Nov 23, 2010

Corn Syrup Substitute

In most cases, you should be able to replace corn syrup with sugar. The usual rule is as follows:

1 cup corn syrup can often be replaced by 1 1/4 granulated sugar (or light brown sugar) plus 1/4 of liquid (use water or whatever liquid is specified in the recipe you’re using). (there are homemade recipes out there that include cream of tartar and boiling to soft ball stage...but that breaks down the sugars and ends up not being a healthier alternative to store bought corn syrup.)

Other possibilities:
Lyle’s Golden Syrup (use in same quantity as corn syrup) -- Lyle’s Golden Syrup is widely available in the UK, but possibly harder to find in the United States. Decent sized supermarkets may stock it in the British section of the International aisles, I suspect.

Honey (use in same quantity as corn syrup) -- honey is quite a bit sweeter than corn syrup, but if the recipe doesn’t call for a lot of it, this may be an effective substitute.

Molasses (use in same quantity as corn syrup) -- molasses is darker, obviously, and also stronger in flavor. It’s also less sweet than corn syrup, so is probably your last resort.

If you’re baking something like cookies or bread, I’d suggest you try the honey substitute. Honey, like corn syrup, is hygroscopic. Hygroscopic substances attract water molecules from the air. What this means for baking is that cookies and bread baked with honey rather than sugar will tend to stay softer longer.

Nov 17, 2010

Nut Milk - Dairy Alternative

I don't have milk much, so when I came across this almond milk recipe I thought, "why not?" It's not bad. I only use it for an ocassional bowl of milk or as a milk alternative in my cooking if I've already made a batch. It only lasts about 4 days, and you'll want to figure out how to use the leftover ground almonds so you don't waste them (I threw them in some sweet bread/muffins or as a cumble topping, or oven for a pie crust.

1/3 C. Raw Organic Nuts (almonds or cashews)
2 C. Water (and 2 c more for soaking)

A pot
A blender (I use my stick blender)
A mesh strainer (clean nylons might work, maybe?)

1. Soak nuts hours in 2 c. water with 1 1/2 t salt. drain, rinse. (soak for a few hours or overnight)
2. Blend soaked nuts with 2 c. water.
3. Strain nut remnants out (might need to twice).
4. Add sweetener to taste (I normally add a swirl of agave)
5. Shake well and use (or put in fridge)

This generally lasts 4 days, and I found that I could add a little extra water while blending to make it last longer. Or, you can even run the nut pieces you strained through with another 2 cups of water and make another batch if you're lucky (it worked for me).

You can try the egg nog recipe using regular milk or nut milk!

Or try doing it with rice or oats for a 24 hour soak! Oat Milk is actually very nourishing and great to drink during winter!

Herb Hints and FAQ

Herb Hints
1. Best when fresh: parsley, basil, thyme, cumin, mint, rosemary, cilantro, oregano, ginger, lemon grass, garlic.

2. Best when dried: bay leaves, tarragon, black pepper, cayenne pepper, paprika.

3. Growing herbs indoors is easier than you might think. Basil, especially, loves a sunny window sill.

4. Prolonged cooking causes fresh herbs to lose their flavor.

5. Fresh herbs are great in breads including cornbreads, biscuits, dumplings, savory pancakes and waffles.

6. Fresh herbs can be stored in the refrigerator with their stems in water.

7. Dried herbs are good to store for approximately four to six months. Kept too long, dried herbs will loose their flavor and spices will taste stale


What is the difference between an herb and a spice?
The herb is considered the soft part of the plant, like the leaves while a spice is the hard seed, stems and bark.

Do herbs vary in their degree of flavor?
Yes, they do. Keep this in mind in how much of the herb to use and when to add it in the cooking process.

Strong herbs are added in the beginning of a recipe. They benefit from slow simmering.
Use about 1 teaspoon for 6 servings. Strong or dominant herbs include bay, cardamon, caraway, cinnamon, cloves, curry, ginger, juniper berries, hot peppers, mustard, rosemary, saffron, black sage, and whole spices.

The medium flavored herbs are added towards the end of the recipe in the last 10 to 15 minutes of cooking. Use 1 to 2 teaspoons for six servings. The herbs in this group are basil, celery seed and leaves, coriander, cumin, dill, fennel, lemon grass, tarragon, garlic, marjoram, mint, oregano, savory, thyme and turmeric.

Delicate flavored herbs are called blending herbs, as they make other flavors work well together. Add these herbs freely just before serving. Herbs in the group are salad burnet, chervil, chives and parsley.

When when a recipe calls for dried herbs, what is the ratio of fresh to dried herbs? The ratio is to use 3 times the amount fresh herb as the amount of dried called for in the recipe.

DIY Herb Mixes

Don't have a mix on hand? See if you can improvise with the herbs you have on-hand using these guides...

