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

Sunday, September 19, 2010

What's In My Pantry?

A very special reader has asked me to post photos of my pantry and make some recommendations as to what non-perishable items to keep on hand. Here are some photos of my pantry, as well as recommendations for how to stock our kitchen so you can make a variety of recipes - or throw something together quickly!

My pantry isn't always fully stocked, but at least you'll get an idea of some healthy staples to have on hand.

On this shelf you'll see the majority of my cooking products, including oils, vinegars, canned goods, spices, and herbs. See below for specific recommendations for stocking your pantry.

When it comes to salt, use only real, dirty sea salt. I like Redmond's brand Real Salt.

Coconut oil can is great to cook with because it has a high smoke point and can be used at higher temperatures without damaging the fat in the oil. Don't be afraid of the saturated fat content. It's important to be more concerned about processed carbohydrates than saturated fats from real, unrefined sources. I like the raw coconut oil from Artisano (Whole Foods).

It's also important to have healthy grains on hand. I always try to have brown rice, quinoa, brown rice cakes, and sometimes whole wheat gnocchi. Other good options are described below. As you can see in this picture, I also keep sweet potatoes and onions in my pantry, since they thrive in cool, dark environments and don't have to be refrigerated.

I always have herbal tea in my pantry. My favorite brand is Yogi because I really like the herbal blends of each flavor and am a sucker for the cute little sayings on the tea bag string papers. Their ginger variety is great after a big meal, as it aids in the digestive process.

This is my baking section. I don't usually use regular sugar or flour, but it's important to have it available in case you want to make baked goods for a special occasion. I also like to have buckwheat, spelt, and other whole grain flours. As you can see in the background, I also make sure to have plenty of stevia in my pantry as well.

Here is a somewhat unorganized way to store bulk goods. (I know, I know...I need to figure out another way to do this!) I like to keep dried beans, grains, nuts, seeds, coconut, and other bulk items available in case they pop up in a recipe. It's much cheaper to buy these items from the bulk bin at Whole Foods or Sprouts than to get them in small, individually packaged quantities.

This is the final shelf. I mainly keep Lara bars, nuts, chia seeds, fiber powder, and protein powder on hand. You can also see my butter dish - choose organic, and opt for butter over margarine any day!

Here is a comprehensive list of items you might want to have regularly available in your pantry, adapted from Eating Well's list.

Oils, Vinegars, and Condiments

First cold-pressed extra virgin olive oil and olive oil dressings, such as Bragg's Healthy Vinaigrette
Raw coconut oil, grapeseed oil, avocado oil, and sesame oil
Organic butter
Real mayonnaise
Vinegars: balsamic, red wine, white wine, rice, and raw apple cider (Bragg's brand)
Asian condiments: organic soy sauce, curry paste, oyster sauce, fish sauce, hoisin sauce
Kalamata and green olives
Mustards: Dijon, whole grain, and yellow
Organic ketchup
Barbecue sauce
Worcestershire sauce


Coarse and regular dirty sea salt
Black pepper
Fresh garlic
Fresh ginger
Anchovies or anchovy paste (for pasta sauces, salad dressings)
Lemons, limes, and oranges for zesting (always choose organic if zesting)
Unsweetened cocoa powder
Dark, bittersweet, and semisweet chocolate chips

Spices and Herbs

Caraway seeds
Chili powder
Cinnamon (ground and sticks)
Coriander seeds
Cumin seeds
Ground cumin
Curry powder
Ground ginger
Dry mustard
Cayenne pepper
Crushed red pepper
Bay leaves
Italian seasoning
Garlic powder


Raw honey
Real maple syrup
Agave nectar
Raw turbinado sugar
Brown and granulated sugar (to use when you can't use the above options)

Canned and Bottled Items

Canned tomatoes, tomato paste, and marinara sauce (choose organic because tomatoes are highly sprayed with pesticides)
Organic chicken, beef, and/or vegetable broth
Clam juice
Regular or lite coconut milk
Canned beans: cannellini beans, great northern beans, chickpeas, black beans, red kidney beans
Canned lentils
Chunk light tuna, wild salmon, and sardines
Canned or boxed soups to have in a pinch, such as lentil, split pea, or tomato

