and really enjoyed it).
I don’t add cheddar cheese chunks to my burger mix. I find it’s hard to mix and stay together. You could try shredded cheese because that could hold. I usually just put a slice on top.
Here is what I typically use for toppings:
Curry Mayo (mix curry powder with mayo – as much or as little depending on your preference of curry)
BBQ organic yellow squash (thinly sliced and marinated in salt, cracked pepper and oregano)
Fresh organic hass avocado
Slice of cheese (pick your favourite)
Organic heirloom tomato slice (I don’t put this on but my husband does)
Slice of sweet pickle
Now for the green bean salad – I got this recipe from one of my best friends back in Toronto. It is so easy to make and great for potluck dinners. Here is her recipe below:
Olive oil (as much or as little but usually around 1/2 cup)
Fresh basil (6 – 10 leaves)
Trim the ends of the beans and then blanch them. The beans should be cooked but still crunchy. Sometimes the yellow and the green take different amounts of time so you may want to do them separately or just one type of bean like I did. Dice the shallots as small as you can. Cut up the basil. Once you have prepped all ingredients put them all in a bowl together and mix well. Finally add salt and pepper to taste and then let it sit in the fridge for a few hours before serving.
With all the health and nutrition reading I’ve been up to I decided to try my hand at meatless Monday. Guess what?? I survived and I didn’t even crave any meat! Not only that I felt content. My meal combined a recipe from one of my favorite sites and my own concoction.
Use coconut water as a substitute to oil or butter for sautéing because it will cut the fat significantly in your recipes. It will also add a pleasant flavour and more nutrients.
For your starch go with a sweet potato or yam. Both are gluten-free and healthier than any other potato.
1 handful of cut up kale
2 handfuls of spinach
1 broccoli crown
1 portobello mushrooms
1/2 a thinly sliced carrot
1/4 cup of coconut water
2 garlic cloves
1 tsp of soya sauce
cayenne pepper to taste
ground pepper to taste
ground coriander to taste
In a frying pan pour 1/2 the amount of coconut water into the pan and add shallots, garlic, carrots and broccoli. Saute about 5 minutes and the then add kale, spinach and portobello mushrooms. Add soya sauce and more coconut water if required. Then simmer on low heat and cover until kale and spinach have wilted. Saute until coconut water is gone. Add spices as you wish and mix evenly.
This was a homemade recipe so measurements are approximate. Use your taste-buds to follow you through the cooking. For an ad hoc recipe I was really impressed with the flavor!
Since being in California I’ve upped my weekly gym visits to 4 days a week. I’ve started eating way cleaner and leaner foods and I’ve been doing a ton of research on various health foods like Kombucha, chia seeds, and super greens. I’m still on the fence about the true health benefits of Kombucha. However, with personal experience and my research I feel strongly that there are real benefits within chia seeds and super greens.
When it comes to chia seeds an added bonus is that they are extremely easy to consume. They are really tiny seeds with little to no taste and because they are so small you don’t feel them when you eat them. Unlike flax seeds you can still get all the nutrients and benefits of chia seeds by eating them whole. Below are some of the claimed health benefits of this “super” seed.
Chia Seed Benefits*
Increases energy levels
Increases endurance levels
Helps with weight loss
Normalizes blood sugar levels
Cleanses the colon
Gets rid of the toxins
Helps tone muscles
Helps to lower the blood pressure
Improves mental performance
Improves night rest and mood
Lowers the risk of heart diseases
Improves overall health
Absorbs extra acid, helping to get rid of acid reflux
Helps thyroid conditions
Helps celiac disease
There are many varieties of super greens out there and the one that I am using is produced by Amazing Grass. Below are some of the claimed health benefits you will enjoy by incorporating this drink powder into your diet.
Super Greens Benefits**
Strengthened immune system
Improvement in mental focus and clarity
Increase in energy
Improvement in digestion
Healthier, softer skin
Stabilization of blood sugar level and blood pressure
Reduction of and sometimes complete recovery from food-related and seasonal allergies
Detoxification of heavy metals, pesticides, and other toxins that have accumulated over time
Helpful in addressing chronic health conditions like acne, eczema, psoriasis, headaches, degenerative and rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, multiple sclerosis, and even heart disease.
Now, you’re probably wondering how to consistently incorporate these two ‘super’ foods into your diet. Below are some ways that I have tried that work and taste great. Like I said above, chia seeds have no taste and the texture isn’t intrusive so it’s easy to incorporate them into your baking or cooking.
Stir for 1 – 2 minutes and drink quickly because chia seeds will turn jelly like when in water. As well, when wet, chia seeds will expand 9 – 10 times their size.
Half Peanut Butter, Honey and Chia Sandwich
1 piece whole wheat bread
1 – 2 tbsp of organic peanut butter
Organic honey to taste (even though it’s organic you don’t want to overdo it on the sugar)
1/2 Tbsp of chia seeds sprinkled over the bread
Sprinkle chia seeds on salad, into homemade salad dressings or into stir-fry’s.