Old Bay Seasoning
1 T celery seed
1 T whole black peppercorn
6 bay leaves
1/2 t whole cardamom pod
1/2 t mustard seeds
4 whole cloves
1 t sweet Hungarian paprika
1/4 t mace

Curry Powder (blend of spices; create your own by mixing and matching as desired.) Fenugreek seeds (almost always included)—a sweet, yellow seed to be used with cautionCaraway seeds (optional)—strong anise flavor
Fennel seeds' (optional)—weaker licorice flavor than anise, slightly sweetCinnamon (optional)—sweet and flavorful
Cumin—strong, earthy aroma important to the overall flavor of the curry powderPepper, red or white—white pepper is made from the same plant as black pepper but has a milder flavor; red pepper is made from dried chili peppers
Cardamom (optional)—expensive member of the ginger family with a sweet, flowery aroma
Coriander seeds—lightly sweet with hints of citrus and mint
Turmeric—brightly yellow with an earthy bitternessGinger (optional)—sweet and spicy, best to use fresh
Cloves (optional)—strong, distinct flavor; to be used in small amountsMace (optional)—made from same plant as nutmeg with lighter flavor
Toast spices for extra flavor.
Husk cardamom pods to get the seeds.
Coriander, cumin, turmeric, and fenugreek form a base.
Add pepper or ginger for extra kick.
Create a bright yellow color with turmeric.

Creole Seasoning Mix
•4 tsp. salt
•1 tsp. paprika
•1 Tbsp. garlic powder
•2 tsp. pepper
•1 tsp. white pepper
•2 tsp. onion powder
•1 tsp. dried thyme leaves
•1 tsp. dried marjoram leaves
•1 tsp. dried oregano leaves
•1 tsp. cayenne pepper
•1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes

Taco Seasoning Mix
•1/4 cup instant minced onion
•2 Tbsp. chili powder
•2 tsp. paprika
•2 tsp. crushed dried red pepper flakes
•1-1/2 tsp. dried oregano
•1/2 tsp. dried marjoram
•1 Tbsp. salt
•1/4 tsp. pepper
•2 Tbsp. cornstarch
•1 Tbsp. instant minced garlic
•1 tsp. ground cumin

Italian Seasoning
•1/3 cup dried oregano leaves
•1 Tbsp. garlic powder
•2 tsp. onion salt
•1/3 cup dried basil leaves
•2 Tbsp. rosemary leaves, ground down to 1 tsp.
•1/4 cup dried thyme leaves

Greek Seasoning
•1/4 cup dried oregano leaves
•2 tablespoons fennel seeds
•2 tablespoons dried crushed lemon grass
•2 tablespoons onion
•2 tablespoons garlic
•1 teaspoon black pepper
•1/2 teaspoon salt

Pumpkin Pie Spice Mix
•1 Tbsp. cinnamon
•1-1/2 tsp. ground ginger
•1/2 tsp. ground cloves
•1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg
•1/8 tsp. salt

Seasoned Salt
•3/4 cup salt
•1/4 cup garlic salt
•1/2 tsp. pepper
•1/2 tsp. white pepper
•1/2 tsp. dried marjoram leaves
•1 tsp. paprika
•1/8 tsp. celery seed
•1/4 tsp. dry mustard powder

No-Salt Seasoned Salt
•1 Tbsp. garlic powder
•2 tsp. dried thyme leaves
•2 tsp. onion powder
•2 tsp. paprika
•2 tsp. celery seed
•1-1/2 tsp. ground white pepper
•1 Tbsp. dry mustard powder
•2 tsp. dried finely chopped lemon peel
•1 tsp. pepper

Herbs de Provence
•2 T savory
•2 T rosemary
•2 T thyme
•2 T oregano
•2 T basil
•2 T marjoram
•2 T fennel seed
•1 T lavender
(compare to: basil, rosemary, thyme, parsley, marjoram, lavender flowers, fennel seed, and tarragon)

Flavor your own meat like sausage (kinds vary, esp by country, but this is avg)
1 1/2 tsp. salt
3 1/2 tsp. paprika
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1/2 tsp. fennel
1 tsp. black pepper
1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes (optional)

most Mixes from

List of Ethnic Flavors - which herbs are used

Caribbean: Allspice, cilantro, curry, garlic, ginger, lime, vanilla.
Chinese: Basil, ginger, sesame seeds, tamari and nama shoyu.
Eastern European: Caraway seeds, dill, parsley.
French: chives, garlic, parsley, tarragon, lemon peel.
Greek: oregano, mint, thyme, basil, marjoram, onion, garlic
Indian: Anise, cardamom, chilies, cinnamon, cloves, coriander, cumin, curry, fennel, garlic, ginger, mint, mustard, saffron, tamarind and turmeric.
Indonesian: Basil, chilies, cilantro, cinnamon, cumin, curry, garlic, ginger, lime, mint and nama shoyu.
Italian: Basil, garlic, oregano, and rosemary.
Japanese: Garlic, ginger, miso, sesame seeds, wasabi, tamari and nama shoyu.
Latin American: chiles, cumin, cilantro, garlic, limes, chocolate, and cinnamon.
Middle Eastern: Anise, cilantro, chilies, cinnamon, coriander, cumin, dill, garlic, lemon, mint, oregano, parsley, saffron, sesame, and tahini.
Thai: Basil, chilies, cilantro, cumin, curry, garlic, ginger, lemongrass, lime, mint, tamarind and turmeric.