Grains and Legumes

Brown rice
Pasta: quinoa, brown rice, whole wheat
Pearl barley
Rolled oats
Whole wheat couscous
Dried lentils
Yellow cornmeal
Whole wheat dry breadcrumbs
Flours: whole wheat, spelt, rice, buckwheat, all-purpose
Brown rice cakes

Nuts and Seeds

Dry-roasted peanuts
Pine nuts
Sesame seeds
Organic peanut butter
Almond butter
Cashew butter
Dried fruits (apricots, plums, cranberries, dates, raisins)

I hope this helps you get some ideas as to what to keep in your pantry! I don't have all of these items at any given time, but I wanted to give you an all-inclusive list so you can have plenty ideas when you go grocery shopping. Good luck stocking your pantry!


Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Gnocchi with Zucchini Ribbons and Parsley Brown Butter

Every week I get inspired to browse the Eating Well and Whole Living websites to find something new and delicious to cook. I really wanted to make something that used farm fresh vegetables from the North Scottsdale Farmers' Market and was quick and delicious.

In stumbling upon this gnocchi recipe, I was a little skeptical...nutmeg? In gnocchi? The multiple positive reviews swayed me, and boy am I glad I made it! This was absolutely delicious, and the nutmeg added a subtle depth of flavor. My husband, the true test of a flavorful dish, gobbled up every last bit the next day. Great success!

Gnocchi with Zucchini Ribbons and Parsley Brown Butter

Serves 4 (1 1/2 cups each)


1 lb fresh or frozen gnocchi (I used dried whole wheat from Trader Joe's)
2 T organic butter (I used 3 because of the recommendations)
2 medium shallots, chopped
1 lb zucchini, about 3 small, thinly sliced length-wise
1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
1/2 tsp. Redmond's sea salt
1/4 tsp. grated nutmeg
Black pepper to taste
1/2 cup grated (organic raw) parmesan cheese
1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley


Bring a large saucepan of water to a boil. Here's the gnocchi I used. It's not homemade, but it has a pretty decent ingredient list and a ton of fiber (8 grams)! For a packaged food, it's pretty good.

Cook gnocchi until they float, 3 to 5 minutes or according to package directions. Drain.

Here are the veggies (minus the shallots) that I cut up. To make the zucchini ribbons, use a veggie peeler or mandolin.

Meanwhile, melt butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Cook until the butter is beginning to brown, about 2 minutes. Add shallots and zucchini and cook, stirring often, until softened, 2 to 3 minutes.

Add tomatoes, salt, nutmeg and pepper and continue cooking, stirring often, until the tomatoes are just starting to break down, 1 to 2 minutes.

Stir in Parmesan and parsley. Add the gnocchi and toss to coat.

Serve immediately. It goes great with a big green salad!

Enjoy :)


Sunday, September 5, 2010

Post Clean Program...What's Next?

I was a little nervous to stop the Clean Program because I was feeling so great and liked my routine. I'm definitely comfortable with repetition, and after 21 days I had developed a lot of habits. I wanted to stay at a place where I didn't have wild hunger swings or sugar cravings and continued to ate food slowly and mindfully. I also liked avoiding some of the allergenic food because it has mad me feel so much better, though I do want to start introducing them in one at a time so I know what (if anything) I react to. Here's what happened my first week post-Clean.

(Note: all meat and produce was organic. I took fish oil, probiotics, MSM powder, Dr. Ben Kim's Greens, CoQ10, and Antronex, a natural anti-histamine, daily. Also, I apologize for the minimal photos! I accidentally deleted them from my camera, but there are 2 at the end...)

Day 1 Post Clean - August 30th

Workout - 45 minute walk

Breakfast - shake with protein powder, banana(!!), almond butter, almond milk, ice; Teeccino with stevia

Snack - pluot

Lunch - cabbage apple slaw (leftover from the Karve seminar in Mesa) with chicken; iced green tea

Snack - cucumbers with avocado; 2 bites of chicken

Dinner - salmon, red quinoa, and sauteed summer vegetables; herbal tea

So far, so great! I felt totally satisfied with my meals and didn't have sweet cravings after dinner. I don't notice a change with adding the banana, so I'm going to have them again. They're my favorite pre-workout snack!