With my diet turned around and the level of physical activity I’ve kept up with over the past 6 weeks I feel the best I’ve felt in a long time and I have more energy throughout the day. I can’t say that all of my health and physical success is contributed to these two ‘super’ foods but I will say that they are helping with my improvements. I’m not a trained expert in the field of fitness and nutrition but I certainly do my research to know how to treat my body so it works the best for me. Please take this advice for what it is – knowledge based on my personal experiences and research. After all knowledge is power!
*Chia seed benefits are as stated on http://chiaseedshealth.org
Ever since I heard about the benefits of eating Kale, I’ve tried to make it a part of my weekly diet. To do this I’ve experimented with tons of recipes.
Recently I visited Whole Foods and noticed that they had Kale salad on sale. I never thought of eating this green uncooked but it makes total sense. I don’t buy lettuce anymore and only use Kale as my salad base. You won’t taste a difference.
Today I read a great article on Organic Authority’s website about the many benefits of this super green and why we need to start eating more greens as a part of our daily meals.
In Organic Authority’s article they list 7 Reason’s Why Kale is the New Beef. Here are the reasons paraphrased by me and shortened: more iron than beef, more calcium per calorie than milk, one serving of kale has 5% of recommended daily value of fiber, rich in omega-fatty acids, immune-boosting carotenoid and flavonoid antioxidants (i.e. vitamins A and C), sustainable to grow (especially compared to raising cattle), and lastly it’s an anti-inflammitory that helps to prevent autoimmune diseases.This article is worth the read. Knowledge is power and the first step in starting a healthier diet.
KALE PREPARATION TIP
For those of you that are new to this super green here is a time-saving tip on how to prepare your Kale for cooking:
Step 1) Rinse the bunch of kale leafs and dab them with a cloth or paper towel to dry
Step 2) De-spine each kale leaf
Step 3) Fold the two pieces left after de-spining the leaf and roll it up like a sleeping bag. Then cut once horizontally and then as many times needed vertically.
Step 4) Put the cut up kale in the bag you brought it home in from the grocery store and back in the fridge. Now it’s ready to use!
You’ll see that doing this each time you want to cook with kale can be a bit tedious and discourage you from eating it more regularly so that’s why I recommend to prepare your kale as soon as you get home from the grocery store so it’s ready when you decide to cook with it or make a salad.
Enjoy eating your Kale and knowing that you’re contributing to a healthier you!
As I mentioned in my last post the biggest difference between Canada and the US that I am experiencing is with the food. It was normal to have a large organic section in almost every grocery store and to see smaller markets that offered primarily only organic food. However, in the San Jose I had to go to 3 grocery stores before I could find a box of quinoa! No one sells it here except for Whole Foods (that I’ve found so far).
Whole Foods by the way is my new favourite grocer. I love everything in that store and want it all! The only down side is the cost. It’s sooooo much more expensive than other grocers. As I walked through the store I found something I hadn’t been able to find easily in the US as of yet….healthy food everywhere. Most grocery stores here like Lucky’s and Foodmax do offer some healthy food and a few organic products but you really have to dig to find them.
As I mentioned I was finally able to buy my quinoa! With my new love for Whole Foods naturally I turned to them for inspiration on creating a new quinoa salad dish. I’ve posted the recipe below but it’s worth your time to check out their site for further inspiration. This recipe was delicious and I’ll definitely be visiting this site regularly for more recipe ideas!
1 cup quinoa
1 large tomato, seeded and diced
2 ears corn, kernels removed
1 cucumber, peeled, seeded and diced
1 mango, peeled and diced
3 tablespoons finely chopped chives
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated lemon zest
Rinse quinoa in a fine sieve until water runs clear, drain and transfer to a medium pot. Add 2 cups water and bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat to medium low and simmer until water is absorbed, 15 to 20 minutes. Set aside off the heat for 5 minutes; uncover and fluff with a fork.
Add remaining ingredients and toss until combined.
Per serving: 270 calories (35 from fat), 4g total fat, 0g saturated fat, 0mg cholesterol, 20mg sodium, 54g total carbohydrate (7g dietary fiber, 20g sugar), 10g protein
**TIP: In my version I added chopped up avocado and loved the flavour it added.
I used to live on a US/Canada border back on the east so growing up we purchased US food all the time. It was only as a young adult that I started to learn the differences between our food standards and then tried to get my parents to stop buying certain products such as dairy in the US. Now that I am permanently living in the US this is something I have to take into consideration when grocery shopping. So far living here the only real difference I have experienced is the food (taste, price point, quality, and brands). In Robyn O’Brien’s TEDx Talk she explains the differences between the food we eat in the US (such as milk, corn and soy) vs. other major markets that have rejected the same patented scientifically engineered food products. If you can spare 20 minutes it’s definitely worth your while to watch this video and start thinking about what you are ingesting.
If you are like most people buying organic can be pretty costly. However, after watching this video I am going to make a better effort to buy local organic produce and dairy because I see it as an investment in my health and future. I may not be filling my fridge and cupboards with all organic anytime soon but I will when I can.