List of Foods - with which herbs

Beans (dried): cumin, cayenne, chili, parsley, pepper, sage, savory, thyme
Beef: basil, bay, chili, cilantro, curry, cumin, garlic, marjoram, mustard, oregano, parsley, pepper, rosemary, sage, savory, tarragon, thyme
Breads: anise, basil, caraway, cardamom, cinnamon, coriander, cumin, dill, garlic, lemon peel, orange peel, oregano, poppy seeds, rosemary, saffron, sage, thyme
Cheese: basil, caraway, celery seed, chervil, chili, chives, coriander, cumin, dill, garlic, horseradish, lemon peel, marjoram, mint, mustard, nutmeg, paprika, parsley, pepper, sage, tarragon, thyme
Chicken: allspice, basil, bay, cinnamon, curry, dill, fennel, garlic, ginger lemongrass, mustard, paprika, rosemary, saffron, sage, savory, tarragon, thyme
Corn: chili, curry, dill, marjoram, parsley, savory, thyme
Eggs: basil, chervil, chili, chives, curry, dill, fennel, ginger, lemon peel, marjoram, oregano, paprika, parsley, pepper, sage, tarragon, thyme
Fish: anise, basil, bay, cayenne, celery seed, chives, curry, dill fennel, garlic, ginger, lemon peel, mustard, oregano, parsley, rosemary, thyme, saffron, sage, savory, tarragon, marjoram
Fruits: allspice, anise, cardamom, cinnamon, cloves, coriander, ginger, mint
Lamb: basil, bay, cinnamon, coriander, cumin, curry, dill, garlic, marjoram, mint, mustard, oregano, parsley, rosemary, savory, tarragon, thyme
Potatoes: basil, caraway, celery seed, chervil, chives, coriander, dill, marjoram, oregano, paprika, parsley, poppy seed, rosemary, tarragon, thyme
Salad Dressings: basil, celery seed, chives, dill, fennel, garlic, horseradish, marjoram, mustard, oregano, paprika, parsley, pepper, rosemary, saffron, tarragon, thyme
Salads: basil, caraway, chives, dill, garlic, lemon peel, lovage, marjoram, mint, oregano, parsley, rosemary, tarragon, thyme
Soups: basil, bay, chervil, chili, chives, cumin, dill, fennel, garlic, marjoram, parsley, pepper, rosemary, sage, savory, thyme
Sweets: allspice, angelica, anise, cardamom, cinnamon, cloves, fennel, ginger, lemon peel, mace, nutmeg, mint, orange peel, rosemary
Tomatoes: basil, bay , celery seed, cinnamon, chili, curry, dill, fennel, garlic, ginger, gumbo file, lemongrass, marjoram, oregano, parsley, rosemary, savory, tarragon, thyme

Nov 16, 2010

Quick Grain Nutrient Comparison

If you want to know a brief breakdown of each grain, how to cook, and a simple recipe or two for each, check out this awesome summary page:

Here's another great website for detail for every grain: how to cook,where each is from, the nutrient properties, etc.:

Here are some nutrient comparisons from that site:

They have pages dedicated to each of these grains:
South American Grains

African GrainsMillet

Middle Eastern Grains

North American Grains
Wild Rice

European Grains

Asian Grains
Brown Rice
Job's Tears

List of Herbs - with which foods

Basil: pasta, tomato dishes, pesto, eggs, cheese, salads, italian dishes, Thai dishes
Caraway seeds: stir-fries
Cardamom: rice, rice cakes, cookies (typical in curries)
Cinnamon: cakes, pies, cookies, ice cream, toasts, rice pudding. Can also be infused into tea, soups, stews and sauces.
Coriander seeds: poultry, fish (common in Indian foods and curries)
Chili: spicy dishes (good with cumin in mexican dishes)
Chives: potatoes, sauces, salads, eggs, savory pancakes
Cilantro: Asian soups, salads, pesto, chicken, dips and sauces (also typical in Mexican food)
Cloves: baked hams, fruit salads, Oriental chicken dish, mulled drinks
Dried herbs: meat, poultry, fish
Dill: fish especially salmon and shrimp, mayonnaise or thick dressing, potatoes, tartar sauce
Garlic: sauces, most vegetable dishes, meat and poultry, spreads
Ginger: ice cream, Chinese dishes, tea, cookies
Lemon Grass: tea and Thai foods (like curry)
Mint: eggs, lamb, fruit salad, iced tea , chocolate sauces and garnish on deserts such as: cakes, ice cream
Mustard Seeds: meat and poultry
Oregano: fish, tomato sauce, pizzas (and Italian dishes)
Paprika: chicken, rice
Parsley: cucumber salad, green salad, potato, rice, pasta, egg, garnish on fish dishes, broiled meats and vegetables, seafood, soup, stew, gratins
Rosemary: roast chicken, lamb, pork, potato, beans, polenta, quesadillas
Salt and Pepper: most savory dishes.
Saffron: rice, stews and soups
Sage: bread, cheese, stuffing, sausage, turkey
Tarragon: lamb, chicken, fish, mayonnaise
Thyme: poultry, soups, and stuffing
Tumeric: Rice

Nov 4, 2010

Käsespätzle: German Cheese Noodles

*pronounced kay-zuh (cheese) schpet-zluh (noodle)

4 eggs
2 c. flour (I do 1/2 wheat)
½ t. ground nutmeg
½ c. milk
1 t. salt
4 c. chicken broth
1 T butter
½ onion, chopped
1½ c. emmenthaler cheese, grated (or swiss, Jarlsberg or gouda--our fav.)
few slices of pepperoni (opt.)