Day 2 Post Clean - August 31st

Pre-workout snack - banana with almond butter

Workout #1 - 1 hour walk

Workout #2 - P90X Core Synergistics

Breakfast - shake with protein powder, chia seeds, nectarine, spinach, cinnamon, sunflower seed butter, almond milk, ice

Lunch - salmon and chicken, red quinoa, sauteed vegetables, salad with goat cheese(!!); green tea

Snack - peach, bite of dark chocolate (didn't taste very good), cucumber with avocado

Dinner - shake with protein powder, chia seeds, frozen raspberries and blueberries, almond butter, almond milk, cinnamon

I was very hungry today, most likely because I bumped up my workout to pre-Clean levels again (2 full hours). Still, I was craving a shake for dinner, which was really surprising. I'm really happy with the way my taste buds and preferences have changed. This would not be possible if I didn't really enjoy and feel satisfied by the foods I'm eating, since I believe in eating for satisfaction. It's amazing how our bodies respond when we give them a break.

Day 3 Post Clean - September 1st

Pre-workout snack - brown rice cake with peanut butter

Workout #1 - 1 hour walk

Workout #2 - P90X Kenpo (40 minutes of it)

Breakfast - shake with protein powder, chia seeds, nectarine, cinnamon, almond butter, almond milk, ice; Teeccino with stevia

Snack - plum

Lunch - salad with goat cheese and Bragg's Healthy Vinaigrette, sauteed vegetables, salmon, red quinoa; green tea

Snack - cucumber with avocado, 1 1/2 brown rice cakes

Dinner - cabbage, avocado, and onion slaw with red wine vinegar, olive oil, garlic, sea salt, and pepper, tuna, and a few bites of grilled grass-fed beef; bite of raw fudge (almond butter, cocoa powder, honey, vanilla, shredded unsweetened coconut)

I felt great today until the evening, when I was really hungry and really tired. I've also been working a lot (outside of my full-time job, which is brain-consuming on its own). I honestly crashed at 8:30 pm! I think I need to rest a lot more!!

Day 4 Post Clean - September 2nd

Happy 90210 Day! (9/02/10!)

Pre-workout snack - brown rice cake with almond butter

Workout #1 - 1 hour walk

Workout #2 - P90X yoga (75 minutes)

Breakfast - shake with protein powder, chia seeds, banana, peanut butter, almond milk, ice (my favorite combo!); Teeccino with stevia

Snack - cucumber with sea salt

Lunch - cabbage, onion, avocado slaw with grass-fed beef patty; bite of Jess' Lush burger (just the meat); green tea

Snack - coconut Lara bar

Dinner - more cabbage onion, avocado slaw with microgreens, grass-fed beef patty

Snack - apple with cinnamon

Today was a little repetitive because I was trying to use up some food, but it was certainly delicious! My husband also really liked the cabbage, onion, avocado slaw (with olive oil, red wine vinegar, stevia, garlic, sea salt, and pepper dressing), and he commented on how filling it was. The apple with cinnamon "dessert" hit the spot for something when I got a bit hungry later in the evening but didn't want anything heavy.

Day 5 Post Clean - September 3rd

Workout - 1 hour walk/run

Breakfast - shake with protein powder, Thorne Medibulk fiber powder (8 g per scoop), nectarine, sunflower seed butter, almond milk, ice; Teeccino with almond milk and stevia

Snack - sliced cucumber with sea salt

Lunch - Chipotle Friday! Salad with chicken, beans, fajita veggies (nightshades for the first time!!), salsa, guacamole, lettuce; green tea

Snack - coconut Lara bar

Dinner - U of A game watching! 1 blue cheese chip (definitely not palatable!), salmon, steamed veggies, sauteed cabbage, marinara sauce(!!); 1 glass of red wine(!!)

Today was my first foray into alcohol, and I immediately noticed some nasal congestion after my one glass of wine! Otherwise, I can't tell if I'm really sensitive to any of the foods I have been adding. I definitely have no appetite for fried foods or anything really heavy. It has completely lost its appeal.

