Changing for the better, one bite and (deep) breath at a time.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Mediterranean Quinoa Salad

As promised to my Karve Studio seminar participants, here is the link to the delicious cold quinoa salad. Quinoa is a healthy whole grain that is high in protein and fiber, and it makes a perfect base to this vegetable-filled salad.

Here are a few shots of the prep. I did it pretty quickly, as I was in a time crunch before the seminar, but here's the cooked quinoa:

And here is what it looks like, all finished and ready to eat:

Below, one of my readers and very good friends made the quinoa salad and topped it with Mediterranean-inspired talapia. Doesn't it look delicious? (Nice work A!)

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

ADHD and Pesticides

Recently, a large
study of 1,139 children found that those with above average levels of pesticide residues in their urine had over twice the likelihood of having ADHD. Upsetting? Yes. Surprising? Not really. The more we expose ourselves (and our rapidly growing and vulnerable kids) to synthetic, foreign chemicals, the more we risk disruption with normal physiologic functioning. Think about it: these chemicals are meant to kill bugs. This study is obviously not the final word, as this area of research is just getting started, but if there's a possibility, why take a chance? In fact, when I shared this information with my family, my mother-in-law promised me that she would only offer organic produce to her future grandchildren and would even take them to a local farm to pick out their own foods!

OK, so pesticides probably aren't so great for kids, or anyone for that matter. What can you do about it without spending a fortune?

First, realize that buying local and/or organic produce can dramatically reduce your exposure to pesticides. Local growers don't have to use as many pesticides because they're not transporting food as far, and often times they have smaller farms that aren't as plagued with crop-threatening bugs. To find local produce, check out the farmers' markets in your area. If you live in Arizona, here's a great resource.

By law, organic farmers are prohibited from using certain pesticides or genetically modified seeds, so I usually buy most organic produce. However, sometimes we can only find organic from South American countries, and there is question as to whether it's truly organic when it comes from another place. To get organic and mostly local produce, I get a delivery box from Nature's Garden Delivered. They have three locations - Arizona, Georgia, and the Ohio River Valley, but they're all locally owned and operated. I can't tell you how much better the fruits and vegetables taste, too! Plus, it doesn't give me an excuse to get organic, local fruits and veggies...they're delivered to my door! There are also other great co-op options in most cities.

The most important thing about buying organic foods is to make sure to keep in mind the "Dirty Dozen." These are fruits and veggies that are notoriously grown with more pesticides when grown conventionally. According to the Environmental Working Group, here they are:

1. Peaches
2. Apples
3. Bell peppers
4. Celery
5. Cherries
6. Nectarines
7. Strawberries
8. Kales
9. Lettuce
10. Imported grapes
11. Carrots
12. Pears

Basically, anything with a very soft skin that you eat (especially fruits) has a higher pesticide residue when grown conventionally. Opt for organic and/or local varieties of these foods. Having trouble finding local strawberries during the winter? That's because they're not in season! Consider getting organic frozen strawberries for smoothies during the winter, or choose in season fruits instead, such as apples and pears.

For a list of the "Clean 15," which are fruits and veggies that have less pesticide residue, check it out here.

Most importantly, make sure to thoroughly wash all fruits and vegetables, whether or not they're organic, before eating or cooking with them.

One more consideration: it is absolutely imperative that we eat plenty of produce on a daily basis. This report does not mean that we should avoid vegetables and fruits! Conventionally grown produce still is much healthier than potato chips or ice cream. Furthermore, most snack foods are made with corn, wheat, and soy, which can be heavily sprayed with pesticides and even genetically modified, so they're not a replacement for real fruits and vegetables!

Monday, May 10, 2010

The Breakfast Post

I have been taking photos of my breakfasts for the last few weeks in efforts to share a few unique ways to have a healthy, satisfying, and delicious meal in the morning. Some of these recipes take longer than others, but I've added a few tips to save time. I try to use sprouted bread from Ezekiel because it is less inflammatory on the gut than plain whole wheat, since it is made using sprouted wheat and not wheat flour. I also love whole spelt bread, which is soft with a hearty flavor. It also has more protein than regular whole wheat bread.

#1 Ezekiel toast with almond butter and sliced bananas

Pretty simple...toast the bread, spread the almond butter, slice the banana. Done.

Here's another version, using an Ezekiel sprouted bun instead of toast:

#2 Steel cut oatmeal

This oatmeal is made using the recipe found at Dr. Ben Kim's website here with a little twist. Instead of cooking it stovetop, I put the oats (after they were soaked and the soaking water was removed) in a crockpot with the same amount of water as in Ben Kim's recipe. No slaving over the stove, and the oatmeal is hot and tasty in the morning! Just be sure that your crock pot doesn't run hot.