1. Prepare the batter in a bowl, with flour, milk, eggs, salt and ground nutmeg.
2. Boil a large pot of chicken broth. Form the spaetzle, using a special spaetzle maker, or I just use a rubber spatula with holes to push the batter through, or a large-holed colander, etc. into the boiling water. Cook the spaetzle in boiling water for a few minutes. When they float to the top, you can take them out (they can sit in there for a few minutes though. I do 1/4 of the wet batter at a time, then spoon those out and start the next 1/4); drain it in a colander or on paper towels.
3. Sauté half an onion in butter, then add the noodles. Within a few minutes, or at the same time, add the cheese and stir the mixture until the spaetzle begins to brown. (This is when we add little pieces of pepperoni for extra awesome flavor, but that's just us, not traditional.)
4. Serve immediately, sprinkled with salt and pepper. Any type of Swiss cheese can be used instead of emmenthaler cheese.

**For those who really love cheese, the dish can be sprinkled with additional cheese and broiled briefly. This is typically served with a breaded meat or something, but we just throw in a little meat. It might not be the most amazing meal, but it's definitely fun to try...the noodle are cute and an interesting way of making noodles.

Simple Feta Stuffed Sweet Peppers

Mini Sweet Peppers
Feta Cheese
-opt. version: quinoa cooked in chicken broth with spinach and salt

Cut the tops off the mini peppers and take out the seeds.
Fill each pepper with some feta and sprinkle the basil into each as desired.
Place on a tray and bake on 350 for 20-30 minutes until roasted/slight browning.

**I got a bag of these from Costco, which has the recipe on the back. These look fun and colorful and would be good appetizers. Try with cream cheese for a less-healthy option, or play around with the seasoning/flavor. They also taste great stuffed with quinoa cooked in chicken broth and added with spinach and feta inside too!

Nov 3, 2010


If you aren't taking any vitamins... I suggest a whole-food vitamin! These have 7 fruits and 7 vegetables in two capsules each. They aren't too expensive ($40/month for me and one child), and are worth every penny! Our family rarely get sick and the other kids and my husband share ours when we happen to forget to take them that day. This way, we all benefit from a little added nutrition! They will jump-start you in the right and HEALTHY direction! Visit:

Understanding Organic labels

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has established an organic certification program that requires all organic foods to meet strict government standards.

If a food bears a USDA Organic label, it means it's produced and processed according to the USDA standards and that at least 95 percent of the food's ingredients are organically produced. The seal is voluntary, but many organic producers use it.

Products certified 95 percent or more organic display the large USDA circle seal.

Products that are completely organic — such as fruits, vegetables, eggs or other single-ingredient foods — are labeled 100 percent organic and can carry a small USDA seal.

Foods that have more than one ingredient, such as breakfast cereal, can use the USDA organic seal or the following wording on their package labels, depending on the number of organic ingredients:

100 percent organic - Products that are completely organic or made of all organic ingredients.
Organic - Products that are at least 95 percent organic.
Made with organic ingredients - These are products that contain at least 70 percent organic ingredients. The organic seal can't be used on these packages.

Foods containing less than 70 percent organic ingredients can't use the organic seal or the word "organic" on their product label. They can include the organic items in their ingredient list, however.

You may see other terms on food labels, such as "all-natural," "free-range" or "hormone-free." These descriptions may be important to you, but don't confuse them with the term "organic." Only those foods that are grown and processed according to USDA organic standards can be labeled organic.

Seasonal Produce List

To view this list larger, click on the picture. IT will take you to a full page of it, but then hold ctrl and type + (do the same to shrink, but - instead of +)

It's important to know which produce is in season for smart and healthy variety to your meals.
Take note of which foods are year-round, so you can use those for your foundational meal planning menus. This will also help you keep track of when produce will be most available and hence cheapest.

I love stocking up on zucchini in the summer and pumpkin in the fall. Always try to buy local, in season and organic if possible. Definitely look for a local farmer's market or produce stand to better find organic and local options.

Which Organic Produce to Buy


12 Most Contaminated
These are the foods that should be bought organic if you have to choose, because they are highest in chemicals & pesticides.

12 Least Contaminated
Sweet Corn (Frozen)
Sweet Peas (Frozen)
Kiwi Fruit

When to throw which foods away?

