f4ba68c1cbedb0122ea82653afbd56f3b53077b88b4c4a5f31 Uncomplicated Healthy Living: April 2015 http://www.freesearchenginesubmission.infoher-libido.com

Monday, April 27, 2015

Applesauce Cookies

Cookies take us back to childhood.  You could run and play, then come inside and have a cookie with a glass of milk.  These cookies will take you back to that time again and you won't have to feel bad about eating one.  With flax seed, oats and applesauce these are something you can enjoy and know you are sticking to your healthy living goals.

Applesauce Cookies

3/4 cup spelt flour (you can substitute all purpose flour)
1/4 cup ground flax seed
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp ground allspice
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup coconut sugar (you can substitute can sugar)
2 egg whites or 1 whole egg
2 cups steal cut oats
1 cup organic unsweetened applesauce
1/2 cup raisins

In a small bowl combine flour, flax, baking powder, allspice and salt.  Stir to combine and set aside.  In another bowl beat butter and sugar together till creamy.  Add egg whites and beat well.  Beat in flour mixture.  Stir in applesauce, oats and raisins.

Drop by tablespoon fulls onto a prepared cookie sheet.  Bake in a 375 degree oven for 11 to 15 minutes.  You want the edges to be lightly browned and the cookie to be soft in the center.  

I use coconut sugar for reasons noted in my April 18 post.  I use spelt for reasons noted in my March 6 post.  If you check out those posts you will understand the reasons for using those ingredients.  You can make your choice on what to use.  Just go eat a cookie!

Friday, April 24, 2015

Pasta with Two Sauces

I was asked to make a dish for a large gathering I will be attending.  There will be people of all ages there.  I was wondering what I could make that would appeal to everyone.  Then it hit me.  Pasta!  Almost everyone loves pasta.  This pasta recipe has two sauces.  A cheesy sauce with spinach and mushrooms surrounds the pasta.  Then it is topped with a tomato basil sauce.  This take a little more work to make, but it is worth it.  You will love it as well.

Pasta with Two Sauces

1 large onion (divided use)
4 cloves of garlic, minced (divided use)
1/4 cup olive oil divided use)
1 28 ounce can organic diced tomatoes
1 1/2 tbsp. fresh minced basil
1 tsp. salt (divided use)
8 ounces mushrooms, cleaned and sliced
10 ounces of frozen chopped spinach, thawed and drained
2 cups ricotta cheese
1 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
8 ounces freshly grated mozzarella cheese
3 eggs
16 ounces whole grain pasta of your choice (I used spaghetti)

Tomato sauce:
Dice 1/2 of the onion.  Heat half of the olive oil in a pot.  Add the diced onion and 2 cloves of garlic.  Sweat the onions and garlic until onion is translucent. Add tomatoes, basil and 1/2 tsp. salt.  Bring to a boil reduce heat and simmer until half the liquid is gone.  Puree in the blender or with an immersion blender.  Set aside.

White sauce:
Finely dice the other half of the onion.  Heat the other half of the olive oil in a frying pan.  Add the onion and 2 cloves of garlic.  Saute for two to three minutes.  Add the mushrooms.  Stir to incorporate the mushrooms.  Cover and let the mushrooms steam over low heat until tender.  Open cover and let liquid cook down. Remove from heat and cool.  In a large bowl stir together the ricotta, parmesan, mozzarella, the other half of the salt and eggs.  Add the mushrooms and spinach stir to combine.

To complete:
Cook the pasta according to package directions.  You will want it slightly under done because it will be bake as well.  When you drain the pasta save 1 cup on the cooking liquid.  Place the pasta back in the pot and pour the white sauce and cooking liquid over top.  Work to combine the pasta and sauce so that the pasta is completely coated and there is spinach throughout.

Pour pasta into a large rectangular baking dish that has been oiled or sprayed.  Spread pasta in an even layer.  Top with an even layer of the tomato sauce.  Bake in a 350 degree oven for approximately 45 minutes.  Or until hot and bubbly all the way through.  Serve it up and enjoy!

A nice dark leafy salad goes great as a side.  This recipe makes enough for eight servings.  Your smart, you know how to cut it in half for four servings.

As always I would love to hear your thoughts on what I have made.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Nature's Harvest Veggie Crisps Review

We have all seen these in our local super centers.  In the world of snack foods, it can be hard to find something you won't regret eating.  Are these the right choice?  They have the words Nature, harvest, veggie.  They must be healthy, right? Let's take a look.