Here is what steel cut oats look like. They're the least processed form of whole oats, so they are the best choice in my opinion:

Soaking the oats during the day before putting them in the crock pot at night:

Cook overnight (1 cup of water per 1/4 cup dry oats) in the crock pot, and here's what you get:

Add fresh or dried fruit, honey or stevia, cinnamon, walnuts, flaxseed, or any combination for flavor and a balance of nutrients. I don't recommend eating just oatmeal with fruit because it lacks protein and fat and will likely not satisfy you longer than a few hours. This is my bowl of oatmeal, with the mix-ins:

#3 Brown rice cakes with peanut butter, bananas, and ground flaxseed

Can you tell I absolutely LOVE bananas? They're my favorite fruit. When berries are in season, I certainly mix it up with raspberries, blueberries, and blackberries...but bananas are truly my favorite.

#4 French toast and a veggie scramble (weekend breakfast)

First, make the French toast dip. Friendly eggs:

Mix in organic milk or unsweetened almond milk, as shown here:

Dip Ezekiel or spelt bread in the egg mixture and cook on the griddle:

While the French toast is cooking, make an egg scramble using mushrooms and onions (along with any other fresh veggies you might have on hand):

Here's the final product! Of course, I added bananas (because they're my favorite) to some cashew butter on top of the French toast. You can also use agave nectar or real maple syrup and real organic butter, but I'm telling you, any sort of nut butter is delicious:

The best part of all of this? Leftover French toast to heat up in the toaster oven the next day!

#5 Spelt cereal with almond milk

Get this spelt cereal at Sprouts or another health food store. I prefer almond milk to homogenized milk (raw milk would be best, if you can get it), and I add walnuts for healthy fat and some protein. Add fruit like strawberries, blackberries, or even peaches. As always, I adore the banana:

Here's what the spelt flakes look like:

#6 Hempseed protein shake

This is one of my favorite breakfasts, and it's chock full of nutrients and flavor. I love using hempseed powder because it has a lot of protein (11 g) and an incredible amount of fiber (14g):

Here's what I used:
4 T hempseed powder
1 T almond butter
1/2 cup frozen blueberries
1/2 cup frozen raspberries
1 cup unsweetened almond milk

(You can also use cocoa powder, yogurt, or even ground flaxseed!)

Add all ingredients to the blender:

Blend until smooth and enjoy!

#7 Ezekiel English muffins with avocado and hard boiled egg

Spread avocado over a toasted English muffin (try the Ezekiel brand - yes, they even have English muffins at Whole Foods) and slice hard boiled eggs on top. Serve with salsa. Really filling, satisfying, and delicious:

#8 A new PBJ

Three ingredients: sprouted bread, raspberries (smashed), and almond butter. A deliciously healthy twist of that familiar PBJ:

The most important thing is that you eat something for breakfast, even if these ideas don't strike your fancy. If you do, you'll get your metabolism kicking while fueling up with healthy foods that will give you energy to face the day! Enjoy :)


Sunday, May 9, 2010

Healthy Highlights

We spend a lot of time, effort, and money trying to eat healthfully, exercise, and avoid toxins that may harm us. Why, then do we put potentially toxic chemicals on our heads every 6-8 weeks in the name of beauty? Hair coloring, including highlights, may be another place where we're exposing ourselves to chemicals that might cause problems. In fact, people who work in the hair styling industry are three times more likely than the average person to develop health issues (including cancer) due to inhalation from and exposure to the chemicals in hair dyes. Furthermore, the FDA does not require testing of these products, making it even harder for consumers to know what they're using. Even though these products go on our hair, they are still exposed to our scalps and thus our blood stream (and entire body). Why take the chance, right?

In comes Green With Envy, an organic hair salon in Old Town Scottsdale. I came upon this salon after a rather concerning hair dying experience. I went to a stylist that used such harsh chemicals on my hair that I had a rash on my neck for a week, and my scalp was itchy and sensitive. I realized that the regular highlighting I have been doing was simply not healthy for me or my skin. Green With Envy is owned by a Scottsdale native (and Saguaro alum) who was searching for a healthy, eco-friendly, safe way to dye and style hair without the potential side effects. Another cool thing - if you're pregnant and concerned about hair dyes, you don't have to worry at Green With Envy! You can still be pregnant AND chic.

So what are the results? I absolutely adore my color, my hair is soft, and my husband even said, "Wow, your hair smells great" last night (which he never notices). Check out their website here. Tell them I sent you if you go!