Here are some rough expiration dates for some unopened pantry items:
not to be confused with bulk food storage type items that are packaged properly to last longer
Beans (dried): 1 year
Cake mixes: 15 months
Canned goods: 2+ years
Chocolate: 1 to 2 years
Condiments (most of them): 1+ year(s)
Confectioner's sugar: 18 months
Cornmeal: 1 year
Evaporated milk: 1 year
Flour: 1 year
Pasta: 2 years
Rice: 1 to 2 years
Soup mix: 2 years
Spices (ground): 1 year
Spices (whole): 2 to 4 years
Sugar (brown and white): Indefinitely
Vanilla: 5 years

Here's Ziploc's list of foods and dates... (mostly perishables)
To view this list larger, click on the picture. IT will take you to a full page of it, but then hold ctrl and type + (do the same to shrink, but - instead of +)

Substitutes for Cooking with Alcohol

Alcoholic Ingredient Description

Amaretto Italian almond-flavored liqueur
Almond extract.

Beer or ale Various types.
For light beers, substitute chicken broth, ginger ale or white grape juice.
For heavier beers, use a stronger beef, chicken or mushroom broth or stock.

Brandy Liquor made of distilled wine or fruit juice.
If a particular flavor is specified, use the corresponding fruit juice, such as apple, apricot, cherry, peach, raspberry etc. or grape juice. Corresponding flavored extracts can be used for small amounts.

Champagne Sparkling white wine.
Sparkling white grape juice, ginger ale, white wine.

Creme de menthe Thick and syrupy, sweetened mint liqueur.
Comes both clear and green.Mix spearmint extract or oil with a little water or grapefruit juice. Use a drop of food coloring if you need the green color.

Red Burgundy Dry French wine.
Red wine vinegar, grape juice.

Red wine Sweet or dry wine.
Beef or chicken broth or stock, diluted red wine vinegar, red grape juice diluted with red wine vinegar or rice vinegar, tomato juice, liquid from canned mushrooms, plain water.

Rum Liquor distilled from molasses or sugar syrup.
For light rum, use pineapple juice flavored with almond extract. For dark rum, use molasses thinned with pineapple juice and flavored with almond extract.

Sherry Fortified dessert wine, sweet or dry, some with a slightly nutty flavor.
Orange or pineapple juice.

White Burgundy Dry French wine.
White grape juice diluted with white wine vinegar.

White wine Sweet or dry wine.
Chicken broth or stock, diluted white wine vinegar or cider vinegar, white grape juice diluted with white wine vinegar, ginger ale, canned mushroom liquid, water. For marinades, substitute 1/4 cup vinegar plus 1 Tbsp sugar plus 1/4 cup water.

20 Recipe Makeover Ideas

1. Use low-fat and no-fat cooking methods such as steaming, poaching, stir-frying, broiling, grilling, baking and roasting as alternatives to frying.

2. Get a good-quality set of non-stick saucepans, skillets and baking pans so you can sauté and bake without adding fat.

3. Use nonstick vegetable sprays or 1-2 T defatted broth, water, or juice to replace cooking oil.

4. Be aware that fat-free and reduced-fat cheeses have slightly different cooking characteristics than their fattier counterparts (don’t tend to melt as smoothly). To overcome this, shred the cheeses finely. When making sauces and soups, toss the cheese with a small amt of flour, cornstarch or arrowroot.

5. Trim all visible fat from steaks, chops, roasts and other meat cuts before preparing them.

6. Replace one quarter to one half of ground meat or poultry in a casserole or meal sauce with cooked brown rice, bulgur, couscous, or cooked and chopped dried beans to skim the fat and add fiber.

7. Deciding to remove poultry skin before or after depends on your cooking method. Skin prevents roasted or baked cuts from drying out, and studies show that the skin’s fat doesn’t penetrate while cooking. However, if you leave the skin on, make sure any seasonings applied go under the skin, or flavor will be lost.

8. Skim and discard fat from soups and stews, or chill the soup or stew and skim the solid fat off the top.

9. Use pureed cooked vegetable such as carrots, potatoes, and cauliflower, to thicken soups and sauces instead of cream, egg yolks or butter/flour roux. Also use soft tofu to thicken sauces.

10. Select “healthier” fats when you need to add fat to a recipe. That means replacing butter, lard, or other highly saturated fats with oils such as canola, olive, safflower, sunflower, corn, and other low in saturates. Remember, it takes just a few drops of a very flavorful oil, such as extra-virgin olive oil, dark sesame, walnut, or garlic oil, to really perk up a dish.

11. Skim the fat when you won’t miss it, but keep the characteristic flavor of fatty ingredients such as nuts, coconut, chocolate chips and bacon by reducing the quantity you use by 50%. For example, if a recipe calls for 1 cup of walnuts, use ½ cup instead.

12. Toast nuts and spices to enhance their flavor and then chop them finely so they can be more fully distributed through the food.

13. If sugar is the primary sweetener in a fruit sauce, beverage, or other dish that is not baked, scale the amt down by 25%. Instead of 1 cup sugar, use ¾ cup. If you add a pinch of cinnamon, nutmeg, or allspice, you’ll increase the perception of sweetness without adding calories.