The ingredients are:  yellow and purple sweet potato, squash, carrots, taro, green beans, canola oil, dextrin (from tapioca) and sea salt.  That still doesn't sound bad.

Canola oil is better for you than vegetable oil.  However, it is still a hydrogenated oil.  Not always a good choice.  It adds 40 calories of fat to the 140 calories there are in each 1/2 cup serving.  There is not any trans fats or saturated fats.  With seven servings in a container, you can mindlessly munch a lot of calories before you realize what you have done.

They are veggies, so, there should be nutritional value.  You will find that the frying and preservation process has destroyed the nutritional value of the vegetables.  As a result all you get is 10% of you daily needed vitamin A and 2% of your daily needed iron.

If you are on a low carbohydrate diet you will want to avoid these.  They have 24 grams of carbohydrates per serving.  With only 1 gram of fiber per serving, it seems that the processing has also destroyed the fiber in the veggies as well.

But, how do they taste?  You will have to decide for yourself if you like the taste.  Personally, I think they taste like your eating nothing but sugar.  I don't really understand why.  They do not contain any sugar.  Sugar is all I taste.  I don't taste any vegetable flavor.

So, are they healthy or not?  They are empty valueless calories.  You can find better choices for a crunchy snack.  On the other hand, there are much worse choices to make in the snack department.  

I know you can make good choices.  So, you decide for yourself if these are a good fit for you.  

Has this information been helpful?  Let me know.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Chicken and Potato Salad

I know that until now everything that I have posted has been vegetarian.  The majority of the time my diet is vegetarian.  However, there are times I enjoy meat.  This salad is one of the ways I can do that.

This salad can be eaten hot, room temperature or cold.  It does not have mayo in it, so, it is a good recipe to have on hand for summer outings or picnics.  It is a yummy combo of chicken, oven roasted potatoes and veggies all in a dijon  vinaigrette.  Try it for yourself as is or change up the ratio or combo to suit yourself.  Just enjoy! 

Chicken and Potato Salad

3 medium size Russet Potatoes
1 whole Chicken Breast, cooked and cut into bite size pieces
1 Onion
6 ounces Sugar Snap Peas
1 Red Bell Pepper, diced
1/4 Cup White Wine Vinegar
1/4 Cup Olive Oil
2 Tbsp. Dijon Mustard 
2 Tbsp. Lemon Juice
2 tsp. Fresh Minced Tarragon 
1 tsp. Salt
1/2 tsp. Black Pepper

To make dressing; combine white wine vinegar, olive oil, mustard, lemon juice, tarragon, salt and pepper.  Whisk or shake till thoroughly mixed.

Blanch the sugar snap peas in boiling water for 2 minutes.  Drain and rinse with cold water to stop cooking.  Cut the peas in pieces on a diagonal.  

Scrub the potatoes (do not peel) and cut into 1/2 cubes.  Toss with enough olive oil to coat.  Place potatoes on a cookie sheet and roast on the bottom rack of a 400 degree oven for 20 minutes.  While potatoes are roasting cut onion into 8 wedges and separate pieces.  Toss onion with olive oil.  Remove potatoes and toss with a spatula.  Add onion to cookie sheet and return to oven for another 20 minutes or until potatoes are golden and cook through.  Remove from oven and place in a bowl.  Pour 1/3 of dressing over potatoes while still hot and toss to coat.

To assemble the salad add cooked diced chicken, snap peas and bell pepper to the potatoes.  Add the rest of the dressing.  Toss and serve it up.

As always make this recipe your own.  Let me know what you think.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Flourless Almond Cake

Easy to make, with very few ingredients, this will become a favorite in your house.  The coconut sugar caramelizes over the sliced almonds to form a crunchy layer on top.  It is still is a bit early in the season for us to get strawberries, but, sliced strawberries make a wonderful accompaniment to this cake.  Dress it up any way you like or just enjoy it the way it is.  You will love it!

Flourless Almond Cake

3/4 Cup Sliced Almonds
1 1/4 Cup Almond Flour (divided use)
1 Cup plus 4 Tbsp. Coconut Sugar (you can use white sugar if you want)
1/2 tsp. Fresh Grated Orange Zest
6 large egg whites, room temperature

Line a cookie sheet with foil.  Put the almond flour on the cookie sheet in an even layer.  Toast in a 350 degree oven for 15 minutes or until golden.  Remove and cool.  Toast the sliced almonds next for 5 minutes or until golden.  Remove and cool.  Reduce the temperature of the oven to 300.