Day 6 Post Clean - August 4th

Workout #1 - 30 minute walk

Breakfast - smoothie with protein/fiber powders, frozen strawberries(!), sunflower seed butter, almond milk, ice; Teeccino

Workout #2 - Karve class

Lunch - steamed carrots/broccoli/cauliflower, tuna, and cabbage salad with goat cheese and avocado

Snack - brown rice cake with almond butter and a peach

Happy hour/Dinner - 1 glass of red wine, 1 glass of champagne, cherry tomatoes, 2 cubes of cheese; grilled elk, vegetable salad with feta, and a few bites of potatoes

Out at the bar - 1 vodka soda, bite of brownie sundae, solid dark chocolate

2 a.m. late-night snack - 1 apple

We got dessert for the table when we were out, and it definitely did not sit well with me! The chocolate tasted good, but it was really heavy and hurt my stomach. The brownie sundae was really not appealing after one bite. I'm a self-professed choco-holic, so this was a definite surprise. I was starving when we got home at 2 a.m. and had an apple, which satisfied me even though I was surrounded by Taco Bell!

Day 7 Post Clean - September 5th

Brunch - brown rice cake with peanut butter (absolutely starving upon awakening); buckwheat pancakes with banana and almond butter; cantaloupe and watermelon; Teeccino

This was our brunch set up. I cooked for some of our dearest friends :)

Snack - raw vegetables with olive oil and vinegar, goat cheese; cantaloupe and watermelon

Dinner - grilled chicken, coleslaw (made with cabbage, carrots, onions, avocado, goat cheese, olive oil, vinegars, lemon juice, garlic), local grilled corn with butter, sea salt, and pepper; green tea

Snack - cantaloupe and watermelon

Even though I had 3 drinks over the course of 9 hours last night, I felt as if I had 9 drinks over the course of 3 hours! (OK, I didn't feel THAT bad, but I certainly cannot handle much alcohol anymore!) The big difference, however, was that I did not crave greasy hangover foods today and felt normal pretty quickly. I was very hungry when I woke up because of alcohol's effects on blood sugar. Throughout the Clean Program my blood sugar has been kept pretty regulated, so it felt uncomfortable being so hungry.

Well, that's all more weekly food diaries! I hope you have enjoyed reading about my interesting, difficult journey with the Clean Program and the aftermath. I have learned so much about myself, and my body, preferences, and and feelings toward food have changed dramatically. If you ever have any questions about this experience, please let me know.


Thursday, September 2, 2010

Jess Reflects on her Clean Program Experience

My pretty little sister!

I am writing to you 4 days after my Clean Program experience has ended and all I can say is I am really full! Ha! I have to admit I have not held back with eating my favorite meals and treating myself to what I once thought was my life-saving Starbucks lattes. Unfortunately, my body has not responded in a very positive way with all my post-cleanse indulgences! Some of the foods and drinks I used to really enjoy do not necessarily satisfy me as much anymore, and I have been getting an uncomfortably full feeling if I don't eat a well-rounded, healthy and smaller meal.

I definitely do not crave the shakes for dinner but if I eat something that is heavy or too late before I go to bed, I don't sleep well and I feel really tired the next morning. During the Clean Program I did not feel like I was having life-altering changes (besides weight loss) and overall I was not impressed. However, now that I am able to eat and drink whatever I want I have found out that I am not really interested in making the same decisions as before. My body made subtle changes that I wasn't aware of and it completely changed my taste buds and appetite. I am craving more fruits and vegetables (which I snack on a lot during work), and I am drinking a ton of water throughout the day to stay really hydrated. Also, if my Day 22 happy hour experience taught me anything, drinking a glass of wine during the week is not the best idea because it makes me dehydrated and un-motivated to get up the next morning. As much as I don't like to admit it (especially to Megan), I am extremely happy I went through this experience and I know it will forever change my relationship with food. To anyone struggling with allergies, inflammation, bad skin, weight issues, and lack of sleep, this program is definitely worth trying!

Hammer out, again.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Publication #2 - Buy Local!

Check out the September issue of AZ Lifestyle Magazine featuring yours truly in an article about shopping locally. This article features the North Scottsdale Farmers' Market!