14. In baked goods, add pureed fruit instead of fat. One of the reasons fat is included in baked products is to make them moist. The high concentration of natural sweetness in pureed fruit will actually help hold on to the moisture during the baking process. When making this substitution, switch equal amt of pureed fruit for same amt of fat. Use applesauce in bran muffins or cake, or even crushed pineapple.
a. Dark-colored fruits, such as blueberries or prunes, are best used in dark-colored batters. You can add lighter-colored fruits, such as pears or applesauce, to almost any batter without changing it’s color. Adding yellow-orange fruits, such as pureed peaches or apricots, can often add an appetizing yellowish crumb.
b. You can use pears or apples nearly universally in baking because their taste is mild and unnoticeable. Apricots, prunes, and pineapple add a much stronger flavor. Bananas and peaches are somewhere in the middle, adding a little flavor, but never overwhelming. Here’s a secret: if you don’t have a food processor to puree your own fruit, use baby food (already pureed, mild flavor, and usually without sugar.

15. Beat egg whites until soft peaks form, for baked goods. This increases volume and tenderness.

16. Make a simple fat-free “frosting” for cakes or bar cookies by sprinkling tops with powered sugar.

17. Increase fiber content and nutritional value of dishes by using whole-wheat flours for at least half of the all-purpose white flours (don’t use bleached flour).

18. Vegetables can be fat-replacements:
a. Carrot puree, roasted red bell pepper puree, or mashed potatoes to your pasta sauce to replace the oil
b. Replace some fat in nut breads or cakes with vegetable purees or juices, such as carrot juice or pumpkin puree.
c. Substitute pureed green peas for half the amt of mashed avocado in guacamole or other dips.
d. Replace fat in soups, sauces, muffins or cakes with mashed yams/sweet potatoes.
e. Use white potatoes to thicken lower-fat milks in cream soups and bisques.
f. Substitute a layer of vegetables in lasagna to replace meat or sausage.
g. Top pizza with vegetables instead of meat.

19. Choose whole grains, instead of white breads and pastas. Whole grains allow the nutrients your body needs, while white or refined flours are generally stripped of nutritional value and bleached in a harsh preparation process. (The difference between being fed vs. nourished) Examples include: Barley, Brown rice, Buckwheat, Bulgur (cracked wheat), Millet, Oatmeal, Popcorn, Whole-wheat bread, pasta or crackers, Wild rice

20. Choose healthier meat options. Instead of regular hamburger, buy lean ground turkeyburger. Or use turkeyroni, turkey sausage or turkey bacon instead of their counterparts. Or opt for a vegetable burger.


A.) Nuts
B.) Milk
C.) Onions
D.) Whole-wheat bread

The answer is ALL OF THE ABOVE! New research shows that two other compounds, inulin (found in onions and wheat as well as in asparagus, artichokes, and bananas) and phytate (in nuts and whole grains) are also key. Inulin boosts calcium absorption, and phytate prevents bone mineral destruction. Bottom line; A diverse diet with LOTS of veggies and whole grains is CRUCIAL for healthy bones. This is my main reason that I grind my own grains for flour instead of using white refined flour for my baking/cooking. Remember that once you grind your wheat/spelt/kamut or other grains, store them in your fridge so as to keep the B6 vitamins in tact (see the VITAMINS section in my blog). If you have any bone-density issues or know you have arthritis (like myself), PLEASE take note and try implementing better eating habits so as not to loose any more bone!

Where to start...

Most people have learned through experience that white sugar and refined flour are inimical to good health, and they know how difficult it is to give these things up in a society whose eating habits are based on them. It is relatively easy to replace margerine with butter and refined polyunsaturates with extra virgin olive oil because these fats taste so much better; but sugar and white flour, being mildly to severely addictive, are harder to renounce.

First, just start replacing white flour products with a variety of properly prepared whole grains and limiting sweets to occasional desserts made from natural sweetners (such as honey, pure maple syrup, rapadura, date sugar, molasses, etc.).
It may take time, and will almost certainly have setbacks (as I did for several months), but in the end your willpower and persistence will reward you with greatly improved health and stamina. Not only will you feel great, but you'll loose pounds and look great!

Vitamin A

This vitamin's most important function is the role it plays in helping our body's largest organ...the skin! Without enough of this important vitamin, even healthy skin becomes dry, rough and flaky. In extreme cases, the scalp becomes inflamed and leads to dandruff. All our senses (taste, hearing, sight) use this vital nutrient in order to keep them running right. Vitamin A is proven to fight against pollutants all around us as well. Over 60% of all cancers have one thing in common: they involve epithelial tissue, the protective layer of cells that lines all the body's tissues inside and out (the skin, for instance, is epithelial tissue, as is the lining of the digestive tract). Vitamin A strengthens epithelial tissue, and experts believe that if we ate a diet rich in the nutrient, all these cancers might be prevented!