Butter or spray an 8" spring form pan and dust using 1/4 of the almond flour.  Place the sliced Almonds in the bottom of the pan in an even layer.

Combine the remaining 1 cup of almond flour, 1 cup of the sugar and the orange zest in a bowl.  Stir to make sure the zest is evenly distributed throughout.   

Beat the egg whites in a deep glass bowl with the remaining 4 tbsp. of sugar to form a stiff meringue.  Carefully fold in the almond sugar combo.  Pour into pan and smooth the surface.  Bake in a 300 degree oven for 40 minutes or until set.  Remove and cool.  It will fall some in this process.  Remove it from the pan and eat!

Note:  I used coconut sugar because it does not raise you blood sugar levels the same as cane sugar.  It still is a sugar.  So while it is better than cane sugar, it still is not something you would want to eat on a daily basis.  Coconut sugar is also brown.  That does effect the color of what you put it in.  If you use cane sugar, the cake will come out somewhat lighter in color.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Paleo Diet Review

What is the Paleo Diet?
It is a low carbohydrate diet that is more restrictive than the Atkins Diet or the South Beach Diet.  You can eat meat (only from grass fed animals), fish, fruit, vegetables, tree nuts, seeds and plant based oils (olive, coconut and tree nut oils).

Why should we eat this way?
According to the paleo diet, our bodies have not changed over time.  So the claim is that we should eat like our paleolithic ancestors.

Is this sound reasoning?
There are some flaws with this reasoning.  The premise is that paleolithic man was healthier than we are today.  However, the average life span for a caveman was 30 years.  How can they prove health and longevity with that life span?  Also, did they have knowledge of nutrition?  No.  We do and we need to use that knowledge when making food choices.  Lastly, archaeology has proven that paleolithic man ate different foods depending on where they lived.  So, yes, grains were eaten and dairy also.  Not by all, but, by some.

What are the Pros of the Paleo Diet?
  1. If your diet is heavy in simple carbohydrates and processed foods, this will break your unhealthy habit.  Your diet will become full of fruits and vegetables.
  2. The diet has no processed sugar.  Again if you largely depend of processed foods, your diet is full of processed sugar.  This will end that bad habit.
  3. You will loose weight, mostly body fat.
What are the cons of the Paleo Diet?
  1. The way you loose the weight.  Lack of carbs puts your body into what is known as ketosis.  Your body does not have the glucose in its blood to burn for energy.  So it starts breaking down fat deposits to burn for energy.  To put it simply, your eating your own body.  Doctors can not agree on the health risks involved in keeping your body in ketosis. 
  2. While protein is a vital component to a healthy diet, you can get to much of a good thing.  Our bodies need 1 gram of protein per every 4 pounds of weight each day.  If you can stick to that on this diet, good.  However, more protein than is needed starts causing problems with our bodies filtration systems (kidneys, gall blander, etc.).  Don't be shocked when you get gall stones, have pain in your gall bladder or have pain in your kidneys.
  3. This is a diet high in saturated fat.  The American Heart Association has stated those who loose on a low carb diet do gain heart health benefits.  They have also stated that is from the lose of weight.  Not from what is being eaten.  Also these individuals were on a low carb diet for a limited time.  Long term eating of a diet high in saturated fats is not heart healthy.
  4.  It is a highly restrictive diet.  As a result many are not able to stick to it.  When you start putting carbs back in your diet, you will start gaining weight once again.
  5. Lastly, low carb means low fiber.  Constipation is a problem.
Is this diet or the cookbooks beneficial to anyone?
Yes.  Individuals that have health conditions that restrict their diet (such as celiac, diabetes or hypoglycemia) could benefit from having a paleo cookbook.  A restricted diet can cause people to fall into a rut eating the same things over and over because they know they are safe.  The paleo diet cookbooks can give a person an infinite verity of recipes they can be sure are safe.

Refined sugar is a major health issue in today's world.  So anyone can benefit from having the paleo diet dessert cookbook.  All the recipes are sugar free, gluten free and dairy free.

In the end, it is up to each person to decide if the paleo diet is right for them.  If you would like further information on the paleo diet or a cookbook click here.  If you would like to know more about the dessert cookbook click here.

Have you found this information helpful?  Let me know.  Leave a comment. 