Best Sources of Vitamin A
Beef Liver
Sweet Potato
Carrots, sliced, cooked
Spinich, cooked
Kale, cooked
Broccoli, cooked
Squash, winter
Mustard greens, cooked
Apricots, fresh
Endive, raw
Leaf lettuce
Asparagus, cooked
Peas, fresh, cooked
Green beans, cooked
Yellow corn
Parsley, diced
Egg, hard-boiled

Vitamin B


(B1)Thiamine, (B2) Riboflavin, (B3)Niacin, (B5)Panthothenic Acid, B6, B12, Folic Acid(folate) and Biotin- comprise what we call the B complex vitamins. These important vitamins can chase away the blues, eradicate itchy dermatitis, prevent premenstrual tension, heal the heart and help insomniacs get the rest they need.
Thiamin (B1) is important for good digestion, strong mucous membranes, a healthy nervous systmem and energy. Shortages can cause a weakening of the heart muscle and eventually cardiac failure.
Riboflavin(B2) repairs and maintains body tissues and keeps your body pink. It also helps convert food into energy. A deficiency is known to affect the blood and skin.
Niacin(B3) is involved in energy production, maintains healthy skin, mucous membranes, nerves, brain, and digestion system. A lack of this vitamin could cause everyday problems like dermatitis, irritability and arthritis. Vitamin B6 not only helps to make immunity amino acids, but also aids in our blood circulation, prevents acne, depression, breast pain and bloating. It helps increase our stamina as well. If people have a problem with gallstones, you can stop that with an increase of B6. ??? Did you know, that as the original wheat kernel is subjected to ever greater processing, more B6 is destroyed until this essential vitamin is up to 90% lost...a detrement to our overall health??? This is why it is crucial to our overall health not to eat foods with refined white flours.
Folic Acid(folate) is vital for reproductive health and cell division and helps maintain healthy blood cells. It is also shown to quiet restless legs down.
Vitamin B12 works tirelessly to keep our nerves and blood in shape. It detoxifies the body, and is needed to make DNA. A B12 shortage can result in bloated, misshapen cells that are unable to carry oxygen (their main job in life), so you wind up pale, tired and anemic. Vitamin B12 occurs only in eggs, meat and dairy products, so strict vegetarians should take supplements as insurance!
Biotin is another important nutrient necessary for healthy skin, hair, nails, nerves and bone marrow. It helps maintain healthy blood cells as well. It is also involved in energy production.

If you find yourself dragging or don't have the energy you used to have, you may need to boost up your B vitamins!

Best Sources of B Complex Vitamins
Beef, lean
Brewer's yeast (I sprinkle it on my popcorn)
Chicken, white meat
Chick-peas, dried
Egg hard-boiled
Four, Rye
Flour, whole wheat
Kidney beans, dried
Kidney, beef
Liver, beef
Liver, chicken
Milk, whole
Navy Beans, dried
Peanuts, chopped
Rice, brown, raw
Salmon steak
Soybeans, dried
Sunflower seeds, dried
Swiss cheese
Wheat germ, toasted

Vitamin C

Vitamin C is unique as it is the only vitamin that seems to play a role in every bodily function as it holds the cells together! It has been called "an oil for the machinery of life" but your body can't manufacture it or store more than a few grams. This is why it is so crucial to get a rich daily supply of vitamin C. Deficiencies interfere with production of collagen (protein "cement" that holds your cells together), helping woulds heal, your ability to digest food and fight the effects of stress. The RDA (Recommended Dietary Allowance) recommends we take 60 milligrams a day. That's fine if you want to stay just above the scurvy level...but, if you want to live a life of reduced infection, if you want to promote healing within your body's cells and sharpen your immune system, you'll want a daily intake far above the RDA. A healthy person should actually take 200 milligrams/day, but diabetics, smokers, the elderly, people under stress, or allergy sufferers should take a lot more. The reason is when your body is already struggling with a health issue, it demands additional vitamin C to heal itself and fight off enemies within. Make sure that you don't boil your vegetables because vitamin C is water soluable and quickly leaches into cooking water. Steam them instead. You might also want to eat them with foods rich in iron because these two nutrients work together and boosts the body's absorption of them. Studies have shown that vitamin C helps fight against fatigue, heals cold sores in half the time, prevent and relieve muscle soreness, thwart cancer, tame the flu and treat the common colds...the list is endless. Are you getting enough vitamin C?

Best Sources of Vitamin C
Orange juice, fresh squeezed
Green peppers, raw,chopped
Grapefruit juice, fresh squeezed
Brussel Sprouts
Broccoli, raw, chopped
Turnip greens, cooked
Cauliflower, raw, chopped
Tomato juice
Tomato, raw
Cabbage, raw, chopped
Spinich, raw, chopped
Cherries, sweet
Mung bean sprouts

Vitamin D

As you are aware, this vitamin strengthens your bones and nourishes your muscles and nerves. Most of the vitamin D we use comes from the sun and activates calcium and phosphorus into our bloodstream so they can spread their good deeds around. If your production or intake of this vital nutrient is low, the levels of calcium and phosphorus in your blood will drop as well, and your body has no choice but to steal them from your bones! Researchers have found that people who spend a fair amount of time outdoors during the summer months actually build up a "pool" of vitamin D that can last through the winter because vitamin D is fat-soluble and is stored in the body. This is great news, especially for anyone who has arthritis or osteoporosis. Now you know that you need more vitamin D in order to get more calcium distributed throughout your body!