Monday, April 6, 2015

Greens and Potato Pie

All of us know that part of living healthy is fitting veggies in our diet wherever possible.  This lowers our risk of cancers, heart disease and other problems.  This pie is one way to add greens to your diet.  It can be eaten as a light supper, lunch or can even be added to a brunch menu.  I served it with a salad of avocado. grape tomatoes and green onion dressed with a vinaigrette. Try it for yourselves and let me know what you think.

Greens and Potato Pie

1 1/2 lbs. of small Yukon Gold Potatoes
1 tbsp. Olive Oil
1/2 small Onion, diced small
3 Cloves Garlic, minced
8 ounces Mixed Baby Greens, cleaned, dried and coarsely chopped
1/2 cup Milk
1 cup Shredded Swiss Cheese
2 Eggs
1/4 tsp. salt
3 tbsp. dry Bread Crumbs
Romano Cheese, grated fine

Peel and cube the potatoes.  Cook in salted water until tender.  Drain and mash.  Or you can put them through a ricer.  

Add olive oil to a frying pan and put over low heat.  When warm add onion an garlic.  Saute until onion is translucent.  Add greens and stir until greens are wilted.

Whisk eggs and milk until combined.  Add milk mixture, greens, cheese and salt to the potatoes.  Stir; you want the eggs and milk thoroughly incorporated and the cheese and greens evenly distributed.  

Spray a 9" pie pan with non stick spray and dust with the breadcrumbs.  Pour in the greens and potato mixture.  Smooth the surface.  Bake in a preheated oven at 375 degrees for 30 to 40 minutes or until set and surface is lightly browned.  Remove from oven and let sit for 10 minutes and dust with the romano cheese.

Note:  A portion of a potato's nutrition is in the skin (see 2-20-15 post).  Normally I try to eat the skin.  However, in this recipe the results are better without the skin of the potato.

You can also change this to make it your own.  Try a different cheese, add crumbled, crisp cooked bacon if your not a vegetarian.  Just enjoy it!

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Oatmeal Scones

Oatmeal Scones can be eaten anytime of the day.  They go with an egg for breakfast, fit in at brunch or go with a cup of tea in the afternoon.  Oatmeal is known to aid in heart health; making these a better choice than a standard scone.  Though these do contain some sugar, it is brown sugar.  While you want to watch your intake of brown sugar as well as white, it does have some nutritional value that white sugar does not.  All I know is that it makes these scones something you will make again and again.

Oatmeal Scones

1 Cup Steel Cut Oats
1 Cup Spelt flour (unbleached all purpose flour can be used)
1/2 tsp. Cream of Tartar
1/2 tsp. Baking Soda
4 Tbsp. Brown Sugar
1/2 Cup Butter
1 Egg
1/4 Cup Milk

Combine first five ingredients, oats through sugar, in a bowl.  Stir to combine.  Cut butter into chunks add to dry ingredients.  Using a pastry cutter; cut in butter until distributed throughout mixture and mixture is crumbly.  Add egg to milk and whisk lightly to combine.  Add egg milk mixture to oat mixture and stir to form dough.  Divide dough in half.  Spray a cookie sheet with non stick spray and pat each part of dough into a round about 3/4 of an inch thick.  Cut through the dough rounds to make each into four wedges.  Do not separate.  Bake in a preheated oven at 450 degrees for 12 to 15 minutes, or until golden brown.  Brake into wedges and enjoy.

Make these for yourself and let me know how you like them.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Portion Control - It Is In The Palm Of Your Hand

The abundance of food, the size of our plates and the portions restaurants serve can all play havoc with our idea of proper portion size.  Controlling those sizes is with your reach.  In fact it is within your hand.  The average hand size of a woman can be used to control portion size.  How?  Take a look.

The size of your fist is the approximate size of a serving of fruit or vegetable.  Is it larger than your fist?  More than one serving.  Smaller than your fist?  Less than one serving.

A portion of protein, such as meat or fish, should be 3 to 4 ounces.  How does that relate to your hand?  It is the size of your palm, or the size of a deck of cards.

Grains and cereals can be measured in the cup of your hand.  Approximately 1/2 cup.  You can also use the cup of your hand to measure a serving of nuts.

The size of two fingers together (as in the picture) is the same as 2 ounces of cheese.  

The tip of your thumb is the size of a teaspoon of butter or other fats. 

I hope these tips can help you to meet your goals in living a healthy lifestyle.