Best FOOD Sources of Vitamin D
Halibut-liver oil
Cod-liver oil
Salmon, Pacific

Vitamin E

This vitamin is one of the most important natural antioxidants readily available and slows down aging, strengthens your heart, promotes a healthy circulatory system by preventing the formation of dangerous blood clots and heals wounds. Here's a cool metaphor about a wrench for you to think about. Given favorable conditions, oxidation will turn a shiny metal wrench into an ugly, rusted wrench very quickly. Our bodies, of course, don't rust, but under the right circumstances, oxidative damage produces the kind of accelerated wear and tear that may lead to premature aging, lowered resistance, cancer and heart disease. Fortunately, nature has provided us with a way of slowing down such reactions. Cells and tissues are protected against oxidation in a variety of ways, but perhaps the most important are substances called antioxidants (vitamin E comes to the rescue)! Tests reveal that vitamin E may help preserve cell membranes, letting various healthful substances into cells while letting wastes escape. Very simply, vitamin E will help you heal and stay well protected.

Best Sources of Vitamin E
Wheat germ oil
Sunflower seeds
Wheat germ, raw
Sunflower seed oil
Safflower oil
Corn oil
Cod-liver oil
Peanut butter
Soybean oil
Peanut oil
Salmon steak

Flax Seed 101

Flax is a natural food that has been consumed for thousands of years by many civilizations with noticeable health benefits and no artificial drug side effects.

Although flaxseed contains all sorts of healthy components, it owes its healthy reputation primarily to three ingredients:
  • Omega-3 essential fatty acids: "good" fats that have been shown to have heart-healthy effects. Each tablespoon of ground flaxseed contains about 1.8 grams of plant omega-3s.
  • Lignans: which have both plant estrogen and antioxidant qualities that help prevent many types of cancer, such as breast, colon and prostate cancer. Flaxseed contains 75-800 times more lignans than other plant foods.
  • Fiber: As a whole grain, flax contains high levels of both soluble and insoluble fiber
Your body cannot make the essential fatty acids, Linoleic (Omega-6) or Linolenic (Omega-3), from other elements; instead, they must be consumed as part of your daily diet. Research has indicated that we consume too much Omega-6’s and not enough Omega-3’s, but flaxseed contains these essential fatty acids in perfect balance.

In proper balance, omega-3’s and omega-6’s work to form the membranes of every cell in your body, play a vital role in the active tissues of your brain, and control the way cholesterol works in your system.

How to use...
You should grind flaxseeds to get the most nutritional value--otherwise the whole seed is hard to digest for your body. Or you can get the oil or capsules. But I'd just use a coffee/seed grinder (about $15 and can grind nuts too--whether or not you do coffee) in order to enhance their digestibility and therefore their nutritional value.

And store them in the fridge or freezer whole, so they don't go rancid. Once you grind them, you should try to use them right away, because like whole grain flour, the nutritional value starts decreasing once ground.

If adding ground flaxseeds to a cooked cereal or grain dish, do so at the end of cooking since the soluble fiber in the flaxseeds can thicken liquids if left too long. In fact, you can even use flax seed as an egg substitute (gets really think like a gel) at a ratio of 1:3 (ex: 1T flax : 3T water)!

A Few Ways to Eat Flax:
  • Sprinkle ground flaxseeds onto your hot or cold cereal
  • Add a spoonful or two into your homemade muffin, cookie or bread recipe
  • Add a spoonful to pump up the nutritional volume of your breakfast shake or smoothies
  • To give cooked vegetables a nuttier flavor, sprinkle some ground flaxseeds on top of them
  • Add a spoonful or two to a meatloaf or to panko crumbs/breading topping
Or try some of our recipes with them in it:
Easy Flax Seed Crackers
Whole Grain Sandwich Bread
Pecan Cookies
Quinoa Meatloaf/Balls

Nov 1, 2010

Spinach-Feta-Stuffed Mini Pumpkins

2 small sugar pumpkins
5 large handfuls of spinach leaves
1 garlic clove
1/3 c. feta cheese, crumbled

salt to taste

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
2. Cut off tops and remove seeds from pumpkins. Replace lids. Place in a shallow baking dish with a small amount of water to prevent bottoms from scorching during cooking.
3. Bake in the preheated oven for 30 minutes, or until insides have darkened yet outsides remain firm. (opt. to add 1 t. butter to inside)
4. Meanwhile, sautee crushed garlic clove in oil and add the spinach; sautee for 5 minutes until spinach is fully cooked down; drain some juice (if any).
5. Remove garlic clove, then fill pumpkins with spinach mixture, and top with feta cheese and replace pumpkin lid.
6. Return to the oven for 5 minutes to melt cheese if serving immediately.
*Pumpkins may be covered and refrigerated at this point until ready to serve. May be reheated in the microwave for 2 minutes.

*variation of (they use cream cheese and no garlic)